Registered nurse schools are becoming more plentiful, and though it can seem overwhelming, it gives you a choice in where you get an education. However, there are some things to consider while you are choosing the best program for you.
Quality of the Program
The program you attend should have a high NCLEX first-time pass rate. The program should have at least an 80 percent pass rate, but that's the minimum. The closer it is to 100 percent is an indicator of how well the school prepares its students to pass the licensing exam. This is one thing that isn't negotiable — you need to pass the NCLEX to work as a nurse, and if a school can't do that for its students, it's not worth your time.
Other quality indicators to consider are clinical sites and job placement rates. Both show the school's reputation in the community and will predict your likelihood of getting a job right after graduation and passing the NCLEX.
Flexibility of the Program
Be honest with yourself about the demands on your time. Do you need to work full-time to support your family? Do you have young children or an elderly parent who needs a lot of your time? If so, look for a flexible program that will let you take classes while balancing your other responsibilities. There are registered nursing schools for working adults, so look for those. Nursing clinicals are not flexible, however, and sometimes they cover nights, weekends and twelve-hour shifts. So, plan accordingly when it comes to clinical time.
Tuition Cost and Financial Aid
It's unlikely that you have 40 thousand dollars lying around to pay for nursing school, so you will need to consider carefully how you will afford school. Are you eligible for Pell grants? Are you willing to apply for scholarships? Does the school offer financial aid help to their students? Student loans are not something to be entered into lightly — they follow you until you fulfill them. A less expensive program could save you thousands of dollars in interest and loan payments in the long term.
Will You Get Accepted?
Competition to registered nurse schools is high. Speak with a counselor about the average GPA and test scores of students who have been accepted into the program. Maybe you need to retake some courses to become competitive or look for a program where you are already competitive.
The Experience of Current Students
This is often overlooked when considering registered nursing schools, but it is an important one. Questions to ask a current student may be: Does the nursing faculty care about you? What do you like/not like about the program? Would you choose this program again if you had the choice?
Try to ask several students to get a feel for what the program is actually like. You'll learn things that you won't read on the school's website that can help prepare you to be successful.
Choose your nursing education wisely; a good fit for nursing school can make the difference between a great experience and a frustrating one. Understanding your own needs and personal situation will help guide you to the nursing school that will be best for you.
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