How to Enroll In the Best RN College near Fairbanks AK
Searching for the best nursing school near Fairbanks AK may seem like a challenging endeavor, particularly if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you study and assess the qualifications of each program you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate choice. The fact is, too many future students base their determination solely on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Picking the least expensive program or the one that is closest to your house is probably not the most reliable way to choose a nursing program. There are many key additional factors to check into before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first look at the nursing degree alternatives that are offered as well as what the functions of nurses are in our health system.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical settings, including Fairbanks AK hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic duty is to help doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the exact duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization as well as where they work. Some of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Monitoring patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Keeping health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more complex job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master's Degree and often 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.
Nursing Degrees Available
There is more than one degree option offered to become a nurse. And in order to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A nursing student can earn a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or advance to earn a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief descriptions of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Fairbanks Alaska area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a two year program made available by Alaska community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately earn a higher degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more expansive training than the ADN. It is generally a 4 year program offered at Alaska colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might want to progress 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 provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
After a graduating student has obtained 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. Various other requirements for licensing change from state to state, so don't forget to get in touch with the Alaska board of nursing for any state mandates.
Online Nursing Programs
Enrolling in nursing colleges online is becoming a more in demand way to obtain instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs require a certain number of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more practical approach to finding the time to attend school for many Fairbanks AK students. Concerning tuition, many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more easily affordable. And many online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your work and family obligations have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.
What to Ask Nursing Programs
Now that you have decided on which nursing degree to pursue, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Fairbanks AK or on the internet, you can utilize the following guidelines to start narrowing down your choices. As you probably are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Alaska and the United States. So it is important to decrease the number of schools to select from so that you will have a workable list. As we earlier pointed out, the location of the school along with the price of tuition are most likely 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 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 acknowledged accrediting organization. Aside from helping make sure that you obtain an excellent education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided in Alaska for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria 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. Certain states require a specific number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are attending not only provides an excellent education, but also prepares you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Check internet rating services to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews also. Also, get in touch with the Alaska school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Fairbanks 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 confirm that the school has a superb reputation within the Fairbanks AK healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students gain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to acquire 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 also. Find out if the schools have associations with Fairbanks AK area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.
Choose the Best Fairbanks AK RN School
Selecting the right nursing college is probably the most crucial step to starting a new career in the healthcare industry. There are many variables that you need to take into account when selecting a nursing program. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have pointed out in this post, it is important that you choose a nursing school 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 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 drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Fairbanks AK.