Choosing the Right Nursing School
Like many of the variables discussed, the cost to earn an education is more important to some than it is to others. More often than not, though, cost is a factor in determining where to go to nursing school. Often, the cheapest route to becoming a nurse is to complete an LPN or RN diploma program or an associate's degree. For those who wish to earn a BSN or higher, public institutions are typically cheaper than smaller, private schools. In addition, it is often less expensive to attend school in one's own state of residence due to out-of-state fees that are applied elsewhere.
Potential students are also encouraged to look into the many scholarships, grants, and other financial aid and student loan options. There are many resources available to help students pay for school.
Nursing schools often provide statistics showing how many students pass and fail each year. It is inevitable that some students will drop out or fail, but it may be beneficial to enroll in a school with a good pass/fail ratio, as this may indicate a competent nursing program.
While the internet and school brochures offer a great deal of information, visiting the campus is a better way to gain a feel for which program is the right fit. Many programs host open houses, but students can also schedule campus visits and meetings with school faculty. Campus visits give students a chance to examine the facility firsthand. Some of the things that might be important are computer labs, libraries, classroom layout, availability of parking, residence halls, and dining options. For those who are moving away for school, the area in which the campus is located is also likely to play a role in the decision-making. These individuals should choose to go to school somewhere they will enjoy living, even for a short time.
An ideal nursing school provides sufficient clinical experience. Clinical training gives nurses the opportunity to learn in a supervised, hands-on environment. The location of clinical training is also important, as some healthcare facilities are more advanced than others. Students may learn more if their clinical experience takes place in state of the art teaching and research hospitals. The quality of clinical preceptors is another aspect to consider.
Nursing specializations are more relevant for those pursuing an advanced degree, since this is when specializing begins to influence coursework. At this point, it is important to make sure nursing schools in question offer the specialization one wishes to pursue. For example, if one wishes to become a pediatric nurse practitioner, he or she will want to find a school that offers this specialty area. Those who are earning a basic nursing degree may want to look into the availability of courses that will help them to meet their career goals and to become employed in a given specialization. This could, for example, extra include courses focused on oncology or critical care nursing. Some students may be interested in schools that allow them to pursue a minor in an area of interest or that place extra emphasis on teaching management and leadership skills.