If you know that nursing is right for you, the first step towards your dream career is choosing a nursing program. The only problem is that once you start looking into applying, you will quickly realize how many programs and institutions exist and how different all of them can be. This can be very confusing, especially if this is your first time looking into it. The program and institution you choose will have a huge impact on your learning experience, job search, and career. This is why we are going to look at a few things you should consider when choosing a nursing program.
Because there is ample information about the type of curriculum that different institutions and programs follow, it has become a lot easier to see if a program is a great fit for you. One of the things you should look out for is whether the program is conceptually or systematically based. You also want to find out whether they follow any nursing theories as well as the types of education models they offer.
If you have beliefs around the nursing profession, choosing a program that aligns with those beliefs will be key in how well it fits you. For example, some programs incorporate certain elements of religion and if that is something that does not appeal to you, those programs will not be a good fit.
Every nursing program should prepare you to pass the NCLEX exam. All institutions go about this differently, but if you want to know whether they prepare their student adequately, it is always a good idea to check their NCLEX pass rate.
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The NCLEX pass rate should not be the only metric you look at because there may be hidden nuances that you may not be able to see at first glance. Institutions have been known to fail students who will have a hard time passing the exam so they never get to sit it. This means the pass rate will be very high even if they have very low graduation rates. Also, a program may try to get students to memorize concepts without understanding the underlying theory, which makes the students good at taking exams, but bad nurses in practice.
Catering to Your Unique Circumstances
Students who enroll in nursing programs will do so under different circumstances. If you already have a degree and are looking to make a switch to a career in nursing, for example, you could lean towards universities offering accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) degrees.
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These degrees take about a year to complete and are the perfect option if you also want to make the switch to nursing faster. For even more flexibility, consider universities offering online absn programs. By choosing this option, you can complete the coursework required while you continue working and will only be required to physically visit the institution a few times a semester.
You might also already be a registered nurse with dreams of becoming a nurse practitioner. In that case, you should consider nursing programs that make following these paths easier.
Nursing school and their programs are a lot harder than many people think. This is why it is so important that instructors are available to help students in areas they are stuck on. Instructors who spend the extra time to ensure students understand everything they are taught is a huge plus for any program that has those instructors.
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Assistance After Graduation
As with most other professional career options, it is extremely difficult to get hired without prior experience. This becomes even more of a problem for those who come to nursing as their second career. A good nursing school has relationships with healthcare facilities where they can place students after graduation.
These relationships give students some advantage because potential employers are familiar with the programs they are graduating from. By looking at a nursing program’s placement rate, you can get an idea of the types of relationships they have with healthcare institutions as well as the level of support you are likely to get after graduating.
It is also a good idea to ask an admission representative how long it takes for students to find placements after they graduate. Don’t forget to ask where students get placed because getting a career start in a reputable hospital or healthcare facility can offer you massive advantages.
Nursing is moving quickly as the world changes. This means that if your instructor does not have recent, relevant nursing experience, they may be out of touch with the way nursing works in the current world.
A good instructor should not only be teaching, but practicing from time to time. Again, this is not a metric on which to judge instructors because many of them do keep up with the latest happenings in the current nursing world, but asking your administrative representative about their experience is never a bad idea.
Standing with the State Boards of Nursing
Great nursing programs and schools have a good reputation with the state board of nursing, and schools and programs that have a good reputation are verified by them. This means that you will not have any problems applying for the relevant certification and exams once you graduate.
To find out if your program or school has a good reputation, you can always do an online search using the name of the schools you are considering followed by “board of nursing” (quotes included). This will give you some information that can give you a better idea of the schools you wish to apply for. This search will also reveal approval and verification of the school and its program as discussed above.
Choosing the right or wrong nursing school or program can make or break your nursing career. Because this is such an important decision, you should take the time to carefully evaluate all schools and programs you want to enroll in. Looking ahead in this way will be very rewarding when everything comes together as it ought to once you graduate.