How to Find the Right Nursing College in Sterling Virginia
Finding the best nursing college near Sterling VA may feel like a complicated undertaking, particularly if you don’t know what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and evaluate the qualifications of each college you are thinking about before enrolling in your final selection. Regrettably, too many future students base their selection exclusively on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Picking 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 many essential additional factors to check out before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let’s first discuss what the role of a registered nurse is in our healthcare system, together with the nursing degree choices that are available.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the Sterling VA medical delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, such as hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary job is to aid doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization along with where they work. A portion of the duties of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Monitoring patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Supervising 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), for example, must hold a Master’s Degree and often work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can administer primary or specialty care services in Sterling VA, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.
There are multiple degrees to choose from to become a registered nurse in Sterling VA. And in order to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can earn a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or continue on 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 two year program made available by Virginia community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately achieve a higher degree.
- Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more in depth training than the ADN. It is commonly a four year program offered at Virginia colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible 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 advance to a clinical or administrative position, or be more competitive in the employment market.
- Master’s. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is commonly a 2 year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner in Sterling VA 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) in order to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so make sure to check with the Virginia board of nursing for any state mandates.
LVN and LPN Programs
There are principally two scholastic credentials available that provide training to become either an LPN or an LVN in Sterling VA. The one that may be completed in the shortest period of time, generally about 12 months, is the certificate or diploma program. The next alternative is to attain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma option and generally require 2 years to finish. The advantage of Associate Degrees, besides offering a higher credential and more comprehensive training, are that they provide more transferrable credit toward a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. Regardless of the kind of credential you pursue, it needs to be Virginia approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or some other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC attests that the core curriculum properly prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that most graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
Unlike other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to obtain a college degree. CNA instruction can be obtained at a community college or at either a vocational or trade school in the Sterling VA area. The length of the training can take anywhere from 1 to three months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to receive at least 75 hours of instruction, 16 of which must be clinical or “hands-on” training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimal amount of instruction required and that each state has its specific prerequisites. So it’s essential to make sure that the training program 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 check with the health or nursing board for Virginia to make sure that the training is state approved. As well as 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
Attending nursing schools online is emerging as a more preferred way to receive training and earn a nursing degree in Virginia. Some schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs require a specific number of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online in your Sterling VA home, this alternative may be a more convenient approach to finding the time to attend classes for many students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And many online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your job and family obligations have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
What to Ask Nurse Schools
Now that you have determined which nursing degree to pursue, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus or online, you can use the following guidelines to start narrowing down your options. As you probably are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within Virginia and the United States. So it is important to reduce the number of schools to choose from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we already mentioned, the site of the school relative to Sterling VA and the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the initial two factors that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to see how your selection compares 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. Besides helping confirm that you get an excellent education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available for non-accredited schools near Sterling VA.
Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements 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 specific number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It’s imperative that the Sterling VA area school you are attending not only provides a top-notch education, but also prepares you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Virginia or the state where you will be practicing.
Reputation. Check online rating services to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. Also, check with the Virginia school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some local Sterling VA 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 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 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 Sterling VA healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students attain a position.
Internship Programs. The most ideal way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all Sterling VA area nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing also. Ask if the schools have associations with local hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.
Select the Right RN Degree near Sterling VA
Enrolling in the right registered nursing program is probably the most critical phase to beginning a new career in the healthcare industry. There are various aspects that you need to consider when choosing a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career objectives, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have stressed within this post, it is critical that you select an RN college and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the medical community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and drive to succeed, you can become a licensed RN in Sterling VA.
Why Did You Choose to Become an RN?When getting ready to interview for a nursing job, it's advantageous to consider questions you may be asked. One of the questions that recruiters frequently ask nursing applicants is "What made you decide on nursing as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not just the private reasons you might have for being a registered nurse, but also what qualities and abilities you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating specifically to nursing, along with a certain number of general interview questions, so you must prepare several approaches about how you would like to address them. Because there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this primary question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the strengths you possess that make you an exceptional nurse and the leading choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but take down several ideas and topics that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample responses can assist you to formulate your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to wow the interviewer.
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