Surviving nursing school

Thinking about your future can be stressful. You might be concerned that you’re going to fail or that you won’t figure everything out in time. The stress of nursing school is no different, but you can take some positive steps as you go through the process, some of which entail thinking even further ahead. Once you’ve made a selection on where you want to go and start taking classes, you’ll start to get some insight into other questions, such as: How far do I want to go in my education? Where do I see myself working as a nurse? Answering these questions can help guide you through your school career and help you make decisions about classes, extracurricular activities, and work experiences that are in your best interest.

Go to an Accredited College

It is important that you go to an accredited college or vocational school, as such an accreditation will mean that the institution is recommended by the U.S. Department of Education via one of the accrediting commissions. These commissions make sure that the curriculum is up to snuff with national standards in education. All quality schools are accredited as an institution by at least one commissioning board, although some institutions may also be additionally accredited in specific areas. For example, you may go to a school that has an overall accreditation and then individual ones for nursing programs, accounting programs, or science programs. If the school you are attending has a nursing program that is specifically accredited, you can almost guarantee that it is trustworthy.
T
hink ahead When it Comes to Education

As a future nurse, you have a lot of options in your education. You could become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) in about a year, or you could get an associate’s degree and become certified as a registered nurse (RN). Some people even decide to go to school for four years and graduate with a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN). It is fairly common for people to get their RN, start working, and then, sometimes with the funding of their employer, complete an RN-to-BSN program to get a higher degree and become a more qualified nurse. Of course, both LPNs and RNs are qualified nurses, and people of either education status can gain an entry level position in a hospital or doctor’s office. However, bachelor’s degrees are becoming more common because they are sometimes required to take on other responsibilities, such as administrative duties, research, or consulting. How far you go in your education will depend entirely on what you hope to do as a nurse and in the future. And remember – you can always go back to school later if you decide you want to take on more responsibility or move your career in a different direction.

Consider Your Work Environment

Not all work environments are created equal. Some of this depends on your preference – do you prefer working with people of all ages, or exclusively with the elderly? Are you drawn to a particular medical specialty, such as neurology, cardiology, or oncology? Are you drawn to the fast paced environment of the ER, or do you prefer the calmer atmosphere of a physician’s office? Once you’ve gauged where your interest lies, consider a few additional factors. Nurses are in the greatest demand in nursing homes and in long-term rehabilitation facilities. Hospitals also need a lot of nurses, and so sometimes offer attractive benefits to compensate for the high turnover in the field. Consider schedule as well – nurses in hospitals typically work three 12 hour shifts a week, and may be required to work overnights or weekends. Nurses in doctors’ offices, on the other hand, more often work a 9am to 5pm schedule and have weekends off.

Sources:

http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Registered-nurses.htm#tab-6

http://www.nursing.psu.edu/undergraduate/faq#rn_vs_lpn

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