Once you have decided that nursing is the career for you, it is time to choose the nursing school that fits your needs the best. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing positions are expected to grow by 19 percent over the next decade, with an increase of more than 525,000 jobs. Because of the rapid growth expected in the industry, choosing a nursing career not only benefits others, but allows you the opportunity for advancement in a job designed to help others who are in need. However, in order to obtain a nursing position, you must first choose the nursing school that is right for you. These tips and suggestions will help you identify the school that provides you with the education you need so that you can obtain a position in nursing that provides you with the satisfaction of helping others.
Know Where You Want Your Career to Go
Some schools only offer a registered nurse diploma while other courses of study could result in a Master of Science in Nursing. If you already have a degree in another subject, choose a school that will recognize that degree so that your course load is reduced somewhat. To obtain an entry-level position in nursing, you must obtain at least a diploma from an approved nursing program, which normally take two years to complete. If your goal is to obtain an administrative nursing position, you may need to complete either a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), so knowing your career goals is critical to choosing the right nursing school.
Close to Home or Away to School
If you are young, with no family obligations, going away to nursing school may not be that difficult. However, if you have work, family or social obligations that must be met while you attend school, you may want to choose a nursing school close to home. Check class schedules for required courses to be sure you can work them into your schedule. Some nursing courses may be offered online, allowing you some flexibility. Before choosing a school, see if any of the classes are offered online or have flexible hours that work better for your schedule. All nursing schools require clinical rotations, so keep that in mind when selecting the location for your school. In addition, each state has specific licensing requirements so you may want to review those in order to be sure the school will provide you with the right nursing education for the license requirements in the state where you plan to practice. For instance, if you attend a school in Texas, but you plan to practice in Tennessee, you may want to be sure that the courses you take will meet the requirements of Tennessee before you register at the Texas school.
Accreditation is Critical
One very important factor to consider when choosing a nursing school is whether the school is accredited. For nursing position, schools should be accredited by the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Some schools are accredited by both agencies. Accreditation means that the schools policies, curriculum, financial standing and other factors have been reviewed by an accrediting agency and meet the criteria set by those organizations. Attending a non-credited school could make it difficult for you to find a nursing position or to advance your nursing education.
Cost of Education
Another important factor when choosing a nursing school is the cost to attend. Most nursing schools use a credit hour tuition rate which can be rather significant, depending on the school you choose. However, the accredited nursing schools also offer financial aid in the form of grants, scholarships and loans that can help you. Keep in mind that although grants and scholarships do not have to be repaid, student loans will have to be paid back after graduation. You can also ask about credit for experience if you have already worked in the healthcare profession. Some employers offer tuition reimbursement, so if you are currently working in the healthcare industry, talk to your employer about the possibility of tuition assistance in order to further your career. You should also ask the nursing school if any tuition will be refunded should you be required to withdraw from the program.
Some nursing schools require applicants to take an admission test before they can enroll. The most common admission test is administered by the National League of Nursing (NLN), but schools may require other tests as well. The admissions office of the school can provide you with information on the admissions tests and may even be able to provide you with study guides to help you prepare.
All nursing schools require a clinical rotation in order for a student to graduate. Clinical rotations are an important part of any nursing education as it provides hands-on experience in the nursing field. However, some schools offer rotations a specific facilities and if the facility they use is not in the field you wish to work in, you may want to consider a different school or ask whether you can do your rotation at another location.
Once you have completed your nursing education, you will be required to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) in the state where you plan to obtain your nursing license. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing can provide information on the NCLEX examination for your state as well as additional licensure requirements necessary in that state to become a registered nurse. In addition, nurses may become certified in specific areas, such as pediatrics, gerontology and others.
If you have always wanted a career where you could help others, especially when they are injured, sick or suffering emotional difficulties, a nursing career may be the perfect job for you. By using these tips and suggestions, you should be able to choose the nursing school that is right for you and will help you not only achieve the professional goals you set, but provide you with the best nursing education available.