Questions to Ask Nursing Programs
Once you have decided on which nursing degree to enroll in, and whether to attend your classes on campus in Alaska or online, you can utilize the following checklist 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 necessary to reduce the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a manageable list. As we previously mentioned, the location of the school and the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the initial 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 evaluate how your selection measures up to the other programs.
- 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 receive a premium 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 vary 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. Some states require a certain number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are attending not only provides an outstanding education, but also prepares you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Check online rating services to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. In addition, check with the Alaska school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Alaska healthcare organizations you're interested in working for after graduation and ask what their assessments are of the schools as well.
- Graduation and Job Placement Rates. Find out from the RN programs 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 dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It's also imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a favorable reputation within the Alaska healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students obtain a position.
- Internship Programs. The best way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing also. Check if the schools have associations with Alaska hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placing of students in internships.