Top Nursing Schools
Although there are many nursing schools available to apply to, you may want to consider a top-ranked school that will provide a well-rounded experience and a lot of clinical practice to prepare you for working as a nurse. Nursing schools have various methods of delivery and are located throughout the world, from online courses and community colleges to private universities and live-in programs. Some nursing schools are affiliated with hospitals, while others are based on academic institutions such as state schools or public institutions.
Nursing schools are often ranked according to several factors that provide potential students with a high-quality experience.
Schools are frequently ranked according to the information available about their specific program, such as required coursework, the number of graduates in each class, and the percentage of those who successfully completed the program to move into working as a nurse.
Additionally, some ranking systems gather information based on surveys from the school about their academic programs and clinical rotations. Surveys may also be administered to students of the school as well as former alumni and nurse recruiters. Information is garnered about clinical experiences, preparation for licensing examinations, and teaching effectiveness, among other subject areas.
U.S. News and World Report provides a ranking system of nursing schools and publishes the outcomes every three years. This system considers such factors as the school’s accreditation credentials, the academic requirements for admission as well as graduation, the locations and programs associated with clinical practicum, and the number of students assigned to work with each staff member.
After taking all of the acquired information into consideration, U.S. News and World Report ranks each school, giving the top school a rank of 100. Each successive school that ranks lower is less than 100 and is expressed as a percent. The list of top schools is then published in order of rank on the U.S. News and World Report website with additional information about each school, including contact phone numbers and website addresses.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) also provides a list of top-ranked nursing schools, which is based on the amount of money awarded for the purposes of research. The NIH provides grants to support research related to health care and nursing practice at various institutions, and higher ratings go to those schools that conduct more research in the fields of medicine, science, and nursing.
Some students do not consider a school’s ranking level when applying. For many people, top-ranked nursing schools provide an excellent experience to learn nursing, but factors such as location, finances, and time requirements make attending those schools impossible. Even though some nursing schools may be very highly ranked, there are also others who tend to make the list but are not necessarily at the very top. These are still excellent schools, and if any are in your vicinity or budget, you may want to talk with them about admissions requirements simply to see if they could be a potential fit for you.
If you are considering nursing school and you have a choice of schools to which to apply, you may want to look at a list of top-ranked schools.
This can give you a better idea of what to look for in a school before applying. Keep in mind that ranking systems are based on statistics and surveys, which are accurate but do not always reflect personal experience. Although a school can have a good reputation and provide a superior education, many other schools also offer well-educated instructors, comprehensive curriculum, and accreditation. By reading results of top-ranked schools, you can prepare yourself for questions to ask of your potential school to attend.
Online Degree Schools
Because of the need for trained nurses in the health care field, educators have taken advantage of the Internet and current forms of communication to offer nursing classes online. Nursing schools that have online programs have become nontraditional channels through which to deliver curricula to nursing students who are prepared to graduate and take the NCLEX for licensure.
Nursing schools that offer these types of degrees provide classes in an online format, which allows students to study from home rather than attending a class at a university or hospital. Many online courses allow students to work at their own pace, completing assignments during a set timeframe. Online degree programs are ideal if you already have a regular job and want to become a nurse, as you can complete many classes without taking time off to attend school.
Admission to an online degree program may involve many of the prerequisites mandated by traditional schools. Students may need to submit an application, previous transcripts and test scores, and letters of recommendation. Because online programs consider that many students who want to enroll live a great distance from the school, there may not be an interview process for admission. Each school varies in terms of admission requirements, and an online catalog at the school’s website can outline the necessary prerequisites that are part of the application process.
Getting a degree through an online nursing program provides flexibility for students who may not have time during the day to attend class. Students can work at their own pace and complete courses whenever the time to study works out the best. Online programs also provide most of the information needed right on your computer, with access to course notes, the syllabus, and communication with the instructor via e-mail.
Online degree programs are different from the traditional nursing school experience, which some students may want to go through. Nursing students get the opportunity to work together in the classroom and through clinical rotations, which provides a bonding experience and support during some of the difficult times. Working at home online is a solo activity, with communication with peers usually only through e-mail, but without meeting face to face. Additionally, asking questions or meeting with the instructor may be difficult, and you may communicate only via e-mail. While you may get questions answered in order to complete your assignments, you most likely miss out on many of the tips, advice, and stories that instructors share about their own experiences as a nurse.
A clinical rotation is typically required for nursing students to practice the skills they have learned in the classroom. When you take courses only online, you may still have to fulfill the requirements of clinical practice, but the experiences may be arranged ahead of time. Classes are designed to fulfill all of the requirements needed to practice as a nurse, which often include courses in science, social studies, and psychology. Students also learn nursing care studies, such as nursing diagnoses and how to care for patients within specific settings, including critical care, medical or surgical nursing, and obstetrics and gynecology.
Depending on the level of degree, some online nursing schools also provide classes about nursing informatics, management and leadership, community health, and ethical practice. For example, an online program that leads to a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing (BSN) may require classes in advanced physiology, nursing research, or public health, while an online program leading to a master’s degree in nursing may require advanced courses in nursing education and legal issues.
An online nursing degree is a valid method of obtaining an education for students who wish to pursue nursing. With the advent of online education, the world of nursing has opened up for many who normally do not have the time or flexibility to pursue traditional classes. (Here's more information on nursing schools, both online and offline.)
Last Updated: 08/20/2013