How to Choose a Nursing Program in Soldotna Alaska
Searching for the best nursing school near Soldotna AK may feel like a challenging project, particularly if you aren’t sure what to search for in a good degree program. As you may presently understand, to practice as a registered nurse, you need to receive the necessary education and training to become licensed. So it is critically important that you research and evaluate the qualifications of each program you are considering before enrolling in your final selection. Unfortunately, too many potential students base their determination exclusively on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Going with the least expensive program or the one that is local to your home is undoubtedly not the most ideal way to select a nursing program. There are various essential additional considerations to explore before you make a decision where to enroll in classes. But before we examine that checklist, let’s first cover what the role of a registered nurse is in our medical system, along with the nursing degree choices that are offered.
Registered Nurse Job Responsibilities
Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the Soldotna AK medical care delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, such as hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic function is to support doctors in the treatment of their patients. However, the specific duties of a registered nurse will be dependent on their job or area of expertise as well as where they work. Some of the functions of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Observing patients
- Performing physical examinations
- Managing care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Informing patients and their families
- Taking care of 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 typically work more independently than their RN counterparts. They can deliver primary or specialty care services in Soldotna AK, prescribe medications, and diagnose and treat basic illnesses or injuries.
Nursing Degree Options
There are several degree options available to become a registered nurse in Soldotna AK. And in order 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 advance to achieve a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some short explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is usually a two year program made available by Alaska community colleges. It prepares 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 later obtain a higher degree.
- Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) offers more extensive training than the ADN. It is typically a 4 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 advance to a clinical or administrative position, or be more competitive in the job market.
- Master’s. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is generally a 2 year program after acquiring the BSN. The MSN program provides specialization training, for example to become a nurse practitioner in Soldotna AK or concentrate on administration, management or teaching.
When a graduating student has acquired 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 vary from state to state, so be sure to check with the Alaska board of nursing for any state mandates.
LPN and LVN Training
There are essentially two academic accreditations available that provide instruction to become either an LPN or an LVN in Soldotna AK. The one that may be completed in the shortest time period, commonly about one year, is the certificate or diploma program. The other choice is to attain a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are more comprehensive in nature than the diploma option and generally require 2 years to finish. The advantage of Associate Degrees, besides offering a higher credential and more extensive instruction, are that they provide more transferrable credit toward a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. Regardless of the kind of credential you seek, it needs to 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 syllabus adequately prepares students to become Practical Nurses, and that most graduates pass the 50 state required NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
Unlike some other licensed nurses, certified nursing assistants do not have to obtain a college degree. CNA training can be received at a community college or at either a vocational or trade school in the Soldotna AK area. The duration of the training can take anywhere from one to 3 months, resulting in either a certificate or a diploma. Within the 1987 Nursing Home Reform Act, students are mandated to have at least 75 hours of training, 16 of which must be clinical or “hands-on” training hours. Bear in mind that this is the minimum period of training required and that every state has its specific prerequisites. So it’s necessary to make certain that the course you enroll in not only complies with the federal requirements, but additionally those for the state where you will be practicing. One tip is to get in touch with the health or nursing board for Alaska to make sure that the education is state approved. As well as the training, each state mandates a passing score on a competency test for certification. Depending on the state, there might be other prerequisites as well.
Nursing Online Schools
Attending nursing programs online is becoming a more favored way to receive training and acquire a nursing degree in Alaska. Certain schools will require attending on campus for part of the training, and virtually all programs call for a specified number of clinical rotation hours carried out in a local healthcare facility. But since the remainder of the training can be accessed online in your Soldotna AK home, this method may be a more accommodating answer to finding the time to attend college for many students. Regarding 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 economical. And a large number of online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. Therefore if your work and household obligations have left you with limited time to pursue your academic goals, it could be that an online nursing training program will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your busy schedule.
Things to Ask Nurse Colleges
Now that you have decided on which nursing program to enroll in, and whether to attend your classes on campus or on the internet, you can utilize the following checklist to begin narrowing down your options. As you probably are aware, there are many nursing schools and colleges within Alaska and the United States. So it is important to reduce the number of schools to choose from so that you will have a manageable list. As we earlier mentioned, the location of the school relative to Soldotna AK and the cost of tuition are undoubtedly going to be the first two things that you will consider. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your ultimate decision, use the following questions to evaluate how your pick measures up to the field.
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. Aside from helping verify that you receive an excellent education, it may assist in obtaining financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not offered for non-accredited schools near Soldotna AK.
Licensing Preparation. Licensing criteria for registered nurses are different 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 certain number of clinical hours be performed, as well as the passing of additional tests. It’s imperative that the Soldotna AK area school you are attending not only delivers an excellent education, but also readies you to satisfy the minimum licensing standards for Alaska or the state where you will be working.
Reputation. Visit online rating companies to see what the assessments are for all of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews also. Also, contact the Alaska school licensing authority to determine if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can call some nearby Soldotna 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 unhappy with the program and dropped out. It’s also important that the schools have high job placement rates. A high rate will not only substantiate that the school has a good reputation within the Soldotna AK healthcare community, but that it also has the network of relationships to help students gain employment.
Internship Programs. The best way to acquire experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical environment. Almost all Soldotna AK area nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. Many states have minimum clinical hour prerequisites for licensing also. Check if the schools have a working relationship with nearby hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Enroll in the Right RN College near Soldotna AK
Enrolling in the right registered nursing degree program is probably the most important step to beginning a new career in the healthcare industry. There are numerous aspects that you must consider when picking a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your existing career objectives, obligations, and financial status. As we have stressed in this article, it is critical that you choose an RN college and a degree program that are each accredited and have outstanding reputations within the medical community. By utilizing our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to produce a short list 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 desire to succeed, you can become a practicing RN in Soldotna AK.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Nurse?When prepping to interview for a nursing position, it's helpful to consider questions you might be asked. One of the things that hiring managers often ask nursing candidates is "What made you decide on nursing as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not only the private reasons you might have for becoming a RN, but also what attributes and abilities you have that make you good at your profession. You will probably be asked questions relating specifically to nursing, as well as a certain number of routine interview questions, so you must ready a number of approaches about how you would like to respond to them. Considering there are numerous variables that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this primary question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the work appeals to you along with the strengths you have that make you an excellent nurse and the best candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize a response, but write down several concepts and anecdotes that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can assist you to formulate your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.
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