How to Select a Nursing Program in East Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
Locating the best nursing school near East Pittsburgh PA may seem like a formidable project, especially if you don’t know what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to obtain the necessary education and training in order to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and determine the qualifications of each program you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate selection. Unfortunately, too many prospective students base their selection entirely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Choosing the least costly college or the one that is local to your home is probably not the most reliable way to decide on a nursing program. There are a number of crucial additional things to look into before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let’s first go over what the role of a registered nurse is in our medical system, together with the nursing degree alternatives that are available.
Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the East Pittsburgh PA medical care delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, including hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic duty is to aid doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization along with where they work. A portion of the duties of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Keeping health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more complex job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master’s Degree and typically work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can provide primary or specialty care services in East Pittsburgh 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 East Pittsburgh PA. And in order to become an RN, a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A student can acquire a qualifying degree in just two years, or advance to earn 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 made available by Pennsylvania community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately earn a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more in depth training than the ADN. It is commonly a 4 year program offered at Pennsylvania colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified to complete an accelerated program based on their past 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 usually a two year program after acquiring the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner in East Pittsburgh PA or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has acquired 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. Other requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so don’t forget to check with the Pennsylvania board of nursing for any state mandates.
LVN and LPN Programs
There are principally two scholastic credentials available that provide education to become either an LPN or an LVN in East Pittsburgh PA. The one that may be completed in the shortest amount of time, usually about 1 year, is the certificate or diploma course. The 2nd alternative is to earn a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma option and normally require 2 years to finish. The advantage of Associate Degrees, aside from offering a higher credential and more in-depth instruction, are that they furnish more transferrable credit toward a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. Regardless of the kind 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 guarantees that the core curriculum effectively prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that most graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
In contrast to many other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to earn a college degree. CNA training can be acquired at a community college or at either a vocational or trade school in the East Pittsburgh PA area. The duration of the training program can take anywhere from 1 to 3 months, leading to either a certificate or a diploma. Under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to receive 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 instruction required and every state has its own prerequisites. So it’s necessary to make certain that the course you enroll in not only satisfies 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 Pennsylvania to make sure that the education is state certified. Along with the training, each state mandates a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there may be other requirements as well.
Online Nursing Schools
Enrolling in nursing schools online is growing into a more preferred way to get instruction and acquire a nursing degree in Pennsylvania. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs call for a specified number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online in your East Pittsburgh PA home, this option may be a more practical answer to finding the free time to attend school for many students. Concerning tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, 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 job and family responsibilities have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, maybe an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
What to Ask Nurse Degree Programs
Once you have decided on which nursing program to enroll in, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus or on the internet, you can use the following pointers to start narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly realize, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within Pennsylvania and the United States. So it is essential to lower the number of schools to select from so that you will have a workable list. As we already mentioned, the location of the school relative to East Pittsburgh PA along with the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the initial two things that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final selection, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick 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. In addition to helping make sure that you get a premium education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered for non-accredited schools near East Pittsburgh 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) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a specific number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It’s essential that the East Pittsburgh PA area school you are enrolled in not only delivers an outstanding education, but also prepares you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Pennsylvania or the state where you will be practicing.
Reputation. Look at online rating companies to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Also, get in touch with the Pennsylvania school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some local East Pittsburgh 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 looking at 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 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 verify that the school has a good reputation within the East Pittsburgh PA medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist 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 East Pittsburgh PA area nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Find out if the schools have associations with local hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Choose the Right RN Program near East Pittsburgh PA
Choosing the ideal registered nursing school is potentially the most important phase to beginning a new career in the medical care field. There are various factors that you should consider when deciding on a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and economic situation. As we have stressed in this post, it is critical that you pick an RN school and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the healthcare community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in East Pittsburgh PA.
Why Did You Decide to Be an RN?When prepping to interview for a nursing job, it's important to consider questions you may be asked. One of the questions that recruiters often ask nursing candidates is "What made you select nursing as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not merely the private reasons you may have for being a registered nurse, but also what attributes and talents you possess that make you exceptional at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining exclusively to nursing, along with a certain number of standard interview questions, so you need to organize some strategies about how you want to respond to them. Because there are numerous factors 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 profession interests you as well as the talents you have that make you an outstanding nurse and the best candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but jot down a few ideas and anecdotes that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to enthuse the interviewer.
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