How to Choose an Accredited Nursing College near Juneau AK
Locating the right nursing school near Juneau AK may feel like a complicated endeavor, particularly if you aren't sure what to search for in a good degree program. As you may already know, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you need to receive the necessary education and training in order to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and determine the qualifications of each program you are thinking about before enrolling in your final selection. Unfortunately, too many future students base their determination solely on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Picking the least expensive program or the one that is nearest to your house is probably not the best way to choose a nursing program. There are several key additional aspects to explore before you determine where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first discuss the nursing degree choices that are available as well as what the jobs of nurses are in our medical care system.
Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in numerous different medical environments, including Juneau AK hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary duty is to assist doctors in the care of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. Some of the duties of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Observing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Managing health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more high level 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
There are several degree options offered to become a nurse. And 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 continue on to earn a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Juneau Alaska area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a two year program offered by Alaska community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently attain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is generally a 4 year program offered at Alaska colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their previous training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might want to progress 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 generally a 2 year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
Once a graduating student has earned one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) so as to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing change from state to state, so be sure to get in touch with the Alaska board of nursing for any state mandates.
Online Nursing Schools
Attending nursing schools online is becoming a more preferred way to obtain instruction and acquire a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs require a specific number of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare center. But since the rest of the training may be accessed online, this method may be a more convenient solution to finding the time to attend school for many Juneau AK students. Pertaining to tuition, many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be lessened, helping to make education more easily 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. So if your work and family responsibilities have left you with limited time to work toward your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Why Choose Nursing as a Career?Nurses are an integral part of a Juneau AK medical team, and for a number of patients, their primary care providers. A nursing career can lead to many opportunities, such as healthcare education, research and specialty areas of practice. Nurses enter the profession for several reasons, among the most meaningful are its personal and practical rewards. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Most individuals in a medical facility or home care setting spend more time with nurses than with doctors. Nurses frequently go into the profession out of a desire to administer to the needs of patients, including in cases of short-term treatment of illness and prolonged care of chronic conditions. This humanistic aspect of the health profession, rather than the research or analytical related elements, is appealing to many who decide to pursue a career in nursing. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can choose from a number of work settings, such as nursing homes, physician's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a variety of specializations, such as substance addictions, critical care, neonatology and genetics. Although most nurses deliver personal patient care, others choose to be teachers, policy consultants or pharmaceutical representatives.
What to Ask Nursing Colleges
Now that you have decided on which nursing degree to pursue, along with if to attend your classes on campus near Juneau AK or on the internet, you can utilize the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your choices. As you probably realize, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges throughout Alaska and the United States. So it is important to reduce the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier mentioned, the site of the school as well as the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two things that you will take into consideration. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your final selection, use the following questions to see how your selection measures up to the other programs.
- Accreditation. It's a good idea to make sure that the degree or certificate program as well as the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Besides helping confirm that you get a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Alaska for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses differ from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) together with graduation from an accredited school. Many states require a certain number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's essential that the school you are attending not only provides an exceptional education, but also prepares you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for Alaska or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Check online rating companies to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews as well. In addition, get in touch with the Alaska school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Juneau 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 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 substantiate that the school has a good reputation within the Juneau AK medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students gain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing too. Find out if the schools have associations with Juneau AK area hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Choose the Right Juneau AK RN Program
Selecting the right nursing degree program is perhaps the most important step to launching a new career in the medical care field. There are various aspects that you should consider when selecting a nursing college. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, obligations, and economic situation. As we have stressed in this post, it is critical that you choose a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the medical community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a shortlist of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Juneau AK.