Identify your requirements
You must be very clear about your own needs. For instance, are you particular about the location of the nursing school? Do you want to stay close to home? Or are you open to the prospect of moving away from home if it means you get into one of the best nursing schools in the USA? If you are agreeable to relocating, you will find many more options open to you.
The next most important factor is budget. Remember that tuition fees and cost of living vary a lot between cities, colleges and universities. Depending on the size and prominence of the nursing school, tuition fees can range from $5000 to $50, 000 a year. All nursing schools don’t offer the same courses or certifications or even career opportunities – hence, the disparity in the fees. You also need to check out your eligibility for financial aid.
The cost of living too varies between cities, so you must have the foresight to budget accordingly. You may not always have a hostel/campus to live in, so you will need to factor in rent, food, transport, etc. You may need anywhere between $8000 and $12, 000 per year.
Understand your options
Becoming a registered nurse (RN) calls for certain pre-requisite qualifications. An associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) is the bare minimum you require, while a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) degree will definitely offer better opportunities and pay. Base your choice on the educational options open to you and the schedules you can maintain.
Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN)
An ADN program includes courses in:
- General liberal arts
Getting an ADN is a practical option as it qualifies you for entry-level staff nurse positions that provide hands-on experience. It is also the shortest path to become an RN (registered nurse) as it takes only two to three years to qualify.
Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN)
A BSN can be completed in four years at a college or university. But if you’re already an RN with an ADN or a nursing diploma, you can join an RN-to-BSN program and complete it in two to three years.
Once you decide on the path you want to follow, you can choose the most suitable nursing school for a great future as a nurse.
After you choose the most suitable path to follow on your journey to becoming a nurse, you will have to make the most crucial decision yet – which nursing school to join? As you already know, you can either opt for an ADN (Associate’s Degree in Nursing) or a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) to become a registered nurse (RN). You also have the option of joining an RN-to-BSN program if you are already an RN with an ADN (or with a nursing diploma) so you can get your bachelor’s degree within two to three years (as opposed to four years). And if you already have a bachelor’s degree in some other field, you can use your credits for an accelerated BSN program – within one to one-and-a-half years.
Needless to add, you also have the option to join an online nursing program, which allows you to complete your studies online while you get clinical experiences within your local community. This gives you a lot more flexibility in terms of time and budget.
Important factors for choosing a good nursing school
What should you look for when you want to ensure that you have chosen the best nursing school for yourself? Accreditation, of course. Nursing schools get accreditation only if they meet nationally-recognized standards of nursing education, after passing a rather exacting application process. Joining an accredited nursing school will also enhance your eligibility for financial aid. It is also easier to switch to another accredited school for further education.
So, check out the relevant, independent accreditation bodies and look for their logos next to the names of nursing schools/programs. Also check with the nursing school/program as to the duration of validity of their accreditation.
Who has the best nursing programs in the USA?
Nursingschoolsalmanac.com has listed some of the leading nursing schools based on the school’s:
- Academic prestige and perceived value
- Breadth and depth of their nursing programs
- Student success, specifically on their NCLEX national licensure exam
The best schools include:
- Duke University
- University of California
- Johns Hopkins University
- Rush University
- New York University
- University of Washington
- University of Pennsylvania
- Emory University
- University of Maryland
- Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center
- Samford University
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- Villanova University
- East Carolina University
- Georgetown University
- Yale University
- Oregon Health & Science University
- Indiana University School of Nursing
- University of Pittsburgh
- University of Massachusetts Medical School
- University of Utah
- Medical University of South Carolina
- Boston College
- Case Western Reserve University
- University of Miami
- Ohio State University
- University of Rochester
- University of Michigan
These are just some of the leading institutions that offer the best nursing programs, leaving you with no dearth of choice. So, identify your requirements in terms of location, budget and aspirations; do your due diligence; and choose the best nursing school for your future career success as a nurse.