How to Pick the Right Nursing School for You
Prospective nursing students are confronted with several issues in determining which nursing school suits their goals. Choosing the right school helps with achieving those desirable goals and lifestyle, while choosing the incorrect school may lead to a rocky road in pursuing a nursing career.
This task may appear daunting at first with an overwhelming amount of accredited nursing schools available for enrollment; however, a little time and effort goes a long way to acquiring a competent nursing education.
Consider the following factors before making a decision: choose a school in close proximity, choose an accredited institution, choose a school with courses that will be flexible with scheduling demands, choose a school with smaller classes, choose a school with competitive tuition costs, and choose a school with a higher academic passing rate. Prospective nursing students should evaluate the pros and cons behind traditional nursing programs and online nursing programs. For instance, online LPN programs and online RN programs may offer certain financial benefits, such as lower textbook, supplies and travel costs; however, the lack of hands-on, supervised nursing training may seem less qualified when applying for internships and nursing occupations. Applying the aforementioned considerations should lessen the headache of enrolling into a fine nursing program.
Choose a School Within Driving Distance
Consider the increasing gasoline and other traveling costs before immediately choosing a LPN program or RN program at just any old school. Likewise, refrain from choosing a school simply because it's within driving distance. Driving 100 miles every day to attend nursing school does not sound very practical, especially with a family or children that need a mother or father at home to meet their needs. Despite this very important factor, do not negate or automatically write-off certain schools because of basic commuting, but definitely consider the overall location before jumping off the cliff.
Accredited Nursing Programs
As a general rule of thumb, most accredited schools have websites on an educational (.edu) domain. Beware of diploma mills and unaccredited nursing schools. Use an online searchable database provided by nationally recognized organizations promoting regionally and nationally accredited nursing programs. A well-established, accredited institution will provide competent training for students interested in a nursing education. Accredited nursing schools tend to have better resources and connections for hands-on training and career placement assistance for graduates seeking targeted nurse jobs.
Consider your personal life and other demands, such as employment, family life, children, friends, health-related activities, and rest. Choose a nursing program that offers flexible class scheduling in order to meet other obligations. This will allow for a smooth transition without disruption of your daily life. Most nursing schools have course schedules ready to review before enrollment begins.
Each classroom may vary in student capacity. Before enrolling, ask a school administrator all of the factual information regarding the individual class sizes (PDF). Smaller to moderate-sized classroom sizes usually translates into more up-close and personal instruction from the school's teachers. Prepare to ask questions after class if more students are involved.
Tuition costs have skyrocketed over the past decade, which makes choosing the right school an important step in the enrollment process. Realistically, prospective students will need financial assistance before class start, which means accrued student loan debt. While a nursing education poses a financial risk in terms of debt ratio, the probability of landing a job coming out of graduation continues to grow, despite contention in a sluggish economy. Ideally, choosing the right nursing school implies lower tuition costs. Simply spread out the options and make a decision.
The School's Pass and Fail Rate
The prospective nursing school should provide statistics showing how many students passed and failed each year. No school will have a perfect ratio; however, large portions of passing students usually entail a competent nurse program. If the statistics come off as too good to be true, then the school in question probably isn't the school for you (or anybody else, for that matter).
While the Internet and school brochures offer a great deal of information, they simply do not do the nursing school justice until taking the time to visit the campus in person. Set aside time to visit a few nursing schools within driving distance and visit them to get a feel for how they operate. Schedule appointments to speak with guidance counselors to determine which nursing programs fit your particular needs. Examine the premises for signs of neglect, such as dirty bathrooms, poor building maintenance, poor food choices in the cafeteria, outdated equipment and computers, limited parking space, unfriendly staff, and listen for complaints left by students or personnel.
An ideal nursing school provides sufficient clinical time. Nurses must obtain plenty of hands-on training before entering the work force. Clinical training provides nursing students the opportunity to practice the nursing process. Moreover, the NCLEX-PN or NCLEX-RN exam tests each graduate on the analysis and application of clinically-based patient situations. Without sufficient hands-on training, it's almost certain that the school will leave its students ill-equipped to face the nursing industry. Talk to current nursing students to see if the nursing programs offered at the desirable school offers this necessary training.
Investigate potential nursing schools to see whether they offer nursing specialty programs. This will enable the student to enroll into degree programs that will yield higher paying salaries upon entering the work force. Some of these nursing specialties include nurse job titles, such as Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, Nurse Researcher, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, Certified Nurse Midwife, Pediatric Endocrinology Nurse, Orthopedic Nurse, Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Gerontological Nurse Practitioner, and Neonatal Nurse. Each of these specialties earn anywhere between $74,000 upwards to $135,000. Continuing education after getting the initial nursing degree will help pave the road of opportunity for a prosperous nursing career. Finding the right school for any degree will require a massive amount of research, a keen eye for detail, a clear devotion to what you truly want, and the motivation to make the best of the educational experience in order to enter the work force with a competent and thorough understanding of the field.