How to Select a Nursing School in Whitehall Pennsylvania
Selecting the best nursing college near Whitehall 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 already know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and assess the qualifications of each program you are thinking about before enrolling in your final choice. Regrettably, too many future students base their determination solely on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Picking the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence is undoubtedly not the most ideal way to choose a nursing program. There are a number of crucial additional considerations to investigate before you determine where to attend classes. But before we examine that checklist, let’s first discuss what the function of a registered nurse is in our medical care system, as well as the nursing degree choices that are available.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the Whitehall PA medical care delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical settings, such as hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general duty is to help doctors in the care of their patients. However, the exact duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. A portion of the duties of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Observing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Managing care
- Managing 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 responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master’s Degree and commonly work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can administer primary or specialty care services in Whitehall PA, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Available
There are multiple degrees available to become a registered nurse in Whitehall PA. And to become an RN, a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A student can earn a qualifying degree in just two years, or continue on to earn a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief summaries of the nursing degrees that are available.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a 2 year program offered by Pennsylvania community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and later earn a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is normally a 4 year program offered at Pennsylvania 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 might desire 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 generally a 2 year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner in Whitehall PA or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
After a graduating student has attained one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so be sure to check with the Pennsylvania board of nursing for any state mandates.
LPN and LVN Courses
There are generally two academic accreditations offered that provide instruction to become either an LPN or an LVN in Whitehall PA. The one that can be concluded in the shortest period of time, generally about 1 year, is the certificate or diploma course. The other choice is to attain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma option and commonly require 2 years to complete. The advantage of Associate Degrees, besides supplying a higher credential and more comprehensive training, are that they furnish more transferrable credit toward a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. No matter the type of credential you seek, 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 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.
Unlike other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to earn a college degree. CNA instruction can be received at a community college or at either a vocational or trade school in the Whitehall PA area. The duration of the training program can take anywhere from one to three months, leading to either a certificate or a diploma. Within the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to obtain at least 75 hours of instruction, 16 of which need to be clinical or “hands-on” training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimum period of training directed and that each state has its own requirements. So it’s essential to make sure that the course you enroll in not only complies with the federal requirements, but likewise those for the state where you will be practicing. One tip is to get in touch with the health or nursing board for Pennsylvania to make certain that the training is state approved. In addition to the training, each state requires a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there might be other prerequisites as well.
Nursing Online Schools
Enrolling in nursing colleges online is becoming a more in demand way to receive instruction and attain a nursing degree in Pennsylvania. Some schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs require a specific number of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online in your Whitehall PA home, this alternative may be a more convenient answer to finding the free time to attend school for some students. Regarding tuition, some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more economical. 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. So if your work and family responsibilities have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
What to Ask Nurse Schools
Once you have selected which nursing degree to pursue, and if to attend your classes on campus or on the internet, you can utilize the following pointers to begin narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within Pennsylvania and the United States. So it is essential to reduce the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a workable list. As we earlier discussed, the site of the school relative to Whitehall PA as well as the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the initial two points that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your ultimate choice, use the following questions to see how your selection measures up 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 agency. In addition to helping confirm that you receive a quality education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited schools near Whitehall PA.
Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses differ 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 certain number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It’s important that the Whitehall PA area school you are attending not only provides an excellent education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Pennsylvania or the state where you will be practicing.
Reputation. Look at online rating services to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Additionally, contact the Pennsylvania school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some regional Whitehall 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 programs 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 imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a favorable reputation within the Whitehall PA medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students obtain a position.
Internship Programs. The most effective way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all Whitehall PA area nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing as well. Find out if the schools have associations with local hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships.
Pick the Right RN Program near Whitehall PA
Choosing the ideal registered nursing degree program is potentially the most critical phase to launching a new career in the healthcare field. There are numerous variables that you need to think about when selecting a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, lifestyle, and economic situation. As we have pointed out within this article, it is essential that you choose an RN school and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your final selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing RN in Whitehall PA.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Registered Nurse?When prepping to interview for a nursing position, it's helpful to reflect on questions you may be asked. One of the questions that recruiters frequently ask nursing prospects is "What drove you to select nursing as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not just the personal reasons you may have for being a RN, but also what attributes and talents you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating specifically to nursing, as well as a certain number of typical interview questions, so you must organize some approaches about how you would like to address them. Considering there are several variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work appeals to you as well as the talents you possess that make you an outstanding nurse and the perfiect choice for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but jot down a few ideas and topics that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can help you to formulate your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to include to wow the recruiter.
Some Other Cities in Pennsylvania