How to Pick a Nursing Program near Washington District of Columbia
Finding the best nursing program near Washington DC may feel like a challenging project, especially if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and assess the qualifications of each program you are thinking about before enrolling in your final selection. Regrettably, too many potential students base their selection solely on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Choosing the least costly college or the one that is local to your residence is most likely not the most ideal way to decide on a nursing program. There are a number of essential additional considerations to investigate before you determine where to attend classes. But before we examine that checklist, let’s first go over what the role of a registered nurse is in our medical system, together with the nursing degree choices that are offered.
Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, namely Washington DC hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general duty is to support doctors in the care of their patients. However, the exact duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization as well as where they work. A few of the functions of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Observing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Managing care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Keeping health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more complex job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master’s Degree and commonly work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can provide primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Available
There are multiple degrees offered to become a registered nurse. And in order 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 advance to achieve a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief summaries of the nursing degrees that are available in the Washington DC area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a two year program made available by community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently obtain a higher degree.
- Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is typically a 4 year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may want 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 offers 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) to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so be sure to check with the District of Columbia board of nursing for any state mandates.
LPN and LVN Courses
There are generally two academic credentials available that provide instruction to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that can be completed in the shortest time period, usually about 12 months, is the certificate or diploma program. The next choice is to obtain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma alternative and typically require 2 years to finish. The advantage of Associate Degrees, along with supplying a higher credential and more comprehensive instruction, are that they furnish more transferable credit toward a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. No matter the kind of credential you pursue, it should be District of Columbia approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or another national accrediting organization. The NLNAC guarantees that the syllabus properly prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that the majority of graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
In contrast to some other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to attain a college degree. CNA training can be acquired at Washington DC area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The length of the training can take anywhere from one to 3 months, leading to either a certificate or a diploma. Within the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to obtain at least 75 hours of instruction, 16 of which need to be clinical or “hands-on” training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimum amount of training directed and every state has its own requirements. So it’s important to make certain that the course you enroll in not only meets the federal requirements, but also those for District of Columbia 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 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.
Things to Ask Nursing Programs
Once you have decided on which nursing program to enroll in, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Washington DC or on the internet, you can utilize the following checklist to start narrowing down your choices. As you probably are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within District of Columbia and the United States. So it is essential to decrease the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we already mentioned, the site of the school as well as the price of tuition are probably going to be the initial two things that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your final choice, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick compares 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 agency. Besides helping make sure that you obtain an excellent education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not available in Washington DC for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses vary 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. Certain 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 attending not only provides an exceptional education, but also preps you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for District of Columbia or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Visit internet rating services to see what the assessments are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Also, contact the District of Columbia school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Washington DC 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 colleges 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 important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a favorable reputation within the Washington DC healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students obtain 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 specific number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing also. Find out if the schools have associations with Washington DC hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships.
Online Nursing Programs
Enrolling in nursing colleges online is becoming a more preferred way to receive instruction and attain a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs require a specific amount of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training may be accessed online, this method may be a more practical approach to finding the free time to attend classes for many Washington DC students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. 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. Therefore if your job and family responsibilities have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, maybe an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Attending a Nursing School near Washington DC?
Perhaps you have already made your decision to attend a Nursing Program in the greater Washington District of Columbia 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.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington or D.C., is the capital of the United States of America. Founded after the American Revolution as the seat of government of the newly independent country, Washington was named after George Washington, first President of the United States and Founding Father. Washington is the principal city of the Washington metropolitan area, which has a population of 6,131,977. Washington has been described as an important political capital, owing to its status as the seat of the United States federal government. Washington is one of the most visited cities in the world, with more than 20 million annual tourists.
The signing of the Residence Act on July 16, 1790, approved the creation of a capital district located along the Potomac River on the country's East Coast. The U.S. Constitution provided for a federal district under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Congress and the District is therefore not a part of any state. The states of Maryland and Virginia each donated land to form the federal district, which included the pre-existing settlements of Georgetown and Alexandria. Named in honor of President George Washington, the City of Washington was founded in 1791 to serve as the new national capital. In 1846, Congress returned the land originally ceded by Virginia; in 1871, it created a single municipal government for the remaining portion of the District.
Washington had an estimated population of 693,972 as of July 2017. Commuters from the surrounding Maryland and Virginia suburbs raise the city's daytime population to more than one million during the workweek. The Washington metropolitan area, of which the District is the principal city, has a population of over 6 million, the sixth-largest metropolitan statistical area in the country.
Choose the Right Nursing Degree near Washington DC
Enrolling in the ideal registered nursing degree program is probably the most crucial step to beginning a new career in the healthcare field. There are various factors that you should take into account when choosing a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have stressed within this content, it is critical that you choose an RN school and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the health care community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list of schools to select from so that you can make your final selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a licensed registered nurse in Washington DC.
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