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How to Pick the Best Nursing Course near Gateway Alaska

Gateway Alaska RN with doctor and patientFinding the right nursing college near Gateway 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 presently know, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and determine the qualifications of each college you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate choice. The fact is, too many prospective students base their determination solely on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Selecting the least costly school or the one that is local to your residence is no doubt not the best way to decide on a nursing program. There are a number of key additional things to check out before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first look at what the role of a registered nurse is in our healthcare system, along with the nursing degree alternatives that are available.

Registered Nurse Job Activities

Gateway Alaska RN taking care of a nursing home patient

Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, such as Gateway AK hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary role is to help doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise as well as where they work. A few of the responsibilities of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Observing patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Coordinating care
  • Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
  • Informing patients and their families
  • Taking care of health records and charts

Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more high level job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and often work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat basic illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degrees Available

There is more than one degree option offered to become a registered nurse. And in order to become an RN, a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A student can receive a qualifying degree in just two years, or advance to achieve a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are offered in the Gateway 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 position in nursing in healthcare centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently attain a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more extensive training than the ADN. It is typically a four year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might 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 typically a 2 year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.

When a graduating student has acquired one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so don't forget to check with the Alaska board of nursing for any state requirements.

LPN and LVN Programs

Gateway Alaska LVN greeting man on crutchesThere are essentially two scholastic credentials available that provide education to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that can be completed in the shortest period of time, generally about twelve months, is the certificate or diploma program. The second option is to earn a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma alternative and typically require 2 years to complete. The benefit of Associate Degrees, along with offering a higher credential and more comprehensive training, are that they provide more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. Regardless of the kind of credential you seek, it should 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 the majority of graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.

CNA Programs

Unlike some other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to attain a college degree. CNA training can be received at Gateway AK area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The duration 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 instruction, 16 of which need to be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimum amount of training required and that each state has its specific requirements. So it's important to make sure that the training 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 check with the health or nursing board for your state to make sure that the training course is state certified. Along with the training, each state mandates a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there may be additional prerequisites as well.

Online Nursing Courses

Gateway Alaska RN assisting surgeon with operationEnrolling in nursing colleges online is emerging as a more in demand way to receive instruction and earn a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs call for a specified amount of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more practical solution to finding the free time to attend classes for some Gateway AK students. Pertaining to tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more economical. 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 family responsibilities have left you with limited time to work toward 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 Colleges

Once you have decided on which nursing program to pursue, along with if to attend your classes on campus near Gateway AK or on the web, you can use the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your choices. As you probably are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout Alaska and the United States. So it is important to decrease the number of schools to select from so that you will have a workable list. As we already discussed, the site of the school and the expense of tuition are most likely going to be the first two things that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your ultimate choice, use the following questions to see how your selection compares to the other programs.

  • 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. In addition to helping ensure that you get a premium education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Gateway AK for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements 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) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a certain number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are attending not only delivers an outstanding education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Visit online rating services to see what the assessments are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Also, get in touch with the Alaska school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Gateway 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 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 favorable reputation within the Gateway AK medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students obtain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The most ideal way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing too. Ask if the schools have associations with Gateway AK hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships.

Find Out More About Gateway Nursing Degree Programs

Enroll in the Right Gateway Nursing Degree Program

Selecting the ideal registered nursing degree program is probably the most critical step to starting a new career in the health care field. There are many aspects that you need to take into account when selecting a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and economic situation. As we have pointed out in this article, it is important that you choose an RN college and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the medical community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Gateway AK.



 

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