Finding a nursing program is the first step toward becoming a registered nurse. Since the programs you choose can significantly impact your future career, it's important to invest time in finding the best programs. For instance, you need to choose between an on-campus or online nursing program, how much you can afford, and if you are eligible for any scholarship. With these things, you can turn several potential nursing programs into a few that best suit your career and academic goals. The best way to choose the online program is to write out what you want to achieve. Rank your priorities from the most vital to the list. Here are the tips to help you.
Make sure the program aligns with your goals
Suppose you have been holding back your dreams of becoming a nurse for the longest time. In that case, you might be itching to begin your profession immediately, or you may be focused on a specific specialty that needs a specific degree. These are commendable and beneficial goals since they can direct you toward the best nursing program.
The ADN degree is the best choice if you need a quick program to start working immediately. Other accelerated programs, such as Ameritech, let you graduate and start working as a nurse in two years. If you want to get the BSN, you should choose a school with a four-year program. These programs encourage learners to advance their careers and education by making the process and transition from one certain program to another seamless.
If you want a master's degree, never discount the schools that only provide BSN and ASN programs. Most nursing schools offer online accredited MSW programs through collaborations with other institutions. Such partnerships can open several doors for learners to advance their careers.
The cost of the program
While you would want to weigh your options when it comes to student fees, tuition costs, financial support, and scholarship opportunities, there are other things you must consider. Even though an online nursing program might have low tuition, you will need to spend another semester in school if the program is long. You need to find out the type of costs covered. The cost will go up if you are responsible for the learning materials.
Please pay attention to things such as class sizes, job placement rates, and NCLEX rates, as they will have financial repercussions. If the school does not prepare you for the NCLEX exams or provide support, you might find yourself ladled with the expenses of extra review courses and retaking the test. You don’t want to save money but struggle to get employment after you graduate.
Consider the admission requirements
Once you choose to pursue nursing, ensure you look at the deadlines, application prerequisites, and requirements of the institution. Some of these prerequisites can be lengthy. However, you don’t need to scramble at the last moment to take the entrance test or request transcripts. If you think the process is complicated before enrollment starts, saving the application money and waiting for the next application cycle might be good. Allocate enough time to complete all the documentation and schedule a meeting with the admission consultant if you have questions about the application process.
Choose an accredited nursing school
This is essential to consider if you want to qualify for more education. Accreditation ensures an institution adheres to legal and professional standards that it prepares and teaches learners for the work of a nurse.
The two nationally accredited agencies responsible for accrediting nursing programs include the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission For Education in Nursing (ACEN). CCNE accredited bachelor's and master's programs, while ACEN accredits all kinds of nursing programs.
Several nursing programs are coming up to meet the increasing demand for nurses. Since accreditation can take some time, ensure the nursing school you select is in the process and meets the standards set by the bodies. Choosing the older institution isn’t a wise move, since nursing schools might lose their accreditation if they don’t meet the standards over time. If the accreditation details aren't available on their site, ask the admission office before you start the application.
Location of the school
Location is one of the essential considerations when it comes to applying for the right nursing program. Some schools might offer blended learning or fully online alternatives that allow distance learning. This makes the school’s location a non-issue. Nevertheless, ensure you know all the requirements for skills labs, clinics, and simulations since you might need to visit the campus many times throughout your program.
Ask about the faculty
Before applying to any program, take time to research the credentials of the faculty. You will be spending time with them as they’ll act as mentors and teachers. Ask about the school they attended, their education level, and how much practical nursing experience they have. Diverse faculties with unique educational experiences and professionals will offer students much more than basic skills. Schools hiring nurse faculty with the latest clinical experience will better prepare learners for gritty, real work.
Check the school’s NCLEX pass rate
After you complete your program, you must pass a licensure examination known as NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination). All nursing school graduates must pass this exam to practice as certified nurses regardless of the school or degree. Higher pass rates on the exam will tell you some things about the nursing program:
- The practical training level
- The quality level of the curricula,
- Level of support from staff and faculty
- Faculty’s caliber
- Level of exam preparation
It's vital to consider the school's NCLEX pass rates before applying. If you can't find them on the program’s site, look on the state’s Board of Nursing website to find NCLEX pass rates for all nursing schools. The 2020 average NCLEX-RN pass rate was 85.69 percent. So, make sure to select a school with consistent scores.
After thorough research to assist you in answering any question, you will have the required info to select the best nursing program. Things like the program costs, the caliber of faculty, NCLEX pass rates, and location will be essential as you make a decision. With a clear understanding of what it will take to succeed and some online research, you’ll get a chance to apply to choose a program that fits your goals and values.