Many current and potential nursing students ask themselves “Will going to a better known nursing school affect my job prospects?” The answer to that question is a qualified yes. The reputation of the school that you attend can affect both your educational outcomes and employment prospects. Employers will often make judgments about your qualifications based on your resume, which could put you out of the running before an interview if your school was not properly accredited or of a sufficiently high reputation. Prior to making the commitment to a specific school, a potential student will benefit from doing some research into the academic and professional standing of all the schools they are considering. Following some simple recommendations can ensure your school of choice has a sound reputation that will launch a successful professional career.
What School Will Lead to the Best Career Prospects?
Selecting the right school is at the heart of good planning for any profession. In general, the answer to the question of “Which school?” is dependent on a variety of factors, including what degree you pursue and kind of nursing you are intending to practice. The visibility and regard the school has achieved among professionals in the field is also a critical factor that many students neglect to consider. One guaranteed result of going to a top-rated well-recognized school is the probability of studying with a faculty who is highly regarded in the field, which directly translates into later access to prized positions in the profession. In addition, going to a favorably ranked school means networking with other students who, as professionals and colleagues, can also link you to the best job prospects. Discovering which schools are considered both outstanding and properly accredited takes some research, but there are some concrete guidelines to follow and relevant resources to access that will assist you in making the decision.
Researching and Ranking Nursing Schools
There are several critical steps to investigating potential schools beginning with contacting your state Nursing Board. This organization will have information on local and regional schools that are not only highly recommended but also properly accredited.
There are specific research sources that evaluate and rank colleges and universities, and nursing schools. However, finding these sources is not as simple as conducting an internet search for “best nursing schools” or even “nursing school rankings” because the majority of for-profit colleges use these keywords for self-ranking and advertisement. It is important to remember that for-profit schools are businesses that sell educational commodities, and while they may provide an adequate education their self-generated keyword-driven rankings may not be as reliable as those from more neutral sources. One way to avoid the self-rankings rife on the Internet is to pay close attention to the web address, and to look for recent articles reviewing nursing schools. U.S. News and World Report routinely compiles rankings of all sorts of things, including nursing schools, and is a good place to start investigating.
Another certain method of discerning whether a school has a high reputation that can lead to better job prospects is to look into the research funding awarded to their nursing professors. When a nursing faculty is actively involved in current research, they are also directly steering the orientation and future of that discipline, as well as molding the next generation of practitioners. Well-funded nursing schools can provide lucrative educational prospects for students, as well as opportunities to gain important experience that will lead to expanded job possibilities. One way to discover the allocations of research funding to nursing schools can be found at the National Institute of Nursing Research website (http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/award/trends/FindOrg.cfm). Another way to access this information is to look at that school’s own accounting of funding received, see for example Johns Hopkins University’s School of Nursing website (http://nursing.jhu.edu/faculty_research/research/).
Professional Association Memberships: Information As a Long-Term Benefit
Professional nursing associations are another good source of information about school rankings. Most such organizations are highly invested in promoting the highest caliber professionals in their field, and are very willing to advise students on good schools. There are a number of trustworthy organizations where you can find up to date and relevant information on accredited nursing schools, including ones specifically designed for student nurses such as the National Student Nurses Association (http://www.nsna.org/). Professional organizations such as the American Nurses Association (http://www.nursingworld.org/) will also give you access to information on properly accredited and reputable nursing schools. These organizations may also allow you to subscribe to professional journals, receive counsel on continuing your education, information on ethics and professional standards, and even offer the opportunity to participate in drafting legislation that will affect your occupation. In sum, it will directly benefit your career if you join at least one professional nursing association while you are a student.
Taking up a college degree program is challenging, it requires you to make a commitment to a minimum of 2 to 3 years of hard work and incur some expense. However, if you take some care and use your creativity and intuition, you can select a school that will not only encourage you in your educational aspirations but also benefit your job prospects and set you on the path to the career you desire.