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How to choose the best nursing school for you

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This article was written and paid for by West Coast University.

More and more people are pursuing a degree or a career in nursing these days, and it makes sense as to why: Nurses help people, and even save their lives, so this is an especially rewarding career in a field that's on the rise.

People who graduate with nursing degrees are in high demand, and that's unlikely to change any time soon.

In fact, the number of nursing jobs is expected to grow by 15% from 2016 to 2026 -- much faster than the national average of other professions.*

Over those 10 years, that would mean a potential of 438,100 new nursing jobs. For context, that is 3 ½ times the capacity of Marlins Park, Hard Rock Stadium and American Airlines Arena combined.* (That's really saying something!)

Needless to say, if you're one of the people considering a future in the health care industry, you're smart to think this way. Who wouldn't want a sought-after degree, to work in an in-demand position and to show up every day knowing you're making a difference?

Now it just comes down to selecting the right nursing school for you. What should you consider? West Coast University -- which has its newest location in Miami, and offers undergraduate health care and nursing degrees both online and on-campus -- had some ideas.

Think about your current schedule and lifestyle.

How much time do you have for school? Is your schedule wide open, or do you have other obligations -- another job, family responsibilities, or anything else? How quickly are you trying to earn your degree?

For students entering college for the first time, WCU's Bachelor of Science in Nursing program can be completed in as little as 39 months. All prerequisites are included within the program.

The school has plenty of evening and weekend options that will allow you to pursue your nursing degree when it's convenient for you.

The school also offers a fairly quick option for people who are currently working as licensed practical nurses but who would like to earn their BSN. In just less than three years, you could have a degree in hand, thanks to the university's bridge program at the Miami campus.

Consider what kind of real-world experience you'd like to gain.

When you think of attending a university, you likely envision sitting in a classroom, perhaps taking an online class and of course, doing homework.

But … what else? Don't you want to study somewhere that will train you for an actual day on the job?

At WCU, the school offers Advanced Simulation Centers, which provide a wide variety of "real-life" patient scenarios, so you can become confident and skilled before you ever leave college. These centers can give you hands-on experience with high-tech mannequins that can accurately simulate a number of procedures.

No matter where you choose, you should look for a school that offers technologically advanced facilities. You want to find a school like West Coast University, with modern facilities that simulate actual practices in the health care industry, helping prepare college graduates for a career they love that meets the needs of the community and demands of the market.

Pick somewhere you can be as efficient as possible.

You want to find a flexible school that will work with you, on your time frame. It goes back to the lifestyle element. WCU, for example, has no waitlists or lotteries. Classes are available as you need them. It's as simple as that.

Once you're assigned a start date, you don't have to worry about getting "in line," so to speak, for classes that are overbooked or overfilled. There's no waiting on prerequisite classes to open up. The university wants to get you in when you're ready.

Administrators have structured their health care degree programs to fit the busy lifestyles of full-time students and working professionals alike -- and that's not to mention all the courses offered online or via interactive virtual classrooms.

Choose a school with rich history.

You want the tools and experience to succeed, so your school should set the bar high.

WCU has been around for ages. It may be new to Miami, but it's not a new school, considering it was founded in 1909. For more than 100 years, the university has been offering nursing degrees and programs.

Consider your career plans.

Where's a school that will give you individualized attention and then go to bat for you after your degree is in hand?

From the moment a student steps onto the WCU Miami campus, to beyond graduation, that person will receive lots of attention and support:

  • Learning from the school's experienced industry-professional instructors.
  • Receiving assistance from financial aid advisers with payment and funding options, for those who qualify.
  • Getting help from a dedicated Career Services Department, which provides ongoing assistance with professional and career development.

The school’s goal is to help college students grow professionally and personally, becoming highly skilled professionals and health care leaders. The school fosters a student-centric culture and invests in advanced campus facilities. Learn more.

Disclosures: WCU cannot guarantee employment.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics