Already know you want to become a registered nurse (RN) but aren’t sure about next steps? Not to worry. Here are seven tips for getting into nursing school:
1. Know Why You Want to Be a Nurse … and Be Able to Articulate It
Sounds simple enough, right? It’s one thing to know why you want to be a nurse. It’s another to be able to articulate your reason to another person. However, the importance of this step cannot be understated. After all, being able to explain why you want to be a nurse will be very helpful when you talk to an admissions representative. Not to mention, you’re going to want to be thinking about your reason well in advance of writing your letter of intent or admissions essay … more on that later.
2. Find a Nursing Program that Works for You
Of critical importance to getting into nursing school is selecting a program that works for your needs. Here are several things you’ll want to consider:
- Where do you want to study? Asking this question first will help you to narrow your selection to a specific region, as well as help you to estimate cost of living and other expenses (in the case of relocating for school).
- What kind of degree do you intend to get? While many nursing programs still offer associate’s degrees in nursing, the overall trend in healthcare is toward Bachelor of Science in Nursing-educated RNs. In other words, a BSN is a much better choice long term.
- How much college experience do you currently have, and what are your grades like? If you already have a bachelor’s degree or at least college credits (number varies by school) and meet the grade requirements set by the school, you may be eligible to enroll in an accelerated BSN (ABSN) program, like ASBN@Madonna in the Detroit metro area.
- When do you hope to graduate? Another advantage of ABSN programs is that they allow you to graduate sooner and often offer multiple start dates each year. The ABSN@Madonna program offers three start dates (in summer, fall, and winter), meaning it may be possible to start working toward your nursing degree sooner.
- Is online learning for you? Online learning certainly has many advantages. In particular, it offers convenience and flexibility unheard of with traditional in-classroom learning. It’s also important to note that accelerated nursing programs are not 100% online — while the nursing theory coursework is online, students learn critical nursing skills in our hands-on skills and simulation labs, as well as through their clinical rotations. That being said, some learners would prefer to learn everything in a classroom setting; just know that this will likely mean a traditional, four-year BSN program.
- Do you intend to work while in nursing school? This is a big one. While understandable that some students will need to work during nursing school, accelerated programs pack a lot into a short period, meaning school can feel like a full-time job. Because of this, Madonna University recommends that students do not work while in its ABSN program.
3. Be Honest and Upfront with Your Admissions Representative
Of course, once you find a program you’re interested in, you’re going to want to talk to an admissions representative. During your first call, your representative will ask you questions get to know you better, including about your educational background and, you guessed it, why you want to become a nurse. Prior to your call, it’s a good idea to have at least your unofficial college transcripts available, though he or she will be able to talk you through the steps for obtaining your transcript if you don’t have it on hand.
Of critical importance is that you are honest and upfront with your advisor about any issues that might become a problem later on. For example, if you were previously enrolled in a nursing program, let a grade slip, or have any issues with your background history, you need to let him or her know. As part of the enrollment process, your post-high school education records and complete background history will be pulled, so it’s better to be upfront about any potential issues so that your admissions representative can work with you.
Of course, be receptive to advice. If your representative recommends you retake a past course in order to improve your chances of getting in, it’s because he or she wants to see you succeed.
4. Keep Detailed Notes and Stay on Top of Communication
Want to impress your admissions representative throughout the admissions process? Keep detailed notes about everything you’ve talked about, need to do, and so forth, and follow through. While your admissions representative may check in with you regularly to ensure you’re progressing through the process, it looks good if you’re proactive. Another simple way to show you’re serious about becoming a nurse is to stay on top of communication. Don’t put off responding to calls and emails. The sooner, the better.
What You Need to Know Before Starting Nursing School
5. Fulfill Any Prerequisite Requirements
Just about any quality accelerated nursing program is going to require you to complete prerequisite courses, though how many depends on your previous college experience. Those with a Bachelor of Science degree tend to need fewer prerequisites than those with Bachelor of Arts degrees — that’s because nursing requires some knowledge of anatomy, biology, chemistry and other related fields. Additionally, students with only the minimum number of college credits required will need to take the most prerequisites to get into nursing school
However, many schools also require prospective nursing students to take courses specific to their school and mission statement, and Madonna is no exception. Your admissions representative will guide you through the process of determining what you need to take. In some cases, he or she might advise you on ways to improve your GPA by retaking certain courses to increase your chances of being accepted.
6. Write a Great Letter of Intent or Admissions Essay
For so many reasons, nursing is not for everyone, and while it may pay well, it’s not the kind of career you pursue just for the money. Nursing requires compassion, the ability to remain calm and collected in life-threatening situations, empathy, kindness, strong communication skills, and hard work.
Your letter of intent or admissions essay should demonstrate not only why you want to become a nurse, but also that you have what it takes to succeed in nursing school. Think of it sort of like a cover letter as part of applying for a job, and don’t forget to have someone read it over for you before you submit it. No matter how many times you read it, it’s easy to miss your own mistakes.
7. Prepare for (and Take) Any Entrance Exams
As part of the process of getting into nursing school, many schools require students to take an entrance exam, often the Health Education Systems, Inc. (HESI) Admission Exam or Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) Exam.
To be eligible for Madonna University’s ABSN program, prospective students must achieve a composite score of 75 or higher for reading comprehension and math on the HESI Admission Exam. Additionally, if you do not already hold a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, Madonna requires you to take a writing assessment.
Change Lives in as Few as 16 Months
Ready to put your dream of becoming a registered nurse into action? With the ABSN@Madonna program, if you have a minimum of 60 college credits from a regionally accredited university, you can become a nurse in as few as 16 months. Give Madonna University a call today to find out more, or fill out the form to have an admissions representative contact you.