How to Select a Nursing Degree Program near Wainwright Alaska
Selecting the best nursing school near Wainwright AK may feel like a challenging endeavor, particularly if you have no idea what to look 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 to become licensed. So it is critically important that you study and evaluate the qualifications of each college you are contemplating before enrolling in your ultimate selection. The fact is, too many potential students base their decision exclusively on the price of tuition and the distance of the school. Selecting the least expensive college or the one that is closest to your home is probably not the most reliable way to pick a nursing program. There are several key additional considerations to look into before you determine where to attend classes. But before we explore that checklist, let’s first discuss what the role of a registered nurse is in our healthcare system, together with the nursing degree alternatives that are offered.
Registered Nurse Job Functions
Registered nurses are the most extensive occupation in the medical delivery system. RNs practice in many different medical settings, including Wainwright AK hospitals, family practices, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and even schools. Their basic duty is to help doctors in the care of their patients. Having said that, the particular duties of a registered nurse will depend on their job or specialization in addition to where they work. A few of the duties of an RN may include:
- Providing medications
- Overseeing patients
- Conducting physical examinations
- Coordinating care
- Supervising LPNs, LVNs and nurse aides
- Instructing patients and their families
- Taking care of health records and charts
Nurses with a more advanced degree may have more advanced job duties and accountabilities. Nurse practitioners (NP), as an example, must hold a Master’s Degree and normally 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 Degrees Available
There are several degree options offered to become a registered nurse. And in order to become an RN, a student must enroll in an accredited school and program. A student can earn a qualifying degree in just two years, or advance to achieve a graduate degree for a total of six years. Following are some brief explanations of the nursing degrees that are offered in the Wainwright AK area.
- Associates. The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is commonly a 2 year program offered by 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 ultimately achieve a more advanced degree.
- Bachelor’s. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) supplies more in depth training than the ADN. It is commonly a four year program offered at 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 may desire 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 attaining the BSN. The MSN program offers specialization training, for instance to become a nurse practitioner or focus on administration, management or teaching.
When a graduating student has earned one of the above degrees, she or he must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) in order to become licensed. Additional requirements for licensing vary from state to state, so make sure to contact the Alaska board of nursing for any state requirements.
LVN and LPN Courses
There are essentially two academic accreditations available that provide training to become either an LPN or an LVN. The one that may be completed in the shortest period of time, typically about twelve months, is the certificate or diploma program. The 2nd choice is to earn a Practical Nursing Associate Degree. These programs are broader in nature than the diploma alternative and typically require 2 years to complete. The benefit of Associate Degrees, in addition to offering a higher credential and more comprehensive instruction, are that they furnish more transferable credit toward a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. Regardless of the kind of credential you seek, it should be Alaska approved and accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or any other national accrediting organization. The NLNAC warrants that the course of study effectively 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 have to attain a college degree. CNA education can be received at Wainwright AK area community colleges or at vocational or trade schools. The length of the training can take anywhere from 1 to 3 months, resulting in 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. Bear in mind that this is the minimal period of instruction mandated and that each state has its specific prerequisites. So it’s necessary to make sure that the program you enroll in not only meets the federal requirements, but also those for Alaska or the state where you will be practicing. One recommendation is to contact the health or nursing board for your state to make sure that the training course 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 may be additional prerequisites as well.
Online Nursing Schools
Enrolling in nursing colleges online is emerging as a more preferred way to obtain training and earn a nursing degree. Many schools will require attendance 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 facility. But since the balance of the training may be accessed online, this option may be a more practical solution to finding the free time to attend classes for some Wainwright AK students. Pertaining to tuition, some online degree programs are less expensive than other on campus alternatives. Even other expenses such as for commuting and study materials may be reduced, helping to make education more affordable. And many online programs are accredited by organizations like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) for BSN and MSN degrees. And so if your job and family commitments have left you with little time to work toward your academic goals, maybe an online nursing school will make it more convenient to fit a degree into your hectic schedule.
Questions to Ask Nursing Schools
Once you have determined which nursing program to pursue, along with if to attend your classes on campus near Wainwright AK or on the web, you can utilize the following checklist to begin 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 decrease the number of schools to choose from to ensure that you will have a workable list. As we previously mentioned, the location of the school and the price of tuition are most likely going to be the first two points that you will look at. But as we also stressed, they should not be your sole qualifiers. So before making your ultimate selection, 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 along with the school is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting organization. In addition to helping confirm that you get a premium education, it may help in acquiring financial aid or student loans, which are oftentimes not provided in Wainwright AK for non-accredited schools.
