How to Enroll In the Best Nursing Course near Sterling Alaska
Searching for the best nursing school near Sterling AK may feel like a complex project, especially if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you need to receive the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and assess the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate selection. The fact is, too many potential students base their decision entirely on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Choosing the least costly school or the one that is nearest to your residence is no doubt not the most ideal way to select a nursing program. There are various essential additional factors to check out before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first discuss what the job of a registered nurse is in our medical system, along with the nursing degree choices that are available.
Registered Nurse Job Duties
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, namely Sterling AK hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general function is to aid doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the exact duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. A few of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Monitoring patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Managing care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Taking care of health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more high level job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and commonly 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 several degree options offered to become a registered nurse. And to become an RN, a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A student can acquire a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or advance to earn a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief descriptions of the nursing degrees that are offered in the Sterling AK area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a 2 year program made available by community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately obtain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more in depth training than the ADN. It is generally a 4 year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may wish 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 2 year program after obtaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
After a graduating student has earned 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 check with the Alaska board of nursing for any state requirements.
LVN and LPN Programs
There are generally two academic credentials offered that provide instruction to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that can be completed in the shortest time period, typically about 1 year, is the certificate or diploma program. The second choice is to earn a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma option and commonly require 2 years to complete. The benefit of Associate Degrees, in addition to offering a higher credential and more extensive training, are that they furnish more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. Regardless of the type of credential you pursue, it needs to be Alaska approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or another national accrediting organization. The NLNAC warrants that the syllabus adequately prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that the majority of graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
Unlike some other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to attain a college degree. CNA instruction can be received at Sterling AK area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The length of the training program can take anywhere from 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 training, 16 of which have to be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimal amount of training mandated and that each state has its own prerequisites. So it's important to make sure that the program 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 check with the health or nursing board for your state to make certain 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 might be other prerequisites as well.
Online Nursing Schools
Enrolling in nursing schools online is emerging as a more in demand way to obtain training and earn a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs call for a specified number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more accommodating approach to finding the free time to attend classes for some Sterling AK students. Pertaining to tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, 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 commitments have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Questions to Ask Nursing Programs
Now that you have selected which nursing degree to pursue, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near Sterling AK or on the internet, you can use the following pointers to begin narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within Alaska and the United States. So it is essential to decrease the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a workable list. As we previously pointed out, the site of the school as well as the price of tuition are probably going to be the first two points that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick compares to the other programs.
- 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 organization. In addition to helping verify that you get a quality education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Sterling 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) as well as graduation from an accredited school. Some 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 comply with the minimum licensing standards for Alaska or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Look at online rating services to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Additionally, contact the Alaska school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Sterling 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 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 displeased with the program and dropped out. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a superb reputation within the Sterling AK healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students gain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to get 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. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Sterling AK hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.
Choose the Right Sterling Nursing Program
Deciding on the ideal registered nursing school is probably the most critical first step to beginning a new career in the healthcare field. There are a number of aspects that you must think about when selecting a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career goals, obligations, and economic situation. As we have stressed in this article, it is essential that you select an RN school and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the health care 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 final selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing RN in Sterling AK.