How to Choose the Right Nursing College near Sterling Alaska
Selecting the right nursing college near Sterling AK may feel like a challenging project, particularly if you aren't sure 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 obtain the necessary education and training in order to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and evaluate the qualifications of each college you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate selection. Unfortunately, too many future students base their selection entirely on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Selecting the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your residence is most likely not the most reliable way to pick a nursing program. There are many important additional factors to check into before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first look at what the function of a registered nurse is in our medical system, together with the nursing degree options that are available.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, namely Sterling AK hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general duty is to support doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the exact duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. Some of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Observing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing 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), as an example, must hold a Master's Degree and often 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.
Nursing Degrees Available
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 attend an accredited school and program. A student can obtain a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or continue on to obtain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short summaries 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 preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and later attain a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more expansive training than the ADN. It is normally a four year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might 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 typically a 2 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.
Once 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. Various other requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so be sure to get in touch with the Alaska board of nursing for any state requirements.
LVN and LPN Programs
There are generally two academic 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, generally about twelve months, is the certificate or diploma program. The second option is to attain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma alternative and normally require 2 years to complete. The benefit of Associate Degrees, besides 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 kind of credential you seek, it should 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 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.
Unlike many other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to obtain a college degree. CNA instruction can be received at Sterling AK area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The duration of the training program can take anywhere from 1 to 3 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 must be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimal amount of instruction directed and every state has its specific prerequisites. So it's essential to make certain that the program you enroll in not only satisfies the federal requirements, but additionally those for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing. One recommendation is to get in touch with the health or nursing board for your state to make certain that the education is state certified. Along with the training, each state requires a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there might be other requirements as well.
Online Nursing Schools
Attending nursing schools online is emerging as a more preferred way to obtain training and acquire a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs require a certain number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more accommodating solution to finding the time to attend college for many Sterling AK students. Concerning tuition, some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more easily affordable. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your work and household responsibilities have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your active schedule.
What to Ask Nursing Degree Programs
Once you have chosen which nursing program to enroll in, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Sterling AK or online, you can use the following checklist to begin narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges throughout Alaska and the United States. So it is necessary to lower the number of schools to choose from in order that you will have a workable list. As we previously mentioned, the location of the school along with the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the first two factors that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final choice, use the following questions to see how your pick measures up to the field.
- 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 recognized accrediting agency. Besides helping confirm that you receive a premium education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Sterling 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) as well as graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a specific number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an exceptional education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Look at internet rating services to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Additionally, contact the Alaska school licensing authority to determine 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 colleges 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 unhappy with the program and dropped out. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a good reputation within the Sterling AK medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students gain employment.
- Internship Programs. The best way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing too. Check if the schools have associations with Sterling AK hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Select the Right Sterling Nursing College
Choosing the right registered nursing program is perhaps the most crucial first step to beginning a new career in the health care field. There are various variables that you must take into account when choosing a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, obligations, and economic situation. As we have highlighted in this post, it is important that you pick an RN school and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the medical community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list of schools to select from so that you can make your final selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing RN in Sterling AK.