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Does the name of the university OR ranking of their specialty impress employers more?

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Hello,

I am graduating with my BSN in 1.5 months and I am already looking into graduate programs. Specifically, I am looking into online FNP programs, of which there are a good number of and they are growing.

This questions is directed for those who are involved in the hiring process or are very familiar with it: How important is the school name vs. their nursing school ranking/speciality ranking?

For example, Georgetown University is a great name, but it's not in the top 20 ranking of universities. Nor is it in the top 25 ranked nursing graduate programs. Arizona State University, for example, is ranked in the top 25 nursing graduate programs. Georgia Southern, another public school, is ranked top 25 of FAMILY nurse practitioner programs.

In the nursing world, and among employers and those looking for DNP students, what is more impressive? Do they know the rankings well or are they looking for the well-known names?

Before you comment: I know stellar nurses can come from average programs and less-than-average nurses can come from exemplary programs, and that schools don't always make the nurse.

Jules A, MSN

Specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.

Personally I don't think most people give a rip. Of course those who have paid ridiculous tuition will vehemently defend their alma mater but in my experience it hasn't mattered. As a real stretch I would imagine that if two equally qualified applicants interviewed for the same position and the only difference was a well known school it might tip things however I liken it to the 4.0 students who think they are superior and yet in my experience I have known more than a few people who have said they prefer to hire a B student over an A student.

I guess the bottom line is how important it is to the person. Personally my ego integrity is stable enough that a community college undergrad education served me fine. I have made significantly more money over the course of my nursing career as compared to a friend who went to an impressive school and worked at their well known prestigious teaching hospital and that is what is more important to me.

Do you know why they preferred a B student over an A student?

WookieeRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in PACU. Has 3 years experience.

I used to work in HR, specifically with hiring nurses and NPs. I very rarely looked at the school they attended. I looked to see a.) A degree b.) A license.

calivianya, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU.

I feel like there may be a very specific subset of hospitals that care. It's probably the same subset of hospitals that will ask an experienced nurse in a job interview not what patients or coworkers think about you, but what type of research you were involved in on your unit. I'm not sure those are the types of places I'd like to work for - you know, the ones that will pay you less because you should be paying THEM because you get their name on your resume? Totally not worth it.

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development. Has 9 years experience.

By my experience it only matters in terms of known bad schools (ie: for profit). The shiny sparkly expensive schools don't seem to get any more consideration than anyone else except by fellow alumni.

Thanks, BeachyRN2Be! If you don't mind me asking for more information, what else would you look at, after the license?

Makes sense not.done.yet. Thanks!

So, calidianya, you mean the specific subset of hospital that care are more research oriented? Is it safe to say the university hospitals are more this way?

WookieeRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in PACU. Has 3 years experience.

By my experience it only matters in terms of known bad schools (ie: for profit). The shiny sparkly expensive schools don't seem to get any more consideration than anyone else except by fellow alumni.

Yes, I agree here.

We had a couple blacklisted schools (all were for-profit schools) that I was instructed to disregard resumes that listed them. It was issues with preparedness and nothing to do with the stigma of "for-profit." I've only ever had to check for those schools but regardless of if you went to XYZ Private school, Ivy League, or XYZ State University you all went in the same pile and weren't ranked any differently.

WookieeRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in PACU. Has 3 years experience.

Thanks, BeachyRN2Be! If you don't mind me asking for more information, what else would you look at, after the license?

I look for experience. I always look at dates first because we were not too fond of "job hoppers" because we were looking for longevity. Then I would look at which other hospitals a candidate worked for, specialty certs, floor, etc. It's really cursory, I needed just enough info to decide if a first interview was in order. I would say I gave each resume 30 seconds or less depending on how many I had to go through.

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 43 years experience.

I do not hire NP's specifically ... but I do work with hiring graduate-level nurses (and undergrads, too).

I believe that it matters in certain situations and not in others. There is no one right answer to this question. A school's reputation can have a bearing on your chances of being hired if your school has either a great reputation or a poor one. If a school is well-known and respected in general, that might help you get an interview (-- after that, it is up to you.) If your school has never been heard of, or has a poor reputation, or is a for-profit school, it might put your application at the bottom of the pile -- given an interview only if there is not much competition and/or there is something else really special to help you stand out.

