Nursing has been one of the most lucrative and noble career options. Even in non-emergency situations, nurses have always been in demand. If you have decided that nursing is the right career for you, congratulations!
However, the path ahead is filled with challenges and the first one is choosing the right nursing school. The nursing school you choose must be equipped to help you gain exposure to the practical aspects of learning as well as help ease your path ahead of becoming a licensed professional.
With a large number of institutions offering diverse nursing programs, there is a drastic difference in the quality of their curriculum and the students who graduate from the school.
These variations in quality make all the difference when students start hunting for jobs after college. If you wish to be a successful nurse, then it is essential that you pick the right school. Here are some of the factors you must consider while picking a nursing school.
Determine What You Want in a Program
The most important thing before planning a career is listening to those inner voices in your head. Always analyze the scope, opportunities, and challenges that you might face in a degree. Have you planned on the time that you’re willing to invest? How soon do you wish to start working? Are you someone who’s more interested in the practical aspects of things, or do you enjoy understanding textbook concepts?
You can pursue a one-year vocational nursing degree program to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN), helpful for entry-level jobs. You can also go for a two-year associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) or a four-year Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN), to become a nurse (RN- Registered nurse). And obviously, the work that you will be assigned, the places you’ll work at will also vary greatly. There will also be differences in the salaries that you earn and the future scope for growth.
Approval and Accreditation
The nursing school of your choice must either be accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing and Education (CCNE).
Accreditation is the proof/validation that experts in the field have reviewed the school’s program. It also means that it fulfills the criteria and standards of quality prescribed by the accreditation committee. An accredited school also has a good reputation among employers and educational institutions.
Most students eventually realize the downsides of picking a school with no accreditation when they plan on going for higher studies or seeking a job. Not only do you waste a significant amount of money in such a school, but also compromise on the quality of the education.
Curriculum and Curriculum Standards
When you choose a school, you must be aware of the subjects that you will be studying. Most importantly, does your curriculum follow the guidelines recommended by AACN, CCNE, and other authorities? A degree in nursing consists of courses like physiology, anatomy, microbiology, professional nursing practices, community health, and clinical nursing. It would help if you looked into the distribution of the syllabus and whether the school offers a flexible schedule. Some schools allow evening and weekend classes for working professionals while some schools insist on full-time in-person classes.
Your schools must offer accelerated degree programs in case you wish to opt for one. There are schools that provide an accelerated associate’s degree in as little as 18 months. Once you move to higher classes, you will be assigned clinical rotation sites. Look into where the school sends its students to ensure that you have ample learning opportunities.
Verify Approvals and Accreditations
In recent years, there have been reports of schools and colleges faking their accreditation to charge a higher fee from students, as well as increase their intake. A simple search on the US Dept. of Education website to understand whether the school you choose is accredited, can help you with this.
Career Placement Programs
If you wish to kickstart your career on the right note, you must look for institutions that offer post-education assistance for jobs. Some schools conduct job fairs on their campus, while some assist in recommending you for jobs. However, it be you must study the statistics of a school to understand how many graduates were able to secure a high-paying job.
Your practical skills as a nurse are of the utmost importance when it comes to your employability. As a nursing student, you will pick most of your skills during nursing clinical. Hence, you should pick a school that has strategic partnerships with reputed hospitals nearby. Some schools have multiple partnership hospitals to choose from. The right clinical partnership will provide you with the opportunity to work with the best doctor and gain valuable experience.
One aspect that we must not ignore is the education cost. The fee for a nursing degree can range from $15,000-$45,000 per annum. In strictly financial terms, the money that we spend on education is an investment, and so we must obtain greater returns on that investment.
Factor in the average pay that a graduate can earn post-degree. Always compare the free structure of multiple colleges so that you don’t end up overpaying for your bachelor’s degree.
If you feel that the fee structure is too high, you might want to look into the possibility of taking a loan. This can be avoided if you find a school that provides financial assistance to its students. Schools like NEIT offered financial aid to 97% of its students in 2020.
Keeping all these aspects in mind, you must understand that the most expensive college might not have the best facilities while the one with the lowest fee might lack the essential infrastructure. Strike the right balance between the fee structure and the facilities offered.
Generally, we do not pay enough heed to the location of our college and end up in unwarranted situations. There are certain advantages and disadvantages of picking a location far from your home. Say you’re a student looking for the best nursing schools in Rhode Island. If you’re a local student, you might end up finding one easily. Add to it the advantage of avoiding the extra cost of living in a different city. Some schools even charge extra fees for students from another state.
Moving to a different state can create additional difficulties in acclimatization, job-search, social life, etc. If you have a school close to home, you can also travel daily and have spare time for part-time jobs. However, if your state does not have the right facility, moving to a different state makes sense as you can have access to better career opportunities, infrastructure, and standard of living.
Class Size and Infrastructure
It is more of a personal choice when it comes to picking the size of your nursing school. Do you prefer a school that has a huge intake, or do you like the personal feel and close attention generally associated with smaller schools? You can read about the number of accepted students per quarter/semester to determine the size of the institution.
Along with the number of students, check if your school has the required number of faculty to maintain the desired student-teacher ratio. A good ratio ensures that you can personally approach the instructor, and you can get the help that you need.
The list of faculties is generally available on a school’s website. You can check their qualifications, reputation, and areas of research. The right teachers will equip you with the right knowledge, essential to take up any challenge.
Being a nurse requires high levels of professional and technical expertise. Gaining exposure to state-of-the-art facilities can help have a fulfilling career.