How to Enroll In the Best Nursing School near Fairbanks Alaska
Locating the right nursing program near Fairbanks AK may seem like a complex project, especially 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 research and evaluate the qualifications of each college you are considering before enrolling in your final choice. Unfortunately, too many future students base their selection exclusively on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Picking the least costly program or the one that is local to your home is probably not the most ideal way to decide on a nursing program. There are several important additional considerations to explore before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first cover what the function of a registered nurse is in our medical care system, along with the nursing degree choices that are offered.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, such as Fairbanks AK hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic function is to support doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization as well as where they work. Some of the functions of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Monitoring patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Maintaining health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more high level job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master's Degree and typically 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 are multiple degrees offered to become a registered nurse. And to become an RN, a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A student can acquire a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or continue on to earn a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief descriptions of the nursing degrees that are offered in the Fairbanks AK area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a 2 year program made available by community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately obtain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more expansive training than the ADN. It is usually a four year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified 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 commonly a 2 year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
After a graduating student has attained 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. Various other requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so make sure to contact the Alaska board of nursing for any state mandates.
LPN and LVN Programs
There are principally two scholastic credentials offered that provide training to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that can be finished in the shortest period of time, commonly about 1 year, is the certificate or diploma program. The next alternative is to obtain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma option and usually require 2 years to finish. The benefit of Associate Degrees, aside from providing a higher credential and more in-depth instruction, 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 some other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC attests that the core curriculum effectively 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 attain a college degree. CNA education can be acquired at Fairbanks 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, leading to either a certificate or a diploma. Within the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are required to receive at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which have to be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimum amount of training directed and every state has its own requirements. So it's necessary to make sure that the training program you enroll in not only fulfills 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 certain that the training is state certified. Along with 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 Degrees
Attending nursing programs online is emerging as a more in demand way to receive training and attain a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs call for a specified number of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more accommodating answer to finding the time to attend school for many Fairbanks AK students. Regarding tuition, a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your work and household commitments have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing training program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Things to Ask Nursing Colleges
Now that you have decided on which nursing program to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Fairbanks AK or on the web, you can utilize the following checklist to start narrowing down your options. As you no doubt realize, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges throughout Alaska and the United States. So it is essential to lower the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a manageable list. As we already pointed out, the site of the school along with the expense of tuition are most likely going to be the primary two factors that you will consider. But as we also stressed, 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 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 agency. In addition to helping make sure that you obtain an excellent education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided in Fairbanks AK for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses vary 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. Many states require a certain number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an outstanding education, but also prepares you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Alaska or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Visit internet rating companies to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. In addition, get in touch with the Alaska school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Fairbanks 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 finish their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were unhappy with the program and dropped out. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a good reputation within the Fairbanks AK healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students attain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to obtain 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. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing too. Find out if the schools have associations with Fairbanks AK hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.
Pick the Best Fairbanks Nursing College
Deciding on the ideal registered nursing college is potentially the most crucial first step to launching a new career in the medical care field. There are various variables that you should consider when picking a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have pointed out in this content, it is critical that you select an RN school and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the health care community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a short list of schools to choose 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 Fairbanks AK.