How to Succeed In Your Nursing Program You’ve been accepted in an accredited nursing program—congratulations! Now’s the time to for your friends and peers to trot out the cliché, “you’ll get out of it what you put into it.” The successful nursing student knows this is true.
Not only that, but the successful nursing student knows the factors that will help her to succeed in nursing school. Basically there are three of them.
What are the Factors to Success? Here’s the First.
The first one is to maintain your attitude. Not just your outlook, your smile or your friendly personality, your attitude. You are aware of your shortcomings, you are not at all sure of your success and you can think of a dozen reasons why you can’t do this.
BUT you do it anyway. You tell yourself every day you can, sometimes several times a day. You are aware of your shortcomings only to seek ways to overcome and get rid of them. You will be uncertain of your success, but you will also realize that the best people in the nursing profession have felt unsure about themselves.
Remember Florence Nightingale, whose family expected her to be a wife and mother rather than work in the trenches tending wounded soldiers. She went on to found modern nursing schools, and rise above her status, her class, her society and her gender. So, your attitude lets you rise above your roadblocks to being a successful nurse.
The Second Factor to Success in Nursing School
The next factor is to show up. Woody Allen said, “80 percent of success in life is showing up.” What does “showing up” mean?
It means you are on time for every class. It means you do so in order to get all the key material you need to be successful. It means you take notes (ever try Cornell with a group? It’s a religious experience) faithfully and well, and you have a study system that recognizes that for every hour of class, there are at least three hours outside class of intense study and reading.
Speaking of reading, you’ll get a ton of it. Read it all, every bit of material that is assigned, and whatever is suggested. If the teacher gives you a hundred-page class syllabus, take a deep breath and plow through it all, and do everything and read everything and study everything he suggests.
Showing up also means participating, asking questions in class, giving answers when a question is posed that you know and interacting with fellow students who know the answers. This is not just a class, it’s the tryout ground for the people you want to study with. And you want to study with those who know the answers.
Showing up means being early to clinical training (because hospitals are confusing, and you need time to acclimate). It means making sure your uniform is spotless, ironed and well fitted. It means working hard in the clinic—this is where everything you learn in class really happens.
The Third Factor to Success in Nursing School
The third factor is to understand. You will not understand things at first; that’s when you ask about them. But ultimately, you must fully understand what you’re learning. If you are introduced to content you don’t understand, ask the doctor or instructor to explain, and keep asking until you get it. Write out words, phrases, pharmacopeia and scientific terms you don’t understand, and study them until you know them.
And here’s one thing you’d better understand—every single concept on the NCLEX nursing exam. Get a book about it, and read about it—until you know it.
Success in nursing school never comes without hard work.
5 Steps on How to Become an LPN
If you want to work in the healthcare industry but don’t have a medical degree, a career of a licensed practical nurse is a perfect option for you. To begin a nursing career you don’t necessarily need a completed bachelor’s degree, just a high school diploma can be enough for LPN. In fact, many individuals choose to become a licensed practical nurse first and only then enroll in university programs. Working as an LPN is a great chance to get experience in the medical field and become a part of the healthcare team. This job can be a good foundation for a career in the patient care field. It can be a stepping stone on your pathway to a bachelor’s or master’s degree later in the future.
To earn a diploma in practical nursing you need to undergo a program that takes only 12 months. Students often ask if there are any accredited online LPN programs. And the answer is no because it’s impossible to replace real hands-on clinical experience and practice in simulation Labs. Moreover, the in-person study allows you to have direct support from nursing instructors who have real healthcare experience.
There is special a demand for LPNs in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and many other places. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics job opportunities for LPN’s will rise by nearly 12% from 2016 to 2026. The position of an LPN is vital in the nursing community.
Some individuals want to take the first step towards a career in nursing when they are still in high school. So they decided to combine studying at school and undergoing a nursing program. But it can be quite challenging because both the school and nursing courses set high standards for them. They often don’t have enough time to complete all the tasks simultaneously. In this case, they need to decide what is more important for them. Obviously, the nursing program requires more responsibility and energy. That’s why a smart decision is to delegate their school tasks to somebody.
One of the ways to do it is to ask for help from Edubirdie. This is a professional writing service that can complete your assignments in any subject. You can ask this company to write an essay for you, to make a research, or even to write a nursing paper for you. Using this service means that you’ll get your assignment done on time and also you will have an opportunity to complete all the tasks from your LPN courses.
So to become an LPN you need to follow the next simple steps.
Choose a nursing school that fits you
First of all, you should research options to find the best one for you. Fortunately, there are thousands of schools across the USA so you can definitely pick a program that meets all your requirements. Before investing your time and money into a certain program make sure that it will meet your needs.
You can even make a list of the factors that are crucial to you before you make your choice. These factors should be highly individual. For instance, it is important for you to have a campus near your school or maybe the schedule must fit your lifestyle. Pay attention to what’s important for you and always keep in mind your end goal while choosing a medical school.
Have the TEAS exam
Passing the test of essential academic skills is a necessary step to get into nursing school.
Choose a time slot in advance and sign up for this standardized test. Define how much time you need to prepare for it and schedule your test accordingly.
Complete your LPN program
Depending on the program you have chosen, you will study in a class, maybe partially online or in a clinic. Obviously, this is the most time-consuming step in this list that requires a strong effort from you. An LPN program will help you to learn the ins and outs of providing patient care in various healthcare settings.
Pass NCLEX exam
Passing the NCLEX exam gives you the qualification to start nursing practice. Your school must prepare you for this post-graduation final exam. But still, you may take some extra time to study up once you finish your program. You should be very focused while completing your nursing course as this exam lies ahead.
Look for job opportunities
Finding a job position that you like will pay off all of your hard work. After passing the exam you can start seeking job opportunities and submit your resumes. Maybe you could use the connections that you’ve made while studying. Even if you have found a job that perfectly fits you, keep learning and developing your skills.
For those who dream to work in the healthcare industry, an LPN job will be really emotionally rewarding. Luckily, it’s comparatively easy to become a licensed practical nurse. Follow the simple steps described above and start your bright career!
Author’s Bio Joshua Robinson is a healthcare professional with extensive experience in this field. He views his work as a calling and devotes all his energy to it. He also helps young people to start a career in the medical industry.
Nursing Schools Without Prerequisites
In order to qualify for accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the National League for Nursing Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (NLN CNEA), nursing schools must adhere to certain curriculum standards.
In addition to nursing classes, these curriculum standards include classes in the sciences, math, and liberal arts.
Below are a few schools that may be accepting applicants into a nursing program.
As these general education classes provide the basis for the nursing classes and clinical rotations, most schools require prospective students to complete them as prerequisites, before applying to the nursing program. This practice has the advantage of “weeding out” prospective students who are not fully committed to the nursing profession, as well as forcing students to space out intense classes. This course progression is very common, as it sets a nursing student up for success in his program.
However, some schools do offer nursing courses and general education courses simultaneously. Students who enroll in these schools do not need to complete any prerequisites.
Practical Nursing Certificate (LPN) Programs Without Prerequisites
Capital Area Career Center in Springfield, Illinois, through its School of Practical Nursing, accepts students who possess a high school diploma or GED into its nine-month practical nursing certificate program. Also in Illinois, Heartland Community College offers a Practical Nursing program that does not have prerequisites. The program does require some general education classes, which students can opt to complete simultaneously with the nursing classes.
