Interested in moving to Alaska, need advice!

  1. Hi Everyone, I figured I would post here with the questions that I have regarding nursing careers and living in Alaska. My husband and daughter and I are currently living outside of Houston, Tx where I am attending school to get my associates of nursing. I was really wanting to get my bachelors degree right off the bat, but where we are currently living it's a minimum of a 2 hr drive each way to any of the universities offering the bachelors program here. That having been said is there a real difference in Alaska for those individuals that have a bachelors degree vs an associates as an RN? I had contacted Providence a few months ago about their pediatrics internship programs and she said that they hire both. But I wasn't really sure if a Bachelor's student would have an easier time of aquiring a job.
    Is it difficult to transfer your license from out of state into Alaska? What is the cost of living like? Is it difficult for new graduates to find internships or new graduate jobs?
    We have discussed moving to Alaska for quite some time now. My husband is a professional photographer and is really wanting to opportunity to break into wildlife and nature work, which Alaska would be a great place for. Our daughter will be 2 in January, so by the time I am finished with my program here in Texas she will be between 4 and 5.
    I was reading that there is a huge wait for the nursing program there in Anchorage is that just for the basic bachelors program or does the transitional program from RN to Bachelors have a long wait as well?
    I am currently debating on whether it would be a better situation to finish out my bachelors here in Texas or to get an internship here and have a year or so of experience under my belt and apply for jobs in Alaska. Have any of you found that it is easier to get into a new graduate program or is it easier to come to Alaska and secure a job if you already have experience?
    Also how difficult is it to get into pediatrics in Alaska? And have any of you taken advantage of the government program where they pay you to go to school for nursing but you have to take a contract at a needy rural clinic?

    I would appreciate any advice or insite from any of you that are currently in Alaska or have experience working in Alaska as an RN. :bowingpurhe he Thanks in advance!

    Take Care,
    Sonseria
    •  
  2. 12 Comments

  3. by   eyoliver
    WOW, you are my polar opposite twin! I am currently in Alaska and about to graduate from an associates program and trying desperately to move to Houston. So I will try to answer some of your questions, if you could help and do the same for me! As for new graduate programs, I dont think there are any. Not that I have heard of at least, I think you are just hired and then they train you. The big hospitals here are Providence Alaska, Alaska Regional, and Alaska Native. I have done clinicals at Providence and Native and I like both of them. Providence is probably where you want to try for if you are interested in pediatrics. The cost of living is significantly higher in Alaska. A LOT. Be sure you are ready for that when you get here, because you will likely not be able to support your family on one income while your husband establishes his photography business. When looking at places to live, you need to be fairly picky as well to find a good place in town. There are some bad neighborhoods that you want to avoid, like Mountain View and Fairview. As far as I am aware, the big wait for nursing programs is for the associates. I have a friend who went straight from LPN to Bach and had no problem getting in. You could probably call a School of Nursing advisor and get some answers to that over the phone. I have no idea about working in rural clinics, except that they really need nurses. Living in the 'bush' comes with its own set of challenges though, it can be tough being so cut off from the city, but it kinda depends on where you live. Also, the native culture is very different from ours, in means of communication styles, pain expression, and values.

    so, in houston, how hard is it for new assoc. grads to find work? what is starting pay like? are you familiar with the nw/tomball area? i need to find a good daycare.

    if you want to chat, PM me your email address.
    Last edit by dianah on Dec 28, '09 : Reason: removed email, as posting email address is Terms of Service violation.
  4. by   gacathy
    I lived in AK for many years and worked in Fairbanks. There are usually positions there, but am not sure if you'd luck out and get speciallty you want. You could call HR and discuss though. They did hire new grads at times and orient them. At times (not sure about now), they would help pay moving expenses.

    As mentioned above, cost of living is quite high. Salaries are higher, but not as much as difference in COL . It would be tight on one salary, esp a new grad one, though some do it.

