How To Choose The Nursing Program That Is Right For You
So you have decided that you want to become a nurse! That’s great news! So now, what’s next? Well, in order to get licensed as a registered nurse, you must be a graduate of an accredited program. Since there are hundreds of them across the country, it can be daunting to choose the right one. But, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered! From fellow nurses, we have gathered some good thinking points on how to choose the nursing program that is right for you; these can apply to graduate schools, too, if you already have your RN.
Let’s break it down into five important considerations.
Location is a big factor to consider when choosing your nursing program. Consider – do you want to move across the country and relocate, or would you rather stay closer to where you are currently located? Nursing school is a big step; it is going to be grueling and take up a lot of your time. It might be helpful for you to be closer to your support system, so you’ll want to carefully consider how far from your home base you are willing to be. You may not want to drive more than 30 minutes from where you are living in order to get to school. Anything more than 30 minutes, you could be cutting into a lot of study or personal time – and it can get old quick.
In every state, in order to sit for the NCLEX (the national licensing test), you must be a graduate of an accredited program. In order to find programs that are accredited and approved for their students to take the NCLEX, visit your state’s board of nursing website. The state board sites will have an entire list of programs and the website or contact information you need. While you are checking out the accreditation status, take a look at the program’s pass rates for the NCLEX. You want to be sure that the program you choose has a high percentage of passing students because otherwise you might go through an entire program and end up unprepared.
3. Length of Program
Each program varies in length depending on the level of degree (i.e. associates, bachelor’s, etc.) and the general program requirements. With many schools, you can complete your RN training in 2-4 years. However, if you have previous credits, you might be able to do it in less time. First, figure out how long you are willing to be in school. Some people would rather take it slow and take longer, others like to grind it out as quickly as possible. Consider the length of the program and your preference when choosing.
4. Requirements/Application Process
Each school and program is going to have different prerequisite requirements and application processes. Most of these requirements include transcripts, reference letters, GPA minimums, and, sometimes, an on-campus interview. In addition, there can also be required drug screens, background checks, and a physical exam since you will be doing clinicals in off-campus locations, such as a local hospital. Once you have narrowed down your schools, make sure you at least meet the minimum requirements of the program.
This is the big one for a lot of people, as it should be. Education is expensive, so financial obligations are an important consideration. There are assistance programs, scholarships, loans, and grants available. But at the end of the day, it is crucial to know how much you are going to have to pay for the entire nursing program and what that includes. Does it include your uniforms and books? Do they include a prep course for the NCLEX? Make sure you plan for the financial burden that your education can place ahead of time so that you do not feel like you are drowning during or after.
There you have it – five significant considerations to ponder when choosing a nursing program that is right for you. As we discussed earlier, even if you already have an RN, these same considerations can be applied to going back for higher education, too.
What do you think? What are some other considerations when choosing a school? Join the conversation below!