In Uniontown, Pennsylvania, Fayette County Career and Technical Institute offer a year-long Practical Nursing Program without prerequisites. The Practical Nursing program at the College of Central Florida does not require prerequisites; incoming students only need a high school diploma or GED. The year-long Practical Nursing certificate program on the Community College of Baltimore’s Dundalk campus does not have any prerequisites, although students are strongly advised to take some, if not all, the general education courses before beginning. In the southwestern portion of the country, the College of Southern Nevada offers a four-semester Practical Nursing program, called the 50-credit, No Prerequisite Track Curriculum.
Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) Programs Without Prerequisites
Heartland Community College in Normal, Illinois offers a four-semester Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) program without prerequisites, as long as the student does not need to take any developmental classes. Although the college encourages students to take general education courses before beginning the nursing courses, students do have the option of taking both general education and nursing courses simultaneously.
In Hickory, North Carolina, Catawba Community College offers a five-semester ADN program; the program has no prerequisites as long as the incoming student has completed high school biology and chemistry. In the western part of the country, Dakota Wesleyan University in South Dakota offers a two-year Associate of Arts in Nursing degree that does not require prerequisite classes. A student in this program does have to take general education classes; the program includes two summer semesters in addition to the traditional fall and spring semesters in order to accommodate these classes. In Crown Point and Fort Wayne, Indiana, St. Francis University offers a four-semester ADN program without prerequisites, provided that the incoming student does not need developmental classes and has taken high school chemistry. In Sioux City, Iowa, students can enroll in St. Luke’s College’s five-semester Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) program without completing any prerequisites.
Hospital-based diploma nursing programs are less likely to require prerequisites than bachelor’s programs. As hospital-based programs were the traditional way of training new nurses in the past, these programs generally have a long history (often over 100 years old) and are mostly found in the eastern half of the county. In Pittsburgh, the University of Pittsburgh Shadyside School of Nursing offers a twenty-two-month-long diploma program that combines general education and nursing courses.
St. Joseph School of Nursing in North Providence, Rhode Island cooperates with Rhode Island College to offer a diploma nursing program that takes three years to complete. As long as a student has completed a high school chemistry class, the program does not have prerequisites. In Jersey City, New Jersey, students can complete both a diploma in nursing and an Associate of Science degree through Christ Hospital School of Nursing and Hudson County Community College. Students do not need to take any prerequisite courses other than the standard high school classes before beginning the cooperative program. Graham Hospital School of Nursing in Canton, Illinois does not require any prerequisites for its three-year diploma nursing program, as long as the applicant has completed the standard high school curriculum.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Programs Without Prerequisites
Most traditional, four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs require students to enter the college or university as pre-nursing students and spend one to two years completing general education requirements and nursing prerequisites before enrolling in nursing classes. Some BSN programs, however, do have built-in prerequisites. West Coast University, which is dedicated to healthcare education, has a BSN program that requires just a high school diploma or GED. According to the program documents, “Other courses, training, and experience are optional and may enable students to receive transfer credit or have the ability to receive course credit by ‘testing out’ in specific subjects.”
West Coast University’s program is available in Dallas, Texas, and Los Angeles, and Anaheim, California. Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois also has a BSN program without prerequisites. While the school has a strong emphasis on the liberal arts and has a substantial core requirement, students enter the school of nursing at the beginning of their freshman year. There is no separate admission process for the nursing school, and students spend their four years at Illinois Wesleyan University completing both liberal arts and nursing courses simultaneously.
In scenic Newport, Rhode Island, Salve Regina University offers a four-year pre-licensure BSN program that combines general education and nursing classes. Students on this track are accepted simultaneously to the university and the nursing department and take their first nursing course in their first semester. In Cleveland, the Francis Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University boasts that clinical rotations begin in the very first semester of the BSN program. Incoming freshmen do not need to complete any prerequisites, other than the standard high school courses, and can begin the nursing program right away. In Indiana, the University of Evansville accepts high school seniors directly into its school of nursing; these students do not need to complete any prerequisites before beginning the coursework required for the BSN degree.
Like any other professional career, you cannot become a nurse without the training offered at a nursing school. Nursing education helps to train a nurse not only on nursing areas, but also on other areas of life including psychology, sociology, and at times religion. Most nursing schools will provide education that is all rounded to mould a nurse who will work holistically in delivering nursing care.
In choosing a nursing school that will offer the best education, prospective student nurses must ensure that the school offers up-to standard courses. This can be known by ensuring the school one enrolls in is national accredited by national bodies. Students can seek such information from accrediting bodies like Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission.
Since nursing is a practical career, having real-life experience is the key to sailing smoothly and confidently after nursing school. As such, you must choose schools that are well connected with health agencies that serve as their areas of experiential learning. These may be hospitals, care centers, physician offices, medical centers, long term care centers or any other health-related sites that handle nursing duties. Having sufficient clinical rotations and experience prior to leaving college is key to molding a competent nurse.
The manner in which a student decides to complete their nursing education is also important before starting off. Students; depending on their schedules and resources, should weigh between full time or part time and online/distance or on-site modes of completing their education requirements.
Any nurse who have undergone nursing school can tell you the incredible benefits of being in a nursing association; whether at college or at national level. Nursing associations are the best places for student nurses to connect with the real career while in college and as a preparation when out of college. It is paramount for students to join a nursing association in order to keep pace with what is happening in the nursing world.
In most cases, each college/ university have their own customized nursing association or a chapter of a national nursing association. It does not matter what level of education you are pursuing: certificate, diploma, associate (ADN/AASN), bachelors (BSN), and masters (MSN) all the way to the terminal nursing degrees (PhD/DNP), you will find important information in an association. The interaction between faculty members, supervisors and classmates can help you as a student nurse fill any gaps or questions within the course of study. It is in an association that you will learn about:
Existing and new scholarships and financial Aid for nurses
Earning licensure and renewal
Mentorship, support and guidance on your professional line
Changing nursing education and career trends
Hot nursing areas/specialties
Important conferences and workshops that promote nursing education
There are hundreds of nursing associations that you can join depending on your level of education or nursing interests. Most nursing associations are meant for nursing specialty areas but general forums suitable for any student nurses also exist. Examples of general national nursing associations include but not limited to:
American Nurses Association
American Assembly for Men in Nursing
Emergency Nurse Association
National Student Nurses Association
Sigma Theta Tau, International Honor Society of Nursing
National Association of School Nurses
National Association of Hispanic Nurses
National Association of Black Nurses
International Council of Nurses
As the name suggests, nursing prerequisites are those requirements you ought to have met prior to starting your education at a nursing school. Although each school may have a different prerequisites outlined for candidates, most likely than not, all schools will have common prerequisites.
In terms of prior qualifications, most nursing schools will require you to have a high school diploma or have earned a General Education Diploma (GED). Tests for the GED can be taken at most community colleges/ two-year public colleges. Depending on the state you are applying to, associate and baccalaureate nursing programs candidates may need to complete Basic Life Support Courses like CPR. Others may ask for a Certified Nurse Assistant course or registration at a State Nurse Aide Registry.
Over and above all, the most important nursing prerequisites are the general education courses. Some nursing schools will insist that students be admitted into the nursing program only if they have completed all nursing degree prerequisite courses. This as well, may vary from one nursing school to the next but they are all fairly equal. Such courses may include:
Anatomy and Physiology I & II
Mathematics (Algebra, Statistics, and Calculus)
Many nursing schools accept general education courses from other colleges/universities and students are allowed to transfer almost any general education course. However, your future college may need to establish equivalency of courses taken at other colleges against their own to facilitate transfer. It is good to note that quite a large number of nursing schools use the scores of prerequisites courses for selective admission into their nursing programs. Candidates must therefore complete theses courses with high grades especially if they are looking forward to get into competitive nursing programs.
