How to Find the Right Nursing Degree Program near College Alaska
Selecting the right nursing program near College AK 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, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the proper education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and determine the qualifications of each program you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Regrettably, too many prospective students base their determination entirely on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Deciding on the least expensive school or the one that is closest to your home is most likely not the most reliable way to select a nursing program. There are many important additional considerations to check out before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first cover what the job 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 primary occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, such as College AK hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary function is to support doctors in the care of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization along with where they work. Some of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Observing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating 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 accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and generally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can provide primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat basic illnesses or injuries.
There is more than one degree option offered to become a registered nurse. And to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can acquire a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or advance to earn a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief explanations of the nursing degrees that are available in the College AK area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a two year program offered by community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and later attain a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more extensive training than the ADN. It is commonly a four year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible 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 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 typically a 2 year program after acquiring the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
Once 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) to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so be sure to get in touch with the Alaska board of nursing for any state requirements.
There are generally two academic credentials offered that provide instruction to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that can be finished in the shortest period of time, normally about one year, 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 alternative and generally require 2 years to finish. The benefit of Associate Degrees, in addition to providing a higher credential and more comprehensive 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 Alaska approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or some other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC attests that the course of study 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 other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to obtain a college degree. CNA instruction can be obtained at College AK area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The duration of the instruction can take anywhere from one to three months, leading to 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 have to be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimal amount of training required and every state has its specific prerequisites. So it's necessary to make sure that the program you enroll in not only complies with the federal requirements, but additionally those for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing. One suggestion is to check with the health or nursing board for your state to make sure that the training course is state approved. In addition to the training, each state requires a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there may be additional requirements as well.
Nursing Online Schools
Enrolling in nursing programs online is becoming a more in demand way to get instruction and acquire 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 carried out in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more practical answer to finding the free time to attend classes for many College AK students. Concerning tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And many online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your job and household responsibilities have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Questions to Ask Nursing Degree Programs
Now that you have chosen which nursing degree to enroll in, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near College AK or online, you can utilize the following pointers to begin narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Alaska and the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we previously mentioned, the site of the school along with the price of tuition are probably going to be the initial two points that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final selection, use the following questions to see how your pick measures up to the field.
- 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. In addition to helping make sure that you obtain an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not available in College AK for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses are different from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) along with graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a specific 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 delivers an excellent education, but also prepares you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Check online rating services to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Additionally, contact the Alaska school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some College 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 programs 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 essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the College AK medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students gain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Almost all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Find out if the schools have associations with College AK hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.
Enroll in the Best College Nursing School
Picking the right registered nursing school is probably the most critical first step to starting a new career in the health care field. There are many variables that you need to think about when choosing a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career goals, obligations, and economic situation. As we have stressed within this post, it is important that you pick an RN school and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a licensed registered nurse in College AK.