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How to Choose a Nursing School

Thorough research and careful planning are essential in selecting a nursing program that fits your goals, budget and background. Some of the most important factors in choosing a nursing school include the quality of the curriculum, your financial aid options, and the logistics of attending a particular institution.

Below are five tips for researching and choosing a nursing school.

1. Look at school rankings.

When first investigating nursing degree programs, it is fine to look at reputable school rankings to find programs that provide quality instruction, good advising and hands-on medical experience. However, while rankings may give you a sense of which factors contribute to a good nursing school, they cannot give you a complete picture of a particular program's course offerings, instructors or culture. Rankings should be just one area you research.

2Visit school websites.

Dive more deeply into the schools that interest you by visiting their websites. Read about course curricula, student graduation rates, tuition and other fees, and the services offered to students such as career and academic advising. If you wish to specialize in a particular field of nursing, investigate the different degree specializations available at nursing schools.

3. Talk to school employees and students.

Talk to people over the phone or in person about the programs that interest you. For example, ask admissions officers about the employment rate of their school's graduates, and the school's pass rate for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) and the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). Talk with current students and recent graduates of the programs that interest you. They can give you firsthand feedback about specific classes, instructors and advisers.

4Check each school's accreditation status.

State boards of nursing typically require candidates to attend formally accredited nursing programs. To find accredited nursing schools, check the website of your state's board of nursing.

5Research job postings.

Look at postings of nursing jobs to get a clearer sense of what employers require in terms of specific skills and credentials. Compare those requirements with what different nursing school programs offer so you can make sure you are on the right track toward meeting your goals. For example, if job openings require internship experience or completion of a specific number of clinical hours, look into nursing programs that offer these types of opportunities to students.

A combination of these five suggestions can help you align your education and career interests with the appropriate nursing school.

Sources:

Eligibility & Licensure Requirements, National Council of State Boards of Nursing, https://www.ncsbn.org/2916.htm

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