Other requirements may include taking a pre-entrance exam (HESI, Pre-Admission Exam for RN, TEAS etc) and an interview. All the above requirements apply to undergraduate nursing programs and graduates programs have different requirements. At graduate level, candidates need to show proof a valid RN license, a Bachelors degree from an accredited institution and often, working experience.
Nursing School Waitlists
The last thing any prospective nursing student would want to hear is that they have been placed on a nursing waiting list. Basically, a student is placed on nursing program waiting list after failure to secure a first-stance admission into the program. This may not necessarily mean that you are not qualified for the program, but is usually as a result of hundreds of applications being received at one school against a few seats.
Long waiting lists have been the experienced in recent days due to the roaming shortage of faculty nurses and the huge influx of career shifters willing to get into nursing. Large numbers of candidates also believe that the nursing profession is recession-proof; hence the greater number of applicants of prospective nurses. Being placed on a waiting list means you have to wait for other candidates that have been offered seats to decline their acceptance. If this happens, those on the waiting list maybe offered a chance to join the nursing program is they are still interested. However, candidates must note that most nursing schools discard their waiting list after a particular admission cycle is complete and new applications must be placed
A waiting list is like a game of chances and candidates must not hope for too long to get admitted while on a waiting list. The best advice to give to prospective students is that they should not apply to very competitive nursing programs especially if their GED or GPA scores are not very appealing. On the other hand, you must not stick to one program offered by a certain college because of the name it holds: nurses can start anywhere and go places. Being choosy may result into being placed on ending waiting lists.
Applying for Nursing School
Applying for nursing school is the first step of becoming a nurse. You must place an application to your nursing program of choice to facilitate your selection and subsequent admission into the program. For most undergraduate nursing programs, being accepted into a college does not meet the needs of getting in their nursing program. Often, nursing programs will warrant a second application besides the general college application.
An application is the first impression received by the selection panel even before they conduct any interviews with you. In this case, the application must be completed in full and must contain all required information. Most students miss places in nursing programs because of incomplete application packages: which are definitely not considered.
The most common items in a nursing program application are:
Complete Nursing program application form
Transcripts from prior programs
Working experience (if required)
Registered Nurse licenses (for graduate students or second degree seekers)
Pre-entrance exam scores (if any)
High school Diploma
An essay/Personal statement
Before placing an application, candidates must have read all the requirements of the college and ensure they meet them. Otherwise, it may be frustrating to send an application and pay for it only to realize you are not fully qualified for that particular program.
Called for Nursing School Interview?
Just like employers looking for the best employees, so are nursing departments looking for the best nursing candidates. On this note, a nursing school interview should be taken with the same seriousness as a job interview. Even though not all nursing schools will ask for an interview with the prospective students, a good number of schools do.
The candidates must be aware when the interview is scheduled and whether it will be over the telephone or a one-one interaction. In any case, you must be as relaxed as possible prior to starting the interview. It is paramount to give true information on any questions asked and answer in the most precise manner. You must have your goals clear and must explain them to the interviewer if asked to.
For telephone interviews, you must ensure to keep a clear and steady tone and be yourself. For face-face interviews, appropriate attire and your manner of personal presentation may be key in passing the interview. Remember that having a successful interview may give you a chance over other poorly presented students who might have had better grades than you. So nothing should be taken for granted during a nursing school interview.
Everybody wants to feel comfortable during their study period; a feeling of home away from home. This is why having a campus visit prior to making an application is important. A campus visit is important to cement what you see in flashy nursing websites, brochures or flyers. Having a campus visit enables you decide whether you can survive at that nursing school for the next 2-4 years.
Since information, pictures and videos pertinent to nursing programs may be for marketing purposes, you must make a point of seeing the real situation on the ground. During a campus visit, you can get to learn of residential areas, cultural diversity, faculty members, nursing labs/simulation labs, clinical sites, student body, and life beyond classroom among others.
While some schools may schedule formal campus visits for candidates, some schools do not have such a provision. In this case, you can decide to stroll around campus, the department, libraries or social areas on your own; just to get the real picture away from marketing stuff. You would not want to arrive at your future school and think-well, is it the flashy campus I saw online?
Career assistance given at college will determine the zeal and preparedness you leave college with. Career assistance may be a reflection of the professional nurse you will become after you get your nursing license. Assistance may range from simple things like crafting a CV/Resume for your first job or handling common interview question to complex stuff like specialty options and job networking. Questions regarding curriculum requirements may be handled at Excellence Centers, student societies or directly through faculty
Help with the nursing career line can be availed at nursing associations, campus organizations, and honor programs among others. Members of faculty as well as clinical supervisors, preceptors and instructors may also be of great help. Most nursing schools have career advisers, counselors and alumni pools that help stuck or needy students. On the other hand, peers and classmates are the most accessible resources on your career path. Student to student interactions may shape for good the future of nursing students.
Choosing a Nursing School
Well, for many students, this might be the most difficult part before you kick-start your nursing career. There are so many nursing schools in the US, and even more within a given locality. Choosing a nursing school goes down to the kind of education you want. There are so many factors to consider while choosing a nursing school including:
National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) pass rates
Faculty members Bios
Partner Clinical Sites
Type of school-Private Vs Public, Online Vs On-site
Before narrowing down to the last schools for which you can send applications to, it is important to have made consultations. Such can be found in nursing review websites, national nursing school ranks, contacting program alumni or making a campus visit. It might prove difficult to come-up with a final wish-list of nursing schools, but it is worth the time to avoid confusion and making wrong decisions.
Though not mandatory, a nursing school that seeks accreditation for its programs reflects the standard of nursing education offered. An accrediting body ensures that the curriculum offered by a nursing school is up-to the highest standards and that the school strives to maintain and improve its delivery of standard nurse training.
By seeking accreditation, a nursing school conforms to having acceptable nursing practices, covering the curriculum requirements on time and giving the best support to nursing students. Precisely, it is a clear indication by the school of its commitment to prepare competent nurses. There are 2 nationally renowned nursing schools accrediting bodies:
National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC)
Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
Nursing School Rankings
Nursing rankings are ways in which nursing schools and their programs are measured against the others. The ranking of a nursing school may have significant impact on the number of applications they receive following the ranking release. Prospective students may use nursing school rankings while choosing the program to attend.
Nursing rankings can be developed for an entire nursing school or for individual programs. However, the same criterion is used to rank schools and individual programs. For instance, many rankings sets conduct random surveys whereby, the personal opinions of students, alumni, faculty, administrators, executives, employers are involved. Opinions may involve curriculum delivery, student-faculty ratio, pass rates, program outcomes, withdrawal vs. completion rates, employment rates among others.
Nursing schools ranks have received criticism on the grounds that they are subjective, and cannot cover in entirety the nursing issues surrounding nursing schools. In this case, the opinion being sought may favor a certain nursing program over the other and so on. Nevertheless, rankings play an important role in student decision making and are unavoidable to consider. Two popular nursing school rankings exist:
US News & World Report
How Long is Nursing School?
Completing a nursing program is well-worth the time and effort needed for such a rewarding profession. The length of time spent in a learning program can vary from just one year to upwards of 4 years and more based on individual factors.
