How to Pick a Nursing College near West Stockbridge Massachusetts
Locating the best nursing school near West Stockbridge MA may feel like a complex project, especially if you aren’t sure what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and determine the qualifications of each college you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Regrettably, too many future students base their selection solely on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Deciding on the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your residence is probably not the most reliable way to pick a nursing program. There are a number of important additional things to explore before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let’s first review what the function of a registered nurse is in our health system, together with the nursing degree options that are available.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, namely West Stockbridge MA hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general job is to support 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 in addition to where they work. A few 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
- Taking care of health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more complex job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master’s Degree and normally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can deliver primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degree Options
There are multiple degrees offered to become a registered nurse. And to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can earn a qualifying degree in just two years, or continue on to achieve a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short explanations of the nursing degrees that are available in the West Stockbridge MA area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a two 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 utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and later obtain a higher degree.
- Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is commonly a 4 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 may wish 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 commonly a two year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
After a graduating student has acquired one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) so as to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so don’t forget to contact the Massachusetts board of nursing for any state mandates.
LVN and LPN Courses
There are basically two academic accreditations available that provide training to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that may be completed in the shortest period of time, commonly about one year, is the certificate or diploma course. The other option is to obtain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma alternative and generally require 2 years to complete. The advantage of Associate Degrees, aside from providing a higher credential and more comprehensive instruction, are that they provide more transferable credit toward a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. No matter the type of credential you seek, it needs to be Massachusetts 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 adequately prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that the majority of graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
Unlike many other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to attain a college degree. CNA education can be acquired at West Stockbridge MA area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The length of the training program can take anywhere from 1 to 3 months, leading to either a certificate or a diploma. Under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to obtain at least 75 hours of instruction, 16 of which must be clinical or “hands-on” training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimum period of training mandated and that every state has its specific requirements. So it’s crucial to make certain that the program you enroll in not only meets the federal requirements, but likewise those for Massachusetts or the state where you will be practicing. One tip is to get in touch 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 additional requirements as well.
Nursing Online Degrees
Enrolling in nursing colleges online is growing into a more favored way to obtain instruction and attain a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs require a certain amount of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more convenient answer to finding the time to attend school for some West Stockbridge MA students. Pertaining to 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 a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your job and family obligations have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask Nursing Colleges
Once you have selected which nursing program to enroll in, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near West Stockbridge MA or on the web, you can utilize the following pointers to start narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges throughout Massachusetts and the United States. So it is necessary to decrease the number of schools to choose from in order that you will have a workable list. As we previously pointed out, the site of the school and the price of tuition are most likely going to be the primary two points that you will take into consideration. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final selection, use the following questions to see how your selection measures up to the other programs.
- 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. Besides helping verify that you obtain a quality education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided in West Stockbridge MA for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses vary from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed 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 performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It’s essential that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an exceptional education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for Massachusetts or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Look at online rating services to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Additionally, check with the Massachusetts school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some West Stockbridge MA 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 dissatisfied 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 West Stockbridge MA medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students gain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing as well. Find out if the schools have associations with West Stockbridge MA hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.
Enrolling in a Nursing School near West Stockbridge MA?
Perhaps you have already made your decision to attend a Nursing Program in the greater West Stockbridge Massachusetts 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.
West Stockbridge, Massachusetts
West Stockbridge was first settled in 1766 and was officially incorporated in 1774. The town grew out of Stockbridge, formerly known as Indiantown, and was originally called Queensborough. The area was part of the disputed border between Massachusetts and New York, which eventually left the town in its current state. The town grew as five separate villages (West Center, West Stockbridge, Freedleyville, Rockdale and Williamsville), with West Stockbridge growing the largest because of the railroad, which hauled iron ore and marble. The town had an ironworks in Williamsville, founded by Colonel Elijah Williams, and the furnace smokestack is the only part which remains of the works.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 18.7 square miles (48.4 km2), of which 18.5 square miles (47.8 km2) is land and 0.15 square miles (0.4 km2), or 1.23%, is water.
West Stockbridge is bordered on the north by Richmond, on the east by Stockbridge, on the south by Great Barrington, on the southwest by Alford, and on the west by Austerlitz and Canaan, New York. West Stockbridge is 11 miles (18 km) south-southwest of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, 50 miles (80 km) west-northwest of Springfield, 132 miles (212 km) west of Boston, and 36 miles (58 km) southeast of Albany, New York.
Pick the Right Nursing School near West Stockbridge MA
Choosing the ideal nursing degree program is arguably the most critical step to starting a new career in the health care field. There are many variables that you must take into account when selecting a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, obligations, and economic status. As we have emphasized within this article, it is critical that you select a nursing college and a degree program that are each 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 right degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a licensed RN in West Stockbridge MA.
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