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How to choose an educational health care program

What you need to know

Choosing any health care educational program is a big decision.

A majority of programs involve time, energy, and financial resources.

First and foremost, it's important that you choose a program that fits you and your style of learning. The following tips are designed to help you research various health care educational programs that fit you and your style of learning.

Questions to ask yourself

As you explore your options, your answers to these questions could help you choose a program that fits you.

  • What kind of health care do I want to deliver once I complete a program? There are many different options to choose from for careers in health care. Some examples are caring for patients, management, administrative, technology and service positions.
  • How long will it take to complete the program? Depending on the health care program you choose, programs can range from a few weeks to years.
  • Do I need to be a full-time or part-time student? Do I prefer to go to school during the week or weekends? At night or during the day? The program you choose to fit with your lifestyle may offer full-time and part-time schedules. The program may also offer classes with some flexibility to attend during the week, weekend, or online courses.
  • When is a good time for me to start in a program? Consider your personal health, finances and family.

Questions to ask about an educational program

As you consider a health care educational program, ask these questions:

  • Is the college accredited? Is the program I am researching accredited? A college or program is granted accreditation when the accrediting body for the profession has determined the college or program meets applicable standards. Even if a college is accredited, the program may not be accredited. Some employers may require that a new graduate is from an accredited school and in addition, an accredited program. Also, some health care professions require an individual to be a graduate from an accredited program in order to take the licensure or certification exam.
  • What is the passing rate for the licensure or certification exam for the last three years? Some health care programs require a licensure or certification exam upon completion of the program. This information may be helpful when researching other programs and determining which program you want to attend.
  • How many new graduates of the program find positions within 6 months of graduation? Does your school assist with job placement? Some schools have a career center that assists their students with finding positions upon graduation. This information may be helpful when researching other programs and determining which school you want to attend.
  • What hours and times are the program offered? The program may offer classes on-campus, at satellite locations or on-line allowing some flexibility to attend during the day, at night or on the weekends.
  • What is the college and programs' philosophy? This information may be helpful in determining if the program matches with your beliefs and values.
  • How much does the program cost? What are the related costs? Tuition and related costs (i.e. parking, books, etc.) vary from program to program. Talk with an admissions representative about details regarding the full cost of the program.
  • Is financial aid available? You will want to check with the school's financial aid department to find out what options may be available to you.

Questions to ask a potential employer

Before starting a program, ask a potential employer these questions about job prospects in the health care field.

  • Does your organization hire new graduates into this career?
  • If yes, what are the job requirements?
  • What type of schedules are available for this position (i.e. hours, weekends, shifts, etc.)?
  • What is the minimum starting pay for this position?