How to Choose the Right Nursing Program near Meadow Lakes Alaska
Locating the best nursing program near Meadow Lakes AK may seem like a challenging undertaking, particularly if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the necessary education and training in order to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and assess the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Regrettably, too many future students base their selection exclusively on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Choosing the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your home is no doubt not the most ideal way to select a nursing program. There are many crucial additional things to explore before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first discuss what the role of a registered nurse is in our healthcare system, along with the nursing degree choices that are available.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, including Meadow Lakes AK hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic role is to aid doctors in the care of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. A portion of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing 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), as an example, must hold a Master's Degree and normally 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 Degree Options
There is more than one degree option to choose from 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 obtain a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or continue on to obtain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief summaries of the nursing degrees that are offered in the Meadow Lakes AK area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a two year program made available by community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately achieve a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more expansive training than the ADN. It is generally a four year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified 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 usually a 2 year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has acquired one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) so as to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so make sure to contact the Alaska board of nursing for any state requirements.
LVN and LPN Programs
There are generally two academic credentials offered that provide training to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that can be finished in the shortest time period, typically about one year, is the certificate or diploma program. The other alternative is to attain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma option and generally require 2 years to finish. The benefit of Associate Degrees, along with supplying a higher credential and more in-depth training, are that they furnish more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. No matter the type 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 guarantees 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.
Unlike other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to attain a college degree. CNA education can be acquired at Meadow Lakes AK area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The duration of the training program can take anywhere from just one to 3 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. Bear in mind that this is the minimal amount of training mandated and that each state has its specific requirements. So it's necessary to make certain that the course you enroll in not only complies with the federal requirements, but likewise those for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing. One tip is to check with the health or nursing board for your state to make sure that the training course is state approved. As well as 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.
Online Nursing Courses
Enrolling in nursing schools online is emerging as a more popular way to get training and acquire a nursing degree. Some schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs require a certain amount of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more accommodating approach to finding the time to attend classes for some Meadow Lakes AK students. Concerning tuition, many online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, 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 family responsibilities have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Things to Ask Nursing Degree Programs
Now that you have chosen which nursing degree to pursue, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Meadow Lakes AK or on the internet, you can utilize the following checklist to start narrowing down your options. As you probably realize, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within Alaska and the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a workable list. As we already discussed, the site of the school as well as the expense of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two factors that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate 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 as well as the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. In addition to helping make sure that you obtain an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Meadow Lakes 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) along with 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 essential that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an outstanding education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Look at 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 also. Also, 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 Meadow Lakes 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 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 essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a superb reputation within the Meadow Lakes AK healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students obtain employment.
- Internship Programs. The best way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Find out if the schools have associations with Meadow Lakes AK hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Pick the Right Meadow Lakes Nursing Program
Selecting the ideal registered nursing program is perhaps the most critical first step to starting a new career in the medical care industry. There are many factors that you should consider when choosing a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have emphasized in this article, it is essential that you select an RN college and a degree program that are both accredited and have outstanding reputations within the medical community. By using our checklist 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 proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Meadow Lakes AK.