How to Choose the Best Nursing Degree Program Online in Fairbanks Alaska
Locating the best nursing school near Fairbanks AK may feel like a difficult undertaking, especially if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to receive the appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you study and measure the qualifications of each school you are considering before enrolling in your ultimate choice. Unfortunately, too many prospective students base their determination entirely on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Deciding on the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your house is no doubt not the best way to choose a nursing program. There are a number of essential additional factors to check into before you determine where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first look at what the function of a registered nurse is in our medical system, along with the nursing degree options that are available.
It Takes Just a Minute to Start Your Nursing Career in Alaska!
RN Job Duties
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in a large number of different medical settings, namely Fairbanks AK hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic function is to aid doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the specific duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. A portion of the functions of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Overseeing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Maintaining health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more high level job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for example, must hold a Master's Degree and generally work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can administer primary or specialty care services, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat common illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degree Options
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 obtain a qualifying degree in just two years, or advance to earn a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief explanations of the nursing degrees that are available in the Fairbanks AK area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is normally a 2 year program offered by Alaska community colleges. It preps 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 earn a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more extensive training than the ADN. It is generally a four year program offered at Alaska colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be able 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 job market.
- Master's. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is commonly a two year program after achieving the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
When a graduating student has attained one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) in order to become licensed. Other requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so make sure to contact the Alaska board of nursing for any state requirements.
Online Nursing Colleges
Enrolling in nursing colleges online is growing into a more favored way to receive instruction and earn a nursing degree. Certain schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs call for a specified number of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare facility. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this method may be a more convenient answer to finding the free time to attend classes for many Fairbanks AK students. Pertaining to tuition, a number of online degree programs are less costly than other on campus options. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be lessened, 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 work and household commitments have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Things to Ask RN Degree Programs
Once you have selected which nursing degree to enroll in, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Fairbanks AK or on the internet, you can use the following guidelines to begin narrowing down your choices. As you probably are aware, there are numerous nursing schools and colleges within Alaska and the United States. So it is necessary to reduce the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we already pointed out, the site of the school as well as the expense of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the initial two factors that you will take into consideration. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your only qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate selection, use the following questions to see how your pick measures up to the other programs.
- 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 organization. In addition to helping verify that you get an excellent education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided in Fairbanks AK for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses vary from state to state. In all states, a passing score is needed on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) together with graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a specific number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are attending not only delivers an excellent 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 online rating companies to see what the reviews are for all of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. In addition, get in touch with the Alaska school licensing authority to check out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Fairbanks 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 programs you are looking at 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 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 Fairbanks AK medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students gain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most effective way to acquire 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. A number of states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing also. Ask if the schools have associations with Fairbanks AK hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.
Select the Right Fairbanks Nursing College
Picking the right nursing college is probably the most important phase to starting a new career in the health care field. There are numerous factors that you must take into account when deciding on a nursing school. These variables will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, lifestyle, and economic status. As we have highlighted within this post, it is critical that you choose a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent 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 final selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your dedication and drive to succeed, you can become a licensed RN in Fairbanks Alaska.