But most schools fall in between those 2 extremes. In those cases -- in which the school is known and considered OK -- then other factors will weigh much more heavily and the school won't influence the decision much at all.

Also, some people are much more aware of the differences in the quality between schools and others -- and some people who are more likely to be influenced by a "brand name" than others. You never know who is going to be reading your resume and making a judgment about it.

Most people don't put too much weight on those rankings as schools will be rated differently on different lists -- and the rankings change every year. People tend to notice the top schools on the list and that helps the reputations of those schools, but people don't pay much attention to which school is #26 and which is #38.

My advice to anyone considering schools is:

1. Avoid the for-profits and any school that does not have at least a "mid-level" reputation. Don't spend a lot of money on a program that is not going to be respected by people in-the-know.

2. Once you have narrowed your options down to reputable schools ... pick the one that fits your overall needs the best -- and then do your best to make the most of the opportunities they offer. Don't agonize over a few places on any list.

3. Focus on building a resume/portfolio of accomplishments and high-level performance that shows that you are a terrific job prospect. Get the relevant experiences you need. Network within the community of people who will be important to you later, etc.

What you need is a reputable school + a strong record/resume + a positive personality + connections. Keep your eyes on those things and don't get distracted by other things.

SierraBravo

Has 3 years experience.

If I might throw my $0.02 in here... Taking the for profits off the table and just assuming that we are talking about reputable, accredited schools, one of the very few times that the name of the school might matter is if you went to a nursing school that was affiliated with a teaching hospital. In that instance, the nursing school and the hospital are likely very tightly aligned and the hospital is familiar with the educational preparation of the nursing students that are graduating from there. I can imagine those students having a slight unspoken edge when it comes to employment and/or graduate admissions at the affiliated hospital or nursing school. Otherwise, it's not like medical or law school where the school you went to matters.

SHGR, MSN, RN, CNS

Specializes in nursing education.

Do you know why they preferred a B student over an A student?

The thinking is that the B student is well-rounded, may have spent more time developing other interests, hobbies, volunteer experience, and developing soft skills rather than the perfectionist spending all of his or her time in pursuit of the "A" grade. It makes sense to me, for the most part.

llg - Thanks for your post, out of all the ones listed on this thread I think it was the most balanced and informative. To sum up what you're saying, schools WILL have a bearing on employers if they are on either end of the list: either the very top or the very bottom. If schools are towards the middle of the pack, than other factors will have more weight. That makes complete sense, and I would think that is also how it is for doctors, lawyers, and every other profession out there. Personally, I don't understand WHY a person in HR would NOT look at the nursing school of a candidate. Of all folks, I would think that HR would know that just as a school does not necessarily make the nurse, neither does the license. It's a combination of BOTH education and experience. Especially in today's evolving nursing standards, where education is becoming increasingly important in the profession.

nurse recruiters prefer the type of degree (BSN, MSN). But experience and background are most important. However, I did have one person on a recruitment team tell me that they looked at specific schools when all else is equal because top schools are way harder to get into. However, that is not going to get you a job.

Julius Seizure

Specializes in Pediatric Critical Care.

So....how do I find out the reputation of a school? I am having trouble with that. I am looking at grad schools, and for instance, I know that Vanderbilt has a good reputation (and a high price tag)....but some of the others I just dont know anything about them. Are any of these "bad" name schools, or are they all ok?

Drexel

University of South Alabama

University of Alabama - Birmingham

University of Texas - Arlington

Halp!

calivianya, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU.

So, calidianya, you mean the specific subset of hospital that care are more research oriented? Is it safe to say the university hospitals are more this way?

Exactly. And it's usually not just university hospitals in general, but the world-class, world renown hospitals at the top of the pack in a certain specialty. I interviewed at one in the top five hospitals in the country for the specialty I was interviewing for, and the level of snobbery I experienced did not impress me. I will never apply to one of those kinds of places again.