How to Select a Nursing College in Chattanooga Tennessee
Finding the best nursing college near Chattanooga TN may feel like a challenging project, especially if you aren’t sure what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already know, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and determine the qualifications of each school you are contemplating before enrolling in your final selection. Unfortunately, too many prospective students base their selection solely on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Going with the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your house is most likely not the most reliable way to decide on a nursing program. There are many crucial additional factors to explore before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let’s first look at what the role of a registered nurse is in our medical system, as well as the nursing degree choices that are offered.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the Chattanooga TN healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, such as hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general job is to aid doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization as well as where they work. A portion of the duties of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Observing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Maintaining health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more complex job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master’s Degree and typically work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can provide primary or specialty care services in Chattanooga TN, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Available
There are several degree options to choose from to become a registered nurse in Chattanooga TN. And in order to become an RN, a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A student can acquire a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or continue on to earn a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief summaries of the nursing degrees that are offered.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a 2 year program made available by Tennessee community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately earn a higher degree.
- Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more in depth training than the ADN. It is usually a four year program offered at Tennessee colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might desire to progress to a clinical or administrative position, or be more competitive in the employment market.
- Master’s. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is generally a 2 year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner in Chattanooga TN or focus on administration, management or teaching.
When a graduating student has attained one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing change from state to state, so don’t forget to get in touch with the Tennessee board of nursing for any state requirements.
LVN and LPN Courses
There are generally two scholastic accreditations offered that provide training to become either an LPN or an LVN in Chattanooga TN. The one that may be completed in the shortest amount of time, normally about 1 year, is the certificate or diploma program. The other choice is to attain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma option and normally require 2 years to finish. The benefit of Associate Degrees, in addition to providing a higher credential and more extensive instruction, are that they provide more transferrable credit toward a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. Regardless of the type of credential you pursue, it should be Tennessee approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or any other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC attests that the course of study adequately prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that most graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
Unlike some other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to earn a college degree. CNA instruction can be obtained at a community college or at either a vocational or trade school in the Chattanooga TN area. The length of the training program can take anywhere from one to 3 months, leading to either a certificate or a diploma. Within the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to obtain at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which must be clinical or “hands-on” training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimum period of training required and every state has its own prerequisites. So it’s important to make certain that the course you enroll in not only complies with the federal requirements, but also those for the state where you will be practicing. One recommendation is to get in touch with the health or nursing board for Tennessee to make certain that the education is state approved. In addition to the training, each state requires a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there can be additional prerequisites as well.
Nursing Online Degrees
Enrolling in nursing programs online is growing into a more preferred way to get instruction and acquire a nursing degree in Tennessee. Many schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs require a certain number of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online in your Chattanooga TN home, this alternative may be a more convenient answer to finding the free time to attend classes for some students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your job and household obligations have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing training program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
What to Ask Nurse Degree Programs
Once you have selected which nursing program to pursue, and whether to attend your classes on campus or on the internet, you can use the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Tennessee and the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we already mentioned, the site of the school relative to Chattanooga TN along with the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two factors that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your final selection, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick measures up to the field.
Accreditation. It’s a good idea to make sure that the degree or certificate program as well as the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. Besides helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools near Chattanooga TN.
Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses vary from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) as well as graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a certain number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It’s important that the Chattanooga TN area school you are enrolled in not only provides an outstanding education, but also preps you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for Tennessee or the state where you will be working.
Reputation. Look at internet rating companies to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. Additionally, contact the Tennessee school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some local Chattanooga TN healthcare organizations you’re interested in working for after graduation and ask what their assessments are of the schools as well.
Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the RN colleges you are looking at what their graduation rates are as well as how long on average it takes students to complete their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were displeased with the program and dropped out. It’s also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a superb reputation within the Chattanooga TN healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students obtain employment.
Internship Programs. The most effective way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all Chattanooga TN area nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing also. Check if the schools have a working relationship with local hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.
Select the Right RN Degree near Chattanooga TN
Enrolling in the ideal registered nursing school is perhaps the most critical first step to launching a new career in the health care field. There are many factors that you must consider when deciding on a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, obligations, and economic situation. As we have pointed out in this article, it is important that you select an RN college and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your final selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing RN in Chattanooga TN.
Why Did You Choose to Become a Nurse?When preparing to interview for a nursing job, it's important to consider questions you may be asked. Among the things that recruiters typically ask nursing prospects is "What compelled you to pick nursing as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to learn is not merely the private reasons you may have for being a RN, but additionally what qualities and skills you possess that make you exceptional at your profession. You will likely be asked questions pertaining exclusively to nursing, as well as a certain number of standard interview questions, so you must prepare several ideas about how you want to answer them. Considering there are so many variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the strengths you have that make you an outstanding nurse and the ideal choice for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but take down several concepts and talking points that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the interviewer.
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