How to Enroll In the Best Nursing Training near Kenai Alaska
Choosing the right nursing college near Kenai AK may feel like a formidable undertaking, especially if you aren't sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and determine the qualifications of each school you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate choice. The fact is, too many prospective students base their decision entirely on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Deciding on the least costly program or the one that is nearest to your home is most likely not the best way to decide on a nursing program. There are a number of important additional factors to explore before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first cover what the role of a registered nurse is in our health system, as well as the nursing degree choices that are available.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, including Kenai AK hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general 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 area of expertise as well as where they work. A few of the functions of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Observing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating 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), as an example, 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 common illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Available
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 2 years, or continue on to earn a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are available in the Kenai AK area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a two year program made available by community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and later obtain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more extensive training than the ADN. It is usually 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 wish to advance 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 two year program after acquiring the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
After 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) to become licensed. Additional 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.
There are basically two academic credentials offered that provide education to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that may be completed in the shortest time period, normally about twelve months, is the certificate or diploma course. The next option is to obtain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma option and normally require 2 years to complete. The benefit of Associate Degrees, besides offering a higher credential and more extensive instruction, are that they provide more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. No matter the kind of credential you pursue, 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 guarantees that the syllabus properly prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that the majority of graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
Unlike many other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to obtain a college degree. CNA education can be acquired at Kenai AK area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The duration of the training program can take anywhere from 1 to three months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are required to have at least 75 hours of instruction, 16 of which need to be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimum period of training required and every state has its own prerequisites. So it's crucial to make certain that the program you enroll in not only satisfies 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 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 might be other prerequisites as well.
Nursing Online Courses
Attending nursing colleges online is growing into a more preferred way to receive instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Some 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 performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more practical approach to finding the time to attend school for some Kenai AK students. Pertaining to tuition, some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more easily affordable. And many 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 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.
What to Ask Nursing Degree Programs
Now that you have determined which nursing degree to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Kenai AK or on the internet, you can utilize the following checklist to start narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Alaska and the United States. So it is important to decrease the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier discussed, the location of the school and the expense of tuition are probably going to be the first two factors that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole 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 along with the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Besides helping ensure that you get an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not available in Kenai 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) as well as graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a certain number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are attending not only provides an excellent education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Look at online rating companies to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Additionally, check with the Alaska school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Kenai AK healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their assessments 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 finish their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a superb reputation within the Kenai AK medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students gain a position.
- 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 certain number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing also. Check if the schools have associations with Kenai AK hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Choose the Right Kenai Nursing Program
Selecting the ideal registered nursing program is potentially the most important step to launching a new career in the medical care industry. There are numerous variables that you should take into account when picking a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, obligations, and economic status. As we have stressed in this post, it is important that you choose an RN college and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a licensed registered nurse in Kenai AK.