How to Pick a Nursing College in New Jersey
Finding the right nursing school in New Jersey may seem like a complicated project, particularly if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already know, to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the necessary education and training in order to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and measure the qualifications of each school you are considering before enrolling in your final choice. Unfortunately, too many future students base their decision solely on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Going with the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your residence is probably not the most ideal way to decide on a nursing program. There are various important additional considerations to investigate before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let’s first discuss what the job of a registered nurse is in our medical care system, together with the nursing degree options that are available.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the New Jersey medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, including hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary job is to help doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, 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:
- Administering medications
- Observing patients
- Performing 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 complex job duties and responsibilities. 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 New Jersey, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.
There are several degree options available to become a registered nurse in New Jersey. 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 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 usually a two year program made available by New Jersey community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards earn a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is usually a 4 year program offered at New Jersey colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may want to advance to a clinical or administrative position, or be more competitive in the employment market.
- Master’s. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is usually a two year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner in New Jersey or focus 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) in order to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so make sure to check with the New Jersey board of nursing for any state requirements.
LPN and LVN Programs
There are essentially two scholastic credentials available that provide training to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that may be completed in the shortest time frame, commonly about 1 year, is the certificate or diploma course. The second alternative is to attain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma alternative and typically require 2 years to finish. The advantage of Associate Degrees, aside from offering a higher credential and more in-depth instruction, are that they provide more transferrable credit toward a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. No matter the type of credential you pursue, it should be New Jersey approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or some other 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.
In contrast to other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to earn a college degree. CNA education can be acquired at a community college or at either a vocational or trade school. The duration of the training can take anywhere from one to 3 months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are required to have at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which have to be clinical or “hands-on” training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimum amount of training directed and every state has its specific requirements. So it’s necessary to make certain that the course you enroll in not only fulfills the federal requirements, but also those for the state where you will be practicing. One recommendation is to contact the health or nursing board for New Jersey to make sure that the training is state approved. As well as the training, each state requires a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there may be additional prerequisites as well.
Online Nursing Degrees
Attending nursing programs online is growing into a more popular way to obtain training and earn a nursing degree in New Jersey. Many schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs require a specified amount of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more convenient answer to finding the time to attend school for some students. Pertaining to tuition, many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more easily affordable. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your job and family obligations have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, maybe an online nursing training program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Questions to Ask Nurse Courses
Now that you have determined which nursing program to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus or on the web, you can use the following guidelines to start narrowing down your options. As you probably realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges within New Jersey and the United States. So it is essential to decrease the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we previously pointed out, the location of the school along with the expense of tuition are most likely going to be the initial two points that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate choice, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection compares to the other programs.
Accreditation. It’s a good idea to make sure that the degree or certificate program along with the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Aside from helping make sure that you obtain a quality education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided for non-accredited schools in New Jersey.
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) together with graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a specified number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It’s important that the school you are attending not only provides a top-notch education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for New Jersey or the state where you will be working.
Reputation. Visit online rating companies to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Additionally, check with the New Jersey school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some nearby healthcare organizations you’re interested in working for after graduation and ask what their opinions 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 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 substantiate that the school has a favorable reputation within the New Jersey medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help 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 New Jersey nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing also. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with local hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.
Enroll in the Right RN Program in New Jersey
Deciding on the ideal registered nursing program is probably the most important first step to beginning a new career in the health care industry. There are various factors that you must take into account when choosing a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, lifestyle, and economic situation. As we have highlighted within this post, it is critical that you choose an RN college and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the medical community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your final selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing RN in New Jersey.