If you are considering a career in nursing, one of the biggest challenges you face is selecting one of the best nursing schools to fulfill your specific education requirements. There are different options based on what type of nursing education you are seeking.
Before you begin researching nursing schools and programs, take some time to decide on which type of nursing career you would like to pursue. For instance, if you want to work in a hospital instead of becoming a visiting nurse, you may choose one nursing school over another to better zone in on specific education requirements. There are many different types of nursing, so it is very important to at least have a pretty good idea at what field you want to specialize in.
Nursing Schools Affiliated with Hospitals
If you would like to get a nursing diploma, the advantage of getting an education from a nursing school directly affiliated with a hospital is a great option. The advantage of choosing this type of school is that while you still get the studying and actual schooling you need, you will usually be able to participate in the clinical or hands-on portion of your training sooner than other programs.
In this way, you will discover your strengths and weaknesses, in addition to determining if nursing, or specific fields of nursing, are a good match for you. You may decide that you want to pursue a different field of nursing earlier on in the education process, which will save you both time and money.
Hospital-based programs used to be very popular and in some places, the only type of education option offered. Because there are more schools specifically focused on nursing, there are far more education options available today.
Hospital-based programs can be a bit less expensive than other venues. You can generally graduate with a nursing diploma within 2-3 years.
There are many community colleges offering both diplomas and Associate degrees in nursing. The curriculum is very similar from school to school, and it is simply a matter of preference and cost in terms of choosing a school. Take a look at local colleges in your area and do a comparison in terms of cost and class schedules.
Make sure the college you are considering offers an accredited nursing program, so you will not have problems taking the nursing exam or finding employment once your studies are completed.
Also, you cannot get clinical experience directly from your college, but they can generally offer assistance to enroll in a program at a participating hospital or care facility to give you the practical experience you need to complete your education.
Some colleges offer additional programs to continue your studies in order to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in nursing. You can usually complete the program within 2 to 2-1/2 years for an Associate’s degree; or 3 to 4 years for a Bachelor’s degree.
If your schedule is best-suited for an on-line nursing school, take care to find a program that is accredited. An accredited school or course means nothing more than it being recognized as legitimate so you can transfer credits if applicable, accepted by an employer and allows you to apply your credits to further your education in the future.
You will still need clinical experience, as you do with any other nursing diploma or degree, so you should try to find an on-line program that offers assistance or recommendations in lining up a venue where you can meet the required clinical requirements. You also need to know and understand the requirements of the curriculum and clinical requirements prior to signing up for an on-line program.
If the on-line program offers a guidance counselor-type of service, take advantage of it to get answers to more detailed questions you may have.
If you already have a diploma or Associate’s degree, you may want to further your education in order to get higher paying, teaching or supervisory positions. If you want to get into another field of nursing, you may want to get the next level of degree prior to putting in for a transfer.
In those cases, there are good undergraduate programs offered at many colleges and universities. You may also want to look into graduate programs offered at select colleges and hospitals.
You can expect to study for an additional 1-2 years to move up from an RN to a BSN if you study full time. If you have to take classes part time due to your current work schedule, it may take twice as long to complete the studies for a Bachelor’s degree.
If you want to make the transition from BSN to MSN, it will take an additional 2-3 years to complete the studies for a Master’s degree.
Remember that even though you may have to invest anywhere from one to four years of additional study to get to the next level in a nursing career, you will be dramatically increasing your employment and salary options as a result.
As you can see, there are options available as you pursue a nursing career or wish to continue your training as a nurse. Any investment made in additional education, degrees earned or clinical experience will never go to waste and the rewards for your additional work will be realized almost immediately upon completion of your studies.
As a good starting point, determine where you would like to go in your nursing career so you can more easily choose from one of the best nursing schools for your specific education requirements.