How to Select the Right RN College Online in Anchorage Alaska
Searching for the right nursing program near Anchorage AK may seem like a complex undertaking, especially if you have no idea what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, for you to practice as a registered nurse, you need to receive the appropriate education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and evaluate the qualifications of each school you are thinking about before enrolling in your final choice. The fact is, too many prospective students base their determination solely on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Picking the least expensive program or the one that is local to your residence is undoubtedly not the best way to pick a nursing program. There are many crucial additional aspects to explore before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first go over what the job of a registered nurse is in our medical care system, as well as the nursing degree choices that are available.
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Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, such as Anchorage AK hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary role is to support 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 duties of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Observing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Keeping 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 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 Degrees Available
There is more than one degree option offered to become a registered nurse. And to become an RN, a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A student can earn a qualifying degree in as little as two years, or continue on to attain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered in the Anchorage AK area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is generally a 2 year program made available by Alaska community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level position in nursing in healthcare centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently achieve a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more expansive training than the ADN. It is commonly a 4 year program offered at Alaska colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program might desire to advance to a clinical or administrative position, or be more competitive in the employment market.
- Master's. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is normally a 2 year program after obtaining the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
After 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 vary from state to state, so make sure to contact the Alaska board of nursing for any state mandates.
Online Nursing Degrees
Attending nursing schools online is growing into a more preferred way to get training and acquire a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and nearly all programs require a certain amount of clinical rotation hours performed in a local healthcare facility. But since the rest of the training can be accessed online, this option may be a more practical approach to finding the time to attend school for many Anchorage AK students. Concerning tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, 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. Therefore if your work and household commitments have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
What to Ask Nursing Colleges
Once you have determined which nursing program to pursue, and if to attend your classes on campus near Anchorage AK or on the internet, you can utilize the following checklist to begin narrowing down your choices. As you undoubtedly are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout Alaska and the United States. So it is important to decrease the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we previously pointed out, the site of the school and the expense of tuition are most likely going to be the first two factors that you will look at. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final choice, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick measures up to the field.
- 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 agency. Besides helping verify that you obtain a premium education, it may help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered in Anchorage AK for non-accredited schools.
- 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) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Some states require a specified number of clinical hours be completed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's important that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers a top-notch education, but also prepares you to comply with the minimum licensing standards for Alaska or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Look at internet rating companies to see what the assessments are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. In addition, check with the Alaska school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some Anchorage 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 programs 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 imperative that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only confirm that the school has a superb reputation within the Anchorage AK medical community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students gain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a certain number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing also. Ask if the schools have associations with Anchorage AK hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Choose the Right Anchorage Nursing School
Deciding on the ideal nursing degree program is potentially the most critical first step to launching a new career in the healthcare field. There are numerous variables that you need to take into account when selecting a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career goals, obligations, and financial status. As we have emphasized within this post, it is important that you select a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have exceptional reputations within the health care community. By using our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a short list 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 desire to succeed, you can become a licensed RN in Anchorage Alaska.