Keep in mind many programs may have a waiting list up to one year, so you don’t always just apply and get started. You may have to wait to be accepted into the program
In order to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), one year of combined classroom instruction with hands-on patient training will prepare you for the licensing exam called NCLEX-PN. Passing this exam grants you an LPN license. The one year preparation courses will include basic anatomy, basic nursing, and an introduction to geriatric care, pharmaceuticals, patient health and safety measures. LPN certification can be accomplished through community colleges and technical schools, and will allow you to find an entry-level position to gain more experience. At that time you can decide whether or not you want to continue on to become a Registered Nurse (RN).
RN training will require an LPN to continue on with schooling, either part-time or full-time. By obtaining a 2 year Associates degree or a 4 year Bachelors degree in nursing, one can become qualified to be an RN. After earning your degree, you will be eligible to complete the National Council Licensure Examination, the NCLEX-RN. It is a comprehensive exam covering all aspects of your learning. Generally, you are given a period of time from your graduation to study for the exam. Depending upon your study habits, you can take the test within a few days, or sometimes up until a year or more before your eligibility to take the exam would expire. Upon passing this test – which can take several hours to complete, you will officially be licensed as a registered nurse (RN). RN’s generally work in hospital settings.
Upon becoming a registered nurse, most nurses remain in that position until retirement. There are opportunities to continue into leadership and supervisory positions with further schooling, which can be accomplished part-time and at leisure.
Keep in mind there are several prerequisite courses in school that are not part of the clinical program, but may be needed, based on an individual’s prior school records. It is not uncommon for a student that is applying to a nursing program to be required to take a few semesters’ worth of college courses in subjects such as English, Pharmacology 101, and Math. This needs to be considered, as many students enter a nursing program under the assumption that the time frames stated above are exact, when in fact, they may not be the same for everyone. One student may enter a two-year program with all of the necessary general classes already taken, so the program length is two years. Another student without much schooling experience might find that that it will take three years from start to finish to get through the 2 year program, as he or she may need to take some general courses first.
As you can see, the length of a program may vary, but you will find that the general rule of thumb is a one year program for an LPN and a 2-4 year program for an RN.
How Hard is Nursing School?
Making the decision to become a nurse can be one of the most rewarding moments of your life. Initially though, one of the most asked questions by those considering the profession is “How hard is nursing school?”
When we come into contact with nurses at physicians’ offices or hospitals, they seem to take care of patients with little effort and it makes one wonder if school will be as effortless?
Unfortunately, every nurse that you ask the question to at every level from a nurse aide through an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse), an RN (Registered Nurse) or nursing supervisor will tell you a different story about how difficult it is going to school to become one. Women and men who have the desire to become nurses often have the heart to help people and a personality that matches, but this is not going to get you through nursing school. In fact, it is really a small part of what will get you through, as your determination and giving nature will keep you from dropping out of the program. Nursing school is not easy and there is simply no other way to explain that. Your chances for success increase substantially by being aware you will need to dedicate yourself to the process.
How to get into nursing school
While individuals have turned to nursing careers for the promise of job security and higher paychecks, getting into nursing school is no easy feat. With the rise in interest in nursing, there has also been an increase in nursing programs which don’t offer value or accreditation. Among the most difficult tasks in pursuing a career in nursing is gaining acceptance into a nursing school. It’s not an impossible feat, but will surely require more studying than one may anticipate.
How long is nursing school
Nursing school programs vary in length from one to four years depending on your previous education and experience. For example, students with a bachelors degree in another area of study who are seeking a nursing degree may take an accelerated bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree. These accelerated BSN degrees take about 2 years to complete. Traditional BSN degrees take 4 years to complete.
How hard are nursing classes
Aspiring nursing students must first apply and be accepted into a college degree program. They subsequently work on completing nursing prerequisite courses in English, Social Studies, and Mathematics with a heavy emphasis on the sciences. These science courses likely include anatomy and physiology and . Many nursing students take these courses more than once.
One of the most stringent requirements for nursing programs has to do with the number of times students may repeat a given course. In courses like anatomy and physiology, the required material is particularly challenging when taking other nursing courses. It’s common that many students need to retake these courses at least twice to pass. Some nursing schools offer a limit on the amount of times that a student can take a given course. Usually the limit is two to three times total. In the event, the course is not passed with a satisfactory grade, the student may not be admitted to the program. Some schools however accept petitions allowing students to make a case for admission despite a failed course, particularly if it was sometime ago.
To avoid this mishap, students should take careful consideration in how they plan their courseload. Sometimes taking an extra semester or two to take a course is acceptable. In some nursing programs, mentors, whether upperclassmen or academic advisors are available to help students plan and succeed in their nursing program.
Once accepted into a program, you will spend most of your first-year learning every aspect of the human body. You may not be interested to know how many joints are in the body and the exact name of each but you will be required to know such details. Memorization is extremely important and good study habits must be developed immediately. The workload that will be given will be very heavy in order to prepare you for your future profession. It is not uncommon for a new nursing student to visit a school bookstore to pick up all of her required nursing textbooks and walk out of the store after having a change of heart and mind to decide that she does not want to be a nurse after all. This is because there can be almost 20 different textbooks for a beginning student in the nursing program. It is a shock to many to realize just how much information is required. During the first year of a program you can expect to spend many long hours – in addition to the time spent in school – at home studying the many textbooks that are supplied to you. High grade point averages are expected from students in the program in order to not be dropped from the program. It is not uncommon for many nursing students to drop out within the first two semesters. A student that normally gets high grades can enter a nursing program and find that it is much more difficult to achieve the same grade averages that may have come more easily in the past.
Remember how happy you were to be “done” with math classes in high school? Many new students also do not realize that strong math skills are required in nursing and you must be willing to learn this in order to succeed. There are dosages of prescriptions, weights and measurements that must be learned in order to help determine a patient’s health.
In nursing school, all of the skills needed are learned through study and very challenging practice. Before you even meet a patient, you will have spent countless hours learning, not only the academics required, but the laws regarding patient care, hospital safety and sanitation protocols. You will also learn to communicate in an effective manner with your fellow peers, instructors, and through practicing real-life scenarios. You will spend a few additional hours getting CPR certified. This is usually required as you will be dealing with patients and will need to know emergency, life-saving procedures.
Time management, good study habits, excellent communication and a healthy lifestyle will enable you to keep up with the high demands. Having advised on all of the above, it is extremely important to point out that if your dedication to becoming a nurse is there, you will be successful in your goals. Nurses are in very high demand, and you will leave a nursing program with a solid foundation on which to build a rewarding career.
The final task in becoming a nurse is passing the NCLEX-RN exam (or NCLEX-PN for licensed practical nursing career aspirants). Many schools post the pass rate of their students, while some specify a first-time pass rate. When considering nursing programs, select a course with a first-time pass rate over 90%, as these programs have better prepared students for the certification exam. Some students take time off in between graduation and finding a job to take the NCLEX-RN. However, waiting to long may result in a delay or inability to take the course.
Nursing School Requirements
If you are planning to apply for admission to a nursing school for undergraduate or graduate studies, it is imperative that you know the necessary admission requirements and program prerequisites. There is much more involved with applying to a nursing school then you might initially think, however, that should not hinder your efforts.
A nursing career is very fulfilling and by taking the right steps early you will be bettering your chances to be accepted into any nursing program.
What are the Prerequisites for Nursing School?
The first thing before even making your nursing school application is to consider why you want to be a nurse and what type of nurse would you like to be? There are different types of nurses that also require different degrees and or levels of certification and licensure. If you are someone who wants to eventually become a nurse that only works with babies, you will need to work and learn to progress in many areas to eventually get in the exact position you want to be in. Consider all of your options and make sure that it is a decision that you can live with for the long haul to become a nurse. It is sometimes thought that the application process can be so thorough and daunting that some almost think it is set up that way to weed out those that are not truly dedicated to becoming a professional in this field. If you are dedicated to becoming a nurse, then going through the steps to become one will be gratifying not daunting.
