If you’re an empathetic person who wants to contribute to the field of medicine, then this one’s for you. Nursing is a profession as noble as any other medical practice, as you can make a profound difference in a patient’s life. Nurses can provide emotional support, comfort, and care to patients and their families during some of the most challenging times of their lives.
While nursing can be a demanding profession, it is also extremely rewarding and fulfilling. No wonder nurses are very much in demand, making a large number of positions open for skilled nurses. This article highlights how you, too, can contribute by finding a nursing school that meets your needs.
How to Become a Nurse
Becoming a nurse is a beautiful combination of education, training, and licensing. Some general steps to becoming a nurse are:
- Obtaining a High School Diploma: the minimum educational requirement to become a nurse is a high school diploma or equivalent. This makes you eligible for nursing programs.
- Completing a Nursing Program: In order to become a nurse, you will need to complete a nursing program that leads to either an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.
- Obtaining a Nursing License: Once you complete a nursing program, the next step is to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) in order to obtain your nursing license. While the requirements for the NCLEX are standard across the nation, the process and requirements of getting a license for a registered nurse may vary by state. Each state and district may employ a nursing board responsible for outlining safety standards in nursing practices. So, it is best to understand your state’s requirements before applying for a nursing license.
- Obtaining Additional Certifications: If you want to gain a competitive edge, consider obtaining additional certifications in specialized areas of nursing, such as critical care or pediatrics.
- Pursuing Advanced Education: To advance your career in nursing, you can consider pursuing a master’s degree in nursing.
What Are a Nursing School’s Requirements?
Becoming a nurse requires dedication and hard work. Here’s a list of some common nursing prerequisites that you need to consider:
- High school diploma or equivalent: As mentioned earlier, most nursing programs require you to have a high school diploma or equivalent, like a GED.
- Minimum GPA: A minimum GPA requirement of 2.5 or higher is requested by most nursing programs, which is mandatory for an applicant.
- Prerequisite Courses: Most nursing programs require applicants to complete certain prerequisite courses in anatomy and physiology, microbiology, nutrition, and psychology.
- Entrance Exam: Certain nursing programs might require you to take an entrance exam, like the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS), to assess your academic abilities.
- Letters of Recommendation: Sometimes, certain nursing programs may request letters of recommendation from teachers, healthcare professionals, or employers.
- Personal Statement: You could also be required to submit a personal statement explaining your interest in nursing and your qualifications for the program.
- Background Check and Drug Screening: A few nursing programs also require a background check and drug screening before you are offered admission to the program. This is necessary as you may come in contact with patients during your training, and it is part of the curriculum for certain programs.
How Can I Increase my Chances of Getting into Nursing School?
Here are a few handy tips that may help your chances of getting into nursing school.:
- Volunteering at Clinics or Hospitals – To increase your chances of getting into a nursing school, consider volunteering in medical setups such as hospitals, clinics, or a private practice under the supervision of a licensed medical practitioner. This would allow you to gain hands-on experience in a clinical setting to pick the correct skills needed by a nurse practitioner.
- Taking Extra Courses Online – If you want to gain a competitive edge over your peers, take up a few additional online courses related to nursing to gain knowledge over and above your theoretical education.
- Polish Those ‘Soft Skills’ – You might also have to give a nursing interview to be accepted into a nursing school. In this interview, it is important to remember that the panel will also judge your soft skills, such as communication, problem-solving, and empathy, and check your confidence level to perform medical tasks. So brushing up on your soft skills before applying for admission is wise.
- Find a Mentor to Help with Your Nursing Application – It would be wonderful if you could find a mentor who can help you navigate the application process. This would ensure you don’t make certain avoidable mistakes in your application and you don’t let anything slip through the cracks.
Tips to Choose a Nursing School
Choosing a nursing school should be a well-thought-out decision as it can substantially impact your future career as a nurse. Here are some tips to keep in mind before selecting a nursing school:
- Accreditation: First and foremost, ensure the nursing school is accredited by a recognized accrediting authority, such as your state’s nursing board. This will ensure that the program you want to pick meets certain quality standards and that potential employers consider you a skilled, valuable resource.
- NCLEX pass rates: Check the school’s NCLEX pass rates. A higher pass rate represents the school’s investment in preparing its students for the nursing licensure exam.
- Faculty: Check out the credentials and experience of the nursing faculty at the school. It is wise to observe if the faculty includes a good mix of highly experienced nurses passionate about teaching and mentoring.
- Clinical Experience: Learn what kind of clinical experience the nursing program offers. You should look for a program that offers various clinical settings and experiences to prepare you for real-world nursing practice.
