How to Select the Right RN College Online in Anchorage Alaska
Choosing the best nursing college near Anchorage AK may seem like a formidable endeavor, particularly if you aren't sure what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already 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 essential that you research and measure the qualifications of each school you are contemplating before enrolling in your final choice. Unfortunately, too many potential students base their selection exclusively on the cost of tuition and the proximity of the school. Choosing the least costly college or the one that is closest to your home is no doubt not the most reliable way to choose a nursing program. There are many crucial additional factors to explore before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first discuss what the job of a registered nurse is in our medical care system, along with the nursing degree choices that are offered.
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Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical environments, including Anchorage AK hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary function is to support doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise in addition to where they work. A few of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Monitoring patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Educating patients and their families
- Taking care of health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more high level 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 common illnesses or injuries.
There are multiple degrees to choose from to become a registered nurse. And to become an RN, a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A student can obtain a qualifying degree in as little as 2 years, or continue on to achieve a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief summaries of the nursing degrees that are available in the Anchorage AK area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is typically a 2 year program made available by Alaska community colleges. It readies graduates for an entry level job in nursing in healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many employ the ADN as an entry into nursing and ultimately attain a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more comprehensive training than the ADN. It is usually 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 wish to progress 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 two 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, he or she must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing change from state to state, so don't forget to check with the Alaska board of nursing for any state mandates.
Nursing Online Colleges
Enrolling in nursing programs online is becoming a more favored way to obtain instruction and attain a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs call for a specific amount of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare center. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this method may be a more convenient solution to finding the time to attend college for many Anchorage AK students. Pertaining to tuition, many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus choices. Even additional expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more easily affordable. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your job and household responsibilities 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 hectic schedule.
Things to Ask Nursing Programs
Now that you have decided on which nursing program to pursue, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near Anchorage AK or on the internet, you can utilize the following checklist to start narrowing down your options. As you no doubt are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges throughout Alaska and the United States. So it is necessary to lower the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a manageable list. As we previously discussed, the site of the school and the expense of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the primary two things that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your final selection, use the following questions to see how your selection compares to the other schools.
- 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 recognized accrediting agency. Besides helping make sure that you receive a quality education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are often not provided in Anchorage AK for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses vary from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) in addition to 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 important that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers a top-notch education, but also readies you to satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Look at internet rating services to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies 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 Anchorage 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 colleges 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 unhappy 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 Anchorage AK medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students gain a position.
- Internship Programs. The best way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Various states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing also. Find out if the schools have associations with Anchorage AK hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.
Pick the Best Anchorage Nursing School
Enrolling in the ideal nursing degree program is probably the most crucial phase to beginning a new career in the medical care industry. There are many factors that you need to take into account when selecting a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and financial situation. As we have highlighted within this post, it is essential that you select a nursing college and a degree program that are both accredited and have excellent reputations within the medical community. By utilizing our checklist of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist 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 ambition to succeed, you can become a licensed registered nurse in Anchorage Alaska.