I haven’t done an official announcement, so I thought that this would be as good as any. I got into nursing school! I’m so excited to be starting this September 2020 (if I can get all these requirements completed, COVID isn’t making it easy- but more on that later). This is going to be a huge part of my life these next few years. I want to reach and help others who are currently on their journey to (or in) nursing school. So, be prepared for a lot more content related to nursing. I am also starting a Youtube channel next month for videos, which seems a lot easier to get out information compared to a blog post. If you want to subscribe to that, you can click here! Anyways, to kick things off here’s how to get into nursing school.
How to Get into Nursing School
Maybe you are considering career options, or already know you want to be a nurse. Here’s a simplified version of how to get into nursing school.
1. Decide on a University Program or Community College Program
There are pros and cons to choosing either a university or community college. For me, a community college program was a better fit.
If you choose a university program, usually you begin by completing basic classes like biology and chemistry. Then you move on to the nursing classes and in 4 years you will have your Bachelor of Nursing. It is generally more expensive than community college, a faster pace in terms of pre-req classes, and is more rigid. However, you can get the ‘college experience’ so if you already know nursing is for you it can be a great fit. Usually, you need to begin these programs as a freshman. If you are a transfer student, your pre-reqs will transfer and it will only be a 2-year program.
Community college programs require you to already have completed your pre-req classes. This means you can take as much time as you need to complete them, they are a lot more affordable, and you can be very part-time. Community college nursing programs usually favor students who have attended the college for the pre-req classes. When you complete a community college program you will only have your RN (not BSN), but RN to BSN programs are usually only 12- 16 months rather than an additional 2 years.
2. Find a Program or Multiple that You Like
Before you start your pre-nursing journey, find a program (or several) that you want to attend. Not every nursing school has the exact same requirements to apply. One nursing school may require a CNA license and experience while others don’t. Classes can also slightly vary from program to program. Also, as I said earlier, if you are wanting to attend a community college, students who have attended that college for at least 15 credits previously are usually favored.
Once you find a program, you can determine the entry requirements. Some common requirements that you can expect as far as classes:
- Anatomy and Physiology
- General Biology and Microbiology
- General Chemistry
- English 101 and Lifespan Psychology
Some other requirements that may help or are needed for your application:
- Healthcare Experience
- CNA License
- Volunteer Experience
It can take around 2-3 years to get the proper requirements for your application. Good grades OR experience in healthcare can really make or break your application.
Map Out a Course of Action
If you are going into a university program, you don’t need to do much in the way of a plan of action. An advisor should help direct you to the correct classes for your program. If you are interested in a community college, I highly recommend planning! You’ll thank yourself in the future.
Some classes may need to be taken in a specific order. For example, General Biology needs to be taken before Anatomy & Physiology. In some cases, you also might want to retake a class for a better grade. Don’t leave all your challenging classes to complete the month before you apply.
Take a look at all your requirements and plan out the quarter/semester you want to take them. Also, take a look at other requirements (like CNA license or volunteering) and plan them around your classes. I highly recommend volunteering for a hospital or working in healthcare. It’s the one thing I didn’t do, but think would have been helpful to know if nursing was a good fit for me sooner.
It’s not a walk in the park to get into any healthcare-related program. If you want to be a nurse then you need to work hard to keep your grades up. If you don’t pay attention to your pre-req classes and still get into nursing school, those classes are going to haunt you during the NCLEX or during school itself. You need to know about A&P, microbio, etc. Those classes are pre-reqs for a reason!
Give yourself a lot of time to finish your application! Make sure that you have prepared everything ahead of time, or submitted your application ahead of time if your school accepts on a rolling basis. This way, if your missing something or something is wrong with your application you have time to fix it. If you are applying for a community college program, you can usually reapply each quarter so if you don’t get in the first time you can always get in the next!
Make sure you’ve checked out how your school selects candidates (mine was a point system) and also look at selection statistics! Once you’ve finished applying you just have to trust that you’ve prepared your application the best as you can.
That’s all it takes!
This post is mostly focused on RN and BSN programs. NP programs are going to require more, such as letters of recommendation or essays.
If you have already graduated with your Bachelor’s degree, you can also consider an ABSN program. An Accelerated Bachelor of Nursing Program still requires classes like Biology and Anatomy, but it is a fast-tracked program if you have all those classes. Usually, ABSN programs are only 16 months! This can be a great option if you don’t want to start from scratch.
I hope this has been helpful! It’s worth all the work once you’re accepted into the program you wanted!
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