    It's a great experience.
  5. by   OpheliasWings
    Hi Ey, soo sorry for taking so long to get back to you. We've had a lot going on around here and I just haven't had time to sit down and reply. As far as new graduate programs in the Houston area you can try searching nursing internships in Houston. I know that MD Anderson may have some, but of course they are a cancer hospital, not sure what are you're interested in. Also check out Memorial Hermann, I know that they run internships twice a year and I've heard they're a great hospital to work for. I don't really know from personal experience I've just done some research online and contacted the internship programs trying get a feel for what a new graduate nurse is going to face.
    Of course the biggest hospitals are in the downtown medical center which can be a daunting task to get there with Houston's traffic. If you've never been to Houston you're in for a surprise, with millions of people living in the city it can be difficult to get around in. I'm not originally from Texas I moved here about 5 years ago when I met my husband. I like Texas overall, but in order to like Houston you have to enjoy the big city. It has a lot to offer however.
    I'm still in school now so I don't have any first hand experience with working in any of the hospitals or the pay. But I have heard that the hospitals generally pay pretty well. I would say as a new graduate nurse you'd probably make in the area of $28 or so depending on the area and the hospital. But you really should contact the hospitals you're interested in directly to find out how much they pay. That's just a ball park figure from what I've seen.
    As far as the NW/Tomball area we actually just moved from that area about 6 months ago. We're currently living near Lake Livingston which is about an hour north of there and we're considering moving back to Fort Worth to help my husbands grandparents who are elderly and are in poor health. But as far as the general area around Tomball goes it's nice. There are lots of new apartment/townhome complexs that are really nice. We were paying around $1400 a month for a 3 bedroom with a garage. I know there are several 24 hour clinics and also a large hospital right up the highway from Tomball.
    As far as associates programs, the main colleges in Houston that offer the associates is Lone Star Community College, where I am currently attending, and then Houston Community College. Lone Star has like 5 or 6 locations and they usually have a decent application pool every year. But the only other programs are offered are bachelors programs by the larger universities downtown and in Galveston. I would think as large as the city is you shouldn't have a problem getting in somewhere. Like I said do some research online for the type of internship you're looking for and see what the hospitals have to offer.

    Thanks for the information about Alaska. If you have any specific questions I may be able to help you with just drop me a private message and we can chat. Thanks again.

    Take Care,
    Sonseria
  6. by   escapebigd
    I'm so glad someone else made this thread. I've been thinking about Alaska for a long time, and I had a lot of my questions answered here. I'm from Dallas, TX and I've got to say it's better than the houston area. There are many great hospitals around here like Medical city and Texas Health Resources, and if you want great experience Parkland is amazing! I'd say look into Dallas if your not completely sold on Houston.
  7. by   OpheliasWings
    Hi Escape, good to see another Texan on the board. My husband and I are most likely going to be moving back to the Weatherford/Ft Worth area here soon. My husbands grandparents are getting older and are both ill so we're moving back to help them and as a perk I'll be closer to school. I've been considering the associates program here in Houston because it's closer, but if we move back to the Ft Worth area I'll be able to apply for UT Arlington, which I'm excited about. I'm looking into the internships there at the Children's hospital once I get through school. I haven't decided if I want to intern here in Texas and then look for jobs in Alaska or try to intern in Alaska. So we haven't decided just yet. Best of Luck!

    Take Care,
    Sonseria
  8. by   Rathyen
    I would not recommend moving to Alaska to find work as a new grad. They are rolling out almost 200 grads a year from UAA School of Nursing, the majority of them BSN's. The cost of living is high, the winters are long and starting a photography business in an area that is flooded with them would be rather difficult. There is a reason most of us new grads are looking to move out of state.

    Providence and Alaska Native Hospitals both have internship programs, but for the Native hospital, they do have native preference, it's a legal thing. Providence has it's pick of the 200 new grads, so unless you've got experience, your chance of getting hired from out of state is slim. There are 17 openings for nurses at Prov Anchorage right now...not good odds if you ask me.

    Anyway, just my two cents..


