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Nursing School Degree Programs Juneau Alaska

How to Select the Right RN College near Juneau AK

Juneau AK Nurse with Physician and PatientLocating the best nursing college near Juneau AK may feel like a complicated endeavor, particularly if you don't know what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already understand, in order to practice as a registered nurse, you must acquire the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and measure the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate choice. The fact is, too many future students base their determination entirely on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Going with the least costly school or the one that is closest to your home is no doubt not the most ideal way to decide on a nursing program. There are many important additional considerations to check into before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let's first look at the nursing degree options that are available as well as what the functions of nurses are in our medical system.

Registered Nurse Job Duties

Juneau AK Nurse taking blood pressure of patient

Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, namely Juneau AK hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general role is to aid doctors in the care of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise in addition to where they work. Some 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 advanced job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master's Degree and often work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can provide primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.

Nursing Degrees Available

Juneau Alaska Nurse assisting surgeon

There are several degree options to choose from 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 earn a qualifying degree in just two years, or advance to achieve a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Juneau Alaska area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a two year program offered by Alaska community colleges. It prepares graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently attain a higher degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more expansive training than the ADN. It is generally a four year program offered at Alaska colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their prior 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 employment market.
  • Master's Degree. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is typically a two year program after obtaining the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.

Once a graduating student has received 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. Other requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so make sure to check with the Alaska board of nursing for any state mandates.

Nursing Online Degrees

Juneau AK student attending nursing school onlineAttending nursing schools online is emerging as a more favored way to get instruction and attain a nursing degree. Some schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs require a certain amount of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more convenient answer to finding the free time to attend college for some Juneau AK students. Regarding tuition, a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus choices. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more easily affordable. And many online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your work and household obligations have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.

Questions to Ask Nursing Colleges

Now that you have chosen which nursing program to enroll in, and if to attend your classes on campus near Juneau AK or on the web, you can use the following pointers to begin narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout Alaska and the United States. So it is essential to reduce the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a manageable list. As we already pointed out, the site of the school and the cost of tuition are undoubtedly 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 ultimate choice, 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 agency. In addition to helping ensure that you get an excellent education, it may assist in securing financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered in Alaska for non-accredited schools.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses are different 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. Certain states require a specific number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are enrolled in not only provides an exceptional education, but also preps you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Check internet rating services to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. In addition, get in touch with the Alaska school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Juneau 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 looking at 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 dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a superb reputation within the Juneau AK healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students attain employment.
  • Internship Programs. The best way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing too. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Juneau AK area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.

Choose the Best Juneau AK Nursing Program

Juneau Alaska nurse holding medical chartPicking the ideal nursing program is perhaps the most crucial step to starting a new career in the healthcare industry. There are many variables that you should take into account when selecting a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, obligations, and financial situation. As we have pointed out within this content, it is critical that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the health care community.  By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to select from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your hard work and ambition to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Juneau AK.