How to Pick a Nursing College near Anchorage Alaska
Finding the right nursing school near Anchorage AK may feel like a difficult undertaking, particularly if you aren’t sure what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently know, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to receive the necessary education and training in order to become licensed. So it is vitally important that you research and evaluate the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your final choice. Unfortunately, too many potential students base their decision solely on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Choosing the least costly program or the one that is local to your house is most likely not the best way to select a nursing program. There are many important additional considerations to investigate 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 healthcare system, together with the nursing degree alternatives that are available.
Registered Nurse Job Activities
Registered nurses are the primary occupation in the healthcare delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, including Anchorage AK hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic function is to aid doctors in the care of their patients. However, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. A portion of the responsibilities of an RN may include:
- Administering medications
- Observing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Overseeing LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Managing health records and charts
Nurses with a higher degree may have more complex job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master’s Degree and typically 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 several degree options to choose from to become a registered nurse. And in order to become an RN, a student must attend an accredited school and program. A student can obtain 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 offered in the Anchorage AK area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a two year program made available by community colleges. It preps graduates for an entry level position in nursing in medical centers such as hospitals, clinics or nursing homes. Many utilize the ADN as an entry into nursing and subsequently attain a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides more extensive training than the ADN. It is usually a four year program offered at colleges and universities. Licensed RNs may be allowed to complete an accelerated program based on their past training or degree and professional experience (RN to BSN). Those applying to the program may 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 usually a 2 year program after obtaining the BSN. The MSN program provides 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, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. Further requirements for licensing fluctuate from state to state, so don’t forget to check with the Alaska board of nursing for any state requirements.
LVN and LPN Training
There are principally two scholastic accreditations available that provide instruction to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that can be completed in the shortest amount of time, generally about 12 months, is the certificate or diploma course. The 2nd choice is to attain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma alternative and generally require 2 years to complete. The benefit of Associate Degrees, along with supplying a higher credential and more comprehensive training, are that they furnish more transferable credit toward a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. No matter the kind of credential you pursue, it should be Alaska approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or any other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC attests that the core curriculum properly prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that the majority of graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
Unlike some other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not need to attain a college degree. CNA instruction can be acquired at Anchorage AK area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The length of the training program can take anywhere from one to three months, leading to either a certificate or a diploma. Under the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are required to obtain at least 75 hours of instruction, 16 of which have to be clinical or “hands-on” training hours. Keep in mind that this is the minimum amount of instruction directed and each state has its own requirements. So it’s important to make certain that the program you enroll in not only complies with the federal requirements, but likewise those for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing. One tip is to check with the health or nursing board for your state to make certain that the education is state certified. Along with the training, each state requires a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there can be other prerequisites as well.
Things to Ask Nursing Schools
Now that you have determined which nursing degree to pursue, as well as whether to attend your classes on campus near Anchorage AK or online, you can use the following checklist to begin narrowing down your choices. As you no doubt are aware, there are a large number of nursing schools and colleges within Alaska and the United States. So it is necessary to decrease the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a workable list. As we earlier mentioned, the location of the school as well as the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the first two points 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 evaluate how your pick compares to the other programs.
- 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 confirm that you get a premium education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are frequently not offered in Anchorage AK for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses differ 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. Some 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 an excellent education, but also readies you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Alaska or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Visit internet rating companies to see what the evaluations are for each of the schools you are considering. Ask the accrediting organizations for their reviews too. Also, check with the Alaska school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with 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 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 displeased 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 healthcare community, but that it also has the network of contacts to help students gain employment.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to obtain experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Virtually all nursing degree programs require a specified number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing also. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Anchorage AK hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placing of students in internships.
Online Nursing Schools
Enrolling in nursing schools online is becoming a more in demand way to obtain instruction and earn a nursing degree. Some schools will require attendance on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs require a specific amount of clinical rotation hours conducted in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online, this alternative may be a more practical answer to finding the free time to attend classes for some Anchorage AK students. Concerning tuition, many online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus options. Even supplemental expenses such as for commuting and study materials can be reduced, helping to make education more economical. And numerous online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. So if your job and family responsibilities have left you with very little time to pursue your academic goals, maybe an online nursing school will make it easier to fit a degree into your active schedule.
Attending a Nursing School near Anchorage AK?
Perhaps you have already made your decision to attend a Nursing Program in the greater Anchorage Alaska area. If that is the case, then the following information may prove to be both educational and useful regarding the location of your future Alma Mater.
Anchorage (officially called the Municipality of Anchorage; Dena'ina: Dgheyaytnu) is a unified home rule municipality in the U.S. state of Alaska. With an estimated 298,192 residents in 2016, it is Alaska's most populous city and contains more than 40 percent of the state's total population; among the 50 states, only New York has a higher percentage of residents who live in its most populous city. All together, the Anchorage metropolitan area, which combines Anchorage with the neighboring Matanuska-Susitna Borough, had a population of 401,635 in 2016, which accounts for more than half of the state's population. At 1,706 square miles of land area, the city is larger than the smallest state, Rhode Island, at 1,212 square miles.
Anchorage is in the south-central portion of Alaska, at the terminus of the Cook Inlet, on a peninsula formed by the Knik Arm to the north and the Turnagain Arm to the south. The city limits span 1,961.1 square miles (5,079.2 km2) which encompass the urban core, a joint military base, several outlying communities and almost all of Chugach State Park.
Due to its location, almost equidistant from New York City, Frankfurt, and Tokyo, Anchorage lies within 9 1⁄2 hours by air of nearly 90% of the industrialized world. For this reason, the Anchorage International Airport is a common refueling stop for many international cargo flights and home to a major FedEx hub, which the company calls a "critical part" of its global network of services.
Pick the Right Nursing Degree near Anchorage AK
Deciding on the ideal registered nursing program is potentially the most critical phase to launching a new career in the medical care industry. There are a number of aspects that you should consider when choosing a nursing school. These factors will be prioritized differently depending on your existing career goals, obligations, and economic situation. As we have pointed out in this article, it is critical that you pick an RN school and a degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the medical community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to develop a shortlist 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 drive to succeed, you can become a licensed RN in Anchorage AK.
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