The nursing industry is expected to experience 26 percent growth from 2010 to 2020. This is a great, lucrative field to get into. Read on to learn about the best nursing schools available and the educational paths that they offer.
There are many paths one can take toward becoming a nurse. When considering which to take, one must consider factors such as: previous education, age, finances, desired salary, relocation plans and more.
Regardless of which education path one decides on, make sure that the school is accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). An accreditation from either of these bodies ensures that the selected program will teach up to the standards expected by leading professionals in the nursing field.
The shortest path to becoming a nurse is earning an associates degree in nursing (ADN). This program requires two years of studying. Upon receiving an ADN, one is qualified to work in most hospitals, outpatient facilities and inpatient facilities. However, some employers are only looking to hire applicants with at least a bachelor’s degree. Expected salary will also be lower than those with higher levels of education. In certain states such as North Dakota, it is required that one has a bachelor’s degree in order to take the NCLEX exam and become a registered nurse.
A bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) is the next step up from an ADN. A four-year degree opens up more opportunities. Employers will often favor someone with a BSN over an ADN and starting salaries are often higher. It is also easier to pursue advanced education with a bachelor’s degree and some employers will cover the cost of going back to school if one agrees to continue to work for them.
A master’s degree in nursing opens up even more opportunities. Nurses that graduate with a master’s degree are referred to as advanced practice nurses. They typically receive specialized training to allow them to work as a nurse practitioner, certified nurse anesthetist, clinical nurse specialist or certified nurse midwife.
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Top 10 Best Nursing Schools
The following schools were ranked by US News & World Report. The rankings are based on peer assessment surveys sent to deans, other administrators and faculty.
Many schools have an identical overall rating, however, they received varying rankings for their specialty programs.
Johns Hopkins University (Score of 4.6) – Baltimore, MD
This nursing school is ranked #1 for clinical nurse specialists in the community and public health sector. They are ranked 7th, 12th and 13th, respectively, for their adult nurse practitioner program, pediatric nurse practitioner program and family nurse practitioner program.
University of Pennsylvania (Score of 4.6) – Philadelphia, PA
They are ranked #1 for their clinical nurse specialist programs (adult and medical-surgical), nurse practitioner programs (adult and pediatric) and nursing service administration.
They rank 2nd in nursing midwifery, 3rd in family nurse practitioner as well as psychiatric and mental health clinical nurse specialist. Finally, they rank 11th in nursing-anesthesia.
University of Washington (Score 4.6) – Seattle, WA
This nursing school ranks 1st for their community/public health clinical nurse specialist programs, 2nd for their adult and family nurse practitioner programs, 3rd for pediatric nurse practitioners and 9th in psychiatric or mental health clinical nurse specialists.
University of California (Score 4.5) – San Francisco, CA
UCSF’s nursing program ranks 4th place overall.
They are tied with the University of Pennsylvania for 1st for their clinical nurse specialist: adult/medical-surgical program.
They are ranked 1st for their clinical nurse specialist programs (psychiatric/mental health), tied with the University of Yale.
They are ranked 1st for their family nurse practitioner program. They are ranked 2nd for their adult nurse practitioner program, tied with the University of Washington. They are ranked 4th for their community and public health clinical nurse specialist program, tied with the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.
They rank 8th for gerontological/geriatric nurse practitioners, tied with the University of Maryland—Baltimore and they rank 8th for pediatric nurse practitioners.
University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill (Score 4.5) – Chapel Hill, NC
UNC-CH ranks 4th overall and is tied with UCSF. Their program for community and public health clinical nurse specialists is tied for 4th with the UCSF.
The psychiatric and metal health clinical nurse specialist program is tied for 4th with Rush University in Chicago, IL.
The nursing service administration program is ranked 6th.
The pediatric nurse practitioner program is ranked 10th, the family nurse practitioner program is ranked 11th and the adult nurse practitioner program is ranked 12th.
University of Michigan -Ann Arbor (Score 4.4) – Ann Arbor, MI
Their nursing service administration program is ranked 3rd and is tied with University of Maryland – Baltimore. Michigan’s adult nurse practitioner and family nurse practitioner programs are tied for 4th with Columbia University.
Their pediatric nurse practitioner program is in 12th place, along with Johns Hopkins University and University of Iowa.
Duke University (Score 4.3) – Durham, NC
Their pediatric nurse practitioner program is ranked 5th along with University of Colorado in Denver and Rush University.
Their gerontological/geriatric nurse practitioner program is ranked 10th along with University of North Carolina in Greensboro. They are also ranked 10th for their adult nurse practitioner program along with University of Alabama in Birmingham.
Their family nurse practitioner program is ranked 13th.
Oregon Health and Science University (Score 4.3) – Portland, OR
Their gerontological/geriatric nurse practitioner program is ranked 4th and their family nurse practitioner program is ranked 6th.
Along with New York University and Johns Hopkins University, they are ranked 13rd for their adult nurse practitioner program.
They are ranked 1st in Nursing-Midwifery and 32nd in Nursing-Anesthesia.
University of Pittsburgh (Score 4.3) – Pittsburgh, PA
Their pediatric nurse practitioner program is ranked 4th. Their adult nurse practitioner program along with their psychiatric/mental health clinical nurse specialist program are ranked 6th.
Their nursing service administration program is ranked 9th. Their family nurse practitioner program is tied for 14th with the Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing.
They are ranked 3rd in Nursing-Anesthesia.
Yale University (Score 4.3) – New Haven, CT
Yale is ranked number 1 for their psychiatric/mental health clinical nurse specialist program along with the University of California in San Francisco. Their pediatric nurse practitioner program is ranked 2nd. Nursing-Midwifery is ranked 2nd.
The family nurse practitioner program at Yale and Johns Hopkins University are both ranked 7th.
Their adult nurse practitioner program is ranked 9th.
Remember that although a school may have a higher score than another, it might be more beneficial for one to attend another school if they have a better ranking for a specialized program. In addition to a school’s rating, one must also consider a multitude of other factors. Choosing a school is a personal choice and one must decide what is best for them.