How to Find the Best Nursing Program Online in Fairbanks Alaska
Locating the right nursing program near Fairbanks AK may feel like a complicated undertaking, particularly if you have no idea what to look for in a good degree program. As you may already know, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to acquire the necessary education and training in order to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and measure the qualifications of each program you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate selection. Regrettably, too many potential students base their selection entirely on the cost of tuition and the nearness of the school. Selecting the least costly school or the one that is closest to your house is probably not the most reliable way to decide on a nursing program. There are many key additional things to investigate before you decide where to enroll in classes. But before we explore that checklist, let's first look at what the job of a registered nurse is in our healthcare system, together with the nursing degree options that are offered.
It Takes Just a Minute to Start Your Nursing Career in Alaska!
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the largest occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical environments, such as Fairbanks AK hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their general duty 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 specialization in addition to where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Monitoring patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Managing care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Taking care of health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more advanced job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), for instance, must hold a Master's Degree and generally 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 Degree Options
There are several degree options available to become a registered nurse. And to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can earn a qualifying degree in just 2 years, or continue on to attain a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short summaries of the nursing degrees that are available in the Fairbanks 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 job in nursing in medical centers including hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many use the ADN as an entry into nursing and later earn a higher degree.
- Bachelor's. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more comprehensive 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 previous 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 usually a 2 year program after acquiring the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
When 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. Additional requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so be sure to get in touch with the Alaska board of nursing for any state requirements.
Nursing Online Degrees
Enrolling in nursing programs online is becoming a more favored way to obtain training and earn a nursing degree. Some 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 performed in a local healthcare center. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more accommodating answer to finding the time to attend college for some Fairbanks AK students. Regarding tuition, a number of online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even supplementary expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be minimized, helping to make education more 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. So if your work and family responsibilities have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, perhaps an online nursing program will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.
What to Ask RN Training Programs
Now that you have selected which nursing degree to pursue, along with whether to attend your classes on campus near Fairbanks AK or online, you can use the following checklist to start narrowing down your options. As you probably are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges throughout Alaska and the United States. So it is important to lower the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we previously mentioned, the site of the school and the cost of tuition are most likely going to be the primary two points that you will consider. But as we also emphasized, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your final selection, use the following questions to see how your pick measures up to the field.
- 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. In addition to helping verify that you get an excellent education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not available in Fairbanks AK for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing requirements 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 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 provides a top-notch education, but also preps you to comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing.
- Reputation. Visit online 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, 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 colleges you are considering 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 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 Fairbanks AK healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to assist students attain employment.
- Internship Programs. The best way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Virtually 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 placing of students in internships.
Select the Best Fairbanks Nursing Program
Enrolling in the right nursing college is probably the most critical step to starting a new career in the health care industry. There are numerous variables that you should consider when picking a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently depending on your current career goals, obligations, and economic status. As we have pointed out in this article, it is important that you pick a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the health care community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a short list of schools to select from so that you can make your final selection. And with the proper degree and training, combined with your hard work and drive to succeed, you can become a licensed RN in Fairbanks Alaska.