How to Pick the Best Nursing School near College Alaska
Selecting the best nursing program near College AK may feel like a complex undertaking, especially if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you need to receive the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and evaluate the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate choice. The fact is, too many potential students base their selection entirely on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Going with the least expensive program or the one that is closest to your residence is no doubt not the best way to select a nursing program. There are various essential additional factors to check out before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first discuss what the role of a registered nurse is in our medical care system, together with the nursing degree options that are available.
Registered Nurse Job Duties
Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, including College AK hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general duty is to aid 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 as well as where they work. Some of the functions of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Overseeing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Maintaining 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 normally 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.
There is more than one degree option available to become a registered nurse. And in order to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can obtain a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or continue on to achieve 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 usually a two year program offered by community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently obtain a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more expansive training than the ADN. It is commonly a four year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their previous 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 job market.
- Master's. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is normally a 2 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.
Once a graduating student has received one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) in order to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so make sure to check with the Alaska board of nursing for any state requirements.
LVN and LPN Training
There are basically two academic credentials available that provide training to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that may be completed in the shortest period of time, normally about twelve months, is the certificate or diploma course. The next option is to attain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma option and typically require 2 years to complete. The advantage of Associate Degrees, in addition to providing a higher credential and more in-depth training, are that they provide more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. Regardless of the kind of credential you pursue, it needs to 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 syllabus effectively 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 need to obtain a college degree. CNA training 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, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to obtain at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which have to be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimum period of instruction mandated and each state has its specific prerequisites. So it's essential to make sure that the training program you enroll in not only fulfills the federal requirements, but also 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 sure that the education 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 might be additional prerequisites as well.
Nursing Online Courses
Attending nursing schools online is emerging as a more preferred way to receive instruction and earn a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs require a specific amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more accommodating approach to finding the time to attend classes for some 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 may be lessened, helping to make education more easily affordable. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your job and family obligations have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your active schedule.
What to Ask Nursing Programs
Now that you have decided on which nursing program to enroll in, along with if to attend your classes on campus near College AK or online, you can utilize the following guidelines to start narrowing down your options. As you probably realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout Alaska and the United States. So it is important to lower the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we previously pointed out, the location of the school as well as the expense of tuition are most likely going to be the initial two things that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your final selection, use the following questions to see how your pick measures up 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 receive a premium education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently 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 required 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 completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an outstanding education, but also prepares you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Visit online rating services to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. Additionally, get in touch with the Alaska school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with 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 colleges you are considering 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 unhappy with the program and dropped out. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a superb reputation within the College AK medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students attain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Ask if the schools have associations with College AK hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.
Pick the Best College Nursing College
Selecting the right registered nursing degree program is perhaps the most important first step to beginning a new career in the medical care field. There are various factors that you need to take into account when picking a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, lifestyle, and economic situation. As we have stressed in this article, it is important that you pick an RN school and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the medical community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist of schools to select 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 practicing RN in College AK.