How to Choose the Right Nursing Program near Chena Ridge Alaska
Searching for the right nursing school near Chena Ridge AK may feel like a formidable project, especially if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to acquire the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and assess the qualifications of each school you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Regrettably, too many potential students base their determination exclusively on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Going with the least expensive college or the one that is local to your home is most likely not the most reliable way to pick a nursing program. There are many key additional aspects to check into before you decide where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first look at what the function of a registered nurse is in our medical system, along with the nursing degree choices that are available.
Registered Nurse Job Duties
Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, namely Chena Ridge AK hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic job is to assist doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Observing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Keeping health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more advanced job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and often work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can provide primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degree Options
There is more than one degree option to choose from to become a registered nurse. And to become an RN, a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A student can earn a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or advance to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are available in the Chena Ridge AK area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a two year program offered by community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards attain a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more in depth training than the ADN. It is usually a four year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may desire to progress to a clinical or administrative position, or be more competitive in the employment market.
- Master's. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is usually a 2 year program after obtaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has attained 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 change from state to state, so don't forget to check with the Alaska board of nursing for any state requirements.
LPN and LVN Programs
There are essentially two academic accreditations offered that provide education to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that may be concluded in the shortest amount of time, typically about 1 year, 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 normally require 2 years to complete. The benefit of Associate Degrees, in addition to offering a higher credential and more extensive training, are that they provide more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. Regardless of the kind of credential you pursue, it should be Alaska approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or another national accrediting organization. The NLNAC attests that the core curriculum properly prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that the majority of graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
Unlike other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to attain a college degree. CNA instruction can be received at Chena Ridge AK area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The length of the training program can take anywhere from just one to three months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Within the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to have at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which need to be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimum amount of training mandated and each state has its own prerequisites. So it's essential to make sure that the program you enroll in not only complies with the federal requirements, but likewise those for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing. One suggestion is to get in touch with the health or nursing board for your state to make certain that the education 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 might be additional prerequisites as well.
Online Nursing Schools
Attending nursing colleges online is emerging as a more in demand way to obtain training and attain a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs require a specific number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more convenient solution to finding the free time to attend classes for many Chena Ridge AK students. Pertaining to tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials may 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. Therefore if your job and family responsibilities have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Things to Ask Nursing Programs
Once you have chosen which nursing degree to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Chena Ridge AK or online, you can utilize the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Alaska and the United States. So it is important to reduce the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we previously discussed, the site of the school and the price of tuition are most likely going to be the primary two factors that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate decision, 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 along with the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain a quality education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Chena Ridge AK for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses are different 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. Some 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 delivers a top-notch education, but also readies you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Look at internet rating companies to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. In addition, check with the Alaska school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Chena Ridge AK healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their opinions 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 complete 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 superb reputation within the Chena Ridge AK healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students obtain employment.
- Internship Programs. The best way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing too. Ask if the schools have associations with Chena Ridge AK hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.
Select the Best Chena Ridge Nursing Program
Choosing the right registered nursing school is potentially the most crucial step to launching a new career in the healthcare field. There are various variables that you must think about when deciding on a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, obligations, and financial status. As we have emphasized in this content, it is essential that you choose an RN school and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the health care community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist of schools to select from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Chena Ridge AK.