How to Select a Nursing College in Allentown Pennsylvania
Finding the right nursing program near Allentown PA may seem like a formidable undertaking, especially if you aren’t sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you need to receive the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and assess the qualifications of each college you are thinking about before enrolling in your final choice. Unfortunately, too many prospective students base their decision entirely on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Selecting the least expensive college or the one that is local to your home is no doubt not the most ideal way to decide on a nursing program. There are many crucial additional considerations to check out before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let’s first go over 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 Duties
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the Allentown PA medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, such as hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary role is to help doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. Some of the functions of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Observing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Managing care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Taking care of 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 often work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can administer primary or specialty care services in Allentown PA, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat basic illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degree Options
There are multiple degrees available to become a registered nurse in Allentown PA. And to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can obtain a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or continue on to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief explanations of the nursing degrees that are available.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a two year program made available by Pennsylvania community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently achieve a higher degree.
- Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more in depth training than the ADN. It is normally a four year program offered at Pennsylvania colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may 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 obtaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner in Allentown PA or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
When a graduating student has earned one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) in order to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so be sure to get in touch with the Pennsylvania board of nursing for any state requirements.
LVN and LPN Programs
There are generally two scholastic credentials available that provide training to become either an LPN or an LVN in Allentown PA. The one that can be concluded in the shortest amount of time, generally about one year, is the certificate or diploma course. The next choice is to earn a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma option and generally require 2 years to complete. The benefit of Associate Degrees, along with providing a higher credential and more in-depth instruction, are that they provide more transferrable credit toward a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. Regardless of the type of credential you pursue, it should be Pennsylvania 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 properly prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that most graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
Unlike other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to attain a college degree. CNA training can be obtained at a community college or at either a vocational or trade school in the Allentown PA area. The length of the instruction can take anywhere from just one to three months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Within the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to have at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which have to be clinical or “hands-on” training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimal amount of training required and each state has its own prerequisites. So it’s essential to make certain that the training program you enroll in not only fulfills 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 Pennsylvania to make certain that the training is state approved. Along with the training, each state requires a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there may be other requirements as well.
Nursing Online Programs
Enrolling in nursing colleges online is emerging as a more in demand way to receive instruction and earn a nursing degree in Pennsylvania. Some schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs call for a specified amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online in your Allentown PA home, this alternative may be a more practical approach to finding the free time to attend classes for some students. Concerning tuition, some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more easily affordable. And many online programs are accredited by organizations like 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 work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your active schedule.
What to Ask Nurse Colleges
Once you have determined which nursing program to enroll in, and whether to attend your classes on campus or on the internet, you can utilize the following checklist to start narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt realize, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within Pennsylvania and the United States. So it is important to decrease the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a workable list. As we previously pointed out, the location of the school relative to Allentown PA as well as the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the initial two things that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your final selection, use the following questions to see how your pick compares to the field.
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 acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides helping verify that you obtain an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered for non-accredited schools near Allentown PA.
Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses are different from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required 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 completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It’s imperative that the Allentown PA area school you are enrolled in not only delivers an excellent education, but also readies you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Pennsylvania or the state where you will be working.
Reputation. Check online rating companies to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. Also, contact the Pennsylvania school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some nearby Allentown PA 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 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 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 verify that the school has a good reputation within the Allentown PA healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students obtain employment.
Internship Programs. The most ideal way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Virtually all Allentown PA area nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Check if the schools have associations with community hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.
Enroll in the Right RN Degree near Allentown PA
Deciding on the right registered nursing program is probably the most crucial phase to starting a new career in the health care industry. There are numerous variables that you should think about when picking a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have pointed out within this post, it is important that you select an RN college and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the health care community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list of schools to select from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing RN in Allentown PA.
Why Did You Choose to Be a Nurse?When preparing to interview for a nursing job, it's advantageous to review questions you may be asked. One of the questions that hiring managers frequently ask nursing candidates is "What compelled you to pick nursing as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not just the private reasons you may have for being a nurse, but also what qualities and abilities you possess that make you outstanding at your profession. You will likely be asked questions pertaining specifically to nursing, along with a certain number of routine interview questions, so you should ready some approaches about how you would like to answer them. Because there are numerous factors that go into choosing a career, you can address this primary question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the abilities you have that make you an excellent nurse and the leading choice for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but jot down some ideas and anecdotes that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can assist you to prepare your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.
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