How to Find the Right Nursing Program in Westfield Massachusetts
Locating the right nursing school near Westfield MA may seem like a complex endeavor, especially if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you need to obtain the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and assess the qualifications of each college you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate choice. The fact is, too many potential students base their selection solely on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Selecting the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your residence is probably not the most reliable way to decide on a nursing program. There are several essential additional things to check into before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we examine that checklist, let’s first look at what the function of a registered nurse is in our medical care system, along with the nursing degree options that are available.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the Westfield MA medical delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, including hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general role is to help doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise as well as where they work. Some of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Maintaining health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more high level job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master’s Degree and typically work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can deliver primary or specialty care services in Westfield MA, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Available
There is more than one degree option offered to become a registered nurse in Westfield MA. And to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can obtain a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or advance to achieve a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a two year program offered by Massachusetts community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards earn a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more expansive training than the ADN. It is typically a four 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 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 usually a two year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner in Westfield MA or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
After a graduating student has earned one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so don’t forget to check with the Massachusetts board of nursing for any state mandates.
LVN and LPN Programs
There are principally two scholastic accreditations available that provide instruction to become either an LPN or an LVN in Westfield MA. The one that can be concluded in the shortest amount of time, normally about 1 year, is the certificate or diploma program. The second option is to earn 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, along with providing a higher credential and more extensive instruction, are that they furnish more transferrable credit toward a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. Regardless of the kind of credential you pursue, it needs to be Massachusetts approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or another national accrediting organization. The NLNAC attests that the course of study adequately prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that the majority of graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
In contrast to many other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to obtain a college degree. CNA training can be obtained at a community college or at either a vocational or trade school in the Westfield MA area. The duration of the training program can take anywhere from 1 to three months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are required to receive at least 75 hours of instruction, 16 of which must be clinical or “hands-on” training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimal amount of instruction mandated and each state has its own requirements. So it’s important to make certain that the course you enroll in not only meets 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 sure that the education is state certified. As well as the training, each state requires a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there might be additional requirements as well.
Online Nursing Degrees
Enrolling in nursing programs online is becoming a more preferred way to receive training and earn a nursing degree in Massachusetts. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs require a specific number of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online in your Westfield MA home, this alternative may be a more accommodating solution to finding the time to attend classes for many students. Pertaining to tuition, some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. And many online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your job and household responsibilities have left you with very 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 busy schedule.
Things to Ask Nurse Programs
Now that you have decided on which nursing degree to pursue, and if to attend your classes on campus or on the web, you can utilize the following checklist to begin narrowing down your options. As you no doubt realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout Massachusetts and the United States. So it is essential to lower the number of schools to choose from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we already pointed out, the site of the school relative to Westfield MA along with the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two points that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final choice, use the following questions to see 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Aside from helping make sure that you get a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not available for non-accredited schools near Westfield MA.
Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses vary 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. Many states require a specified number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It’s essential that the Westfield MA area school you are attending not only delivers an exceptional education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Massachusetts or the state where you will be working.
Reputation. Check internet rating services to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. In addition, contact the Massachusetts school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some regional Westfield 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 looking at 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 unhappy 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 favorable reputation within the Westfield MA healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students obtain a position.
Internship Programs. The most effective way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all Westfield MA area nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing as well. Check if the schools have associations with local hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.
Select the Right RN Degree near Westfield MA
Choosing the right registered nursing program is probably the most important phase to launching a new career in the healthcare field. There are a number of factors that you must think about when picking a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have emphasized within this article, it is essential that you pick an RN school and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Westfield MA.
Why Did You Decide to Be a Registered Nurse?When preparing to interview for a nursing job, it's advantageous to review questions you might be asked. One of the questions that recruiters often ask nursing prospects is "What drove you to pick nursing as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not only the personal reasons you might have for being a RN, but additionally what qualities and abilities you possess that make you exceptional at what you do. You will probably be asked questions pertaining exclusively to nursing, as well as a significant number of standard interview questions, so you need to organize a number of approaches about how you want to answer them. Because there are so many factors that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this fundamental 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 possess that make you an outstanding nurse and the leading choice for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but write down several concepts and anecdotes that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample answers can assist you to formulate your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to include to wow the interviewer.
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