RN Nursing Programs in New Mexico

How to Choose a Nursing Program in New Mexico

New Mexico Registered NurseSelecting the best nursing college in New Mexico may feel like a complicated endeavor, particularly if you don’t know what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you need to obtain the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and evaluate the qualifications of each college you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate selection. Regrettably, too many potential students base their selection entirely on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Deciding on the least costly school or the one that is closest to your home is most likely not the most ideal way to choose a nursing program. There are many key additional things to check out before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let’s first look at what the role of a registered nurse is in our healthcare system, as well as the nursing degree alternatives that are offered.

Registered Nurse Job Activities

Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the New Mexico medical care delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, including hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary function is to assist doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise as well as where they work. A portion of the functions of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Observing patients
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Managing care
  • Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Informing patients and their families
  • Maintaining health records and charts

Nurses with a higher degree may have more advanced job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master’s Degree and generally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can provide primary or specialty care services in New Mexico, 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 New Mexico. And in order to become an RN, a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A student can obtain a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or advance to obtain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief descriptions of the nursing degrees that are available.

  • Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a two year program offered by New Mexico community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently earn a higher degree.
  • Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more extensive training than the ADN. It is typically a four year program offered at New Mexico colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible 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 employment market.
  • Master’s. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is generally a 2 year program after acquiring the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner in New Mexico 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) so as to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so make sure to get in touch with the New Mexico board of nursing for any state mandates.

LPN and LVN Certificates and Degrees

RN assisting surgeon in New MexicoThere are essentially two academic accreditations available that provide education to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that can be finished in the shortest time period, commonly about 12 months, 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 option and usually require 2 years to finish. The advantage of Associate Degrees, besides providing a higher credential and more extensive training, are that they provide more transferrable credit toward a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. Regardless of the type of credential you seek, it should be New Mexico approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or any other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC guarantees that the course of study properly prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that the majority of graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.

CNA Certificates

Unlike many other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to earn a college degree. CNA education can be obtained at a community college or at either a vocational or trade school. The length of the training program can take anywhere from 1 to 3 months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to obtain at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which must be clinical or “hands-on” training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimum period of training required and that every state has its specific requirements. So it’s necessary to make sure that the course you enroll in not only meets the federal requirements, but also those for the state where you will be practicing. One suggestion is to get in touch with the health or nursing board for New Mexico to make certain that the training course is state certified. Along with the training, each state requires a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there can be additional requirements as well.

Nursing Online Classes

attending nursing school online in New MexicoEnrolling in nursing programs online is becoming a more popular way to obtain training and acquire a nursing degree in New Mexico. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs require a specific amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more practical solution to finding the time to attend classes for some students. Regarding tuition, a number of 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 easily affordable. And many online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your work and household responsibilities have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing training program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your busy schedule.

What to Ask Nurse Schools

Now that you have chosen which nursing degree to pursue, and if to attend your classes on campus or online, you can use the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your options. As you no doubt are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within New Mexico and the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a workable list. As we earlier pointed out, the location of the school along with the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the first two things that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole 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 as well as the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides helping make sure that you get an excellent education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered for non-accredited schools in New Mexico.

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 imperative that the school you are attending not only provides an excellent education, but also readies you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for New Mexico or the state where you will be practicing.

Reputation. Check internet rating companies to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. In addition, get in touch with the New Mexico school licensing authority to determine 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 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 imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a superb reputation within the New Mexico medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students gain employment.

Internship Programs. The most ideal way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Almost all New Mexico nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing too. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with nearby hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.

Select the Right RN School in New Mexico

Picking the ideal registered nursing degree program is arguably the most important step to launching a new career in the healthcare industry. There are various variables that you need to consider when deciding on a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, obligations, and economic situation. As we have stressed in this content, it is critical that you choose an RN college and a degree program that are each 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 pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your dedication and drive to succeed, you can become a licensed registered nurse in New Mexico.

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