Whether you want to enroll in a BSN program to start your nursing career or you want to advance in your career by enlisting in a bridge RN-to-BSN program, you have to be very considerate when selecting the nursing school you will apply to.
This choice may prove difficult for those who are at the starting point of their nursing journey – fresh high school graduates or people who are looking to make a career change. But even if you are a practicing RN who wants to return to school and increase her career advancement chances by getting a BSN degree, you may still encounter some difficulties while looking for colleges.
Because we know how intimidating the process of selecting a nursing university can be, we wrote this article to help you know what to look for when choosing your nursing school.
Does It Matter Which Nursing School You Attend?
Choosing a nursing university to apply to is the first and most important aspect of getting a BSN degree. This decision should not be taken lightly because poor nursing education could impact your whole career in the long term.
The main characteristics of the university you choose should be the quality of the programs it offers and the ability of the academic staff to provide learners with a curriculum that will advance their knowledge. Additionally, the education that the nursing institution provides should be in line with the learner’s nursing career goals.
For nurses exploring advancement programs, Nightingale College’s RN-to-BSN Program curriculum is specially designed to promote career mobility in nursing, so each graduate will be able to meet the demands for professional nurses.
These are the most important aspects you should pay attention to in the process of selecting a nursing university:
Accreditation: A Key Indicator of a Nursing School’s Quality Standards
Accreditation is a quality assurance process in which the services of a higher learning institution are evaluated by an external body.
The two national institutions that accredit nursing education programs in the US are the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).
Accreditation is one of the best indicators of a school’s reputation or lack thereof. Moreover, if a nursing school has accreditation it means that it has to comply with the accreditor’s standards each year, in order to maintain the accreditation.
Nightingale College is nationally accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Schools (ABHES), which is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a private, non-profit, independent accrediting agency.
Also, the BSN Program at Nightingale College meets the requirements of the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
Proximity: Study at a Local or National College?
The proximity of the nursing college you choose to attend should also weigh in on your decision making. However, whether the college is local or national shouldn’t be a decisive factor. What matters most is the quality of the programs it offers.
Even if national colleges are better known, they can be more disadvantageous in terms of location and accessibility. For most RNs, commuting to university is a hassle because they have a busy lifestyle. They work full time as registered nurses and most of them have family duties as well. This is why they may prefer attending a local college or a college that offers online nursing programs. If this is the case for you, make sure you check as many universities as possible and select the one with programs that best suit your needs.
However, there is a middle ground. Many nursing schools offer online BSN programs, which can solve the commuting to classes issue.
Nightingale College offers its learners an accredited RN-to-BSN Program, with a fully online didactic instruction that will provide learners with skills in key areas such as d critical care, gerontology and disease prevention. Also, the College offers a pre-licensure BSN Program for those looking to start out in a career in nursing but haven’t had any nursing education.
Experiential Learning Activities: A Must-Have for Any Nursing Program
Nursing is a hands-on occupation so, besides a solid knowledge foundation, it requires experiential learning and interaction with patients. Since it is usually the first step towards becoming a nurse, each BSN program must have an experiential learning component. Which is why you must be very wary of fully online programs because they cannot offer you the whole learning experience.
The BSN Program at Nightingale College has an integrated experiential learning component and each BSN learner has the opportunity to complete all their experiential learning activities in a Dedicated Distance Cohort (DDC) Area.
When it comes to bridge programs such as RN-to-BSN, the situation is a bit different, because learners are practicing RNs who already have a hands-on experience. The RN-to-BSN Program at Nightingale doesn’t have experiential contact hours assigned, however, learners will be required to complete community and employer-based learning projects. This way the College is encouraging its learners to fulfill a leadership role and work alongside their employer to find solutions to facility-wide problems.
Does the Reputation of the Nursing School You Attend Matter?
The nursing school you attend can be a factor that impacts your career track. This decision should be an informed one nonetheless, not only for the sake of employment but also for the type of nurse you want to be. The education you receive in nursing school will be the foundation of your career – if the foundation is poorly built, the whole thing could collapse.
Follow the next steps in order to make sure you choose the right school:
- Try to avoid small schools that pop up overnight. Their main goal is attracting learners for the sake of profit. These kinds of universities see learners as money pots and don’t care as much about their achievements or future careers.
- Choose a well-established, accredited institution. They usually comply with high standards and will be able to prepare you for advanced nursing practice. This could prove tricky because even though an institution is well-regarded, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all its programs are quality.
- Look into all the curriculums. It is important to see what didactic courses and what experiential learning options the school offers. Pay attention to the prerequisites for each course because they can be an indicator of course quality and difficulty. Prerequisites ensure that all participants understand the basic concepts they have to work with during class.
- Check the statistics report for each school. The two most important success rates are the NCLEX-RN® pass rate and the employment rate. These will show you how many of the school’s graduates passed the national licensure exam and how many of them got employed after graduation. Nightingale College has a 78.95% NCLEX-RN® Overall Pass Rate and a 73.99% Employment Rate for the years 2017 and 2018.
- Read alumni opinions or reviews. People that graduated from a certain school can provide you with valuable insights.
- Check the job placement programs they have for graduates. Some nursing schools help their new graduates enter the labor market through specially designed job placement programs. Schedule time to meet with the school’s career services department to learn about the options available to graduates.
- Think of the next steps you want to take in your career. Consider if choosing a certain university can affect your career path in one way or another.
Do Hospitals Care Where Nurses Get Their BSN Degrees from?
The main aspect that employers care about is whether the nursing school you went to is accredited or not. There are some hospitals that might indeed have some preferences in regards to where their nurses got their degrees from. These kinds of health care facilities typically have a few universities that they trust to provide them with nurses with high-quality skills. Other than that, hospitals seem to be more interested in the type of degree you earned, rather than the college you got it from.
Because patient care standards are increasing, the demand for qualified medical personnel is higher than ever. The BSN in 10 law requires that by 2020, 80% of registered nurses nationwide have a BSN degree. Hospitals that want to acquire Magnet status require better prepared medical staff to ensure quality and safety standards. One of the key requirements for achieving this status is the high education level (BSN degree level) of the nursing personnel.
Because of this law, the demands for hiring nurses have increased, and hospitals are taking into account their skills and as well as their training, with much emphasis on BSN degrees.
Choose Wisely: The Nursing School You Decide on Will Shape Your Nursing Skills
Earning a BSN is an excellent way for nurses to broaden their career options. Whatever nursing university you decide to opt for, keep in mind that by becoming an alumnus there you are investing them with the power to shape your skills as a future nurse. Do not take this decision lightly as your education as a nurse is the foundation on which you will build your whole career. Do your research thoroughly and make sure you make an informed decision.