Every year, many people enroll in nursing school with the intention of obtaining the vast amount of knowledge and practical training that it takes to work as a nurse. Some are just starting out in their path to becoming a nurse with an undergraduate degree program that will allow them to become a registered nurse (RN), while others are qualified nurses already who are choosing to pursue an advanced degree of some sort.
However, statistics and reports indicate that while many enroll in such nursing school programs, a significant number of these aspiring nurses will be unable to complete the program they have chosen to enroll in. The fact of the matter is that the pursuit of a nursing degree of any kind is a demanding endeavor that can prove to be too much at times.
If you are hoping to earn either your undergraduate degree in nursing or an advanced nursing degree of some sort, you might very well find yourself feeling a bit intimidated at the prospect. You will be expected to learn and accomplish so much throughout your degree program that it is easy to feel unsure about how you will perform in nursing school.
Thankfully, there are many things that you can do to give yourself the best chances of finding success in nursing school. For instance, developing your time management skills and finding a group of fellow students that you can lean on for support and assistance can both help you to achieve what you want to in nursing school.
Another significant point that can go a long way to increasing your chances of getting through nursing school without too many issues is that of making sure that you have chosen the right school and program for you. Not all nursing schools are created equal, and many differ greatly in terms of how programs are structured and the quality of educators that you will come across.
The best thing that you can do is take your time to find the right nursing school for you. Whether you are looking to earn your initial nursing degree or if you are pursuing an advanced degree of some kind, here are a few tips to help you choose the right nursing school for you.
Consider Online Versus In-Person
The first thing to consider when looking for the right nursing school for you is the format of the program you want to enroll in. These days, it isn’t necessary for you to attend classes and lectures in person to earn your degree. Instead, many nursing schools have online education options for those students who prefer to learn in this way.
There are many advantages to earning your nursing degree online or enrolling in a hybrid program of sorts where some things are done in-person and others online. For starters, the flexibility that such programs provide to those students who will continue to work while they earn their degree can prove to be invaluable in many instances.
Furthermore, online education tends to simply be a more efficient way to earn a degree. Online programs can sometimes be completed quicker than in-person ones, a fact that can really come in handy to those nursing students pursuing an advanced degree.
For example, if you are already an RN and looking to become a fully qualified family nurse practitioner (FNP), you know that you are already in for a major time commitment. Not only will you need to have your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree completed to enroll in an advanced degree program, but these days, many employers are looking to hire FNPs who hold a doctoral degree instead of a master’s.
However, the right DNP-FNP from Marymount will allow you to complete your doctoral degree in less than four years. This can help you to achieve your goals sooner rather than later.
Essentially, you have several options to consider when it comes to the format of the nursing degree program you choose. Take some time to decide if you would prefer to learn via a more traditional in-person program or if the flexibility of an online program would suit your learning style best.
No matter what sort of degree you earn, the quality of instructors and professors teaching your courses is going to play a significant role in your ability to succeed in nursing school. Therefore, you want to be taught by teachers who are not only passionate about the field of nursing but who also have plenty of experience that they can pass along to you in the classroom.
Once you have made your shortlist of schools you are considering, do some research on the instructors that are employed by those schools. Look into the number of years they have worked in the field and the level of education they tend to have achieved themselves.
Some schools will only employ nurse educators who have earned a doctoral degree to teach certain courses, while others only have a master’s degree in nursing education. Depending on the type of degree you are looking to earn, you might wish to be taught by those with a higher level of education.
There are also certain websites that allow students to rate their professors and instructors for the benefit of future students. Of course, such information can be clouded by personal experience, but for the most part, it can be helpful in giving you a better understanding of what it would be like to be taught by a particular instructor.
Know the Success Rates
Each nursing school that you look into will provide information regarding the success rates somewhere on their website. Schools with high graduation and success rates will prominently feature these numbers, while those with less competitive numbers might have them hidden somewhere.
