Become a Nurse | Nursing Schools Occidental CA

How to Pick a Nursing College near Occidental California

Occidental CA pediatric nurse holding babyLocating the right nursing school near Occidental CA may feel like a formidable undertaking, especially if you don’t know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to receive the proper education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and evaluate the qualifications of each program you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Unfortunately, too many potential students base their selection solely on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Choosing the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your home is undoubtedly not the most ideal way to decide on a nursing program. There are a number of essential additional aspects to explore before you make a decision where to enroll in 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, along with the nursing degree alternatives that are available.

Registered Nurse Job Activities

Occidental CA Registered Nurse (RN)Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, including Occidental CA hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary function is to assist doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. A portion of the responsibilities of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Monitoring patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Managing care
  • Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Educating patients and their families
  • Managing health records and charts

Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more high level job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master’s Degree and typically work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat basic illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degree Options

There is more than one degree option available to become a registered nurse. And in order to become an RN, a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A student can receive a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or continue on to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered in the Occidental CA area.

  • Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a 2 year program made available by community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards attain a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more extensive training than the ADN. It is typically a four year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible 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 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 typically a two year program after obtaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.

After a graduating student has earned one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) in order to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so make sure to get in touch with the California board of nursing for any state mandates.

LPN and LVN Certificates and Degrees

Occidental CA geriatric nurse with patientThere are principally two scholastic credentials available that provide instruction to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that can be concluded in the shortest amount of time, usually about 12 months, is the certificate or diploma program. The second alternative is to obtain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma option and typically require 2 years to complete. The advantage of Associate Degrees, besides supplying a higher credential and more in-depth training, are that they furnish more transferable credit toward a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. Regardless of the type of credential you pursue, it should be California approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or any other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC attests that the syllabus adequately prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that most graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.

CNA Diplomas

In contrast to many other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to attain a college degree. CNA education can be obtained at Occidental CA area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The duration of the training program can take anywhere from 1 to 3 months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are required to obtain 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 training required and each state has its specific prerequisites. So it’s necessary to make sure that the program you enroll in not only meets the federal requirements, but also those for California or the state where you will be practicing. One recommendation is to check with the health or nursing board for your state to make certain that the training course 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 can be other requirements as well.

Nursing Online Classes

female student attending nursing school online in Occidental CAAttending nursing schools online is becoming a more favored way to get instruction and earn a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs require a certain amount of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more convenient answer to finding the time to attend school for some Occidental CA students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your job and family responsibilities have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing training program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your active schedule.

Questions to Ask Nursing Schools

Now that you have selected which nursing program to enroll in, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Occidental CA or online, you can use the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within California and the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to choose from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier discussed, the location of the school and the expense of tuition are most likely going to be the first two things that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick compares to the other programs.

  • 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 organization. Aside from helping confirm that you get a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided in Occidental CA for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses vary from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) together with graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a certain number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It’s imperative that the school you are attending not only provides an excellent education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for California or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Visit internet rating services to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. Additionally, check with the California school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Occidental CA 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 looking at 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 imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a good reputation within the Occidental CA medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students attain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing too. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Occidental CA hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.

Enrolling in a Nursing School near Occidental CA?

Perhaps you have already made your decision to attend a Nursing Program in the greater Occidental California area.  If that is the case, then the following information may prove to be both educational and useful regarding the location of your future Alma Mater.

Occidental, California

Founded in 1876, Occidental was a stop on the North Pacific Coast Railroad connecting Cazadero to the Sausalito ferry. In return for donating right-of-way to the railroad, a local landowner named "Dutch Bill" Howards received a lifetime railway pass, and the station was named after him.[3]

Average January temperatures range from 41.8 °F (5.4 °C) to 54.5 °F (12.5 °C) and average July temperatures range from 51.4 °F (10.8 °C) to 77.9 °F (25.5 °C). The record highest temperature was 103 °F (39.4 °C) on July 22, 2006, and the record lowest temperature was 28 °F (−2.2 °C) on March 11, 2006. There are an average of 12.8 afternoons with highs of 90 °F or 32.2 °C or higher and an average of 2.1 mornings with lows of 32 °F or 0 °C or lower.

Average annual rainfall is 55.19 inches (1,401.8 mm). The wettest “rain year” was from July 1997 to June 1998 with 102.89 inches (2,613.4 mm) and the driest from July 2000 to June 2001 with 29.84 inches (757.9 mm).[5] The most rainfall in one month was 36.62 inches (930.1 mm) in January 1995. The most rainfall in 24 hours was 8.51 inches (216.2 mm) on January 5, 1966. Average annual snowfall is only 0.2 inches or 0.0051 metres. The maximum snowfall was 11.0 inches (0.28 m) in January 1974.[6]

Enroll in the Right Nursing Degree near Occidental CA

Occidental CA Neonatal Nurse with newborn babyPicking the ideal nursing school is potentially the most crucial first step to launching a new career in the healthcare field. There are various factors that you need to consider when selecting a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, obligations, and economic situation. As we have emphasized within this article, it is essential that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the healthcare community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your final selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a licensed RN in Occidental CA.

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