How to Find the Right Nursing Program in Rhode Island
Selecting the best nursing college in Rhode Island may feel like a difficult endeavor, especially if you aren’t sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the proper education and training in order to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and determine the qualifications of each school you are contemplating before enrolling in your final selection. Unfortunately, too many future students base their selection solely on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Selecting the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your home is most likely not the most reliable way to choose a nursing program. There are many crucial additional considerations to check out before you decide where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let’s first go over what the job of a registered nurse is in our medical system, together with the nursing degree choices that are available.
Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the Rhode Island medical care delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, including hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general job 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 area of expertise as well as where they work. A few of the functions of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Maintaining health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more high level job duties and accountabilities. 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 Rhode Island, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degree Options
There are multiple degrees to choose from to become a registered nurse in Rhode Island. 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 achieve 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 usually a 2 year program offered by Rhode Island community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards earn a higher degree.
- Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more extensive training than the ADN. It is normally a four year program offered at Rhode Island 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 want to progress to a clinical or administrative position, or be more competitive in the employment market.
- Master’s. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is usually a two year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner in Rhode Island or focus on administration, management or teaching.
When a graduating student has obtained 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. Other requirements for licensing change from state to state, so be sure to check with the Rhode Island board of nursing for any state mandates.
LPN and LVN Training
There are basically two scholastic accreditations available that provide education to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that can be concluded in the shortest time period, typically about one year, is the certificate or diploma course. The second alternative is to earn a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma option and typically require 2 years to finish. The benefit of Associate Degrees, in addition to providing a higher credential and more extensive instruction, are that they furnish more transferrable credit toward a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. No matter the type of credential you pursue, it should be Rhode Island approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or another national accrediting organization. The NLNAC guarantees that the core curriculum adequately prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that the majority of graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
In contrast to other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to earn a college degree. CNA education can be acquired at a community college or at either a vocational or trade school. The duration of the training can take anywhere from just one to 3 months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Within the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to receive at least 75 hours of instruction, 16 of which have to be clinical or “hands-on” training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimum period of instruction mandated and that each state has its specific prerequisites. So it’s essential to make certain that the course you enroll in not only complies with 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 Rhode Island to make sure that the education is state approved. In addition to 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 Degrees
Attending nursing programs online is growing into a more preferred way to receive instruction and attain a nursing degree in Rhode Island. Some schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs call for a certain number of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more accommodating solution to finding the time to attend college for some students. Concerning tuition, some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials can 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. And so if your work and household responsibilities have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Things to Ask Nurse Programs
Now that you have decided on which nursing degree to pursue, along with if to attend your classes on campus or online, you can use the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt realize, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges throughout Rhode Island and the United States. So it is essential to decrease the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier pointed out, the site of the school along with the price of tuition are most likely 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 before making your final choice, use the following questions to evaluate how your selection measures up to the other schools.
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. Aside from helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not provided for non-accredited schools in Rhode Island.
Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) along with graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a specified number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It’s essential that the school you are attending not only provides an excellent education, but also prepares you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for Rhode Island or the state where you will be practicing.
Reputation. Check internet rating companies to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. Also, get in touch with the Rhode Island school licensing authority to find out 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 judgements 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 finish their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were displeased with the program and dropped out. It’s also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the Rhode Island healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students attain a position.
Internship Programs. The most effective way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all Rhode Island nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing also. Check if the schools have a working relationship with regional hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.
Choose the Right RN Degree in Rhode Island
Enrolling in the ideal registered nursing college is perhaps the most crucial first step to launching a new career in the medical care field. There are many variables that you must think about when deciding on a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have emphasized within this content, it is essential that you select an RN school and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to choose from so that you can make your final selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a licensed RN in Rhode Island.