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OhioMomof3

Comparing nursing programs

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Hi, everyone.

How can my daughter and I truly find out which nursing programs are the best in a state or region? I'm wondering about hospitals and rotations as well as other factors. What questions should my daughter ask as she is visiting universities? My daughter is just beginning to look, and we didn't know abour direct admit programs, for example. Any help is much appreciated. If you want to give a recommendation for an excellent school to visit, we'd be thankful for that as well.

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The biggest thing I would look for is a program with a direct admit option to the nursing major, or I would carefully consider how competitive admission to that major is. I've known more than one person who got sidelined after sophomore year because they did not get admission to the nursing major after completing the prerequisites. This can delay graduation by a year or more, and for one friend's daughter this meant she had to leave her out-of-state school entirely and work on a local Plan B (and this was a girl with decent grades, a 3.6 GPA.)

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I used to spend hours and hours with my husband in medical facilities and work for a community college that has a strong nursing program, so I've chatted with a lot of nurses. My youngest also has a lot of friends who are in various stages of nursing school. And I have a friend who was an adjunct nursing professor when her kids were little.

Of course going straight to a BSN is best, although we know a number who couldn't get in and ended up getting an RN at the community college and then getting their BSN. It is still competitive, but not as competitive.

Look at the licensing pass rates, size of classes, their class lab facilities, what their graduates do, and what hospital(s) they use for clinicals.

There are two community college systems in my area (I've worked for both), and I can tell you that one is significantly better than the other for nursing on all of those fronts. Their clinicals are held in a nationally-ranked teaching hospital, and their labs include a cadaver lab, which is unusual for a nursing school. Their pass rates and the number of students who go on for more education is much higher.

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My daughter is in her final semester and will graduate with her BSN in May. 

She was in a 4 year program. She did not apply to any 2 year programs. 

The competition for any nursing program is crazy. Her school got over a thousand applications for around 150 spots. 

It is a risk going to a 2 year program as there is no guarantee of admittance. One school told us they took mainly students from outside schools (very odd to me).

I know of someone who graduated college and then it took several years to finally get admitted to a nursing program. My daughter had another friend who wanted to transfer into nursing and retook science courses because she did not get A's the first time around. The competition is fierce.

Hospitals are requiring anyone with an RN to get a BSN or lose their jobs. I believe it is becoming mandatory that all nurses have a BSN. I know of two hospitals that won't hire any new RN's.

I don't know how common it is but I know of one school that begins clinical rotations in freshman year. My daughter did not begin clinical rotations until junior year.

Also there is a very good chance your daughters first job will be at a hospital in the vicinity of her school. My daughter is going to apply to local hospitals but most likely she will be 2000 miles away at a hospital she completed a clinical rotation at.

Edited by gingersmom
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When dd was looking for a BSN program, she started by looking at NCLEX pass rates. From there we looked at facilities, what kind of labs and what kind of patient dummies they had. Class sizes seem to be pretty consistent in BSN programs, but look at the class sizes for the prerequisites. An anatomy class of 50 is much different than an anatomy class of 200. You can check into what hospital/medical facilities they team with for clinicals, but we didn't see a lot of difference in clinical rotations between programs. 

Only one of the schools she looked at had a direct admit into nursing and she didn't apply there. Knowing she had to apply after her freshman year was stressful, but look at how they judge admissions and make sure she knows and is doing the right things. Dd's program only considers GPA and quality points, but some also do interviews and weight each part of the admission process differently. It would definitely have been possible for someone with a 3.6 (or even higher) GPA to not get into dd's program, if they were short on quality points. 

Good luck!

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I have two DDs in nursing school (at the same small liberal arts college). A very high NCLEX pass-rate and direct admission into the nursing program were the deciding factors in their school selection. Both are doing well and are so very thankful to not have the stress of applying to nursing major via competitive admissions process.

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Another thing to consider is where she would like to work after graduation. The best way to get a job in the hospital of choice post graduation is to get a job there as a student nurse while still in school. And the best way to get a student nursing job is to have done clinicals in that hospital, because they function as an extended job interview. So if your daughter has her heart set on working in a specific city or hospital look for a school that offers a BSN, has good NCLEX pass rates, and has clinicals in a hospital or area she might want to work in post graduation.

Another thing, not all clinicals are created equal. Some schools never send their students to a full-day clinical. Some don't let the students actually do much but observe and pass water. Others provide a much better experience, especially teaching hospitals. Our local nursing school doesn't do a full-day clinical until the last semester of senior year. The rest of the time students only go in for half a shift, and then they aren't actually allowed to do much, because they have to have their clinical instructor present for any procedures they perform. So a class of 20 will come with 1 clinical instructor for 6 hours twice a week, you can guess how that goes. I've worked with some new grads who didn't know how to do basic things, like start an IV, put in a catheter, etc. All they had been allowed to do was observe because they could never get the clinical instructor's attention when the chance to try a procedure occurred.

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On 1/2/2019 at 10:43 AM, eagleynne said:

Another thing, not all clinicals are created equal. Some schools never send their students to a full-day clinical. Some don't let the students actually do much but observe and pass water. Others provide a much better experience, especially teaching hospitals. Our local nursing school doesn't do a full-day clinical until the last semester of senior year. The rest of the time students only go in for half a shift, and then they aren't actually allowed to do much, because they have to have their clinical instructor present for any procedures they perform. So a class of 20 will come with 1 clinical instructor for 6 hours twice a week, you can guess how that goes. I've worked with some new grads who didn't know how to do basic things, like start an IV, put in a catheter, etc. All they had been allowed to do was observe because they could never get the clinical instructor's attention when the chance to try a procedure occurred.

This is shocking to me! In our search we didn't see any clinicals like this. Dd's program is 5 semesters. The first semester is lab only. The second semester had one, 12 hr clinical day/week. She already did things like IVs and catheters in that semesters. Third semester she has two, 12 hr clinical days/week. I think it stays at 2 days/week the last two semesters as well, but I'm not sure. Definitely make sure the program has clinicals that have your future nurse prepared! 

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On 1/10/2019 at 10:51 AM, Mom22ns said:

This is shocking to me! In our search we didn't see any clinicals like this. Dd's program is 5 semesters. The first semester is lab only. The second semester had one, 12 hr clinical day/week. She already did things like IVs and catheters in that semesters. Third semester she has two, 12 hr clinical days/week. I think it stays at 2 days/week the last two semesters as well, but I'm not sure. Definitely make sure the program has clinicals that have your future nurse prepared! 

 

I think the problem is that some programs simply do not have enough clinical placements. There are too many students and not enough instructors. The program that I'm starting next month has one-on-one preceptorship, working 12-hour shifts, for the entire program. I will work my preceptor's schedule for each rotation. Most other nursing programs in my area only have such a thing in the final semester.

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