RN Nursing Programs in South Dakota

How to Choose a Nursing Program in South Dakota

South Dakota Registered NurseSearching for the right nursing college in South Dakota may seem like a complicated project, especially if you aren’t sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, for you 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 program you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate selection. Unfortunately, too many potential students base their decision entirely on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Deciding on the least expensive program or the one that is local to your residence is probably not the most reliable way to decide on a nursing program. There are many important additional factors to check out before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let’s first cover what the function of a registered nurse is in our health system, together with the nursing degree options that are offered.

Registered Nurse Job Functions

Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the South Dakota medical delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical settings, namely hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general job is to support doctors in the care of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. Some of the duties of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Overseeing 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 advanced job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master’s Degree and normally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can deliver primary or specialty care services in South Dakota, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degree Options

There is more than one degree option to choose from to become a registered nurse in South Dakota. And to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can acquire a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or continue on to earn a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief descriptions of the nursing degrees that are available.

  • Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a 2 year program made available by South Dakota community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately earn a higher degree.
  • Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more in depth training than the ADN. It is generally a 4 year program offered at South Dakota colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might desire 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 normally a 2 year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner in South Dakota or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.

When a graduating student has received one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so be sure to get in touch with the South Dakota board of nursing for any state requirements.

LPN and LVN Courses

RN assisting surgeon in South DakotaThere are generally two scholastic accreditations offered that provide education to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that can be completed in the shortest amount of time, typically about one year, is the certificate or diploma program. The other option is to attain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma option and typically require 2 years to finish. The benefit of Associate Degrees, in addition to offering a higher credential and more extensive 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 South Dakota 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 properly prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that most graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.

CNA Certificates

In contrast to many other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to earn a college degree. CNA instruction can be obtained at a community college or at either a vocational or trade school. The length of the instruction can take anywhere from just one to three 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. Keep in mind that this is the minimum period of instruction directed and every state has its specific prerequisites. So it’s necessary to make sure that the training program you enroll in not only meets the federal requirements, but also those for the state where you will be practicing. One tip is to check with the health or nursing board for South Dakota to make certain that the training is state certified. In addition to the training, each state mandates a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there might be other prerequisites as well.

Online Nursing Programs

attending nursing school online in South DakotaAttending nursing programs online is emerging as a more favored way to get training and acquire a nursing degree in South Dakota. Some schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs call for a certain number of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more convenient solution to finding the time to attend college for some students. Concerning tuition, some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And numerous 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 commitments have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.

What to Ask Nurse Schools

Now that you have determined which nursing degree to pursue, as well as if to attend your classes on campus or on the internet, you can use the following guidelines to start narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout South Dakota and the United States. So it is essential to reduce the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we already pointed out, the site of the school as well as the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the initial two factors that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate choice, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick measures up to the other schools.

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. Aside from helping verify that you obtain a premium education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided for non-accredited schools in South Dakota.

Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses are different from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) together with graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a specified number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It’s essential that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an outstanding education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing standards for South Dakota or the state where you will be practicing.

Reputation. Look at internet rating services to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. In addition, check with the South Dakota school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some regional 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 unhappy 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 good reputation within the South Dakota medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students attain a position.

Internship Programs. The most ideal way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all South Dakota 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.

Pick the Right RN College in South Dakota

Picking the ideal registered nursing degree program is potentially the most crucial phase to beginning a new career in the healthcare industry. There are a number of aspects that you need to think about when picking a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, obligations, and economic status. As we have stressed within this article, it is critical that you choose an RN school and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the health care 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 hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing RN in South Dakota.

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