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How to Pick an Accredited RN College near Gateway Alaska

Gateway Alaska Nurse examining patient with stethoscopeChoosing the best nursing school near Gateway AK may feel like a formidable undertaking, particularly if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, for you 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 evaluate the qualifications of each school you are thinking about before enrolling in your ultimate choice. The fact is, too many potential students base their selection solely on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Going with the least costly program or the one that is nearest to your home is most likely not the best way to decide on a nursing program. There are various crucial additional things to look into before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first review the nursing degree choices that are available together with what the roles of nurses are in our healthcare system.

Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities

Gateway Alaska RN taking vital signs of elderly female patient

Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical care delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, including Gateway AK hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general role is to assist doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the exact duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization as well as where they work. Some of the responsibilities of an RN may include:

  • Providing medications
  • Monitoring patients
  • Performing physical examinations
  • Managing 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), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and normally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can deliver primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat routine illnesses or injuries.

Nursing School Degree Options

There is more than one degree option available 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 as little as two years, or continue on to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some short descriptions of the nursing degrees that are offered to aspiring students in the Gateway AK area.

  • Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a two year program made available by community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare centers including 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 in depth training than the ADN. It is commonly a 4 year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be eligible to complete an accelerated program based on their past 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 job market.
  • Master's Degree. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is usually a 2 year program after attaining the BSN. The MSN program offers 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) so as to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing can vary from state to state, so be sure to check with the Alaska board of nursing for any state mandates.

Nursing Online Classes

Gateway Alaska RN holding health fileAttending nursing programs online is emerging as a more favored way to receive training and attain a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs call for a specified amount of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more accommodating approach to finding the time to attend college for many Gateway AK students. Pertaining to tuition, many online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be reduced, 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. Therefore if your job and household obligations have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.

Why Choose the Nursing Profession?

Nurses are an essential component of a Gateway AK medical team, and for a large number of patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing can lead to many opportunities, such as research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for various reasons, the most meaningful are its practical and personal advantages. Nurses provide personal, one-on-one care to patients. Many individuals in a hospital or home care environment spend more time with nurses than with doctors. Nurses often choose the profession out of a desire to tend to the needs of patients, including in situations of short-term treatment of illness and prolonged care of chronic ailments. This humanistic aspect of the medical profession, as opposed to the research or analytical related facets, is appealing to many who elect to enter into a career in nursing. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can select from an assortment of work settings, including nursing homes, doctor's offices, health clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can progress into a number of specialties, such as substance addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. While most nurses provide primary patient care, others elect to be educators, policy consultants or pharmaceutical representatives.

Things to Ask Nursing Schools

Nurse reading with Gateway Alaska assisted living patientNow that you have determined which nursing degree to enroll in, and whether to attend your classes on campus near Gateway AK or on the web, you can utilize the following guidelines to start narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly realize, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Alaska and the United States. So it is important to lower the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a workable list. As we previously pointed out, the site of the school along with the price of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the first two factors that you will look at. 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 pick measures up 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. Aside from helping confirm that you obtain an excellent education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided for non-accredited schools.  Also, many Gateway AK area healthcare employers require that new hires have graduated from an accredited school.
  • Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses differ 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 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 requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be working.
  • Reputation. Visit internet rating services 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 contact some Gateway 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 colleges 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 essential that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a good reputation within the Gateway AK healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students obtain a position.
  • Internship Programs. The most effective way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing too. Find out if the schools have associations with Gateway AK hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.

Find Out More About Online Nursing Degree Programs in Gateway

Enroll in the Best Alaska RN Program

Deciding on the ideal nursing school is perhaps the most important first step to starting a new career in the healthcare industry. There are various factors that you must think about when selecting a nursing college. These factors will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career objectives, lifestyle, and economic situation. As we have highlighted in this post, it is critical that you pick a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the healthcare community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your final selection. And with the right degree and training, combined with your dedication and desire to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Gateway Alaska.


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