What to Ask Nursing Programs
Once you have determined which nursing program to enroll in, as well as if to attend your classes on campus in Alaska or on the web, you can use the following pointers to begin narrowing down your choices. As you probably realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout Alaska and the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a workable list. As we already mentioned, the location of the school along with the expense of tuition are probably going to be the initial two factors that you will consider. 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 selection compares to the other schools.
- 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 organization. In addition to helping verify that you obtain a premium education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Alaska for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses vary 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 specific number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an outstanding education, but also preps you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Alaska or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Look at internet rating companies to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are considering. 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 Alaska 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 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 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 verify that the school has a favorable reputation within the Alaska healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students attain a position.
- Internship Programs. The best way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing also. Ask if the schools have associations with Alaska hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.