How to Enroll In the Right Nursing College near Sterling Alaska
Locating the best nursing program near Sterling AK may seem like a difficult endeavor, particularly if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and assess the qualifications of each college you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Regrettably, too many potential students base their selection entirely on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Deciding on the least expensive college or the one that is local to your residence is undoubtedly not the most reliable way to decide on a nursing program. There are several essential additional aspects to check into before you determine where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first look at what the role of a registered nurse is in our medical care system, as well as the nursing degree alternatives that are offered.
Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, namely Sterling AK hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general job is to aid doctors in the care of their patients. However, the exact duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization as well as where they work. Some of the functions of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Monitoring patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Managing health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more high level job duties and accountabilities. 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 common illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Available
There is more than one degree option available 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 just 2 years, or advance to achieve a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief descriptions of the nursing degrees that are available in the Sterling AK area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a 2 year program offered by community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ 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 qualified to complete an accelerated program based on their past 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 employment market.
- Master's. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is usually a 2 year program after obtaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
When a graduating student has received one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so be sure to check with the Alaska board of nursing for any state requirements.
LPN Certificates and Degrees
There are principally two scholastic accreditations offered that provide instruction to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that can be completed in the shortest period of time, usually about 1 year, is the certificate or diploma course. The next 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 complete. The advantage of Associate Degrees, in addition to 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 type of credential you seek, it should 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 core curriculum adequately prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that most graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
In contrast to other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to attain a college degree. CNA instruction can be acquired at Sterling AK area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The length of the training can take anywhere from just one to 3 months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Within the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to obtain at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which must be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimum period of instruction mandated and each state has its specific requirements. So it's important to make certain that the program you enroll in not only satisfies the federal requirements, but also 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 education is state approved. 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.
Online Nursing Degrees
Enrolling in nursing schools online is emerging as a more in demand way to receive training and attain a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs require a specified number of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more practical solution to finding the time to attend college for some Sterling AK students. Concerning tuition, some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And many online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your work and family responsibilities have left you with little time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing training program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Things to Ask Nursing Schools
Once you have determined which nursing degree to enroll in, along with if to attend your classes on campus near Sterling AK or on the internet, you can utilize the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your options. As you no doubt realize, 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 so that you will have a workable list. As we previously pointed out, the location of the school along with the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the initial two factors that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your ultimate choice, 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 organization. Besides helping make sure that you receive an excellent education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not provided in Sterling 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) along 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 imperative that the school you are attending not only provides an outstanding education, but also prepares 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 reviews are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. In addition, contact the Alaska school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact 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 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 unhappy 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 favorable reputation within the Sterling AK healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students obtain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing also. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Sterling AK hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Enroll in the Right Sterling Nursing Degree Program
Choosing the ideal registered nursing degree program is probably the most important phase to launching a new career in the health care industry. There are numerous variables that you must consider when choosing a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, obligations, and economic status. As we have highlighted in this article, it is critical that you choose an RN school and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist of schools to choose from so that you can make your final selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing RN in Sterling AK.