An LPN is a nursing position that can be obtained with a two-year Associates degree in nursing. An LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) generally works in doctors’ offices, nursing homes, and outpatient centers.
An RN (Registered Nurse) is a nurse that has gone through four year training, receiving a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and is the next tier of seniority in nursing. Registered Nurses tend to have more responsibilities and perform more clinical duties then an LPN, and they tend to work in hospitals.
As an RN, you will be able to build and refine your career in caring, yet also take advantage of furthering your education, should you decide to do so. A career as a registered nurse can provide a life-long sense of fulfillment, but some people may decide to study further.
After working as a Registered Nurse for a period of one to 2 years, it is possible to further your schooling in nursing. One may obtain a Masters Degree in Nursing. Those who graduate with this degree are eligible to become department supervisors and assume leadership positions in hospitals, nursing homes, hospice centers, just to name a few.
An RN with a Masters Degree in Nursing (MSN or MA in Nursing) can apply to a program to become a Nurse Practitioner (NP), which is the highest nursing level one can achieve. A Nurse Practitioner has the ability to prescribe medications, make diagnoses, and treat patients in a similar manner to Primary Care Physicians. Nurse Practitioners may specialize in different areas such as pediatrics, geriatrics, neonatal care, or occupational health. An NP program will generally require a 1 to 2 year commitment to become licensed as such.
The requirements to be admitted into a nursing program will vary depending on the nursing school. However there are 3 nursing school requirements that nearly all accredited nursing programs will ask for prior to admission. They are:
1) Prerequisite Courses
3) Medical and Drug Screening
In addition to those 3 above, some schools will require that you pass some pre-admission tests.
1) Prerequisite Courses
What is a Prerequisite Course?
A prerequisite course is a course you ought to take in preparation for another course or program. Such courses on the majority give you a solid foundation to what you will be expecting at the next stage of what you are training for. A prerequisite course gives you insights and knowledge to aspects of another related program.
At times, a prerequisite course may seem be totally unrelated to the subject of study you will be undertaking at a later point of the program. Such courses only serve as an eye opener to help students think outside the ordinary and be all rounded. Other courses will help students become better in expressing themselves through talking or writing. Others, on the other hand will help students relate with their fellow students and professors. In a nutshell, no prerequisite courses should be regarded as useless or irrelevant. In this case, each course is paramount in its own way and is specially designed to prep you for the next sequence of courses in your degree program.
General Nursing Prerequisite Courses
Before you start on any nursing course, many schools of nursing will require that student have completed a set of prerequisite courses, more often referred to as pre-nursing courses. These courses vary from one school to the next but there are observed tendencies in the type of courses required. However, it is highly likely that schools in one state will require almost the same type of nursing prerequisites courses to give consideration to transfer students
The observed trend is that of students completing prenursing courses right after high school. Before you decide on the prerequisite courses to take, you must check with your future nursing school to ensure courses will match those required for their associate degree or Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN) programs. Otherwise, you may take some pre-nursing courses only to realize that they cannot be accepted as a graduation requirement for your program hence, prompting the need to do some more courses.
Below are examples of nursing prerequisites courses that most nursing schools will ask for. Even with disparities you will find that most nursing schools will require about 90% of the courses listed here. The remaining 10% may just be customized courses that fit to a university’s /colleges program need.
Anatomy and Physiology I & II
This course is usually designated with the code BIOL followed by a short number code depending on the college course numbering system. This course entails the human anatomy and physiology and must therefore carry some laboratory experience (LAB hours).
Introduction to Psychology
This course is usually an overview of the general psychology of human beings and to some extent, a focus to patients. You will usually find this course designated with the Code ‘PYSC’ followed by some numerical values. In some nursing schools, it will be referred to as General psychology, Developmental psychology or just Psychology.
Introduction to Sociology
Just like psychology, this course gives an overview of sociology. It can also be called General sociology, or Sociology. Many schools will use the Code SOCI to denote it.
This subject will entail much of laboratory hours (LAB) than the theory aspect. It preps nurses to be able to do simple diagnosis and laboratory testing of infectious agents. It is also normally denoted with the code BIOL.
Math is a general terms used to refer to a number of prerequisite courses in mathematics. In this category courses like Statistics, College Algebra, Probability and Elementary Calculus may be required. At its own discretion, a college may ask for 1 of them or a combination of any two.
Nutrition will be required by nearly all nursing schools as a pre-nursing course. The focus will be on nutrition needs for different patient groups and (or) healthy populations.
This is usually an elementary course that introduces students to laboratory methods, simple reactions etc. It will often be denoted as CHEM followed by the specific university numerical college code.
Core Nursing Prerequisites
These category of courses are usually not related to the nursing degrees per se. However, you will never miss them on the nursing prerequisite courses list. These are courses that are often referred to as “General Education Courses”. They include:
English Composition/ Writing
US or World History
Fine Arts or Arts
Free Elective courses
Where to Take Pre-Nursing Courses
It is a common observation for students to complete nursing prerequisite courses in community colleges. This tends to be convenient and cheaper since you can attend the community college in your neighborhood. However, some universities and 4-year colleges will also offer a pre-nursing program as a starting phase of the nursing major. While you can take courses online, be sure your future nursing schools will accept courses completed online if you planning to make a credit transfer.
Acceptable Grades and GPA for Pre-Nursing Courses
You must attain a minimum grade of a “C” to be safe during selection. This is because many nursing schools will by a far use the GPA and grades obtained from the pre-nursing courses to select students for the major. Grades lower than “C-“are generally not accepted. A minimum GPA of 2.00 on a 4.0 scales is also commonly required for pre-nursing courses
Other Nursing School Prerequisites
Besides the credit courses listed above, nursing schools will also require that candidates other non-credit requirements. Such include:
Certified Nurse Assistant/Aide: You may find this as a pre-admission requirement for many nursing schools. For such programs, it may be mandatory to have completed a CNA course and earned a CNA certificate. Other states may require a candidate have and maintain a current registration status in the State’s CNA registry. For others yet, it may not be mandatory but it may be used to give additional points during selection, hence is a plus.
CPR Certification: It is almost next to impossible to find a nursing school that doesn’t require a Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certificate for health care providers. This certificate course is normally tied the Basic Life Support Course (BLS) from the American Heart Association
3) Medical and Drug Screening for Student Nurses
After being accepted in any nursing schools countrywide, you will be asked to submit a Medical or Drug Screening report. In this case, students will have to take several communicable diseases tests to be eligible to work in patients environments. A number of medical shots/ vaccinations are also mandatory for nursing students interacting with patients:
Drug Screening: Drug screening is used to indicate whether the future student is under the influence of alcohol or other uncontrolled substance abuse. If such tests are found to be positive, they are grounds to be denied admission into the nursing program. Most schools have a zero tolerance for drugs.
Medical Screening: This includes a health examination tests. The most common test is the TB skin test.
Immunizations: A number of medical shots/immunization are also required before starting on any nursing course including Measles, Diphtheria, Rubella, Tetanus, Mumps, Hepatitis B 3 injection series
Proof of Chicken Pox Immunity: this may require proof of taking the Varicella Vaccine.
Now you are aware of all the different opportunities available to you and the minimum requirements before you apply to nursing school, you are therefore ready to take the necessary steps to enroll in a nursing program.
