Returning to College - Advancing Nurse Education

Returning to College - Advancing Nurse Education
A registered nurse (RN) may enter professional practice with an associate degree, a diploma in nursing, or a bachelor’s degree. While each of these degrees is widely different upon graduation from an accredited program the future RN takes the same licensing examination known as NCLEX-RN to obtain an RN license from his/her state. However, many facilities are stating, "Bachelor degree preferred" in their job announcements. Why is this and what does it mean for you?

Since the inception of "Magnet Status", an accreditation by the American Nurses Credentialing Center to designate facilities for nursing excellence, the push for bachelor degree RN's has increased. Magnet Status requires a certain percentage of RN's providing hands-on care hold a minimum of a bachelor degree in nursing. Facilities who already hold Magnet Status or those who desire such status have an increased need to hire bachelor degree RN’s. Deciding to obtain a college degree is a big step and one with many options.

Are you ready to return? Following are questions to consider as you decide:

Do I need to get a higher degree? If you hold the nursing position you desire, or are nearing retirement, is obtaining a higher degree something you need to do to keep your job or obtain a job you want?

Is it something I want to do? Obtaining the degree may be a life-long goal you have put off. Returning to school is a big commitment involving sacrifices.

What are the costs of returning to school? Not only should you consider the cost of tuition, books, perhaps a new computer, but also consider the "cost" of your time. If nearing retirement, will the cost of the degree be able to be returned by higher earnings? Other questions include financial aid options, student loans, employer reimbursement, or borrowing from your 401k. You should discuss these options with your financial adviser.

What programs are in my area or online? Doing a search of your options is important so that you can decide between the three types of programs offered. If you decide you want to attend a traditional classroom, is one available in your area? If not, are you willing to move? If you decide on an online course, which program fits your needs?

What are my computer skills? If a computer novice, can you take a class on using the computer or have someone tutor you? Improving your computer skills may well mean the difference between success and failure in online programs.

What support systems do I have in place? Is your family supportive? Is your employer supportive? Is there a co-worker considering returning to school? Teaming up and starting together can ease many fears and provide ready support as you move through your classes.

Improving your formal education can offer you greater ability to obtain current and future positions. It is a big step. Careful consideration of options will ensure your decision will be a solid and determined choice, meeting your personal and professional needs.

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