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In many ways, finding the right nursing program is similar to looking for any other degree program. You want to find a school with a good reputation and a proven track record of students graduating from the school and finding jobs within their chosen career. You will need to research the school to ensure that it is properly accredited. You’ll be comparing other information about the school, such as tuition and dorm costs, as well as financial aid – grant and scholarship opportunities. Likely location of the school will be important to you, and you’ll want to schedule a visit to the school to see if its culture and atmosphere fit your particular needs and personality.

In addition to this, however, you will need to research a few more things about your prospective schools. You also may need to know a little bit more about your specific goals for nursing school. Below are some ideas that may help you narrow down your list to the schools that really fit your specific situation.

Consider what type of degree you are getting:

The first question you might want to ask yourself is whether you want to become an RN, an LPN, or an LVN. Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) and Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVN) are typically certificate programs that take a year or more to complete. In these positions, your responsibilities are limited and you typically report to an RN, who does more to manage the care of the patient. LPN and LVN positions pay less than RN positions, have less opportunity for advancement and are not in as high demand as RN positions are.

Registered Nurses (RN) obtain either an associate or bachelor level degree in nursing. They are required to become licensed and in order to do that they take a test called The National Council Licensure Examination or NCLEX-RN. A career as an RN requires you to apply critical thinking and evaluation, unlike the LPN or LVN which tend to be a more supportive role. RN’s typically have higher salaries.

While there are many positions available for those who have an associate level degree as an RN, there are more opportunities for diversification and advancement, as well as higher pay. Salaries for RN positions tend to be very competitive because they are consistently in high demand in most areas of the country.

Think about your specialty:

There are several different types of nurses, and your education choices often depend on what type of nurse you would like to be. Would you like to be a general nurse that works in a hospital or doctor’s office, or do you want to be a specific type of nurse? Prenatal nurses, nurses that work in ICU’s or rehabilitation nurses are examples of different specializations.

Remember clinicals:

Many colleges that offer nursing degree programs will offer a variety of them. Toward the end of your degree, many of your classes will include clinicals, where you will actually be working with patients in a medical setting. You will want to make sure that clinicals are available that fit your particular specialization.

Need help studying for the NCLEX? Check out Peterson’s NCLEX test prep.