How to Find an Accredited Nursing Program near Anchorage AK
Selecting the best nursing school near Anchorage AK may seem like a complicated undertaking, particularly if you aren't sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already know, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you need to receive the proper 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. Choosing the least costly school or the one that is closest to your house is most likely not the most ideal way to choose a nursing program. There are several important additional things to check into before you decide where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree alternatives that are available as well as what the roles of nurses are in our healthcare system.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical settings, such as Anchorage AK hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary job is to aid 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 few of the duties of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Observing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Managing care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Maintaining health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more advanced job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and normally 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 are multiple degrees available to become a nurse. And to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A nursing student can obtain a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or advance to obtain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief explanations of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Anchorage Alaska area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a two year program offered by Alaska community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately attain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more extensive training than the ADN. It is typically a four year program offered at Alaska colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their prior training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might want to advance to a clinical or administrative position, or be more competitive in the job market.
- Master's Degree. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is normally a 2 year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
When a graduating student has acquired one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) so as to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so don't forget to check with the Alaska board of nursing for any state mandates.
Online Nursing Programs
Attending nursing schools online is emerging as a more popular way to receive instruction and earn a nursing degree. Some schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs call for a certain amount of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more convenient answer to finding the time to attend classes for many Anchorage AK students. Regarding tuition, some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even supplementary 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 such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your work and household obligations have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask Nursing Programs
Now that you have determined which nursing degree to pursue, and 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 no doubt are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within Alaska and the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to select from so that you will have a manageable list. As we previously mentioned, the location of the school along with the price of tuition are undoubtedly 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 ultimate decision, use the following questions to see how your pick measures up to the other programs.
- 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. Besides helping verify that you get a quality education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are often not offered in Alaska for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) together with graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a specified number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers a top-notch education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Check internet rating companies to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. Additionally, contact the Alaska school licensing authority to find out 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 assessments are of the schools as well.
- Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the RN schools you are considering 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 displeased with the program and dropped out. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a superb reputation within the Anchorage AK medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students obtain employment.
- Internship Programs. The best way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specific 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 Anchorage AK area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.
Choose the Right Anchorage AK Nursing School
Picking the ideal nursing college is perhaps the most crucial first step to launching a new career in the healthcare industry. There are a number of aspects that you need to think about when choosing a nursing college. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have pointed out within this content, it is important that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the health care community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list of schools to select from so that you can make your final selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Anchorage AK.