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10 Things to Remember When Choosing a Nursing School

10 Things to Remember When Choosing a Nursing School

Hollis Forester, RNC-NP

It is so great that you have decided to follow your dream and become a nurse. Now what? How do you start? There are many things to consider when deciding to enter the nursing field. Do you want to specialize? Is there an area of nursing that particularly “calls” to you? How will you support yourself and your family while you go to school? There can be a lot of anxiety and worry in making this decision.

And one of the decisions you will have to make is where to apply to school. Here are ten items to consider when looking at schools. Start with this list then add to it as you go. That is, you may decide on one school and then find something in their curriculum or policies that you just cannot live with. Add that to your list, so you remember to ask that question of other institutions.

Here are my 10!

1. Find a school that matches your career desires. Whether you choose to follow a two year path to get an A.D.N. or a longer path that culminates in a MSN or a doctorate, be sure and choose a school that offers the right degree for you. Be sure you factor in whether or not you have a degree in another subject. Some schools recognize this and give you credit for your classes.

2. Location, location, location. Be sure that the schools you apply to are accessible without too much travel or hassle. Also, consider class schedules. Does the school offer a schedule of classes that you can get to easily and seems to fit with your life and other responsibilities.

3. Does the school offer on-line classes? This is a good compromise if the school is some distance away. Maybe you can complete some classes from the comfort of your home office.

4. Look at the specialty you may want to enter. Schools often direct their curriculum to certain specialties. Find a school that values the direction you would like to take in your career.

5. Be sure the school you choose is accredited by the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or both. These bodies review the schools policies, curriculum, financial standing, boards of trustees and instructors. It could be difficult to move on in your education and career if you graduate from a school that is not accredited by one of these bodies.

6. Tuition and the possibility for financial aid may be very important to you. Make sure you find out about these before signing on the dotted line. And consider finding out about tuition reimbursement if something happens and you cannot complete your course of study.

7. Some schools give educational credit for experience you have had in the health care profession. If you have worked in a health care setting, find out if you can get credit at your institution of choice.

8. Tests for admission to a school are not unusual. There is a pre-admission test given by the National League of Nursing (NLN) that some schools require, and there are other tests that you may be expected to pass before admission. Be sure you know what these are and are prepared to take them.

9. Clinical rotations can be the most valuable part of the nursing school experience. Look into where the school holds its rotations. Is it acceptable to you? Is this the experience you would like because it’s the kind of setting where you would like to practice? Don’t forget to evaluate this important area of your learning.

10. Lastly, check the schools pass rates for the NCLEX exam. When you finish your degree, you will be required to take this exam in order to get a license in the state where you want to practice. You can ask for the pass rates of this exam for the last five to ten years and get an idea about how the curriculum and teaching methods of the school prepare students to take and pass that exam.

Although there are many issues to consider when choosing a nursing school, you will find one that fits all your requirements, accepts you as a student and passes you with flying colors. Be careful, be persistent, and be a nurse.

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