NOTE: Be prepared for fees outside of the actual nursing school cost. From pre-tests and paperwork, to the actual application, there are usually additional fees associated with each. Plan this into your budget.
Attend an information session – After researching and deciding which school or program is best for you, attend an information session. Many schools now require this as a part of the application process, so that questions and details may be discussed. Of course, it’s always okay to attend more than one session at more than one nursing school. At these information sessions, you will be provided with a packet of information. This usually includes a list of requirements, an application to the program, and any cost involved. Pre-registration may be required for information sessions, so do not just show up if they require this, as it will be frowned upon. Do not take an information session lightly. Dress professionally and bring a pen and paper. While some nursing programs will conduct individual interviews for applicants, many more schools and programs are doing away with the interview process. At an information session, the people running it are generally recent graduates and your future administrators and teachers in the program. You have a chance to make a lasting impression in this informal environment.
Become a nurse’s “shadow” – Many programs also require a “shadowing experience”. You will set up an appointment to visit a hospital for 4 -6 hours to spend the time alongside a nurse. You will be able to see what a nurse truly does through the work day and ask as many questions as you like. At the end of the experience, you will have a form signed by the nurse that you completed this experience. That form will then be enclosed in your application packet. This experience is another chance at making a great first impression in the application process.
Check your grades – The most basic requirement is that an applicant has a high school diploma. If you do not have one, it may be best to think about working on getting your high school equivalency diploma. What is your grade point average (GPA)? Many nursing programs require at least an average GPA of 3.0 to be accepted into a program. Others require even higher Grade Point Averages so as to become more competitive. If there are continuing education classes you can take that might help you to better this average it may be a good idea. If you are unsure about your GPA, it might be a good idea to meet with a counselor at a school that you are interested in attending or applying to. If your GPA seems to be near or below average, a great idea might be to volunteer for some time at a hospital where you would like to work, or a nursing home volunteering in a field associated with nursing. This may help stand out from the rest when you are filling out your application for a nursing school.
Obtain necessary paperwork – Nursing school prerequisites vary depending on the school and program you are applying to. Once you have attended an information session and know what paperwork is required for that school, begin to organize and send requests for any necessary transcripts from high school, technical schools, or prior colleges you attended.
Take any required exams – There are “pre-tests” that a nursing school may or may not require. A PAX-RN is a pre-admission exam for RN students. There are general subject tests such as the TEAS (Test of Essential Academic Skills), and the NET (Nurse Entrance Test). Not all schools require them, but if so, you will find many study resources at book stores for these tests.
CPR Certification – Nearly all accredited nursing programs will require you have Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certification for healthcare providers.
Apply for financial aid – Resources from loan programs, grants and nursing scholarships can be limited, so apply to any programs as soon as you can. You will have the option to put your planned program dates on the application, so the money will be allocated when it is needed. The earlier you apply, the earlier you will receive notification on the funds being allotted to you.
Take care of medical requirements – Either prior to applying or within a certain time frame, all students are required to obtain a set of updated medical shots and exams at the student’s cost.
Apply to the Nursing School – When all of the necessary documentation for an application has been taken care of by you, apply to the nursing program at your earliest convenience. There are many programs with waiting lists, so the moment you know you meet the requirements to apply, DO SO. Do not miss a deadline, as you will have to wait for another program to start if you do. Missing the deadline may be viewed as a lack of good time management and desire to become a nurse. These nursing degree programs like the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) and the PhD in Nursing/Doctor of Science in Nursing (DNP) are competitive, and it is best to get your application in early and make sure it is completely filled out –NO EXCEPTIONS.
Last, but not least, WAIT – Once all of the prerequisites have been completed and the application is in, be prepared to wait. By completing all of the steps in a thorough, professional and timely manner, your future as a nurse will be here before you know it.
Private Nursing Schools
Colleges and universities come in two flavors, public and private. Though both of them are capable of offering a quality education, there’s some debate over what’s better- private nursing schools, or public ones.
Before looking at the things that separate them, it’s important to see what they have in common:
– Students of either are eligible for state financial aid, or financial aid through various nursing organizations.
– Both types of school turn out students who are qualified to take the NCLEX-RN.
– Tuition reimbursement schemes offered by employers can be redeemed for either school.
– Both types of schools are just as likely to be approved by the state Board of Nursing.
Private Nursing Schools vs. Public Nursing Schools
Though they’re fundamentally the same, public and private schools have some key differences.
Public nursing schools are supported by money from the state. They are generally larger, and may have larger class sizes, which results in less student-teacher interaction. Public schools also charge lower tuition fees to state residents, and higher ones to students coming from out of state. Residents also usually have an easier time being accepted to public nursing schools than non-residents do.
Private nursing schools are supported by tuition and endowments. They are generally smaller than public schools, and have smaller class sizes. Private schools also usually charge higher tuition fees than public schools, and may not charge different fees to residents versus non-residents. Private nursing schools may not necessarily accept residents any more easily than non-residents, and may also have additional requirements for admission.
Financial Aid and Private Nursing Schools
When it comes to nursing degree programs, none of them are cheap. One of the best incentives that states and schools have come up with to help lure new students to their nursing programs is to offer loan repayment schemes, tuition reimbursement offers, grants, and scholarships. Private nursing schools may have better financial aid programs than public schools. Public schools are usually just working with money given to them by the state, and some private schools get a lot more in tuition, donations, and endowments than public schools are granted. As a result, they can usually afford to be more generous with their scholarship and financial aid programs.
Some nursing students may be able to attend private nursing schools for nearly free, if they are able to qualify for financial aid through the school, the state, and any other scholarship programs available to nurses in their area. Hospitals and other medical facilities are also good sources of tuition money, since some of them have their own, private tuition reimbursement programs for students that are willing to sign on to work for them after graduation.
Finding Good Private Nursing Schools
Though private nursing schools generally offer a high quality education, that doesn’t mean that they’re all created equal. Even schools that are accredited may have nursing programs that aren’t any good to students who want to go on to practice, so would-be nurses have to be careful about ensuring that the nursing programs they enroll in have the Board of Nursing’s seal of approval.
All states have their own Board of Nursing, which is the organization responsible for setting educational requirements for nurses, and determining which organizations are capable of sufficiently educating them. The Board maintains a list of schools and programs that meet its approval, and it’s important that aspiring nursing students choose a nursing program that’s on this list. If they don’t, no matter how good their education is, they won’t be allowed to sit for the NCLEX-RN, and won’t be allowed to practice after graduating.
Ultimately, choosing a Board of Nursing-approved school is more important than deciding to attend a public school versus a private one. Private nursing schools have some distinct advantages over public schools when it comes to things like financial aid and admissions for out of state students, but making sure that you are qualified to sit for the NCLEX-RN is crucial to your nursing career. With the help of your state’s Board of Nursing, you’ll be able to choose an approved private nursing school, and have an easy time finding programs to pay for it.
Historically Black Nursing Schools
Historically black colleges and Universities (HBCUs) were established to offer higher learning to minority groups living in the United States of America during the era of racial segregation. During this time, Americans of African, Indian, Mexican, Latin, Asian and Hispanic origins were discriminated against and were not allowed in some institutions of higher learning.
The HBCU were specifically started to allow access of higher education to those considered to be of minority groups or multiracial origins. The schools feature highly competitive and high performance 4-year and 2-year colleges and universities. While they were initially meant for minority groups only, today, the schools admit both minority and Native American students. However, the minority group of students is always higher at any one such historically black college or university.
