How to Select the Right Nursing Program near Wasilla Alaska
Locating the best nursing college near Wasilla AK may seem like a difficult undertaking, particularly if you aren't sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and assess the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your final choice. Unfortunately, too many prospective students base their decision solely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Going with the least costly program or the one that is closest to your home is most likely not the most ideal way to choose a nursing program. There are several important additional factors to explore before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first review what the role of a registered nurse is in our medical care system, along with the nursing degree alternatives that are available.
Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical settings, namely Wasilla AK hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic duty is to help doctors in the care of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise as well as where they work. A portion of the functions of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Monitoring patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Maintaining health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more high level job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master's Degree and commonly work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can deliver 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 earn a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or continue on to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are available in the Wasilla AK area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a 2 year program offered by community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently attain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more extensive 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 might wish to advance 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 two year program after acquiring the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
When 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. Further requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so make sure to check with the Alaska board of nursing for any state mandates.
There are essentially two scholastic credentials offered that provide training to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that can be finished in the shortest time frame, usually about 1 year, is the certificate or diploma course. The other alternative is to attain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma alternative and commonly require 2 years to finish. The advantage of Associate Degrees, besides supplying a higher credential and more comprehensive training, are that they furnish more transferable credit toward a Bachelor's Degree in nursing. Regardless of the type of credential you seek, it needs to be Alaska approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or some other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC attests that the core curriculum properly prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that most graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
Unlike other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to obtain a college degree. CNA education can be acquired at Wasilla AK area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The duration of the training can take anywhere from 1 to three months, leading to either a certificate or a diploma. Within the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are required to receive at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which need to be clinical or "hands-on" training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimal amount of training required and every state has its specific requirements. So it's necessary to make sure 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 suggestion is to check with the health or nursing board for your state to make sure 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 may be other requirements as well.
Nursing Online Courses
Enrolling in nursing colleges online is becoming a more in demand way to get instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs require a certain amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more practical solution to finding the free time to attend classes for many Wasilla AK students. Regarding tuition, some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even supplemental 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. So if your job and household obligations have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Questions to Ask Nursing Programs
Once you have chosen which nursing program to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Wasilla AK or online, you can use the following checklist to start narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt realize, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within Alaska and the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a workable list. As we already discussed, the location of the school as well as the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two factors that you will take into consideration. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate selection, use the following questions to see how your selection 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. Aside from helping ensure that you receive an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not available in Wasilla AK for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements 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. Many 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 attending not only delivers an exceptional education, but also prepares you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Alaska or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Look at internet rating companies to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. In addition, contact the Alaska school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Wasilla 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 important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a good reputation within the Wasilla AK medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students obtain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing as well. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Wasilla AK hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships.
Choose the Best Wasilla Nursing School
Picking the right registered nursing degree program is potentially the most critical step to launching a new career in the medical care industry. There are a number of variables that you must think about when selecting a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career objectives, obligations, and economic status. As we have emphasized in this content, it is critical that you choose an RN school and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Wasilla AK.