Tuesday, February 9, 2010

How to Choose Among Nursing Schools

Once you’ve decided to go to nursing school, you may find yourself overwhelmed. There are hundreds of nursing programs across the US, and all of them claim to be the best in one thing or another. If you don’t already have an idea of what program you’d like to apply to, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the amount of choices in front of you. However, when deciding how to choose among nursing schools, there are several things to take into consideration: location, cost, and quality of education.

The first component of figuring out how to choose among nursing schools is to look at location. A program may have a million and one qualities, but if it’s three hours or more away from your home, you may want to reconsider. Nursing school requires long hours for classes, clinicals and studying. If you’re spending several hours a day on the road, you may find yourself too tired to give the program your best effort. If the program is even further away, requiring you to move, it still may not be your best choice. At home, you have a network of friends and family to support you when the work load seems to be too much. If you move away from home, you could find yourself in over your head with no one to turn to.

Another thing to look at when deciding how to choose among nursing schools is the cost of attendance. Nursing school, like many other forms of higher education, is not cheap. Some schools will offer one form of financial assistance or another, but most of the time, you’ll find you need to take out loans. Unless your credit is spectacular, it could be difficult to get loans for how much you’ll need, especially because working while in nursing school is difficult, so you may need loans for living expenses. Even if you do get a loan, your interest rates could be through the roof. Thus, how much the program costs is important to think about.

Finally, you should look at the quality of education. Ideally, the program you select should have dual accreditation from the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing and Education. This speaks highly of the program, and employers appreciate that. You should also take a look at how many clinical hours are offered, as this is the amount of hands on experience you’ll gain from the program. At last, you should look at how many students in the program actually pass the NCLEX in the end. If the pass rate is 15%, the program may not be giving all the necessary information to its students. All of this is important when considering how to choose among nursing schools. 

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