How to Find the Right Nursing School near Anchorage AK
Searching for the best nursing program near Anchorage AK may seem like a formidable undertaking, particularly if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must obtain the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and evaluate the qualifications of each college you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate selection. Unfortunately, too many prospective students base their decision solely on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Choosing the least expensive school or the one that is local to your home is undoubtedly not the most reliable way to choose a nursing program. There are various important additional considerations to check out before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first cover the nursing degree choices that are offered along with what the jobs of nurses are in our medical system.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the most significant occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical settings, such as Anchorage AK hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general function is to assist 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:
- Providing medications
- Monitoring patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Maintaining health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more complex job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and generally 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.
There are several degree options available to become a nurse. And in order to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must attend an accredited school and program. A nursing student can earn a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or advance to obtain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short descriptions of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Anchorage Alaska area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a two year program offered by Alaska 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 Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more expansive training than the ADN. It is usually a four year program offered at Alaska colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may want to progress to a clinical or administrative position, or be more competitive in the employment market.
- Master's Degree. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is normally 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.
After 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. Additional requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so make sure to check with the Alaska board of nursing for any state requirements.
Online Nursing Degrees
Enrolling in nursing colleges online is becoming a more preferred way to receive instruction and earn a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs call for a specified number of clinical rotation hours performed 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 many Anchorage AK students. Regarding tuition, a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus choices. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And many online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your job and family responsibilities have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Why Nursing?Nurses are an essential part of a Anchorage AK medical team, and for many patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing opens doors to many opportunities, such as healthcare education, research and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for several reasons, the most meaningful are its personal and practical advantages. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Most individuals in a medical facility or home care environment spend more time with nurses than with doctors. Nurses commonly choose the profession due to a desire to tend to the needs of patients, including in instances of short-term treatment of illness and long-term care of chronic ailments. This humanistic side of the medical profession, rather than the analytical or research related facets, is attractive to many who elect to pursue a nursing career. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can select from a number of work settings, including home care facilities, doctor's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a variety of specialties, including addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. While many nurses deliver primary patient care, others choose to be teachers, policy advisers and pharmaceutical representatives.
What to Ask Nursing Schools
Once you have decided on which nursing program to pursue, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Anchorage AK or on the web, you can utilize the following guidelines 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 lower the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier mentioned, the site of the school and the price of tuition are probably going to be the primary two points that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final decision, use the following questions to see how your selection 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 acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to helping verify that you obtain a quality education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered in Alaska for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses differ 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. Many states require a specified number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are enrolled in not only provides a top-notch education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Alaska or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Check online rating companies to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Additionally, check with the Alaska school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Anchorage 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 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 dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It's also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a favorable reputation within the Anchorage AK healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students obtain 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 specific number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing also. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Anchorage AK area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the positioning of students in internships.
Enroll in the Right Anchorage AK RN School
Enrolling in the right nursing degree program is potentially the most crucial first step to launching a new career in the medical care industry. There are various aspects that you must consider when deciding on a nursing program. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, obligations, and financial status. As we have pointed out within this post, it is critical that you select a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the medical community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to select from so that you can make your final selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your hard work and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Anchorage AK.