7 Factors to Consider When Choosing A Nursing School
There are several things you need to think about when determining where to get your nursing education. The obvious choice would be your local community college. But one thing you will want to check out is how their graduates do when taking the test for their license. This should be fairly easy to find out. Call the college and they should be able to tell you or better yet you can find it here on our nursing programs directory. You will surely want to go to a college that you can feel confident will prepare you to pass the NCLEX exam. An acceptable passing rate would be at least 80%. Everyone’s needs are different depending on lifestyle, family needs, career goals and financial status. Here are some basic things to consider and questions to ask yourself:
Are there nursing schools available near your home?
How far can you travel to attend classes?
Do you want to live on campus or commute?
Do you want to relocate or live somewhere else during school time? There are several nursing schools in all states. You can even find nursing schools in Hawaii or the Caribbean! But beware that schools usually charge more for tuition for out of state students.
Some nursing schools have long waiting lists to get into the program, so if you can broaden your range of acceptable schools, you may get started quicker.
Is your degree choice available on-line and is that an option for you? Online classes offer the same information that is given in traditional classroom settings but are delivered via the internet. You will still have professors, books to buy, assignments to complete and exams, but it is often more flexible and convenient for many students, especially for those who have full-time jobs and/or families. But, you will need to be dedicated, self-motivated and organized to have success with on-line programs. You cannot be a procrastinator. One important question to ask about these programs is how the clinical piece is handled? Some may have clinical sites you must attend; others may allow you to complete the clinical practice near your location.
If you are unsure what options are available in your area, just do a search on the internet. Nursing programs take a lot of time for studying, so it’s best if you don’t have to drive for very long. But if that is your only option, you can make recordings and study on the drive.
Visit the schools that interest you the most. If you are not able to visit, check out the websites and learn all you can.
2. Degree choice
Decide if you want to start off as an LPN or if you are interested in going for an RN degree. Do you want to go for an associate degree or a bachelor degree?
Some schools offer all levels of nursing training, others do not. Many nurses get their training in stages—starting with LPN training, then moving on to associate degree. After completing those milestones, they take the next degrees one at a time until they attain their goals. With this plan of attack, they can start working and have an income. Others prefer to go straight through.
You will also want to check out the financial costs.
The advantage of an associate degree is that it doesn’t take as long as a bachelor’s and usually requires less prerequisite classes.
You should choose a school that has been accredited by the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Understand there is a difference between approval by the state board of nursing and accreditation by a national accrediting organization.
Accreditation means the schools program has been reviewed and approved by experts in the field. This is one way to know that the school prepares you well for your career. It means that the education given by these schools meets a minimum level of quality that an expert panel has set.
Most nursing schools are accredited, but there may still be a few out there that are not. If you do not receive your education from an accredited school, you will not be qualified to attend an accredited nursing school in the future if you choose to pursue higher degrees.
If you need financial aid to assist with funding your education, you will need to choose an accredited school. Employers who are in the know about education prefer to hire nurses from accredited schools because the school uses nationally established standards for the education curriculum.
There are two types of accreditations:
Institutional accreditation: This means the whole college has been reviewed.
Specialized or Professional Accreditations reviews programs of the institution or college. So the college may not be accredited, but the nursing program may be accredited. This can be confusing, so the best and safest thing to do is ask if the program is accredited and make sure credits will transfer if you choose to further your education.
4. Size of the Nursing School
Do you like the close attention and more personal feel of a small nursing school or the larger type school
How many nursing students are accepted each quarter/semester or year?
5. Class size
Check out the student to faculty ration. You want to make sure the instructor will have time for you and you can get all the help you need.
6. Class Schedules
Does the school have classes scheduled that are convenient for you?
Nursing clinicals are your hands-on practice time with patients. It’s what gets you ready for the patient-caregiver relationship. You will work side by side with real nurses so you can get a feel for what they do every day. Many students worry they will make a mistake during this time, but the instructors and nurses will monitor your work very closely. Find out what clinical sites are used by the school and how far they are from your home. Do these clinical sites have a good reputation/
How much clinical time is available at the school? Will you get enough experience to be prepared when you go out into the workforce?
Does the school offer a well rounded clinical experience from various types of nursing settings? Most schools are using simulated labs to teach skills, but you will need hands on practice with real people as well.
7. NCLEX Exam Passrate
This will give you a good idea of how well the school is preparing the students. If the passing rate is low, steer clear of that school. Look back at least 5 years worth of data.
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