Who doesn’t want a career that is satisfying, fruitful, and full of opportunities? Fortunately, nursing meets these criteria with a spot for you in the most prestigious workplaces willing to hire the right talent. There are over 4 million Registered Nurses (RN) in the United States. This number will increase at a steady rate of 10% over the next decade.
Before you can reap the rewards of a promising career, you need to get a degree first. Choosing a degree is tedious, especially in such a diverse field. How do you know where you will shine as a nurse and what program is worth your money?
A nursing degree is a commitment of your time, energy, and assets, so it’s paramount you make the right choice for yourself. Here is how you find your forte:
1. Your field of interest
When you feel an inclination towards a field, you will not hesitate to gravitate towards it. Nursing is a vast niche in healthcare. You will find degrees that are patient-centered, such as a Nursing Assistant (CNA), Nurse Practitioner (NP), or Critical Care Nurse (CCN). On the other hand, there are degrees, such as a BSN and an MSN, which will let you shift gear and head towards the administrative side of things.
You should decide whether you enjoy the behind-the-scenes aspect of being a nurse or catering to patients. Perhaps the thought of financial management, analyzing data, and navigating through legal healthcare issues beckons you. In that case, you should look into an MSN Nursing Administration program online and peruse the requirements needed to acquire this degree. Take time to evaluate where you feel comfortable working as a nurse to narrow down your choices and find the best fit for you.
2. The program’s acceptance rate
Nursing institutes have varying acceptance rates. While it is good to be ambitious, you should balance it with a tinge of realism. Institutes with a narrow acceptance rate can be a risky choice, and a rejection email can be debilitating to your mental health.
Therefore, while researching different institutes online, be sure to look at their acceptance rate. For instance, programs that accept 40% of applicants can be safer and should be on your list of prospective options.
Some nursing schools also have a waiting list, which can provide a safety net for you. Landing a place on the waiting list after the first round of applications will assure you that while you didn’t get accepted right away, you still have a chance. This will enable you to refine your student profile and apply again with a more focused application.
3. Weight of accreditation
In the United States, there are over 2,000 accredited nursing schools. Accreditation refers to programs the US Department of Education approves because of the quality. These institutes meet all the requirements you need to be a successful nurse. While most nursing schools are accredited, a few are not – these limit your chances of excelling and should be avoided.
You should also brush up on your information about accreditations. Generally, there are two types. Institutional accreditation means that the whole school has been reviewed and approved. The other is accredited programs which refer to the approved programs alone and not the institute offering those programs.
4. Cost of attending
Your financial situation can put you in a difficult spot. Applying for a student loan can be unsavory since it will add to your pile of expenses. Therefore you should look at the overall tuition cost, explore scholarship opportunities and browse through the program’s financial aid offerings. Aim for an institute to facilitate your education without draining your savings.
Luckily most accredited institutions will offer payment options to ease the monetary burden. You will only need to dedicate some time to apply for a financial aid program with the required documents to process your request. Apply early, so you have adequate time to gather and submit these.
5. The flexibility of the institute
Opt for a nursing program that is easy to manage. While many degrees are online now, the required credit hours, research papers, and thesis can make the learning process stressful. As you progress through your nursing program, you will need to balance clinical hours with theory classes which require you to drive out to the designated clinic site.
Clinics far from your home will make you strive harder since you must head out on time and manage fuel costs. Some nursing schools have more than one clinical site, making it easier for you to pick the closest option. But, you will also need to investigate further how reputable these clinics are according to the patient attending rate.
After all, you will want a steady number of cases to polish your experience and skills. You will also need to find out if you can attend classes in a hybrid manner to make learning easier. Flexible institutes will make nursing education much more enjoyable without unnecessary pressure.
6. Duration of the program
Nursing degrees require time, so you must know what you are signing up for. Depending on the program you choose, the duration varies. For example, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) will take four years to complete.
If you are going for a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), you will be looking at least eighteen months to three years of your time required. Becoming a Registered (RN) will take three years before studying to get your license.
The nursing sector is extensive, which is why you should look at the program you want to do and find out how much you will need to commit.
7. The passing rate for the program
The Nursing Commission calculates the pass rate based on the average number of students passing the National Council Licensing Examination (NCLEX) for the first time.
Most institutes need to maintain an 80% pass rate for first-time test-takers. You can easily find out where your program choice stands by checking out your state’s board of nursing stats. A steady pass rate indicates a high quality of instruction and should convince you to apply.
Choosing a nursing degree will be one of the most critical decisions in your life. If you wish to build a promising career, you need to find your way through some crucial factors to ensure you match with the right program.
Play to your passions and go for a degree that makes you feel alive. When you have a choice in mind, explore how easily you can get in while minding the program’s accredited status. Finances will be a stressful part of picking a program, so find institutes willing to assist with your monetary burdens.
The final piece of the puzzle includes the structure of the curriculum and the passing ratio of your selected program. A flexible nursing degree that offers you good clinical locations and has an above-average passing rate should automatically be your top pick. Following this list to the T will enable you to find your degree.