How to Find the Best Nursing Course near Fairbanks AK
Locating the right nursing college near Fairbanks AK may feel like a formidable undertaking, especially if you aren't sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already know, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you need to receive the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and determine the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your final selection. Unfortunately, too many future students base their selection exclusively on the price of tuition and the nearness of the school. Selecting the least costly college or the one that is nearest to your home is undoubtedly not the most reliable way to decide on a nursing program. There are various crucial additional factors to explore before you determine where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree choices that are offered together with what the jobs of nurses are in our medical care system.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical 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 duty is to assist doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the exact duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization as well as where they work. A few of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Monitoring patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Keeping health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more complex job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master's Degree and normally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degree Options
There are several degree options 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 receive a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or advance to earn a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short 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 typically a 2 year program made available by Alaska community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and later achieve a higher degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more expansive training than the ADN. It is normally 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 wish 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 commonly a 2 year program after receiving 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. Various other requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so make sure to check with the Alaska board of nursing for any state requirements.
Online Nursing Degrees
Attending nursing programs online is becoming a more in demand way to receive training and earn a nursing degree. Some schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs require a certain number of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this alternative may be a more convenient approach to finding the free time to attend classes for some Fairbanks AK students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more easily affordable. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your job and household obligations have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Things to Ask Nursing Schools
Now that you have selected which nursing program to enroll in, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Fairbanks AK or on the internet, you can use the following pointers 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 workable list. As we already mentioned, the location of the school as well as the cost of tuition are probably going to be the first two points that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your final 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 in addition to the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. In addition to helping confirm 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 prerequisites for registered nurses vary from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a specified 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 excellent education, but also preps you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Check online 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 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 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 essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate 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 attain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing too. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Fairbanks AK area hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.
Enroll in the Best Fairbanks AK RN School
Enrolling in the ideal nursing school is probably the most critical phase to launching a new career in the healthcare field. There are many factors that you need to think about when selecting a nursing program. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have emphasized in this post, it is essential that you pick a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop 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 hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Fairbanks AK.