Choosing a Nursing Program

June 25, 2019 0 Comments

Part Two: Getting into Nursing School

What Program is Best For You?

There are many different factors to consider when you want to attend nursing school. Which degree do you want to obtain, how long you are willing to work towards earning it, and what other events in your life need balancing during that time period? When you begin considering all of these factors, what initially seems like a simple “Quickly Earn Your Bachelor’s” idea develops into a daunting cycle of endless financial investment and sleep deprivation.

A simple way to overcome these thoughts is to pace yourself appropriately. You have already put a lot of thought and effort into deciding that being a nurse is what is best for you. Do not let normal obstacles that come with achieving any goal grow into something more.

Some students knowingly want to enter into a full-time program. In such cases, begin considering what type of institution is best for your educational needs. Will you better manage yourself at a big campus, or would you prefer smaller classes for instruction? Nursing programs start off with a limited number of seats per class, but sizes dwindle over time as completion rates for classes are never perfect. Some larger campuses offer smaller sized classes for exceptional students or students in need of flexible scheduling hours. Reach out to program directors at your schools of interest for more information about their programs. Although it may seem intimidating, these directors are meant to help students decide if their school is the right fit and can provide what you are looking for in a program.

"Pacing yourself slowly through a course load in order to balance academic success with financial stability is a lot better than failing out of a program."

If you are unsure of whether you want to be a full-time, part-time, or online student, you should consider your financial situation and whether or not you must work while achieving a nurse’s title. Being a full-time student is a full-time job. To be working additional hours beyond attending classes, completing assignments, and studying the necessary hours to pass exams is extremely difficult. Many institutions do not encourage this and it is advised against in many situations. Students looking at fast-track programs and certifications are strongly advised not to work, and cannot work in many situations due to the rigor of the hours demanded by the program. However, it is highly understandable if a student’s living situation cannot afford to stop working while earning their title. If this is the case for you, consider a part-time or an online program. Attending a part-time program will pace you slowly through your academic requirements. It can be expected to extend the duration of time before you achieve your goal as well. Although those conditions may not sound flattering, pacing yourself slowly through a course load in order to balance academic success with financial stability is a lot better than failing out of a program.

Reaching out to program advisors and directors of an institution is the best way to discuss what options are available. Due to the limited number of seats within nursing programs, switching between being a part-time and full-time student is not always an option. However, many schools and programs recognize living constraints while achieving a title and have cultivated options to work with their students. Schools have built extended five-year curricula or have created working professional programs to help pace students through the rigor of nursing in a way that is suitable to their lifestyles.

Earning a certificate or bachelor’s for nursing will require lots of time, and thus money. If the financial aspect of going to school seems incredibly overwhelming, please reference our section on “Financing Your Career” to help get a broader understanding.

Assessing Your Educational Background

Nursing programs are highly competitive as they are looking for students who demonstrate the capabilities of a future nurse. Depending on where a student is in their educational career, programs may show leniency, or lack thereof, when admitting a person into the nursing major. Once you have explored your options for program types and schools, check their pre-requisites for admittance. Schools outline their pre-requisites as a way of measuring a student’s potential for success in their nursing program. They tend to lean towards measurements of academic success within science and mathematics courses. If a student did not see success during their high-school education program or lacks course fulfillment in a specific life sciences area, programs may look to experiences within the field and/or letters of recommendation to fill the gap and evaluate potential. It is important to consider all the possible materials that demonstrate good candidacy and note if a school will accept them with an application.

In a simple and classical breakdown of the pathway, a high school student will need to earn acceptance to a four-year college as a nursing major. After two years of academic classes tailored towards nursing, the university will assess a student’s transcripts and potentially have the students take a nursing school entrance exam. Upon successful completion of academic curricula and proof of their education within the test scores of such an exam, the school will provide a student with official acceptance as a nursing student. Being apart of the program, a student can receive the second half of their education within the clinical field. Following successful completion of classes and clinicals, a nursing student will have a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing, or BSN. Having a BSN gives the student eligibility to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses, or NCLEX-RN. Also known as “The Boards” exam, this final assessment of a nurses educational career and practice can provide nurses their official license to work as a nurse anywhere within the US.

Variations for the path will occur depending on the program you are looking to complete and what education you have already completed. Regardless of the situation, many universities use a nursing school admissions test for academic assessment. If you are completing a certificate program or returning to school with a different Bachelor’s degree in hand, the assessment may be taken before acceptance. Nursing school admissions test will largely influence if a student earns a seat within a program. Most schools require a formal nursing school test to demonstrate the necessary knowledge and skills that are necessary for success. Although they are not required by every nursing program throughout the U.S., many schools use the HESI, KNAT, or TEAS for educational assessment.

For schools that do not require test scores, there may be an underlying reason. The programs may be evaluating GPA only, or weighting course completion with another standardized test. For any student submitting applications to multiple schools, there is a high chance that although one of your programs of choice does not require a test score, one of your options does. In any such circumstances, it is important to check with the school and program to ensure necessary requirements.


Admissions Tests

Smart Edition Media / Nursing / Published: July-01-2018