    P.S. eyoliver I'll see you in class...
  9. by   meg816
    Hi, I encourage you not to waste your time get a BSN through a college you have to be physically present for. There are a ton of online programs that are accredited. I will be starting with Grand Canyon University in the fall. The classes are 5 weeks long, one at a time, and you can be done in 16 months...and it's all online! There somebody else that I commented on about living in Fairbanks..this is my copy and paste job fyi.......
    Hey my fellow new grads! I just graduated from the RN program in Fairbanks, AK and will start working at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital in about a month. New grads around the country are finding it difficult to obtain employment (contrary to what my high school guidance counselor told me), not just Alaska. From what I can tell new grads from Alaska do have priority from out-of-staters. I know from the past two years anyway, FMH found positions for all of its Fairbanks new grads. This is most likely because we do our clinicals at FMH and our they are huge supporter of our program in many ways including financially. They take pride in Fairbanks students and can't wait for us to come work there. They also have a mass interview process for the new grads that only include Fairbanks graduates interested in applying. With that said, right before my class interviewed, FMH hired 9 new graduates from out-of-state and are still finding positions for our class. I can't speak for anywhere else in the state, but there are always positions open at FMH. It is not nearly as big as the Anchorage hospitals, however, it is a teaching hospital and the majority of the nurses are patient with students and new grads alike...you can't ask too many questions. Fairbanks is a great little city. I was born and raised here and love the place. It has a small town community feel without feeling like you are in the woods (although if you live in the woods, you can drive 5 miles and be in town).
    Housing is a different story..and I can only speak for Fairbanks. I am also a single parent and have lived in a small apartment while obtaining my dream job. Now that I am looking at making a decent living as a nurse, I am looking for a house with a yard. Right now housing is slim pickings for sure. And the housing for a 3 bedroom house or duplex is about $1600 or $1700 plus some utilities, and of course a 2 bedroom is cheaper. In the spring there will be a ton of places for rent, but also a ton of applicants. There are apartments that are even cheaper, a 2 bedroom apt is about $1000 or $1100 depending on the area. I would recommend Willow Wood (google JL properties) apartments as they are nice and there is a great school across the street (Joy Elementary). Craigslist(beware of scams) and Fairbanks Daily News Minor are pretty much the only place to find housing. I know I didn't have a whole lot to add to the conversation, but please feel free to contact me with any further questions about Fairbanks.
    FYI.....New grads at FMH start at $28.00/hr. Fairbanks can get very cold in the winter, but is very unpredictable. Last winter we had -40 for 2 months straight, but this winter has seen no -40 days. But the summers are amazing and Alaska is a truly unique place to live....and I feel so safe after taking trip the the lower 48. Good luck to you all!
  10. by   OpheliasWings
    Hi, thanks so much for your post and for including the other post about living in Alaska. With our current living situation I am being forced to apply for the associates program, due to the distance that we are from any of the major 4 year universities here in the Houston area. That having been said, my goal at this point is to get my RN and apply for internship opportunities whether they are here in Texas or out of state. We've never had the intention of up and moving somewhere without a guaranteed internship or position. At this rate I will most likely be doing an RN to BSN program after I am able to obtain work. Just because it will save me some time and a lot of the hospitals offer tuition reimbursement so that you can obtain your bachelors.
    Though we have never been to Alaska, it is more of a dream for us and if by some chance we are able to find work there then we'll have the opportunity to move there. We're trying to be as responsible and realistic about the idea as possible. Especially considering we have a 2 year old daughter.
    But I can understand the hospitals there choosing to hire new grads from the schools that they know and trust, rather than putting time, money and effort into an out of state graduate that they would be taking a chance on. Especially considering that Alaska seems to be one of those states that tries to stay to itself and not get too involved with the lower 48. However, I had already contacted the director of internships at Providence and was treatly kindly and fairly and was given a lot of great information about the programs and the hospital. So I'm not really too concerned with the idea of being an out of stater considering applying. The way I look at it, if God intends for us to move to Alaska, then he will find a way.

    Thanks so much for your post. I really appreciate it.

    Take Care,
    Sonseria
  11. by   lellenn
    Meg816, there are no BS Nursing programs that are online that are for pre-licensure students. The program you mentioned at Grand Canyon University is an in person program for basic students who are not bridging from an Associate's to a Bachelors degree. Of course you can get a BS in Nursing online if you already are an RN, but not if you are not one currently.
  12. by   meg816
    I apologize if I was not clear. All of the online programs are for licensed RN's. Of course nobody can get an online nursing degree pre-licensure, because clinical hours are always required. We had a recruiter come visit our class from Grand Canyon University and the program I mentioned is and RN to BSN program that is totally online.
  13. by   Kellyb1961
    Hello Fellow RNs, we are looking to move to Alaska in the near future. I am an ADN and have been practicing acute care nursing in Texas for 20 years. I need help in finding out how to apply for an Alaska nursing license. Also, I spoke with HR AT Providence in Anchorage, and they are only hiring BSNs due to obtaining their magnet status. However they said their outlying facilities hire ADNs. How heart is in Homer but will consider anywhere between Anchorage and Homer. We have family in Eagle River and Homer. What would you consider my best options? My husband is also an Auto Body repair man, and will also need to work, so I have to consider where he can get work.
    Any advice and suggestions would be most helpful.
    We just left there yesterday and left our heart and dreams there. My goal would be to be there next spring. Commit to a year and if we are still in love then make a permanent move. WE CANT TAKE THE TEXAS HEAT ANY LONGER. LOL. Kelly
  14. by   ulumears

close