- Licensing Preparation. Licensing prerequisites for registered nurses vary from state to state. In all states, a passing score is required on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) in addition to graduation from an accredited school. Certain states require a certain 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 provides an exceptional education, but also prepares you to meet the minimum licensing standards for Alaska or the state where you will be working.
- Reputation. Look at online rating services to see what the reviews are for each of the schools you are looking into. Ask the accrediting agencies for their reviews too. Also, contact the Alaska school licensing authority to find out if there are any complaints or compliance issues. Finally, you can speak with some Wainwright AK healthcare organizations you’re interested in working for after graduation and ask what their assessments 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 finish 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 favorable reputation within the Wainwright AK medical community, but that it also has the network of relationships to assist students attain a position.
- Internship Programs. The most ideal way to get experience as a registered nurse is to work in a clinical setting. Essentially all nursing degree programs require a specific number of clinical hours be completed. A number of states have minimum clinical hour requirements for licensing as well. Find out if the schools have a working relationship with Wainwright AK hospitals, clinics or labs and help with the placement of students in internships.
Enrolling in a Nursing School near Wainwright AK?
Perhaps you have already made your decision to attend a Nursing Program in the greater Wainwright 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.
Fort Wainwright is a United States Army post adjacent to Fairbanks in the U.S. state of Alaska. It is part of the Fairbanks, Alaska Metropolitan Statistical Area. Since 1978 Fort Wainwright has been investigating and cleaning up soil and water contamination from a landfill and drum burial site, fuel terminal, coal storage yard/fire training pits, open detonation area and underground storage tanks. It was Superfund-listed in 1990.
Ft. Wainwright was first established in 1939 as U.S. Army Air Corps as Ladd Field. In 1947 it was transferred to the newly established U.S. Air Force and renamed Ladd AFB, serving as a cold weather station to test aircraft under arctic conditions. In 1961 it was transferred to the Army and redesignated Fort Wainwright in honor of World War II general Jonathan Wainwright. From 1963 to 1972 it was home to the 171st Infantry Brigade, mechanized until 1969, then light. During that time, the 172nd Infantry Brigade was at Fort Richardson, in Anchorage. From 1986 to 1998 Fort Wainwright was the home of the 6th Infantry Division (Light), and served as the division's headquarters from 1990 to 1994. From 1998 to 2006, it was home to the 172nd Infantry Brigade, which was reorganized in 2003 as the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT), part of the U.S. Army's transition program to include six SBCTs. In 2006, the 172nd was re-flagged as the 1st brigade of the 25th Infantry Division. Fort Wainwright was also the home of Task Force 49, an aviation brigade that provides logistical air support for U.S. Army Alaska, Bassett Army Community Hospital and the Bureau of Land Management's Alaska Fire Service which later transformed to become a part of 16th Combat Aviation Brigade with headquarters at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA in 2010 with duty in Alaska.
Since 1978 Fort Wainwright has been participating in the Department of Defense Installation Restoration Program to investigate and clean up contamination. In 1985 and 1986, lead and chromium were detected in monitoring wells at the landfill; in 1987, chromium and tetrahydrofuran were detected in monitoring wells at the proposed housing area, and chromium was detected in soil. About 15,000 people live and work at the fort and obtain drinking water from wells in close proximity to contaminated source areas. The Chena River also runs through the contaminated area of Fort Wainwright.
Enroll in the Right Nursing Degree near Wainwright AK
Choosing the ideal nursing degree program is perhaps the most crucial step to starting a new career in the health care industry. There are numerous aspects that you should take into account when deciding on a nursing school. These aspects will be prioritized differently contingent on your current career objectives, lifestyle, and financial status. As we have emphasized in this article, it is critical that you pick a nursing college and a degree program that are each accredited and have excellent reputations within the healthcare community. By using our list of qualifying questions, you will be able to create a short list of schools to choose from so that you can make your ultimate selection. And with the appropriate degree and training, combined with your hard work and ambition to succeed, you can become a licensed RN in Wainwright AK.
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