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Nursing School Degree Programs Fairbanks Alaska

How to Find the Best RN Program near Fairbanks AK

Fairbanks AK Registered Nurse with Physician and PatientFinding the right nursing college near Fairbanks AK may seem like a challenging endeavor, particularly if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you must receive the proper education and training to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and assess the qualifications of each program you are thinking about before enrolling in your final choice. The fact is, too many potential students base their selection exclusively on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Choosing the least costly school or the one that is nearest to your home is no doubt not the most ideal way to pick a nursing program. There are a number of important additional factors to check into before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree alternatives that are available as well as what the jobs of nurses are in our medical system.

Registered Nurse Job Functions

Fairbanks AK RN taking blood pressure of elderly woman

Registered nurses are the largest 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 primary role is to assist doctors in the treatment of their patients. Having said that, the particular duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise in addition to where they work. A few of the responsibilities 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 complex job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and commonly work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can provide primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat basic illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degrees Available

Fairbanks Alaska Registered Nurse assisting surgeon

There are several degree options to choose from to become a nurse. And to become a Registered Nurse (RN), a student must attend 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 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 usually a two year program made available by Alaska community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and afterwards attain a more advanced degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more expansive training than the ADN. It is normally a four year program offered at Alaska colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might desire 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 two year program after receiving the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.

When a graduating student has acquired one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so don't forget to contact the Alaska board of nursing for any state mandates.

Online Nursing Degrees

Fairbanks AK student attending nursing classes onlineAttending nursing programs online is becoming a more popular way to get training and earn a nursing degree. Some schools will require attendance on campus for a component of the training, and almost all programs call for a specific amount of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this method may be a more accommodating answer to finding the time to attend classes for many Fairbanks AK students. Concerning tuition, some online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus options. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be minimized, helping to make education more 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. And so if your work and household responsibilities have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing training program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.

Why Nursing?

Nurses are an indispensable component of a Fairbanks AK medical team, and for a number of patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing can lead to many opportunities, including research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for various reasons, the most significant are its personal and practical rewards. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Most patients in a hospital or home care environment have more contact with nurses than with doctors. Nurses commonly go into the profession due to a passion to administer to the needs of patients, including in cases of short-term treatment of illness and prolonged care of chronic ailments. This humanistic side of the medical profession, as opposed to the analytical or research related elements, is attractive to many who choose to enter into a career in nursing. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can select from a variety of work environments, such as nursing homes, doctor's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a variety of specialties, such as addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. Although many nurses deliver direct patient care, others choose to be teachers, policy advisers or pharmaceutical representatives.

What to Ask Nursing Programs

questions to ask Fairbanks AK nursing degree collegesOnce you have decided on which nursing degree to pursue, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Fairbanks AK or on the web, you can utilize the following guidelines to start narrowing down your choices. As you probably realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges within 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 earlier discussed, the site of the school as well as the expense of tuition are probably going to be the primary two things that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your final decision, use the following questions to see how your selection compares 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 recognized accrediting agency. Besides helping ensure that you get a premium education, it may assist 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 needed 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 performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an exceptional education, but also prepares you to comply with 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 each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. In addition, contact the Alaska school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call 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 schools you are considering 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 displeased with the program and dropped out. It's also imperative 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 contacts to assist students gain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The best way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing also. 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.

Choose the Best Fairbanks AK Nursing Program

Fairbanks AK nurse holding babyChoosing the right nursing college is probably the most important phase to beginning a new career in the healthcare field. There are a number of aspects that you should consider when selecting a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career goals, obligations, and financial status. As we have emphasized in this article, it is important that you choose a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the health care community.  By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to pick 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.