Advantages of Attending Historically Black Nursing Schools
With about 105 HBCUs in the United States, only about 36 offer nursing programs. The schools have devised comprehensive nursing curriculums that offer diplomas, bachelor degrees and PhD level nursing degrees. Such schools also offer professional nursing programs like LPN and CNA programs.
The advantage of studying at HBCU is that students have great financial aid opportunities as compared to non-HBCUs. HBCUs also offer nursing degree programs at a tiny fraction of fees as compared to non-HBCUs. Students of other non-native American origins also find a good learning atmosphere when their culture is instilled in the learning process.
It also becomes easier for blacks to interact well and freely with their black counter parts at an environment that feels like home. Cultural interests and ethnic orientation also flourish well in the HBCUs. Students also have a great opportunity of facing their challenges and helping to build a better future outlook for black nurses.
List of Top Historically Black Nursing Schools in the USA
There are few HBCUs amongst the 50 states that offer nursing programs. Below is a list of HBCUs with these programs:
Southern Atlantic Region- Home to Above 50% of HBCUs
This region boosts home to over half of all HBCUs in the country. Nursing majors are available at the following HBCUs:
Virginia State University
Florida A&M university
Grambling State University
University of the District of Columbia
District of Columbia
District of Columbia
Coppin State University
Bowie state University
North Carolina central university
Winston Salem state university
SC State university
Delaware State university
University of Arkansas at pine bluff
Albany state university
Bluefield State college
Tennessee state university
Prairie View A&M university
Alcorn State University
The Advancing Education in Nursing HBCUs
With the increased need of advanced nursing schools, historically black nursing schools have started offering accredited graduate nursing programs. The level of training and the curriculum for the graduate nursing programs are no different with graduate nursing programs from other universities and colleges. At the forefront of introducing graduate nursing programs, Hampton University in VA, introduced its masters program in 1976 followed by a doctorate in nursing program in 1999.
Prairie View A&M and Southern university A&M are the other two HBCUs that had introduced doctoral programs recently. Masters programs are quite popular in nursing HBCUs and by the end of last year, there were nine universities offering masters level degrees in nursing. Students who still prefer to attend HBCUs for their graduate nursing degrees have a lot more choices than it was ten years ago.
Future of Historically Black Nursing Schools
With America encouraging multiculturalism, some HBCUs have recorded high numbers of nursing students from the majority group. In fact, Prairie View University is on the highest verge with over 50% of the nursing school class being Native Americans and international students.
On the other hand, minority students are also freely eligible to study in majority institutions ranging from Ivy League institutions to white-dominated community colleges.
Graduate Nursing Schools
There are many factors to consider when selecting a graduate nursing school. Different people will have different priorities so you want to make sure that you choose a program that will best meet your career goals.
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
A master of science degree in nursing (MSN) qualifies you to start a career in variety of advanced practice nursing roles, as well as becoming involved in clinical research, nursing administration, and nursing education at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
To be eligible for admission to a standard masters in nursing program, you will generally need to possess a bachelor of nursing degree (BSN) and be a registered nurse (RN). Most graduate programs will also require that you pass the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). However, registered nurses who apply through an accelerated RN-to-MSN “Bridge Program” will not need to submit GRE scores.
Many nurses who participate in master’s level study are practicing nurses so have a clear idea of the area in which they wish to specialize. Specialization areas include family nursing, pediatric nursing, adult nursing, geriatric nursing, oncology nursing, public health nursing, clinical nurse wife, clinical nurse anesthetist, or clinical nurse specialist. Those who enter a master’s program with a bachelor’s in a non-nursing area may need to satisfy certain undergraduate preparatory coursework before they may be formally admitted to masters level nursing study.
It will typically take about two years to complete a master’s program if you attend on a full time basis and three to four years if you attend part time.
Considerations when choosing a graduate nursing school:
Choose the program then the school. The first step is to take an inventory of your career strengths and interests so you may decide on an area of specialization. Only when you have decided on a specialization should you begin to research schools that have a strong reputation in that area.
Type of setting. You also need to decide on the type of college setting you prefer to study. Do you prefer an urban campus or would you prefer to attend a nursing school that is located in a small community? You may also choose to pursue your education via an online nursing program, although you will need to possess a great deal of self-discipline, motivation, and initiative to complete this type of program successfully.
Research the backgrounds of faculty members in your area of interest. What are the professional and academic backgrounds of the nursing faculty? How long have they been teaching? Have they been published in recognized nursing journals? Many graduate nursing schools focus on only one or two areas of practice so are able to attract faculty who are particularly strong in those specialties. For example, a nursing school may be rated “average” overall but have an outstanding faculty and learning resources within the areas of family nursing and pediatrics. If either is your chosen specialty, you would do well to select such a school.
Ensure that the program is accredited. This is an especially important point for those who enter a master’s degree with a bachelor’s in a non-nursing area. You will need to have attended an accredited nursing school in order to be eligible to take the National Certification Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) and to obtain licensure from your State Board of Nursing.
Employers greatly prefer to hire nurse clinicians who have graduated from accredited schools since these programs have met strict standards for nursing education in terms of quality of quality of coursework, facilities, faculty, and clinical training.
There are two national organizations that accredit nursing programs:1) The National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) which accredits all levels of nursing education programs including associates, bachelor’s, and master’s degree; 2) The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) that accredits only bachelor’s and master’s programs.
Cost Considerations: Research what the full costs are to attend the school. Include not only direct tuition costs but the cost of books, commuting, and food. Inquire about such financial aid opportunities as grants and scholarships, which do not have to repaid, and government loans which do need to be repaid but come with relatively low interest rates. If you are a working in the healthcare field either as a nurse or other professional, ask your employer about tuition reimbursement programs. Keep in mind that there will likely be a stipulation that you remain with your employer for a certain period of time upon graduation, usually one year for each year of aid you receive.
Nursing School Class Size. As about the faculty to student ratio for both the classroom and clinical training component parts of the program. Smaller class size for clinical rotations and course work can be more important than when taking prerequisite courses.
Research the clinical requirements. You want to ensure that your clinical rotations provide you with substantive experience within your area of specialty. The clinical rotation should be based on real-world skills and knowledge that provide you with sufficient preparation so you will graduate with a solid foundation on which to build a career in your specialty area. .
Scheduling Flexibility: If you wish to continue working while pursing your graduate degree, does the school offer an option for part-time study or may some of the coursework be completed online?
Contact the school of interest: After you have narrowed possible schools to between three and five, call the admissions office of each to arrange a campus visit (or a telephone interview if applying to an online nursing school). The admission staff generally welcomes inquiries and happy to explain their programs in detail. As you make the appointment be sure to ask for a tour of the campus and whether you may sit in on a class (this can be done with a distance learning program as well). During your visit, study the school culture to determine whether this is a setting where you will comfortable attending nursing school. Try to speak with other nursing students to obtain their feedback o both the school and program.
If you are interested in an online nursing school, try to evaluate the quality of the program by perusing the school Web site and noting the style of writing and content posted. Is the site professional and easy to navigate and provide easy access to all needed information? Does the school value transparency with respect to tuition costs and admission requirements?
As you research nursing schools, keep in mind that the better quality programs value transparency and will be only too happy to answer all your questions regarding admission policies, program requirements, tuition and ancillary costs, and culture.
How hard is it to get into nursing school?
Nursing offers a secure and rewarding career in healthcare. However, getting accepted into nursing school and ultimately earning a degree is challenging even for the most well-prepared nurses. Nursing program admission is increasingly competitive. In addition to the large number of first-time college students seeking nursing as a career, a growing number of college-educated students are returning to school and seeking a second career in nursing in mid-life. With hundreds and sometimes thousands of applicants for 60-80 places in the nursing program, many students find themselves rejected year after year. The following are reasons why getting into nursing school is hard and how to overcome challenges to successfully gain acceptance into a nursing program.
