How to Select the Best Nursing School near Ketchikan Alaska
Finding the best nursing school near Ketchikan AK may seem like a challenging endeavor, particularly if you aren't sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, in order 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 choice. The fact is, too many potential students base their determination solely on the cost of tuition and the distance of the school. Choosing the least costly school or the one that is local to your house is undoubtedly not the best way to select a nursing program. There are a number of important additional aspects to investigate before you make a decision where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first cover the nursing degree options that are offered along with what the roles of nurses are in our healthcare system.
Registered Nurse Job Duties
Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, including Ketchikan AK hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general role is to help doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or specialization as well as where they work. A portion of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Monitoring patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Maintaining health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more high level job duties and responsibilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for 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 common illnesses or injuries.
Nursing School Degrees
There are multiple degrees 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 acquire a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or continue on to earn a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are available to aspiring students in the Ketchikan AK area.
- Associates Degree. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a 2 year program made available by community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level job in nursing in medical facilities including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and later achieve a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's Degree. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more extensive training than the ADN. It is normally a four year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be qualified 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 progress 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 receiving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
After a graduating student has received one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Various other requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so don't forget to check with the Alaska board of nursing for any state mandates.
Online Nursing Degrees
Attending nursing programs online is becoming a more favored way to get training and earn a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and almost all programs require a certain number of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more accommodating solution to finding the free time to attend school for many Ketchikan AK students. Pertaining to tuition, some online degree programs are less costly than other on campus alternatives. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, helping to make education more economical. And many online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your work and household obligations have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Why Choose Nursing as a Career?Nurses are an integral component of a Ketchikan AK medical team, and for many patients, their primary care providers. A career in nursing opens doors to a number of opportunities, including research, health care education and specialty areas of practice. Nurses go into the profession for many reasons, the most notable are its personal and practical rewards. Nurses provide direct, one-on-one care to patients. Many individuals in a medical facility or home care setting have more contact with nurses than with doctors. Nurses commonly go into the profession due to a desire to administer to the needs of patients, including in situations of short-term treatment of illness and prolonged care of chronic conditions. This human aspect of the medical profession, rather than the research or analytical related aspects, is attractive to many who decide to enter into a career in nursing. Nurses have extensive applicable skills and can choose from a variety of work settings, including nursing homes, physician's offices, medical clinics, community centers and hospitals. Also, nurses can advance into a number of specialties, such as addictions, critical care, genetics and neonatology. Although many nurses deliver primary patient care, others elect to be educators, policy consultants or pharmaceutical representatives.
What to Ask Nursing Programs
Now that you have selected which nursing degree to enroll in, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Ketchikan AK or on the web, you can use the following checklist 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 lower the number of schools to select from so that you will have a workable list. As we already discussed, the site of the school as well as the expense of tuition are probably going to be the first two factors that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So before making your final selection, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick compares to the other schools.
- 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 recognized accrediting agency. Aside from helping make sure that you receive a premium education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided for non-accredited schools. Also, many Ketchikan AK area healthcare employers require that new hires have graduated from an accredited school.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements for registered nurses vary from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required 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 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 readies you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Visit online rating services to see what the evaluations are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews as well. Additionally, check with the Alaska school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can contact some Ketchikan AK 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 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 unhappy 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 Ketchikan AK medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students obtain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing also. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Ketchikan AK hospitals, clinics or labs and assist with the placement of students in internships.
Choose the Right Alaska RN College
Deciding on the right nursing degree program is perhaps the most important step to launching a new career in the health care industry. There are numerous factors that you need to take into account when choosing a nursing college. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career objectives, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have highlighted in this content, it is important 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 create a short list of schools to pick from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a practicing nurse in Ketchikan Alaska.