How to Select an Accredited Nursing School near Fairbanks AK
Finding the best nursing school near Fairbanks AK may feel like a difficult endeavor, especially if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you need to obtain the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and determine the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your final selection. The fact is, too many prospective students base their determination solely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Deciding on the least expensive school or the one that is nearest to your residence is no doubt not the most reliable way to pick a nursing program. There are several important additional things to look into before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree options that are available along with what the jobs of nurses are in our healthcare system.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, namely Fairbanks AK hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general job 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 area of expertise as well as where they work. A few of the functions of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Observing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Managing health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more complex job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master's Degree and typically 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 Degree Options
There are several degree options to choose from 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 acquire a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or advance to attain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Fairbanks Alaska area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a two year program offered by Alaska community colleges. It preps 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 later earn a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more extensive training than the ADN. It is typically a 4 year program offered at Alaska colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may 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 commonly a 2 year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
Once 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. Further requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so make sure to check with the Alaska board of nursing for any state mandates.
Nursing Online Programs
Attending nursing schools online is growing into a more favored way to receive instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and nearly all programs call for a specified amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more practical approach to finding the time to attend classes for some Fairbanks AK students. Pertaining to tuition, a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more affordable. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your work and family obligations have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing training program will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Things to Ask Nursing Colleges
Now that you have determined which nursing degree to pursue, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Fairbanks AK or online, you can use the following checklist to start narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout Alaska and the United States. So it is important to reduce the number of schools to select from so that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier discussed, the site of the school and the expense of tuition are probably going to be the first two things that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick measures up to the other programs.
- 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. Besides helping confirm that you receive an excellent education, it may help in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided in Alaska for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses differ 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 outstanding education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Look at online rating services to see what the assessments are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. Also, check with the Alaska school licensing authority to find out 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 opinions 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 essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate 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 gain 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 specific number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing also. Check if the schools have associations with Fairbanks AK area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Choose the Best Fairbanks AK RN Program
Enrolling in the right nursing college is perhaps the most crucial step to starting a new career in the health care industry. There are many variables that you should consider when choosing a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have emphasized within this article, it is important that you pick a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the medical community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a short list of schools to select from so that you can make your ultimate 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.