How to Select the Best Nursing Program near Fairbanks AK
Choosing the right nursing school near Fairbanks AK may feel like a complicated project, especially if you don't know what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and measure the qualifications of each school you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate selection. The fact is, too many prospective students base their determination exclusively on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Picking the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your residence is most likely not the most ideal way to select a nursing program. There are many crucial additional aspects to investigate before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first look at the nursing degree options that are offered together with what the jobs of nurses are in our health system.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, including Fairbanks AK hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general function is to assist doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise as well as where they work. Some of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Supervising 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 complex job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and often 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 Degree Options
There is more than one degree option offered 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 obtain a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or continue on to obtain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Fairbanks Alaska area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a 2 year program offered by Alaska community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and later achieve a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more expansive training than the ADN. It is generally a four 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 may wish 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 commonly a 2 year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
When a graduating student has attained 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 fluctuate from state to state, so be sure to get in touch with the Alaska board of nursing for any state requirements.
Online Nursing Programs
Attending nursing programs online is growing into a more preferred way to receive training and attain a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance 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 rest of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more accommodating solution to finding the time to attend school for some Fairbanks AK students. Regarding tuition, a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even supplementary 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. Therefore if your job and family 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 hectic schedule.
Why Become a Nurse?Nurses are an integral part of a Fairbanks AK medical team, and for many patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing opens doors to a number of opportunities, including research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses enter the profession for many reasons, the most meaningful are its personal and practical advantages. Nurses provide direct, one-on-one care to patients. Most individuals in a medical facility or home care setting spend more time with nurses than with doctors. Nurses frequently go into the profession out of a desire to administer to the needs of patients, including in situations of short-term treatment of illness and extended care of chronic conditions. This human aspect of the medical profession, rather than the research or analytical related facets, is appealing to many who choose to pursue a nursing career. Nurses have a wide range of applicable skills and can choose from a number of work settings, including home care facilities, doctor's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a number of specialties, including addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. Although many nurses deliver primary patient care, others elect to be educators, policy consultants or pharmaceutical representatives.
What to Ask Nursing Colleges
Now that you have selected which nursing program to pursue, along with if to attend your classes on campus near Fairbanks AK or online, you can use the following guidelines to start narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly realize, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges throughout Alaska and the United States. So it is necessary to lower the number of schools to choose from in order that you will have a workable list. As we already discussed, the site of the school and the expense of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two factors that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to see how your pick measures up to the other schools.
- 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 organization. Besides helping verify that you obtain an excellent education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often 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 needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) together with graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a certain number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are attending not only provides an outstanding education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Visit internet rating companies to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Also, get in touch with the Alaska school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Fairbanks 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 complete their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were unhappy 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 good reputation within the Fairbanks AK medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students attain 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 specified number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing as well. Ask if the schools have a working relationship with Fairbanks AK area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.
Enroll in the Best Fairbanks AK Nursing Program
Deciding on the right nursing program is arguably the most important step to launching a new career in the health care field. There are various factors that you should take into account when picking a nursing college. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have stressed within this article, it is critical that you select a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the health care community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a short list of schools to choose 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 Fairbanks AK.