How to Find the Best Nursing School near Sterling Alaska
Selecting the right nursing school near Sterling AK may feel like a challenging undertaking, particularly if you aren't sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and determine the qualifications of each program you are contemplating before enrolling in your final choice. Regrettably, too many future students base their determination solely on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Selecting the least costly college or the one that is closest to your house is undoubtedly not the best way to choose a nursing program. There are various important additional aspects to look into before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first discuss what the role of a registered nurse is in our healthcare system, as well as the nursing degree choices that are offered.
Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, including Sterling AK hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary duty is to support doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Managing health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more complex job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master's Degree and normally 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 to become an RN, a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A student can obtain a qualifying degree in just two years, or advance to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 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 normally a two year program made available by community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards earn a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more expansive training than the ADN. It is typically a four 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 desire 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 commonly a 2 year program after obtaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
When a graduating student has attained one of the above degrees, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) in order 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 Courses
There are essentially two academic credentials offered that provide education to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that can be completed in the shortest time frame, typically about twelve months, is the certificate or diploma program. The next option is to earn a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma option and normally require 2 years to finish. The benefit of Associate Degrees, in addition to providing a higher credential and more comprehensive training, are that they furnish more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. No matter the type of credential you seek, it needs to 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 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 need to attain a college degree. CNA training 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 one to 3 months, leading to either a certificate or a diploma. Under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to have at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which need to be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimal period of training required and that each state has its own requirements. So it's important to make sure that the training 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 training course is state certified. In addition to the training, each state requires a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there might be additional requirements as well.
Nursing Online Courses
Attending nursing schools online is emerging as a more preferred way to get training and earn a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs call for a certain number of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more practical solution to finding the free time to attend college for many Sterling AK students. Regarding tuition, many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your job and household obligations 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 hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask Nursing Colleges
Now that you have chosen which nursing degree to pursue, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Sterling AK or on the web, you can use the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your choices. As you probably are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within Alaska and the United States. So it is important to reduce the number of schools to select from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we previously pointed out, the site of the school along with the expense of tuition are probably going to be the initial two factors that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final selection, 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 in addition to the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to helping make sure that you obtain a premium education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not available in Sterling AK for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a certain 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 delivers a top-notch education, but also prepares you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Check online rating services to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are considering. 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 call some Sterling 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 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 unhappy with the program and dropped out. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the Sterling AK healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students attain a position.
- Internship Programs. The best way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing as well. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Sterling AK hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.
Select the Right Sterling Nursing Program
Choosing the ideal registered nursing degree program is potentially the most crucial first step to starting a new career in the healthcare industry. There are various aspects that you should think about when picking a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have highlighted within this content, it is critical that you choose an RN college and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the medical community. By utilizing 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 final selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing RN in Sterling AK.