How to Enroll In a Nursing School in Lehigh Valley Pennsylvania
Locating the right nursing program near Lehigh Valley PA may feel like a complex project, especially if you aren’t sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and assess the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your final selection. Regrettably, too many prospective students base their determination entirely on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Picking the least expensive program or the one that is closest to your residence is probably not the best way to select a nursing program. There are many essential additional factors to look into before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let’s first go over what the function of a registered nurse is in our health system, together with the nursing degree alternatives that are available.
Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the Lehigh Valley PA medical care delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, namely hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general job is to assist doctors in the care 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. A few of the functions of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Monitoring patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Managing health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more high level job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master’s Degree and commonly work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can administer primary or specialty care services in Lehigh Valley PA, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degree Options
There are several degree options to choose from to become a registered nurse in Lehigh Valley PA. And to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can receive a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or advance to achieve a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief descriptions of the nursing degrees that are offered.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a 2 year program made available by Pennsylvania community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and later achieve a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more expansive training than the ADN. It is commonly a four year program offered at Pennsylvania colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their past 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 generally a two year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner in Lehigh Valley PA or focus on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has attained one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) so as to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so make sure to get in touch with the Pennsylvania board of nursing for any state mandates.
LPN and LVN Courses
There are basically two scholastic credentials available that provide education to become either an LPN or an LVN in Lehigh Valley PA. The one that can be completed in the shortest time period, generally about twelve months, is the certificate or diploma course. The second choice 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 complete. The benefit of Associate Degrees, aside from providing a higher credential and more extensive training, are that they furnish more transferrable credit toward a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. No matter the kind of credential you pursue, it needs to be Pennsylvania approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or some other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC warrants 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.
Unlike some other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to attain a college degree. CNA training can be acquired at a community college or at either a vocational or trade school in the Lehigh Valley PA area. The duration of the instruction can take anywhere from one to 3 months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Within the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are required to have at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which must be clinical or “hands-on” training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimum amount of instruction required and each state has its own requirements. So it’s necessary to make sure that the training program you enroll in not only fulfills the federal requirements, but likewise those for the state where you will be practicing. One suggestion is to check with the health or nursing board for Pennsylvania to make certain 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 can be other requirements as well.
Nursing Online Schools
Enrolling in nursing schools online is becoming a more preferred way to get training and acquire a nursing degree in Pennsylvania. Many schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs call for a specific amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online in your Lehigh Valley PA home, this method may be a more accommodating solution to finding the free time to attend classes for many students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your job and household obligations have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Things to Ask Nurse Degree Programs
Once you have chosen which nursing degree to pursue, and whether to attend your classes on campus or online, you can utilize the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges throughout Pennsylvania and the United States. So it is essential to decrease the number of schools to choose from in order that you will have a workable list. As we previously pointed out, the site of the school relative to Lehigh Valley PA and the cost of tuition are probably going to be the primary two points that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final choice, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection measures up to the other programs.
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 confirm that you obtain an excellent education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided for non-accredited schools near Lehigh Valley PA.
Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a specific number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It’s essential that the Lehigh Valley PA area school you are attending not only delivers a top-notch education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Pennsylvania or the state where you will be working.
Reputation. Check online rating services to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Also, check with the Pennsylvania school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some nearby Lehigh Valley PA 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 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 dissatisfied 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 good reputation within the Lehigh Valley PA medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students gain employment.
Internship Programs. The best way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Virtually all Lehigh Valley PA area nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing also. Find out if the schools have associations with nearby hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships.
Pick the Right RN Degree near Lehigh Valley PA
Enrolling in the right registered nursing degree program is arguably the most important first step to beginning a new career in the health care industry. There are various aspects that you should consider when choosing a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, obligations, and financial situation. As we have emphasized in this post, it is important that you pick an RN college and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the health care community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to select from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Lehigh Valley PA.
Why Did You Desire to Be an RN?When getting ready to interview for a nursing position, it's helpful to consider questions you might be asked. Among the questions that hiring managers often ask nursing prospects is "What compelled you to decide on nursing as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not merely the personal reasons you may have for becoming a registered nurse, but additionally what qualities and talents you possess that make you outstanding at what you do. You will probably be asked questions pertaining exclusively to nursing, along with a certain number of general interview questions, so you need to ready several strategies about how you want to address them. Because there are several factors that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the profession appeals to you in addition to the talents you have that make you an outstanding nurse and the perfiect choice for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but jot down a few ideas and anecdotes that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample answers can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.
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