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How to Enroll In the Right Nursing Program near College Alaska

College Alaska RN with doctor and patientLocating the best nursing school near College AK may feel like a formidable endeavor, particularly if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and determine the qualifications of each program you are contemplating before enrolling in your final selection. Unfortunately, too many future students base their determination solely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Deciding on the least expensive program or the one that is local to your house is most likely not the most ideal way to decide on a nursing program. There are many important additional considerations to check into before you determine where to attend classes. But before we delve into 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

College Alaska nurse talking to a senior patient

Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, including College AK hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general duty is to support doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the exact duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise as well as where they work. Some of the duties of an RN may include:

  • Administering medications
  • Observing patients
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Managing care
  • Supervising 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 basic illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degrees

There is more than one degree option 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 obtain a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or advance to earn a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short explanations of the nursing degrees that are available in the College AK area.

  • Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a two year program made available by community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently achieve a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more in depth training than the ADN. It is typically a 4 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 might wish to advance 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 two year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.

When a graduating student has earned 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 be sure to get in touch with the Alaska board of nursing for any state mandates.

LPN and LVN Training

College Alaska LVN greeting patient on crutchesThere are essentially two scholastic accreditations offered that provide instruction to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that can be concluded in the shortest time period, typically about 12 months, is the certificate or diploma program. The 2nd option is to attain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma alternative and typically require 2 years to complete. The advantage of Associate Degrees, aside from offering a higher credential and more comprehensive instruction, are that they furnish more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. Regardless of the type of credential you seek, it needs to be Alaska approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or any other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC attests that the course of study adequately prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that most graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.

CNA Diplomas

Unlike many other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to earn a college degree. CNA education can be acquired at College AK area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The length of the training program 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 receive at least 75 hours of instruction, 16 of which must be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimal period of training required and every state has its specific requirements. So it's essential to make sure that the training 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 tip is to get in touch with the health or nursing board for your state to make sure 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 can be additional requirements as well.

Nursing Online Courses

College Alaska nurse assisting surgeon with operationEnrolling in nursing colleges 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 almost all programs require a specified amount of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more practical approach to finding the time to attend college for many College AK students. Pertaining to tuition, some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your job and household commitments have left you with limited 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 hectic schedule.

Things to Ask Nursing Programs

Now that you have decided on which nursing degree to pursue, along with if to attend your classes on campus near College AK or on the web, you can utilize the following checklist to begin narrowing down your options. As you probably are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within Alaska and the United States. So it is essential to reduce the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a workable list. As we already mentioned, the location of the school as well as the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two points that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final choice, use the following questions to see how your selection measures up to the field.

  • 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides helping confirm that you get a premium education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered in College 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 needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) along with graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a certain number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are enrolled in not only provides a top-notch education, but also preps you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Look at online rating services to see what the assessments are for each 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 determine 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 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 imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a good reputation within the College AK medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students obtain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The best way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing also. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with College AK hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.

Find Out More About College Nursing Courses

Select the Right College Nursing Degree Program

Deciding on the ideal registered nursing college is perhaps the most critical first step to beginning a new career in the medical care industry. There are many aspects that you should take into account when picking a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career objectives, obligations, and financial situation. As we have emphasized within this article, it is essential that you select an RN college and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the health care community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list of schools to select from so that you can make your final selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing RN in College AK.



 

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