Top Nursing Schools Online
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Top Nursing Schools
Over the past decade, the online nursing school programs have contributed to the profession being heavily promoted as a great career. Registered nurses work to assess patients’ physical and mental status, provide appropriate treatment for optimal healing, coordinate care amongst the health care team, and document their findings and interventions. Given the national nursing shortage, a degree in nursing guarantees one a stable, secure, and high-paying job. In order to be a great nurse, though, you need to have been trained in one of the top nursing schools in the country.
There are two main educational tracks to becoming a nurse, and your first decision in choosing a nursing school is to decide if you want an ASN or BSN. (While one can occasionally still find a hospital-based diploma school, these programs are gradually being phased out.) An ASN is an associate’s degree in nursing. ASN programs are typically found at community colleges, and they usually consist of a year of general education followed by two years of nursing classes. BSN programs, on the other hand, are found at four-year colleges and universities and result in a bachelor’s degree. BSN programs begin with a year of general education courses and then three years of nursing education. (Note: There are also accelerated BSN programs for students who already have college degrees in non-nursing fields. These accelerated programs usually take 18 months, and unlike the traditional BSN course schedule, accelerated classes are taken year-round, with no summer vacation.)
ASN and BSN Nursing School Programs
Whether you enroll in an ASN or BSN program, the nursing education years will be a mix of classroom lectures and clinical experience in the hospital setting. You will start with a fundamentals course in which you will learn basic nursing skills like taking vital signs, doing blood draws, inserting catheters, and working with IV machines. Your clinical courses will then branch out into more specialized areas, including rotations in pediatrics, labor and delivery, ICU, and psychiatry. As stated already, BSN programs consist of three years of nursing courses, compared to only two years in ASN programs. That extra year of BSN nursing school will consist of classes in community health, leadership, management, and additional training in critical care nursing.
While both ASN and BSN graduates work as RNs, there are distinct advantages to having a BSN. The BSN allows for more clinical rotations and experience. Additionally, some employers prefer to hire BSN graduates, as a high proportion of BSN-educated RNs increase a facility’s rankings. Most importantly, a BSN is necessary for promotion in the health care industry. While it is true that the nursing shortage is severe enough that most medical offices and hospitals will hire just about anyone with a nursing license, you will need that BSN designation if you want the possibility of truly advancing your career. For instance, it is extremely rare to find a nursing manager or administrator with only an ASN.
Choosing a nursing program is often based on geographical convenience. Most students enroll in the school that is closest to them. While almost any nursing school will offer a curriculum that will result in a competent nurse graduate, there are certain things that set the best nursing schools apart from the rest. Despite that it might take more to reach or get into a top nursing program, one should seriously consider going the extra mile. So what makes a nursing program stand out? The five factors below are essential to consider when choosing the best possible nursing school:
Choosing One of the Top Nursing Schools
1) Top nursing schools tend to be affiliated with four-year state universities. Nursing is one of the few undergraduate disciplines in which public universities almost always outrank private institutions (even Ivy League ones!). Public schools tend to have better funding for nursing programs, and they consequently tend to have larger nursing departments, with more faculty focused on nursing research. These nurse researchers tend to be great instructors. They are very enthusiastic and devoted to the advancement of nursing as a profession. Since they are at the forefront of the development of nursing knowledge, they are able to pass on to their students the newest developments in evidence-based practice.
2) The best programs tend to be in mid-sized or large cities with at least several major hospitals. Programs in smaller cities and towns tend to rely on nursing homes and small hospitals for their clinical sites, which don’t give students the full spectrum of illness severity that a major hospital system can provide.
3) Great nursing schools will offer career counseling and placement. Working as a student nurse during your undergraduate years is a great way to gain extra clinical experience and earn some extra cash. Nursing schools should have counselors or advisors that are able to help ensure students are able to find a part-time job as a student nurse if they want one.
4) A nursing school should allow adequate time for the development of fundamental nursing skills. It is important that one feels competent in the basics before moving on to more advanced nursing skills. A school that has a learning lab that has extended hours outside of the usual class time for extra practice is providing its students with the best possible resource for them to take responsibility for developing their skills.
5) Perhaps the most important criteria for judging the quality of a nursing program is their NCLEX pass rate. After all, it does not do one much good to graduate nursing school only to be unable to pass the official licensing test! Some programs (especially ASN programs) have abysmal pass rates of 70% or less. The best schools, however, will have a pass rate over 95%. You absolutely want to make sure your nursing school will properly prepare you for the NCLEX, so choose a program that has a proven track record of their students passing the NCLEX on the first try. (Note: You should not even consider an online nursing program. Online programs are not taken seriously in the health care field, and very few managers will even consider interviewing a job candidate whose degree was obtained online. Nursing is a discipline that requires hands-on training and evaluation by an experienced instructor. You simply cannot replicate the nursing school experience with an online program.)
Nursing is an excellent career choice. Once you make a decision to pursue this field, it is up to you to evaluate the schools offered and choose the best possible nursing program available. The most important criteria for choosing a school are whether it is a public of private institution, whether it offers clinical experience in a mid-sized or large city, has an enthusiastic job placement office, has a learning lab that is available for students, and what its NCLEX pass rate is. Considering these criteria will ensure you end up in one of the top nursing schools in the country!