How to Choose a Nursing School in Concord Massachusetts
Selecting the best nursing college near Concord MA may seem like a challenging project, especially if you don’t know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the proper education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and determine the qualifications of each school you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate selection. Regrettably, too many prospective students base their selection exclusively on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Deciding on the least costly college or the one that is nearest to your residence is probably not the best way to decide on a nursing program. There are various key additional things to check out before you determine where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let’s first cover what the role of a registered nurse is in our medical care system, as well as the nursing degree options that are available.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the Concord MA healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, namely hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic role is to support doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. A portion of the functions of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Monitoring patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Managing care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Managing health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more complex job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master’s Degree and generally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can deliver primary or specialty care services in Concord MA, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degree Options
There is more than one degree option available to become a registered nurse in Concord 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 achieve a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief descriptions of the nursing degrees that are offered.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a 2 year program made available by Massachusetts community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately attain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more in depth training than the ADN. It is normally a four year program offered at Massachusetts colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might wish 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 commonly a two year program after acquiring the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner in Concord MA or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has attained one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so be sure to contact the Massachusetts board of nursing for any state requirements.
LVN and LPN Certificates and Degrees
There are generally two scholastic credentials available that provide instruction to become either an LPN or an LVN in Concord MA. The one that can be finished in the shortest amount of time, usually about 1 year, is the certificate or diploma course. The next alternative is to obtain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma alternative and usually require 2 years to finish. The advantage of Associate Degrees, in addition to offering a higher credential and more comprehensive instruction, are that they furnish 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 some other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC warrants 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 many other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to attain a college degree. CNA training can be acquired at a community college or at either a vocational or trade school in the Concord MA area. The length 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 required to have at least 75 hours of instruction, 16 of which must be clinical or “hands-on” training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimum period of instruction required and that each state has its specific requirements. So it’s important to make sure that the program you enroll in not only meets the federal requirements, but also those for the state where you will be practicing. One recommendation is to check with the health or nursing board for Massachusetts to make certain that the training course is state certified. As well as the training, each state mandates a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there can be other requirements as well.
Online Nursing Schools
Enrolling in nursing colleges online is emerging as a more favored way to get instruction and earn a nursing degree in Massachusetts. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs call for a specified amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online in your Concord MA home, this option may be a more convenient solution to finding the free time to attend school for some students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more easily affordable. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your work and family obligations have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
What to Ask Nurse Colleges
Now that you have selected which nursing degree to pursue, and whether to attend your classes on campus or on the internet, you can utilize the following checklist to begin narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly realize, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges throughout Massachusetts and the United States. So it is necessary to decrease the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we previously discussed, the location of the school relative to Concord MA along with the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two factors that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your ultimate selection, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection 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 recognized accrediting organization. Aside from helping verify that you obtain a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools near Concord MA.
Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) along with graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a specific number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It’s essential that the Concord MA area school you are attending not only provides a top-notch education, but also readies you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Massachusetts or the state where you will be working.
Reputation. Check internet rating services to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Additionally, check with the Massachusetts school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some nearby Concord MA healthcare organizations you’re interested in working for after graduation and ask what their judgements are of the schools as well.
Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the RN schools you are considering what their graduation rates are as well as how long on average it takes students to finish their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were dissatisfied 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 favorable reputation within the Concord MA medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students gain a position.
Internship Programs. The most effective way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all Concord MA area nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing too. Find out if the schools have associations with regional hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Pick the Right RN Course near Concord MA
Picking the right registered nursing college is potentially the most important first step to starting a new career in the healthcare industry. There are many variables that you should take into account when selecting a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, obligations, and financial status. As we have stressed in this article, it is important that you select an RN college and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the medical community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to select from so that you can make your final selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing RN in Concord MA.
Why Did You Choose to Become a Registered Nurse?When preparing to interview for a nursing job, it's helpful to reflect on questions you could be asked. One of the questions that interviewers often ask nursing applicants is "What drove you to select nursing as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not just the private reasons you may have for becoming a nurse, but also what qualities and talents you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will probably be asked questions pertaining exclusively to nursing, along with a certain number of standard interview questions, so you need to ready some strategies about how you want to address them. Considering there are numerous variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the work interests you in addition to the talents you have that make you an outstanding nurse and the best candidate for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but write down several concepts and talking points that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample answers can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.
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