How to Select the Right Nursing Course near Fairbanks Alaska
Choosing the best nursing program near Fairbanks AK may feel like a challenging project, especially if you have no idea 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 appropriate education and training in order to become licensed. So it is essential that you research and evaluate the qualifications of each college you are contemplating before enrolling in your final selection. Regrettably, too many prospective students base their determination entirely on the price of tuition and the proximity of the school. Deciding on the least expensive school or the one that is local to your home is no doubt not the most reliable way to choose a nursing program. There are a number of important additional aspects to explore before you decide where to attend classes. But before we delve into that checklist, let's first cover what the role of a registered nurse is in our health system, together with the nursing degree choices that are available.
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RN Job Functions
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, such as Fairbanks AK hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their primary job is to assist doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the exact duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise along with where they work. A few of the functions of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Observing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Managing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Maintaining health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more high level job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an 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 routine illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degrees Offered
There is more than one degree option available to become a registered nurse. And in order to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can receive a qualifying degree in just two years, or advance to attain a graduate degree for a total of 6 years. Following are some brief summaries of the nursing degrees that are available in the Fairbanks AK area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a two year program offered by Alaska community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical facilities such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently achieve a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more expansive training than the ADN. It is normally a four 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 may 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 two year program after attaining 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 obtained 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 change from state to state, so make sure to get in touch with the Alaska board of nursing for any state mandates.
Online Nursing Programs
Enrolling in nursing colleges online is growing into a more popular way to get training and earn a nursing degree. Many schools will require attending on campus for a component of the training, and virtually all programs require a certain number of clinical rotation hours completed in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more convenient solution to finding the free time to attend classes for some Fairbanks AK students. Regarding tuition, a number of online degree programs are cheaper than other on campus alternatives. Even supplementary 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 such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your job and household obligations have left you with very little time to work toward your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
What to Ask RN Schools
Once you have determined which nursing program to pursue, as well as if to attend your classes on campus near Fairbanks AK or on the web, you can utilize the following checklist to begin narrowing down your options. As you undoubtedly realize, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within Alaska and the United States. So it is essential to reduce the number of schools to select from in order that you will have a workable list. As we already mentioned, the location of the school and the price of tuition are most likely going to be the primary two factors that you will take into consideration. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So prior to making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to see how your pick compares 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 ensure that you receive a premium education, it may assist in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Fairbanks AK for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses differ 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. Some states require a specified number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It's imperative that the school you are enrolled in not only delivers an exceptional education, but also prepares you to meet the minimum licensing requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Look at internet rating services to see what the assessments are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. Additionally, contact the Alaska school licensing authority to find 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 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 finish their programs. A low graduation rate may be an indication that students were dissatisfied with the program and dropped out. It's also important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only verify that the school has a favorable 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 ideal way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Almost all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour mandates for licensing also. Check if the schools have a working relationship with Fairbanks AK hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the positioning of students in internships.
Enroll in the Best Fairbanks Nursing Program
Selecting the right nursing program is potentially the most important step to launching a new career in the healthcare industry. There are many variables that you need to take into account when deciding on a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your current career objectives, obligations, and financial situation. As we have stressed within this article, it is important that you pick a nursing school and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the medical community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a shortlist of schools to select from so that you can make your final selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a licensed RN in Fairbanks Alaska.