If you are considering working toward your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), there are several factors you should consider when narrowing down your selection of programs. The program you choose can have an impact on your career and graduate-level education opportunities.
Although your initial consideration is pursuing and completing your BSN, you should prepare yourself for opportunities in the future. Even if you are uncertain, but believe you may want to pursue nursing careers that require a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), this should affect the programs on your list.
Many BSN programs have a corresponding BSN to MSN program to help students easily transition between the programs. This can help you avoid losing credits and ensure you are adequately prepared for a graduate-level program. Even if the program you want does not have a BSN to MSN program, look for colleges with both a BSN and MSN program. It is likely their undergraduate program is designed for students who want to eventually pursue graduate-level training at the same college.
Know The Program Structure
Not all programs are created equal in their course offerings. Basic nursing education includes both theoretical and clinical aspects of nursing, but if you want more job opportunities in specialized fields of nursing, you will need a sufficient background. You want programs with several elective offerings, which can give you the opportunity to dive deeper into a nursing specialty you want to pursue.
For example, your nursing program will likely cover special patient populations, such as pediatrics, gerontology and psychiatry. When possible, taking specialized courses in your area of interest will not only prepare you better for clinical work, but can also help you decide if this area of nursing is truly right for you.
Consider Flexible Programs
Many colleges offer nursing programs with day, weekends, evening and/or remote coursework. Some even allow you to transfer between the different programs if your needs change. If you are a non-traditional student, this flexibility can be imperative to finishing your nursing education on time and avoiding problems during clinical rotations. Remember, many programs require you to complete your clinical rotations during the day and take classes in the evening. This can make nursing programs difficult to complete if you are currently employed or have other obligations. Make sure you thoroughly understand the requirements before applying.
Be Cautious Of Some Programs
If you are considering a nursing program offered by an online college or one which allows you to finish in a short time, you need to figure out if former students have encountered problems when finding clinical experience or sitting for their nursing exam. In many cases, online colleges may be located in a different state and this does not mean the requirements to complete the program meet your state's requirements.
There can be a stigma attached to online colleges or fast-paced programs. You may find hospitals and clinical settings are not interested in allowing you to complete your clinical experience if you attend one of these programs. If you cannot talk to former students, ask local doctors' offices, hospitals and nursing homes if they allow students enrolled in one of these programs to complete their clinical hours at their facility. You never want to be a year away from graduation only to find out it is impossible to find a clinical site or graduate from your program only to be denied from sitting for your nursing examination.
Similarly, you should also check with your state licensing board to ensure a program fits their licensing requirements before you attend a nursing program. Many traditional colleges have nursing programs with online or accelerated courses to give you more flexibility while having the assurance of their accreditation.
Finding the right nursing program requires you to consider your long-term plans for your nursing career. Part of your long-term plans should be making sure you choose a program that is accredited in your state and fits your needs.
Contact a professional establishment for more information about their program.