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Nursing School Degree Programs Anchorage Alaska

How to Find the Right Nursing Program near Anchorage AK

Anchorage AK RN with Doctor and PatientSearching for the best nursing program near Anchorage AK may feel like a complicated endeavor, particularly if you don't know what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and determine the qualifications of each school you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate selection. The fact is, too many potential students base their decision solely on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Going with the least costly program or the one that is local to your home is probably not the most reliable way to pick a nursing program. There are various crucial additional factors to check into before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first look at the nursing degree choices that are available along with what the roles of nurses are in our healthcare system.

Registered Nurse Job Functions

Anchorage AK RN taking blood pressure of patient

Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, namely Anchorage AK hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general job is to help doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization along with where they work. A portion 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
  • Taking care of health records and charts

Nurses with a higher degree may have more high level job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, 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 basic illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degrees Available

Anchorage Alaska RN assisting surgeon

There are several degree options offered to become a nurse. And to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must attend an accredited school and program. A nursing student can receive a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or advance to earn a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Anchorage Alaska area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a 2 year program made available by Alaska community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and later achieve a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more extensive training than the ADN. It is usually a 4 year program offered at Alaska colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified to complete an accelerated program based on their previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may wish 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 usually a 2 year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example 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 vary from state to state, so make sure to contact the Alaska board of nursing for any state mandates.

Nursing Online Schools

Anchorage AK student attending RN classes onlineAttending nursing programs online is becoming a more popular way to get instruction and attain a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs call for a specified number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more practical approach to finding the free time to attend classes for many Anchorage AK students. Pertaining to tuition, some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. 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. Therefore if your work and household commitments have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.

Things to Ask Nursing Schools

Now that you have decided on which nursing degree to pursue, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Anchorage AK or on the internet, you can use the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly realize, there are many 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 workable list. As we earlier pointed out, the site of the school as well as the expense of tuition are probably going to be the primary two factors that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate selection, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick compares to the other schools.

  • 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 recognized accrediting organization. In addition to helping ensure that you obtain an excellent education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided in Alaska for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites 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) along with graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a certain 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 provides an excellent education, but also prepares you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing.
  • Reputation. Look at online rating services to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Also, check with the Alaska school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact 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 schools 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 dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a favorable reputation within the Anchorage AK healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students gain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The best way to obtain 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 requirements for licensing too. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Anchorage AK area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.

Enroll in the Best Anchorage AK Nursing Program

Anchorage Alaska nurse holding patient chartDeciding on the right nursing school is probably the most important first step to launching a new career in the medical care field. There are numerous aspects that you must take into account when choosing a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career objectives, obligations, and economic status. As we have pointed out in this post, it is critical that you pick a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the health care community.  By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to choose from so that you can make your final selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your dedication and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Anchorage AK.