How to Choose a Nursing College in Acton Massachusetts
Choosing the best nursing program near Acton MA may seem like a challenging project, particularly if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already know, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you need to receive the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and determine the qualifications of each program you are contemplating before enrolling in your final selection. Regrettably, too many potential students base their decision solely on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Picking the least costly school or the one that is closest to your house is probably not the most reliable way to select a nursing program. There are many key additional things to check out before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let’s first go over what the function of a registered nurse is in our medical system, together with the nursing degree choices that are available.
Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the Acton MA medical care delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, namely hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic duty is to help doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the exact duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. A few of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Monitoring patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Keeping health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more complex job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master’s Degree and commonly work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can provide primary or specialty care services in Acton MA, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degree Options
There are multiple degrees offered to become a registered nurse in Acton MA. And to become an RN, a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A student can earn a qualifying degree in just two years, or continue on to obtain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are offered.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a 2 year program offered by Massachusetts community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards achieve a higher degree.
- Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more expansive training than the ADN. It is generally a 4 year program offered at Massachusetts colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might want to advance to a clinical or administrative position, or be more competitive in the job market.
- Master’s. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is normally a 2 year program after obtaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner in Acton MA or focus on administration, management or teaching.
When a graduating student has acquired one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) so as to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so be sure to check with the Massachusetts board of nursing for any state requirements.
LPN and LVN Courses
There are essentially two scholastic accreditations offered that provide education to become either an LPN or an LVN in Acton MA. The one that can be finished in the shortest time frame, commonly about twelve months, is the certificate or diploma course. The 2nd alternative is to earn a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma option and generally require 2 years to finish. The benefit of Associate Degrees, aside from offering a higher credential and more comprehensive training, are that they provide more transferrable credit toward a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. No matter the kind of credential you pursue, it should be Massachusetts approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or any other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC attests that the core curriculum adequately prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that the majority of graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
Unlike other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to obtain a college degree. CNA instruction can be acquired at a community college or at either a vocational or trade school in the Acton MA area. The duration of the training program can take anywhere from one to three months, leading to either a certificate or a diploma. Within the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are required to obtain at least 75 hours of instruction, 16 of which have to be clinical or “hands-on” training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimum period of instruction directed and that every state has its specific prerequisites. So it’s necessary to make certain that the course you enroll in not only complies with the federal requirements, but additionally those for the state where you will be practicing. One suggestion is to contact the health or nursing board for Massachusetts to make certain that the training 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.
Nursing Online Degrees
Enrolling in nursing colleges online is growing into a more popular way to receive training and attain a nursing degree in Massachusetts. Some schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs call for a certain amount of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online in your Acton MA home, this method may be a more accommodating approach to finding the time to attend school for some students. Pertaining to tuition, many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, 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 job and household responsibilities have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask Nurse Programs
Once you have selected which nursing degree to enroll in, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus or on the web, you can utilize the following guidelines to start narrowing down your choices. As you probably are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Massachusetts and the United States. So it is essential to decrease the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we already discussed, the location of the school relative to Acton MA and the expense of tuition are most likely going to be the primary two points that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection compares to the other schools.
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 recognized accrediting organization. Aside from helping ensure that you receive a premium education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered for non-accredited schools near Acton MA.
Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses are different from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a specific number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It’s important that the Acton MA area school you are enrolled in not only provides an exceptional education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Massachusetts or the state where you will be practicing.
Reputation. Visit online rating services to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. In addition, contact the Massachusetts school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some regional Acton MA 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 programs 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 unhappy with the program and dropped out. It’s also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the Acton MA medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students obtain employment.
Internship Programs. The most ideal way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Essentially all Acton MA area nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing too. Check if the schools have associations with nearby hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.
Pick the Right RN Program near Acton MA
Deciding on the ideal registered nursing program is probably the most important first step to launching a new career in the health care industry. There are numerous factors that you need to take into account when selecting a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have highlighted within this post, it is critical that you select an RN college and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing RN in Acton MA.
Why Did You Desire to Be a Registered Nurse?When preparing to interview for a nursing job, it's helpful to reflect on questions you might be asked. Among the things that hiring managers frequently ask nursing candidates is "What drove you to choose nursing as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not only the private reasons you may have for becoming a registered nurse, but additionally what characteristics and skills you possess that make you outstanding at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating specifically to nursing, in addition to a certain number of typical interview questions, so you should ready several strategies about how you want to answer them. Given that there are numerous variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession appeals to you as well as the talents you have that make you an excellent nurse and the best choice for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but take down a few concepts and talking points that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample responses can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to wow the recruiter.
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