Guest Post By Patricia Walling
Recently there have been dramatic shifts in the healthcare industry. As the largest generation of Americans, the baby boomers, ages, the emphasis of healthcare is shifting from physician-based care to nursing. As a result, nursing has become one of the fastest growing professions in the United States. The Department of Labor projected a 22 percent increase in nursing jobs between 2008 and 2018. However, to take advantage of this boom you need a nursing degree, and unfortunately there are many diploma mills out there just waiting to take an unsuspecting person for granted. Therefore if you wish to get a degree in area like nursing, it is important that you look for several key things while searching for the right school.
Is the School Accredited?
Whether or not a school is accredited is of key importance whatever sort of degree you're after. Accreditation is not only crucial for continuing education, but also for employment; many employers are hesitant to hire graduates of non-accredited programs because they have no accountability. In short, a non-accredited program considered inferior and should be avoided. To find out if your school is accredited, visit Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC), which are two of the premier accrediting agencies for nursing schools in the country.
What is the NCLEX Pass Rate?
The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) is the yardstick by which nursing schools are measured. All nurses have to take the NCLEX before they are licensed to practice in the state in which they are trained. According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing the average pass rate for a first time tester is around 90 percent. The school you choose should have a passing rate of 85 percent or higher. This is a good predictor of how many graduates from the school are actually able to find employment and will also inform you of the caliber of education that students receive. Check with the program’s admissions office to find out if their passing record falls within your criteria.
Can You Get References?
Your school’s job placement office should be able to give you information on people who have graduated from the program, passed their exams and landed a job. You should also obtain the contact information of people who have recently completed the program. Get in touch with them and ask them if they would recommend the program, and if they wouldn't: why. Also ask them how long it took them to find their first job in the field. Nurses are in high demand: if the program has done its part they should have been able to find related employment easily.
Nursing is an exciting profession, but jumping into anything new can be scary. With a little time and research, it is possible to find the school that is the best fit for you and will provide you with the education that you need for your new career.
Patricia Walling is a graduate student working toward her Masters in Conservation Biology. She has both professional and volunteer experience in a hospital environment and currently resides in Washington state.