When you are trying to narrow down your search for the right nursing school for you, it is a good idea to choose from those that have high graduation rates. Another number to consider is that of the employment rates of graduates. The fact is that you don’t just want to earn a degree, but you want that degree to help you obtain gainful employment at the end of the day.
Some schools will even go so far as to break down their graduate employment rates based on the locations of where their former students have found work. The reasons for this involve the types of connections that a particular school might have with the local hospital system. If you are determined to work in a particular city, you might want to go to a nursing school with graduates who have been able to find employment in that city.
Look Into Average Class Size
The average class size of a nursing school is another main point to consider when you are trying to make your own decision regarding where you will earn your degree. Unfortunately, some schools are more focused on the number of students they can educate instead of the quality of education they can provide. This means that you might want to be wary about attending school at an institution with higher than average class sizes.
Ultimately, an instructor will only have so much of their attention and time that they can give to individual students. In a setting where the class sizes are larger, you will have to work a bit harder to get the attention and assistance from your instructors that you might need.
However, schools that keep class sizes more manageable do so with the intention of allowing instructors to be able to give every one of their students the particular help that they might need throughout a certain course. This also means that you will have more of an opportunity to build stronger connections with your instructors, a fact that can prove to be incredibly helpful for your professional development down the line.
That being said, many schools that allow larger class sizes tend to be more prestigious and well-known. Therefore, if it is more important for you to attend a certain university that is more universally recognized in the field of nursing, being part of larger classes might not be a major concern of yours.
Learn the Licensing Exam Pass Rate
When you earn a nursing degree of any kind, that is only the first step in the process of being able to practice legally. You will then need to take the knowledge and skills that you have obtained and use them to pass the relevant licensing examination.
Undergraduate nursing students will need to pass their NCLEX to become a fully qualified registered nurses. In addition, graduate students who are hoping to pursue a particular role in nursing, such as a nurse-midwife or an FNP, will need to pass the appropriate exam administered by the certification board for their specialty.
Because of this, part of your research regarding nursing schools should include the licensing pass rate of graduates. If a certain school has a high graduation rate, but a less than desirable exam pass rate, the degree program itself might not offer what you need to achieve what you want to in the field of nursing.
Bear in mind the fact that some licensing exams are more difficult to pass than others and come with a lower pass rate, to begin with. Take that information and weigh it against the pass rate of graduates from the schools you are considering so that you can make the most informed decision regarding your own path in the world of nursing.
Find Out How Others Rank the School
Even though you need to make your own decision regarding the nursing school program you enroll in, the perspective of former and current students can be incredibly valuable as you are considering various schools. While some opinions should be taken with a grain of salt, so to speak, the overall rankings of schools can be helpful to you as you make your decision.
There are a number of websites out there that allow students to rank various aspects of the school they have attended. Things like campus life, the quality of the instructors, and even campus food will factor into these rankings. Take the time to research these opinions for yourself so that you can give yourself the best idea of what it would be like to attend a certain school yourself.
It is also a good idea to visit any schools you are considering in person. This can give you a chance to get the opinions of current students right from the source. In addition, you will get the chance to tour a campus and potentially speak with faculty working at the school in person.
Be sure to ask for honest opinions from the students you speak with to better weigh the pros and cons of the various schools you are considering.
Consider Additional Resources
Even though such things don’t need to fall high on your list of factors to consider when trying to find the right nursing school for you, it can be helpful to look into the additional resources that a certain school offers its students.
For instance, if you enroll in an in-person program, look into how good the on-campus library is for nursing students. Likewise, those opting for an online education program should inquire about the user-friendliness and quality of the school’s online library.
Many schools also offer help for students in the form of student advisors. Look into the quality of these advisors and try to get a sense from current and former students of how helpful these advisors are.
Lastly, look into the career placement assistance offered by a school. Some institutions will be able to offer students better resources regarding life after school than others. You want to give yourself the best chances of success both in school and after you have earned your degree. Choose the school that will help you achieve your goals both inside the classroom and after graduation.