With an aging population and increasing healthcare needs, nursing is projected to grow significantly over the next decade. However, choosing the right nursing degree program can take time and effort for prospective students. This article provides helpful ways for nursing students to navigate the process and find the program that best aligns with their career goals.
Understand Your Degree Options
Before starting your search, you need to understand the different types of nursing degrees available. As mentioned in the “Choosing the Right Nursing Degree” article by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), there are three main types of nursing degrees:
- Associate degree in nursing (ADN)
- Bachelor of science in nursing (BSN)
- Master of science in nursing (MSN)
An ADN is the shortest and most affordable option but may limit your career opportunities. A BSN is the most common and is required for many advanced practice roles. An MSN prepares nurses for leadership and management roles.
The AACN predicts that the number of registered nurses (RNs) with a BSN will grow by 80% by 2030 due to increasing demand for advanced training.
Additionally, R.N.s with a BSN have a higher average salary ($75,330 per year) than those with an ADN ($61,730 per year).
Consider Accreditation And Reputation
When selecting a nursing school, you should consider the school’s accreditation and reputation. Accreditation ensures that the program meets established quality standards. U.S. News & World Report ranks nursing schools based on academic reputation, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, and graduation rates.
According to their rankings, the top 5 nursing schools are the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, the University of California, San Francisco School of Nursing, Yale University School of Nursing, and Columbia University School of Nursing. However, it’s important to note that attending a top-ranked school may come with a higher tuition cost, with an average of $50,000 per year.
Compare Costs And Financial Resources
Cost is crucial for many students when choosing a nursing degree program. While top-ranked schools may have higher tuition costs, they may offer more financial resources like scholarships, grants, or work-study opportunities. It’s essential to consider your budget and research financial aid options at each school.
Assess The Curriculum And Clinical Experience
A robust curriculum, including theoretical knowledge and clinical experience, is critical to successful nursing education. Compare the curriculum of different schools and pay attention to the clinical experience offered. Choosing a program that provides hands-on experience and opportunities to practice your skills in a real-world setting is crucial.
Talk To Current And Former Students
As recommended by Nurse.org in “The 10 Things You Need to Know Before Choosing a Nursing Degree Program,” talking to current and former students can provide valuable insights into the program. You can also seek advice from nurses working in the field. This will give you a better understand the program’s strengths and weaknesses and help you make an informed decision.
Choosing the right nursing degree program is a crucial decision that can impact your future nursing career. You can make an informed choice by understanding your degree options, considering accreditation and reputation, comparing costs and financial resources, assessing the curriculum and clinical experience, and talking to current and former students.
Remember that nursing careers are diverse, with multiple paths to success in this rewarding field. You can find a program that sets you up for success in your future nursing career by doing a thorough research and considering your unique career goals and preferences.