Friday, April 30, 2010

Dual Degree Nursing Programs

The field of nursing in itself encompasses many different specialties and the ability to work as a nurse and specialize in a particular aspect or type of health related issue is very appealing to many. There are some nurses who realize that the skills they have can be utilized in other professions. Combining the skills of nursing with other entities can be both helpful and lucrative. For this reason, many colleges and universities offer dual degree programs where students interested in nursing can also pursue another degree simultaneously that is either closely related to nursing or compliments the nursing degree.

There are a few dual degree options and one of the most popular is the Masters of Science in Nursing and the Masters in Public Health (MSN/MPH) dual degree. This program combines the clinical specialization of a master’s level nursing degree with a specialized master’s level public health degree. Nursing and public health are very closely related and obtaining dual degrees can be very beneficial especially for people interested in public health nursing. These two degrees allow an individual to be fully informed on the clinical aspects of nursing while being capable of applying these specialized skills on a much broader level helping not just one patient but a larger number of individuals to improve their health.

An additional dual degree nursing program is the BSN or MSN and a Juris Doctorate (J.D.) option. The combination of a medical and law degree is extremely helpful. There are many nurses who work for lawyers advising them on various health issues in relation to medical lawsuits. Many good medical malpractice and disability lawyers have a medical consultant-many times a nurse-to whom they seek counsel on cases. There are some nurses who decide after years of clinical work to utilize their skills legally by becoming malpractice and disability lawyers. With the clinical expertise and the legal training many find possessing a nursing degree coupled with a law degree to be quite lucrative.

Finally, for nurses looking to use their medical expertise in the business world there is the option of a BSN/MSN coupled with a Masters in Business Administration (MBA). There are many nurses who choose to use their medical expertise to head major organizations such as insurance companies. Some nurses even decide to open their own long-term care facilities and medical information companies. The MBA provides a solid business foundation which will aid a nurse in applying his/her medical abilities in a variety of circumstances.

The decision to pursue a dual degree in nursing and another discipline will provide unlimited opportunities to apply clinical medical knowledge in a variety of settings.

Nursing Degrees Options

When considering nursing as a profession there are a variety of different degrees that one can obtain to begin one’s career. Nurses are employed at a variety of different educational levels with all nurses requiring licensing and registration in their applicable state of professional practice. There are a number of avenues an individual can take to begin a career as a nurse.

A licensed practical nurse (LPN) also known as a vocational nurse is what some may consider the entry level area of nursing. Any one considering a career as a LPN must have a general education diploma or have successfully completed high school. Training for a position as a licensed practical nurse can usually be obtained through a community college or a vocational school. With full time study most students are able to complete training within a year. After completing a practical nursing program students must complete and pass a state licensing exam. LPNs make a decent entry level salary starting anywhere from $35,000 annually for a year’s worth of training. Licensed practical nurses are trained to provide daily living maintenance to patients, dispense medication to patients, start IVs and in some medical facilities maintain medical paperwork.

For those individuals looking for higher pay and more professional responsibility seeking licensure as a registered nurse is the ideal. A registered nurse (R.N.) completes an associate of nursing degree (A.S.N.) at a local community college. With the full time study most A.S.N. programs can be completed in two years and this includes both classroom and clinical portions of the program. Nurses with a two year degree are eligible to take the NCLEX test which is the nursing certification test to obtain a license to work in their chosen state. Obtain passing the NCLEX a person is officially a registered nurse and has an unlimited amount of opportunities to work and any medical facility as a nurse. The pay for a registered nurse is higher than those of the practical nurse with starting salaries beginning as high as $50,000 a year depending on the employer. Registered nurses have the training to provide a vast amount of patient care and they can specialize in many different areas such as neonatal care, intensive care and medical surgical nursing to name just a few.

Registered nurses can further their education and receive a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (B.S.N). Many hospitals are willing to assist their registered nurses in furthering their education by offering tuition assistance and reimbursement. Likewise, there are many nursing programs that offer R.N. to B.S.N. programs to aid current nurses in obtaining their bachelors degree. For an R.N. bridging their education to a bachelor’s degree it can take anywhere from two to four years to finish the program depending on full time or part time study. For those without previous nursing experience a traditional B.S.N. program is four years in duration. A bachelor’s degree in nursing helps to expand on the clinical skills already obtained and then offers a core in nursing foundation such as the history of nursing and the application of nursing on a broader level such as in administration.

Finally, there are a number of advanced practice degrees that can be obtained by nurses with a four year degree. The Master’s of Science in Nursing (M.S.N.) can be obtained in a variety of specialized fields such as nurse practitioner or nurse anesthetists. Advanced practice nurses are highly trained in their chosen areas and earn a much higher income because of the additional education and training. Most master’s degree programs can be completed in two years if attended full time.

Anyone considering nursing as a profession has a variety of pathways to beginning their nursing career.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Importance Of The NCLEX Test

Completing a nursing school program is a tremendous accomplishment. All the time and effort studying and passing test after test in nursing school has finally paid off in the form of a degree. But hold on a moment-you aren’t really a nurse until you have passed a very important test called the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). The NCLEX is the test that once passed qualifies an individual who has completed an accredited nursing program licensure to practice nursing professionally. It is a very important test and must be passed in order to be employed as a nurse throughout the United States.

The NCLEX is made and administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. It comes in two forms the NCLEX-PN for those seeking licensure as a practical or licensed vocation nurse and the NLCEX-RN for those seeking licensure as a registered nurse. This test is given and overseen by each state separately.

