4 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Nursing School

You’re knee-deep in researching nursing schools and want to know: When choosing a nursing school, what should I be looking for? How do I know I’ve found a quality program?

You’re wise to wonder, as enrolling in a top-notch nursing program definitely sets a strong base for the rest of your nursing career. When it comes to setting yourself up for future nursing success, keep these four factors that determine a nursing program’s quality in mind as you carry out your search.

1. Approval and accreditation

You know that finding an accredited nursing school is important, but do you know why?

For one, if the state’s board of nursing doesn’t approve the nursing school you attend, your state may not let you sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN®), the licensure exam every nursing graduate must pass to become an RN. Without the ability to take (and pass) the NCLEX, you can’t receive your nursing license.

Not only is Marian University’s baccalaureate degree program in nursing accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), it meets the approval of the Indiana State Board of Nursing and the Tennessee Board of Nursing.  During your final semester in the program, we also walk you through the process of signing up to take the NCLEX and transitioning from student to professional as well as offer study resources throughout the program to prepare you for exam day (more on those in a minute).

Secondly, graduating from an accredited nursing program is the surest path for you to attend other accredited schools if you ever choose to pursue the advanced studies required to become a nurse educator, practitioner, nurse midwife or nurse anesthetist. Some schools who offer these advanced programs won’t allow the transfer of credits from an unaccredited program.

Plus, many institutions only consider applicants who’ve graduated from a CCNE-, Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)-, or Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (CNEA)-accredited program. Many healthcare employers also prefer to hire accredited practitioners trained under nationally established standards.

2. Rigorous curriculum standards

Just because our program is online-based doesn’t mean it is any less rigorous than a traditional BSN program taught in a classroom.

In fact, our hybrid learning model comprises online-based theory courses, on-site skills and simulation labs and clinical rotations at top area hospitals. It’s intense, but you can expect to receive feedback from your faculty and clinical instructors as you move through the courses in the curriculum.

What’s more, we integrate NCLEX preparation into our curriculum. Throughout the Marian University ABSN program, you can expect to take timed, standardized tests to compare your comprehension against a national benchmark. Once you graduate, you’ll take an NCLEX review course to learn strategies specific to interpreting NCLEX-style questions.

The question interface that’s part of the NCLEX prep portion of our curriculum is similar to the test interface used on the NCLEX. You’ll see a question stem with answer choices, a pop-up calculator, and a countdown clock and make forward process through the test — meaning you won’t be able to return to questions you already answered.

3. NCLEX pass rates

How your school of choice compares to the national average first-time pass rate of the nursing licensure exam is an excellent measure of a nursing program’s quality. In 2017, the national average first-time pass rate for students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree was 90%.

When evaluating a nursing school’s first-time NCLEX pass rates, bear in mind that your success in passing the NCLEX on the first try ultimately depends upon YOU. If you ever find yourself struggling, develop new study habits or meet with professors. (Pro tip: Marian University has support resources to help you through!)

ABSN alumna Laura Williamson admits that while the Marian University ABSN program was challenging, it laid the groundwork for her to pass the NCLEX on her first attempt.

“Really, I just felt that I couldn’t fail. I felt that there is no way that I had been prepared all this way (in the ABSN program) to get to this point and not succeed,” she says. “Taking the NCLEX is an out-of-body experience — you’re sitting in front of the test that’s about to change your whole life, but, it was really rewarding when it was over.”

4. Clinical partnerships

Of course, the whole point of going to nursing school and passing the NCLEX is to start your new career in nursing. A tight-knit nursing program with strong ties to local hospitals and stellar faculty can make the job searching process a whole lot easier.

At least that’s what many Marian University ABSN program alumni have told us over the years. Some have even said it’s no accident they landed jobs even before nursing school graduation; rather, it’s the relationships they’ve developed with Marian University’s clinical instructors or our clinical partnership with St. Vincent in Indianapolis or Saint Thomas in Nashville that helped them get to where they are today.

Take for example Ashley Piercey, ABSN Class of August 2016. She landed a job as a pediatric intensive care unit nurse at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent Indianapolis a week before graduation.

She credits her relationships with clinical instructors and the program’s rigorous curriculum for getting her new career as a nurse off to such a great — and speedy — start.

“Being in partnership with one hospital has been helpful, even now that I’m working at St. Vincent. I’m comfortable with the charting system, certain procedures and policies,” she says. “…Every time you go into a clinical you have to have your best face on and be prepared because it could potentially be an interview.”

Choose a nursing school that best suits YOU

Above all else, when choosing a nursing school, look for one that ticks off all of the above boxes AND feels like a good fit for you and your needs.

If you’re looking for an accredited online-based accelerated nursing program with a supportive learning environment to jumpstart your transition into the profession, the Marian University ABSN program may be exactly what you’re looking for. To find out more, fill out this form to have an admissions advisor contact you.

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