- Student Support: It is important to factor in the nursing program’s student support services. These services typically include tutoring, career services, and academic advising.
- Cost: One of the most important factors to consider is the cost of the nursing program and any financial aid options that might be available. Ensure the program’s cost is within your financial bandwidth and, ideally, does not drain your savings.
- Reputation: Consider the reputation of the nursing program and the school holistically. You can talk to current and former students or look for online reviews and rankings to know more about this.
- Program format: Lastly, you must factor in the format of the nursing program, such as traditional in-person classes, online classes, or a hybrid of both, and make sure it matches your current educational goals.
How to Pay for Nursing School
Deciding how to pay for nursing school might seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Several options are available to help you make it more affordable. Here are some steps to consider when looking for these options:
- Find out financial aid options: Various financial aid options are available to nursing students, including student loans, grants and scholarships. List all the financial aid options available from your school and external sources.
- Scholarships: There are certain scholarships available specifically for nursing students. Do your research and consider applying for as many scholarships as possible to reduce your student loan debt.
- Consider federal student loans: Typically, federal student loans have a lower interest rate and are more flexible repayment options than private student loans. Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to understand your eligibility for federal loans.
- Look into private student loans: Private student loans can also be taken to cover any remaining costs once financial aid has been applied. It is important to note that these loans usually have higher interest rates than federal loans.
- Consider employer tuition assistance: Many employers offer tuition assistance or reimbursement programs for current employees who wish to pursue a nursing degree.
- Create a budget: It is always wise to make a budget to manage your expenses while in nursing school. This ensures you reduce the need for loans and your expenses are covered.
Remember to factor in all options before you zero in on how you wish to pay for nursing school. Talk with your school’s financial aid office to understand the best financial aid package available in your specific situation.
What Are the Various Levels of Nursing?
Some of the common levels recognized in the United States are:
- Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA): As a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), you would provide basic patient care under the supervision of a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN). Usually, CNAs work in long-term care facilities, home health agencies, and hospitals. To become a CNA, you must have a high school diploma or GED and nursing assistant training.
- Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN): As a licensed nurse, an LPN is equipped to offer basic patient care under the supervision of an RN or physician. Generally, LPNs, too, work in long-term care facilities, hospitals, and clinics. If you wish to become a licensed practical nurse, you will need to have a high school diploma or GED, and then you’ll need to graduate from an accredited LPN program.
- Registered Nurse (RN): An RN is a licensed nurse trained to provide patient care and treatment in numerous healthcare settings. Hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, or other healthcare facilities can employ registered nurses. To become an RN, you must obtain an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.
- Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN): Next are Advanced Practice Registered Nurses. APRNs are registered nurses who have undertaken additional education and training to specialize in a particular area of nursing. These professionals could be nurse anesthetists, midwives, practitioners, or clinical nurse specialists. To practice as an APRN, you will require a Master of Science in Nursing or Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.
- Nurse Educator: With an advanced degree in nursing, you could also choose to be a nurse educator. A nurse educator is a professional who has completed advanced education and training in nursing education and is willing to work in academic settings, to teach nursing students and conduct research in nursing education.
It’s important to research the requirements for each nursing level as each level needs different education and training. You may start as a CNA or LPN while you are getting the education to gain your RN license and possibly continue to advanced practice nursing.
Choosing a nursing school while considering multiple factors may seem daunting, but the process is easy to navigate with the right information tips. A highly in-demand profession, nursing is challenging and rewarding simultaneously and has seen exponential growth in the last couple of years. Suppose you want to get into a nursing school and offer care to individuals in various situations. In that case, we hope this guide presents your options and helps you take one step closer to your educational goals.
If nursing is not your calling, feel free to explore our content repository for more informative articles. We wish you the best!
Frequently Asked Questions
ADN stands for Associate Degree in Nursing, and RN stands for Registered Nurse. The main difference between the two is that ADN is an educational degree, while RN is a professional designation. While an ADN is a two-year degree program to help you become a registered nurse, an RN is a licensed healthcare professional who has passed the NCLEX-RN exam after completing an accredited nursing program, which could be an ADN or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).
There is no fixed answer here, as the length of a nursing program depends entirely on the type of program and the level of education you want to pursue. For example, while a CNA program lasts 4-12 weeks, an LPN program spans 12-18 months. Similarly, ADN programs usually take 2-3 years for a student to complete, but BSN programs usually last for 4 years.
An Accelerated Nursing Program is a fast-track program that allows someone with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree in less time. Accelerated programs usually last 12 to 18 months and require full-time commitment with rigorous training. This program is best suited to students who have already completed a bachelor’s degree in another field but wish to pursue a career in nursing.