There is a cost associated with taking this exam and it is professionally monitored. If the exam is failed you have to wait a grace period of about 45-90 days before you can retest. Each state decides how many times an applicant can take the test after failing it. Moreover, the test is varied in composition mixing multiple choice with fill ins and rankings, and it is time limited. The exam is what is called CAT computer adaptive testing which allows the computer to choose the questions in a certain sequence based on the test taker’s previous answers. This provides an idea of the test taker’s knowledge of specific questions related to certain aspects of nursing. Because of the cost, time and significance of the NCLEX you should definitely prepare for this exam.

You would never want the many years of nursing school to go to waste all because you failed to pass the NCLEX so you should definitely prepare for this exam. There are nursing school programs that do devote time to reviewing for the NCLEX but given all that has to be covered within a nursing curriculum seeking an additional source to prepare for this test is vital. After graduating from nursing school it should be a priority to take this test as soon as possible since much of what you have learned is still fresh. Seek the support of NCLEX study groups; purchase the many NCLEX review materials and study, study, study. Review everything especially triage information and pharmacology because there is a good chance there will be questions related to these topics. This test will determine whether you will be able to work so it is in your best interest to prepare!

The NCLEX is one of the most important tests you will take as a nursing school graduate. Showing competence on this test by successfully passing it shows that you have truly taken the steps needed to become a qualified licensed nurse.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Nursing School Ethics

Most professions, particularly the helping professions, have a code of ethics that should be followed to ensure that the people being assisted are not taken advantage of. Nurses are also bound by an ethical code to ensure that they are adhering to a high standard of professional practice. There are a variety of topics covered within ethics in nursing. Some of the most discussed and debated topics are the right to choose treatment, maintaining confidentiality and allowing a patient to have informed consent.

The right to choose treatment sparks debate amongst many medical professionals and plays a great part in nursing ethics. A nurse ultimately wants the best for a patient at all times. When a medical professional presents a patient with a medical option it is up to the patient to decide whether or not they want to pursue it. Some patients decide that they would rather forgo helpful medical treatment. Sometimes this decision is made because the patient has endured an illness on a long term basis and would prefer to stop fighting the disease. The patient has made the decision to stop treatment and let the illness overcome their body. No matter how troubling this may seem to the nurse caring for a patient ultimately the patient has the right to accept or deny medical treatment as they see fit. A nurse must be able to accept the decisions his or her patient makes and continue to provide optimum care.

Maintaining confidentiality is another part of nursing ethics that is vitally important. Many medical professionals are constantly being reminded of the importance of maintaining the confidentiality of a patient’s medical information. There are specific forms that a nurse can have a patient sign to determine who can and cannot have access to personal medical information. Because there have been so many instances where people were discriminated against because of medical information it is important that a patient have the right to control who is privy to their medial information. Nurses are constantly placed in a position where they have to be very careful who they release a patient’s personal information to. Failure to maintain a patient’s confidentiality can result in major repercussions for both the hospital and the nurse who failed to uphold a patient’s right to confidentiality.

Informed consent is also a very important part of nursing ethics that is taught throughout all levels of nursing programs. Informed consent is when a patient signs a legal document detailing how they want medical treatment to be administered. This allows a patient to decide in the worse conditions what they would like to happen to them medically even if they are not able at the moment to decide because of deterioration in their health. A very well known informed consent is the DNR or do not resuscitate order which advises medical professions not to attempt life saving procedures. No matter how much a nurse or other medical professional would like to keep a patient alive to provide treatment, the proper ethical action is to allow the patient to die according to their written consent. Informed consents are documents that nurses push very hard to have completed in case of any complications while providing care. Informed consent makes adhering to nursing ethics somewhat less complicated as a person’s desires for his or health is clearly stated.

Following clearly defined ethical standards ensures that patients receive quality unbiased care.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Choosing Nursing Programs

Choosing the best nursing programs for your nursing education is a very important decision that can make or break your learning experience. Picking the nursing school that is most situated to you and your personal needs can prevent you from having to transfer to another school later on doing your learning process. There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a nursing school.

When choosing a nursing school it is important to make sure that your school is accredited and has a good record in preparing its students to become future nurses. Accreditation is very important when deciding upon any school for higher education. When a school is accredited by a particular organization, in this case a nursing organization, it means that certain qualifications and standards have been upheld when teaching nursing students.

There are two main nursing organizations that provide accreditation. They are the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing and Education (CCNE). It is important to only consider schools that are accredited by either or both of these nursing organizations. This will ensure that you will receive a quality nursing education. Similarly, when choosing a nursing program it is recommended that prospective students research the pass rates on the NCLEX which is the major test taken by nursing graduates to receive licensure to work as a nurse. The higher the NCLEX pass percentage for nursing graduates at a nursing school the more prepared the students were to take the test. This is a good sign that this school is preparing its students sufficiently to work as a nurse.

Convenience is also important when picking a nursing program. You should pick a school that is easily accessible and that provides convenient class hours and flexibility for your personal schedule. If you work full time and would like to pursue nursing school on a part time basis make sure that all schools you are considering offer evening and weekend classes and flexibility with clinical hours. Make sure that you are able to complete the nursing school program in the allotted amount of time stated by the nursing schools that you are considering. Most nursing schools mandate that the nursing curriculum be completed within a specified time usually no more than four or five years depending on the whether you are attending school full or part time.

Make sure that you can afford the nursing program that you choose. There are many quality nursing programs, some better than others, but it is always a good idea to balance a quality education with affordability. It is better to attend a good school that you can afford than a great school that is unaffordable and leaves you in a tremendous amount of debt or worse is so unaffordable that you have to halt your nursing education because of lack of financial aid. Apply for financial aid and choose a school that offers a quality nursing education at an affordable price.

Taking the time to consider a variety of different reasons why a nursing school may or may not be for you will ensure that you are ultimately satisfied with your nursing school choice.