How to Pick a Nursing College near Atascadero California
Selecting the best nursing college near Atascadero CA may seem like a formidable undertaking, especially if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already know, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to obtain the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and evaluate the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your final choice. Regrettably, too many potential students base their determination solely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Picking the least costly college or the one that is local to your house is no doubt not the best way to select a nursing program. There are several crucial additional considerations to check into before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let’s first review what the function of a registered nurse is in our health system, as well as the nursing degree options that are available.
Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, such as Atascadero CA hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary function is to help doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise in addition to where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Observing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Managing health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more advanced job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master’s Degree and often work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can deliver primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat basic illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Available
There are multiple degrees available to become a registered nurse. And to become an RN, a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A student can receive a qualifying degree in just two years, or advance to attain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are offered in the Atascadero CA area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a two year program made available by community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards attain a higher degree.
- Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more in depth training than the ADN. It is normally a 4 year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may want to progress to a clinical or administrative position, or be more competitive in the job market.
- Master’s. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is generally a two year program after obtaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has obtained one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) so as to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so be sure to check with the California board of nursing for any state requirements.
There are essentially two academic credentials offered that provide instruction to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that can be concluded in the shortest time period, generally about 1 year, is the certificate or diploma course. The second option is to obtain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma option and generally require 2 years to complete. The advantage of Associate Degrees, in addition to offering a higher credential and more in-depth training, are that they provide more transferable credit toward a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. Regardless of the type of credential you pursue, it needs to be California approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or another national accrediting organization. The NLNAC attests that the core curriculum adequately prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that most graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
Unlike other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to obtain a college degree. CNA instruction can be received at Atascadero CA area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The duration of the training 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 need to be clinical or “hands-on” training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimum amount of training mandated and each state has its own requirements. So it’s necessary to make certain that the course you enroll in not only satisfies the federal requirements, but likewise those for California or the state where you will be practicing. One tip is to contact the health or nursing board for your state to make sure that the education is state approved. In addition to the training, each state mandates a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there may be additional requirements as well.
What to Ask Nursing Colleges
Now that you have selected which nursing degree to pursue, along with if to attend your classes on campus near Atascadero CA or online, you can utilize the following checklist to begin narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout California and the United States. So it is important to lower the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier pointed out, the location of the school and the cost of tuition are probably going to be the primary two things that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to see how your pick compares to the field.
- Accreditation. It’s a good idea to make sure that the degree or certificate program in addition to the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Aside from helping confirm that you receive an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not available in Atascadero CA for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) together with graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a specific number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It’s essential that the school you are attending not only provides a top-notch education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing standards for California or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Check internet rating companies to see what the assessments are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. In addition, check with the California school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Atascadero CA 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 considering 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 important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a good reputation within the Atascadero CA medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students gain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing too. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Atascadero CA hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.
Nursing Online Schools
Attending nursing colleges online is emerging as a more preferred way to obtain training and acquire a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs require a specified number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more convenient solution to finding the free time to attend classes for many Atascadero CA students. Regarding tuition, some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. 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. Therefore if your work and household commitments have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Attending a Nursing School near Atascadero CA?
Perhaps you have already made your decision to attend a Nursing Program in the greater Atascadero California area. If that is the case, then the following information may prove to be both educational and useful regarding the location of your future Alma Mater.
Atascadero is a city in San Luis Obispo County, California, about equidistant from Los Angeles and San Francisco on U.S. Route 101. Atascadero is part of the San Luis Obispo - Atascadero - Paso Robles metropolitan area. Atascadero is farther inland than most other cities in the county, and as a result, usually experiences warmer, drier summers, and cooler winters than other nearby cities such as San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach. The main freeway through town is the US 101. The nearby State Routes 41 and 46 provide access to the Pacific Coast and the California Central Valley.
Atascadero is a Spanish word loosely translated as bog, from the verb "atascar" which means to become stuck or hindered. Also, in the Chumash language, Atascadero translates into a place of much water.
The area was originally home to the Salinan Indians. In the half century between 1769 and 1823 the Spanish Franciscans established 21 missions along the California coast, including the nearby Mission San Miguel Arcángel, and Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. In 1821, Mexico won its independence from Spain, and California became a Mexican province. In 1833, the Mexican government secularized the mission lands. Mexican Governor Juan Alvarado granted Rancho Atascadero to Trifon Garcia in 1842, and Pio Pico granted Pedro Estrada Rancho Asuncion in 1845. Patrick Washington Murphy held ownership of 61,000 acres (25,000 ha) at one time.
Pick the Right Nursing Program near Atascadero CA
Deciding on the right registered nursing school is perhaps the most critical phase to beginning a new career in the healthcare industry. There are many factors that you should take into account when selecting a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, lifestyle, and economic situation. As we have emphasized in this post, it is essential that you pick an RN college and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the health care community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your hard work and ambition to succeed, you can become a licensed registered nurse in Atascadero CA.
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