How to Find the Right Nursing Program near Palmer Alaska
Selecting the right nursing college near Palmer AK may feel like a complicated endeavor, especially if you aren't sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to obtain the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and assess the qualifications of each school you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate choice. The fact is, too many potential students base their determination solely on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Selecting the least costly school or the one that is nearest to your residence is probably not the most reliable way to pick a nursing program. There are many key additional considerations to check out before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first discuss what the role of a registered nurse is in our healthcare system, as well as the nursing degree alternatives that are offered.
Registered Nurse Job Duties
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical settings, including Palmer AK hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic function is to aid doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise in addition to where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Overseeing 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 responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, 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 common illnesses or injuries.
There are multiple degrees to choose from 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 as little as two years, or advance to obtain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief explanations of the nursing degrees that are available in the Palmer AK area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a 2 year program made available by community colleges. It preps 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 ultimately attain a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more in depth training than the ADN. It is usually a 4 year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might want 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 normally a two year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has obtained one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) so as to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so make sure to contact the Alaska board of nursing for any state requirements.
LVN and LPN Training
There are generally two scholastic credentials offered that provide education to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that can be completed in the shortest amount of time, commonly about one year, is the certificate or diploma course. The second option is to earn a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma option and commonly require 2 years to finish. The benefit of Associate Degrees, along with supplying a higher credential and more comprehensive 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 another 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.
In contrast to some other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to earn a college degree. CNA training can be acquired at Palmer AK area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The duration of the training 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 required to obtain at least 75 hours of instruction, 16 of which must be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimum amount of training directed and every state has its own prerequisites. So it's important to make sure 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 certain that the education is state certified. Along with the training, each state mandates a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there might be additional requirements as well.
Nursing Online Classes
Enrolling in nursing colleges online is growing into a more popular way to receive instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs require a specified number of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more practical approach to finding the time to attend school for many Palmer AK students. Pertaining to tuition, some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And many 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 responsibilities have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
What to Ask Nursing Programs
Once you have selected which nursing degree to pursue, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Palmer AK or online, you can use the following guidelines to start narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges throughout Alaska and the United States. So it is necessary to lower the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we previously pointed out, the site of the school as well as the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two things that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your final selection, use the following questions to see how your selection 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 agency. Besides helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Palmer 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 required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) together with graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a specified number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an outstanding education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Check online rating companies 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 find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Palmer AK healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their judgments are of the schools as well.
- Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the RN programs 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 essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a favorable reputation within the Palmer AK healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts 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 setting. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing as well. Find out if the schools have associations with Palmer AK hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.
Pick the Best Palmer Nursing Degree Program
Choosing the right registered nursing college is potentially the most important first step to beginning a new career in the medical care field. There are many aspects that you need to consider when selecting a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, obligations, and economic situation. As we have pointed out in this post, it is essential that you pick an RN school and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the medical community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Palmer AK.