How to Choose the Right Nursing Program

NursingDecember 22, 2016

Making the decision to attend nursing school is obviously a big step. Obtaining your LPN certification, or pursuing an RN to BSN program, for example, can be a life-changing event. Among many other factors to consider, you’ll need to decide which nursing program is right for you. And that means finding the right school.

Here are some tips to consider to help make the process a little easier:

  1. Choose your ideal nursing program first. Then determine which schools offer a program that best fits your goals and expectations.
  2. It’s also helpful to consider other variables that may influence your decision. For example, where is the school located? Will you attend in-state, or are you willing to go out-of-state? Do you wish to attend a traditional campus? Or would an online nursing program better fit your lifestyle and circumstances?
  3. What about size? It matters. Do you wish to attend a large school, which may offer certain advantages in terms of research and other opportunities? Or would a smaller school better fit your needs, with its inherently more intimate and personalized approach to each student’s education?
  4. What about class sizes? What are the student-to-faculty ratios at the various candidate institutions you’re considering? Large class sizes may not matter as much when it comes to prerequisite courses, but when it’s time for clinical rotations and nursing-specific courses, you may find that smaller class sizes are distinctly advantageous. You’ll be more likely to get the attention and hands-on learning you require in a smaller class setting.
  5. And speaking of clinical rotations; consider how many rotations, of which types, are offered at your candidate schools. Try to glean input from former students to get the best sense of this variable before making your final decision. Rotations are a crucial aspect of nursing training, and the more hands-on time provided the better.
  6. Obviously, the cost is another factor to consider. Is tuition reasonable and affordable, or is it unusually high? Perhaps money is no object for you. But if that were truly the case, you probably wouldn’t be investing in the nursing education you need to become a working LPN or RN. Tuition varies widely and financial aid availability is also highly variable among various institutions. It’s best to make this decision with open eyes.
  7. Is the school you’re considering accredited and is its accreditation in good standing?
  8. What’s the NCLEX® Examination pass rate for your candidate school? Request this information from any schools you may be considering. Statistics regarding the percentage of graduates of the school’s nursing programs who passed the NCLEX® can serve as a good indicator of the school’s ability to properly prepare nursing students to take the exam, pass, and become certified. Look for rates from the past five to ten years.

And, finally, here are some tips regarding things you should avoid doing when selecting the right school:

  1. Don’t rely on rankings alone. Ranking can serve as a general indicator of probable overall quality. But not all schools will necessarily be strong in your area of specialty. Look a little deeper to determine which school truly meets your specific needs.
  2. Don’t neglect to figure out what you really want in terms of your nursing education and/or your nursing career. Are you the type of student who thrives in real-world classrooms, or would an online nursing program better fit your personality or circumstances?
  3. If you decide to attend an on-campus institution, have you taken the time to visit enough campuses to be sure the one you settle on is truly right for you? An on-site visit will enable you to learn far more about the specific advantages or disadvantages of a given school. You’ll be able to interact with other, current nursing students, and ask for their insights regarding the school and its ability to address nursing students’ needs.