Though it can be agreed that most nursing programs look for prerequisite courses in math and science, the actual courses may vary slightly. Second, the degree and GPA earned for nursing programs can be vary significantly. While some programs require a 2.0 GPA at minimum, others are so competitive that students must earn as many A’s as possible in order to have a chance of being considered.
Some schools admit students on probationary acceptance or allow them to file a formal petition to be considered for admission even if they don’t meet admission requirements. Before beginning any postsecondary education, students should research the nursing program and know the requirements beforehand to have a better chance at being accepted.
Many schools offer admission information sessions for their nursing programs. In fact, some schools require them. Regardless of if they are required, it’s advisable that a student attends information session to learn firsthand what a school is looking for in an applicant. Admission to nursing schools is highly competitive and the opportunity to meet the admission committee and ask questions about a situation firsthand is invaluable.
Previous work experience, knowledge of the healthcare setting or volunteer experiences are all factors that can bolster a student’s nursing application. Experience in a healthcare setting demonstrates exposure to practices and procedures that will be learned in the program. Experience working as a nurse or with a nurse is also advisable. Some students take the step by step approach in which they become a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) first, they will then progress to becoming an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse)and then finally a Registered Nurse (RN). This career path may give a nursing student the competitive advantage that they need.
If being accepted into a nursing program is a student’s ultimate goal, it’s possible to succeed by making a plan of action before taking part in a nursing program. While some programs rely heavily on academics and related circumstances listed above, other programs may weigh heavily on letters of recommendation, standardized tests or other criteria. Students should research and complete the specific prerequisites for their program, attend information sessions and obtain as much experience in nursing or the healthcare field in general as possible to be accepted into their nursing program of choice.
Top Undergraduate Nursing Schools
There are several key components that make up the top undergraduate nursing schools. The best undergraduate nursing programs have the following characteristics:
Accreditation. There are two major accrediting bodies for undergraduate nursing programs, the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Top nursing programs for undergraduates are accredited by one of these two nursing bodies.
Faculty. It’s important to be trained by top-notch faculty members that are well-prepared to train nursing students. Prior to enrolling in a nursing program, review the faculty qualifications to learn more about their credentials and background.
Student Performance. An additional way to evaluate a nursing education program is student performance. It’s important to look at student retention, NCLEX-RN pass rates and overall success in the program.
Here are the top 10 undergraduate nursing schools in the country, in no particular order.
Creighton University is based in Nebraska. The university is a Catholic institution in the Jesuit tradition. The college offers one of a kind educational opportunity for nurses, including the opportunity to specialize in working directly with a specific group of the population or participating in a unique supervised internship with a nurse that is already working in the field. While on campus, students have the opportunity to get involved with the Nursing Senate or The Creighton University Student Nurses Association, both of which offer networking and leadership opportunities for aspiring nurses. Creighton University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Boston College was founded in 1863. The school offers comprehensive options for nursing students including study abroad and research opportunities. The preparation for RN licensure is evident as the school boasts a high NCLEX-RN pass rate, which is currently above 90%. In addition to offering undergraduate degrees, the Connell School of Nursing at Boston College also offers masters, doctoral degrees and continuing education courses for nurses. The undergraduate nursing program at Boston College is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Nursing students in the BSN program have the opportunity to take master’s level nursing courses.
University of Florida
In their most recent accreditation visit, all nursing programs at the University of Florida were awarded the maximum accreditation possible, including undergraduate level nursing programs. The nursing program at the University of Florida was founded in 1956 and is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Innovative programs on campus, such as the Faculty Practice Association allow students to earn clinical experience as an undergraduate. The university has top-notch research facilities and generates quality research projects that have been picked up by large national outlets including NBC, CNN and The New York Times. The University of Florida prides itself in offering a diverse learning environment for their students.
Johns Hopkins University
For Maryland-based Johns Hopkins University, both the undergraduate and graduate programs are some of the best in the nation. The school ranks first among funding for nursing students provided by the National Institute of Health. The National League for Nursing named the School of Nursing a Center of Excellence, a distinction awarded to select schools throughout the nation who demonstrate quality in nursing education.
The school submits itself to a rigorous evaluation process as the undergraduate nursing program is accredited by both the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The NCLEX pass rate for students is over 99%.
Philadelphia-based Drexel University has offered nursing education for over 125 years. An extensive four library collection and on-campus simulation center are just a few of the resources offered to Drexel University’s nursing students. Among private institutions, Drexel University educates the most future nursing students in Pennsylvania.
The nursing department at Drexel University boasts some of the highest NCLEX-RN success rates as well as highly successful student retention and graduation percentages. A dedicated career center works in collaboration with the nursing department to help students find career opportunities. In 2010, Drexel University was named in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges list. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Accreditation accredits the BSN program at Drexel University.
Michigan State University
Undergraduate Nursing programs at Michigan State University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The university offers several tracks for aspiring nursing students seeking a BSN.
The ACCESS program, unique to Michigan State University, assists underrepresented students in funding their education and succeeding in the nursing profession. In addition to financial support, the program provides educational guidance to nursing students in the form of tutoring and personalized mentoring. The university also has a Nurse Scholars Program for future nurses in their final year of high school. Students in the undergraduate nursing program have the opportunity to explore research opportunities and evidence-based care.
University of Washington
The University of Washington has offered nursing courses since 1918. Most full-time faculty members that hold tenure at the University of Washington hold terminal degrees. The school is second in receiving funding from the National Institute of Health for their nursing programs. Nursing students at the University of Washington have the opportunity to take courses in numerous specialties.
Leadership and networking opportunities are available for student through PONS, the Professional Organization of Nursing Students. Students who pursue undergraduate education in the BSN program are eligible to work as a Certified Nurse’s Assistant upon completing two specific program courses and earning the proper state licensure.
University of Pennsylvania
In addition to practicing in the on-campus simulation lab, students in the Penn School of Nursing will benefit from earning experience at two top hospitals in the country based nearby. The nursing program at the University of Pennsylvania has received awards and accolades from the National Institute of Health as well as U.S. News and World Report. In addition to several BSN track options; there is also a BSN to PhD program for high-achieving students. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education accredits the nursing programs for undergraduates at the University of Pennsylvania. Undergaduate Nursing programs at Penn have a strong focus on research, as the department employs nursing researchers.
University of Iowa
The University Of Iowa School Of Nursing has been in operation for over a hundred years since 1898. The six-million dollar Nursing Clinical Education Center serves as a training ground for nurses. Additional nursing centers focus on geriatrics and nursing treatments and patient outcomes. Two undergraduate programs are offered, a BSN and RN-BSN program for the practicing nurse seeking an undergraduate degree. Programs at the undergraduate level at the University of Iowa seek to prepare nurse generalists. Research and interdisciplinary collaboration are key features of the nursing department at the University of Iowa. The nursing program at the University of Iowa is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
The Columbia University School of Nursing was established in 1892. In addition to working with the prominent medical hospitals in New York, the university works in collaboration with hundreds of sites to facilitate clinical experience. The school has experienced many firsts in nursing, including being named a Collaborating Center for International Nursing Development in Advanced Practice. This honor, bestowed by the World Health Organization, allows Columbia University to participate in collaboration with international health professionals. Numerous undergraduate nursing programs are available at Columbia University including the combined Bachelor and Master in Nursing program, which is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.