Finding the Best Nursing Schools: 10 Things To Look For

So you have decided you want to go to nursing school. Now what? With all the options out there and with so many schools to choose from, sometimes deciding which one is best for you and will provide the best available training is overwhelming.

While all nursing schools train their students to complete nursing duties and to have a job as a nurse, not all schools offer the same benefits or quality of program. As you apply to schools and begin making decisions about where to enroll, it is important to consider these 10 elements of a nursing school.

1. Application Requirements

Check with the school to make sure you meet all the requirements for the application process. Some schools require you to have some previous education or training and specific grades. This is especially important if you are transferring from one school to another. Visit the school’s website to find a list of requirements for applying to the program and then contact an adviser at the school for more details.

Also be sure you understand all the deadlines related to the application process and are able to meet them.

2. Time it Takes to Complete The Program

Chances are you want to start your career right away. Factors like financial situation, age, and housing are all things you need to take into consideration as you look at how long it will take you to complete a specific nursing program. Some programs can be completed in just a few months while others may allow you to take courses at your own pace while you work full time and could take a few years to complete. When it comes down to it, there is no right or wrong to how long a program should take to complete. This is a matter of preference and the trick is finding a school that meets your needs.

Some popular schools also have waiting lists that can be up to a year long. Talk with an adviser at the school to find out the earliest semester you could attend after applying and being accepted.

3. Tuition and Other Fees

Before applying to any nursing school or program make sure you have a good idea of what your education will cost you. Check tuition rates and talk to an adviser about any other fees for applications and labs. Keep in mind you will most likely also be responsible for paying for things like scrubs and some of your own equipment needed for labs and training.

4. Graduation Rates

Once you have narrowed down your list to a few schools that meet your needs as far as application requirements, time frame, and cost go, it’s time to consider graduation rates. A school may accept many students and offer a good program, but have low graduation rates. Low graduation rates could be a sign of a rigorous program, lower-quality advisement, and even less-qualified teachers. Talk to your adviser to find out how many students finish the program once they have started and the main reasons students fail to graduate.

5. Hands-On Training

When it comes to nursing programs there are often two categories: those that focus mainly on theory and those that focus on hands-on experience. Most students benefit more from a program that has state-of-the art labs with the latest technology and classes that offer training on how to perform procedures and use equipment. Make sure the school you are considering has high-quality labs and that they are incorporated into classroom learning. Attending one of these schools will make you more employable and will better prepare you to hit the ground running when you start your new career.

6. Facility

This goes hand in hand with the last point. Before you enroll in a nursing school, find out what kind of facility it is in. If it is possible, visit the school and tour the labs, classrooms, study areas, offices, and student resources. A good school will recognize that unless it stays up to date with its technology and equipment, it won’t be prepared to offer its students the best training available.

7. Experience Level of Teachers

Many nursing school websites have short bios for the teachers. If you want to get the most out of your classroom education, you will want to learn from the best. Make sure the school you are considering has teachers that have real-world industry experience, have experience teaching nursing, and have earned degrees from recognized schools.

8. Alumni

Talk with an adviser at the school to find out what the school’s alumni are doing now. Finding out where they are employed, what kinds of jobs they have, and if they have had successful careers can give you a glimpse into what your future could be like. Make sure you choose a school whose alumni are well-trained and successful in nursing and not one whose graduates are generally unemployed or who can’t compete in the job market.

9. Alumni Benefits

A good nursing school will stay connected with their alumni and continue to provide support and assistance. A school that offers alumni benefits like job search help, resume advice, and networking will continue to benefit you as you pursue your nursing career. You can make sure your nursing school investment is worth the time, money, and effort you put into it by making sure the school has a track record of taking care of its alumni.

10. Relationships with the Community

Most good nursing schools have positive relationships with the community. They help their students find internships and residencies at local health centers. The doctors and hospital staff at nearby facilities will have a positive view of graduates from the school and will employ alumni. They will find the degree respectable and see graduates of the school as assets to their center.

Rachel Call is a writer for My Colleges and Careers helps people determine if an online education is right for them and helps them understand which online courses and online schools they can choose from to reach their goals.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ron June 22, 2011 at 11:07 pm

Great post. But also you need to look at how many pass their state boards. I taught a nursing Pharmacology course and 100% passed their boards 1st try.

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