Choose Your Path To An Initial Nursing License
The first step is to decide on whether you want to become a licensed practical nurse or licensed vocational nurse or a registered nurse for the initial license. This choice will help you choose a program, because, even though you will pursue licensure after obtaining your degree, you can decide on the nursing degree program for you based on your career goals. After you have obtained your initial license as an LPN or RN, you may pursue additional education later to advance your career in the field of nursing. A great majority of nurses who work in a hospital setting have obtained a minimum of a registered nursing license. One factor to consider in this decision is the potential salaries for each nursing path. While LPNs earn a median annual salary of $44,090 per year or $21.20 per hour, RNs earn a median annual salary of $68,450 per year or $32.91 per hour.2,1 The job outlook for both occupations is bright, with 12% growth projected for LPNs and 15% growth projected for RNs through 2026 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.2,1 Another factor to consider in this decision is the type of work you would like to do. In many states, LPNs are limited in the tasks they are able to perform. RNs, for example, can always administer medication and give intravenous drops to patients, but LNs may not be able to perform these tasks in certain states.2
Find An Accredited Nursing School
In order to be eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN, you must be a graduate of an accredited nursing school. If you plan on moving up in the field, you will need a nursing degree from an accredited institution to get into a masters program.
Unfortunately, there are nursing programs that are not accredited. Watch out for these.
When choosing a nursing school, find the schools NCLEX pass rate and job placement rate either online or from a recruiter. These rates can help you understand which nursing school will best prepare you for a career in nursing.
Find Out If There Is A Waitlist Associated With Your Nursing Program
Traditional nursing schools with no waiting list can be rare, and many university nursing programs can only start students once a year. In some cases, you could even earn a traditional bachelors degree in the time itd take you to start classes in some nursing schools with a waitlist!
Thats not the case at Utica ABSN: We have the capacity to enroll a high number of qualified students because we enroll three starts every year. That means if you meet the qualifications to enroll, you can start classes when youre ready not just when theres an opening. Once you complete all the prerequisites, you can earn your nursing degree in as few as 16 months.
When deciding on a program, I was looking for the convenience of getting in early, says Logan, Utica ABSN program graduate. A lot of other schools had long waits and told me Id have to wait at least a year to start Uticas ABSN program was more convenient for me since it had an earlier time.
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What Specialties Are Offered
Do you already know youre interested in a particular specialty? Depending on your goals, you might want to pick a program that offers extra classes and clinical time in areas such as acute care, cardiovascular, neonatal, pediatric, or surgical nursing. If you dont know what your interests are, a program with a broad range of choices might be your best bet.
Specialties are especially important for students who are earning advanced-level degrees.Many types of advanced practice nurses require specific degrees or a certain number of classes before they can be licensed.
Find Work That Relates To Your Education
If you decide to work during school, try to get a job that is related to your classwork, where you can learn or practice healthcare-related skills, like:
These are just a few examples of some jobs in the healthcare field that will provide invaluable training and information while you study nursing. It will also provide the income you need. Win-win!
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How To Choose The Best Nursing School For You
While we thought these were the top nursing schools of 2022 the best nursing school for you may not be on this list. Spend time researching various nursing schools to make sure that you’re making the best decision for your personal situation.
Create a list of potential schools and, using factors mentioned on this page, rank your set of schools to find the best option.
If youre looking for a specific career path such as public health or informatics, make sure the schools youre considering can address these needs.
And, of course, find a school that works within the limits of your current life. You may not be able to move across the country to enroll at a Duke, Emory, or Georgetown.
Chances are good you can find a great program with caring faculty and great clinical experiences in your region.
What Do I Need Before I Apply To Nursing School
ADN and 4-year BSNs typically require a high school diploma or GED. The first 2-4 semesters will include college general education, science and math coursework. Accelerated BSN and MS/MSN programs generally require a completed degree in another area of study. Prerequisite courses like biology, nutrition, statistics, anatomy & physiology and others are still needed.
Many second-degree RN programs require a basic academic skills exam for admission. Two common options are the National League for Nursing Pre-Admission Examination or the Test of Essential Academic Skills exam. Both include questions on reading, science, math and English language. Prepare for the exam by obtaining a practice book or looking online for free test resources.
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How To Choose A Nursing School: From Traditional To Online And Accelerated Programs
Oct 26, 2015 | Magazine, Nursing Students
With over 2,000 nursing schools in the United States, it can be challenging to determine which nursing program will meet your specific needs. In addition to traditional nursing programs that meet on campus, there has been a significant increase in the number of accelerated and online nursing programs being offered across the country.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing says accelerated programs for non-nursing graduates have gained momentum as colleges work to meet the Institute of Medicines call to increase the proportion of nurses with baccalaureate degrees to 80% by 2020. According to AACN statistics, research has shown that lower mortality rates, fewer medication errors, and positive outcomes are all linked to nurses prepared at the baccalaureate and graduate degree levels.
