How to Enroll In the Best Nursing Program near Sitka Alaska
Searching for the right nursing school near Sitka AK may feel like a complicated undertaking, particularly if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already know, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and determine the qualifications of each school you are thinking about before enrolling in your final choice. Unfortunately, too many future students base their decision entirely on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Deciding on the least expensive college or the one that is local to your residence is most likely not the most ideal way to decide on a nursing program. There are many crucial additional factors to look into before you decide where to attend classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first discuss what the job of a registered nurse is in our medical care system, together with the nursing degree choices that are offered.
Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, such as Sitka AK hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic duty is to assist doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the exact duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization along with where they work. A few of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Observing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Maintaining health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more advanced 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 routine illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degree Options
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 continue on to obtain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief descriptions of the nursing degrees that are available in the Sitka AK area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a two year program offered by community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately attain a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more in depth 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 might wish to advance to a clinical or administrative position, or be more competitive in the employment market.
- Master's. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is generally a two year program after acquiring the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
After 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 fluctuate from state to state, so be sure to contact the Alaska board of nursing for any state mandates.
LPN and LVN Training
There are basically two academic accreditations available that provide education to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that can be concluded in the shortest period of time, normally about 12 months, is the certificate or diploma course. The other choice is to earn a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma option and usually require 2 years to finish. The advantage of Associate Degrees, aside from supplying a higher credential and more extensive instruction, are that they furnish 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 another national accrediting organization. The NLNAC guarantees that the course of study 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 have to earn a college degree. CNA instruction can be received at Sitka 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 mandated to have at least 75 hours of instruction, 16 of which have to be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimum period of instruction mandated and each state has its own requirements. So it's important to make sure that the course you enroll in not only meets the federal requirements, but likewise those for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing. One recommendation is to contact the health or nursing board for your state to make sure that the training course is state approved. 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 Courses
Enrolling in nursing schools online is becoming a more preferred way to receive training and earn a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs call for a specific number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more practical approach to finding the time to attend school for some Sitka AK students. Regarding tuition, many online degree programs are less expensive 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 many online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your work and family obligations have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Questions to Ask Nursing Colleges
Once you have chosen which nursing program to pursue, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Sitka AK or on the internet, you can utilize the following pointers to start narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within Alaska and the United States. So it is important to lower the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier pointed out, the site of the school as well as the price of tuition are probably going to be the initial two points that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your ultimate selection, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick compares 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. Besides helping verify that you get a premium education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered in Sitka AK for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses differ 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 specific 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 provides a top-notch education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Visit online rating companies to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. In addition, check with the Alaska school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Sitka 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 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 good reputation within the Sitka AK healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students gain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing as well. Ask if the schools have associations with Sitka AK hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.
Enroll in the Best Sitka Nursing School
Picking the ideal registered nursing degree program is probably the most crucial phase to beginning a new career in the health care industry. There are various factors that you must consider when deciding on a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have stressed in this post, it is important that you select an RN college and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the medical community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Sitka AK.