I believe the BSN should be the minimum requirement for entry to practice for all nurses, says Monica McLemore, PhD, MPH, RN, an assistant professor of family health care nursing at the University of California, San Francisco. Science moves too quickly for nurses not to have a broad set of skills that are included in the four-year degree. I also believe nurses need to advance their education and to plan for this advancement in the context of the rest of their lives.
Going Beyond the Bachelors Degree
Can You Get A Nursing Degree Online
Yes. Many schools offer web-based nursing programs, which allow students to complete coursework online. However, distance learners must usually complete a supervised clinical component on location. Most schools let online students perform their clinical work at a healthcare facility in their own town or locality.
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Determine How Each Program Approaches Their Curriculum
Nursing is a demanding profession that requires knowledge, aptitude, and the ability to rapidly react to a wide array of patient care situations. Especially if youre pursuing a degree through an accelerated nursing program, you should look for a program curriculum that does as much as possible to acclimate you to real-world patient care. With as little as 16 months to prepare for an entirely new career if youre considering an ABSN program, youll want every bit of experience you can get.
Before Looking At Nursing Schools Ask Yourself These Questions:
So before applying for degrees, ask yourself:
- Do I want to study at a large or small school?
- Do I want a private or public education?
- Do I prefer to study in a busy city or a small town? Am I planning on starting a nursing career in the same city or town as the college/university?
- Nursing licenses are offered by states, so is there a specific state where I want to start my nursing career?
- Do I want to earn a two-year ADN or a four-year BSN? Or, do I want to go even further into advanced practice by earning a master’s of science in nursing , doctorate of nursing practice , or a Ph.D. in nursing?
- Do I want to become a nurse educator after practicing in the healthcare setting for a few years?
- Do I need an online or hybrid option?
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Nursing School Interview Process
Some nursing schools require interviews with one or more faculty members as part of their admissions process. While applicants must sometimes travel to campus for this requirement, some programs conduct virtual interviews.
While an interview may seem intimidating, plenty of preparation can help you keep nerves at bay. Although it is impossible to know exactly what questions the interview will include, you can likely expect to answer questions like: “Why did you choose nursing?” or “How would you face a certain challenge?” You may also be asked to describe yourself and your professional goals.
There are other ways to ensure you are prepared for your interview. Arrive early, for example, and dress professionally. Do enough research to demonstrate that you are knowledgeable about your prospective program and current trends in the nursing industry.
Choose A Nursing Degree Program
According to the National Center for Education Statistics , there are over 2,000 LPN, LVN, and RN degree programs at the associates, bachelors, and masters levels across the country.3 Many programs are highly competitive and have limited openings due to the demand for programs and a national shortage in nursing school faculty .4 Many nursing schools also require applicants to pass an entrance exam.5
When choosing a nursing degree program you should consider some of the following factors:
- Type of nursing degree granted
- Prerequisites of program
- Acceptance rate into the program/available seats
- NCLEX pass rate of past students
- Location of clinical training
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Do All Nursing Schools Allow Students To Choose Minors
Many programs only allow students to choose from specific minors to go along with their respective nursing degrees. These minor programs are generally created according to the demands in the nursing field, and they usually help to make nursing students more marketable once they graduate. A few examples of the minors that nursing students may choose in such programs include integrative human physiology or health promotion. Students must notify their advisor if they plan to pursue a minor along with their nursing degree.
Other programs allow students to work with an advisor to come up with the best minor to accompany their careers in nursing. Advisors help students find minors that match up well with their respective nursing curriculums. The advisors may suggest typical nursing minors such as nutrition, psychology, or sociology.
Nursing students have complete control over their decision for a minor in some nursing programs. Many use their personal interests outside of the nursing profession to choose a minor. For example, some students may be interested in music, foreign languages, math, or political science. They have the freedom to enter their minors at will with no decision-making power given to the nursing programs or advisors.
Do You Have A Nursing School Waitlist
Heres why this question is important: A significant number of nursing schools in this country dont have enough faculty, space, and/or clinical placements to expand their class sizes. As a result, they must turn away or waitlist thousands of qualified applicants every year. So, if youre looking to start nursing school as soon as possible, youll want to steer clear of programs that have waitlists.
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Whats The Classroom Structure Like
The classroom structure of your program can have a big impact on your studies.Some students find they learn best in large lecture settings,while others prefer the individual attention of small classes or the self-pacing ability of online courses.With that in mind, its a good idea to look into the average number of students per class at the programs youre considering. You could even ask to observe a class while youre visiting the school, which can give you a feel for what kind of classroom setting might suit you.
How To Get Into Nursing School
Nurses are in high demand, particularly those with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing . A report from the Institute of Medicine has recommended that at least 80% of the nursing workforce should hold a baccalaureate degree or higher.
Holding registered nurses to this standard by requiring a majority of the nursing workforce to have at least a bachelors degree has the potential to improve patient outcomes. Some nursing students choose to earn their BSN right away while others may return to school for an RN-to-BSN program. Individuals with a bachelors degree in another field can also enter an accelerated BSN program to join the nursing workforce.
Because the profession requires great skill, nursing schools are often rigorous in their admissions process. Its important for future nurses to find the right program, understand the application process and be aware of what financial aid and scholarship opportunities are available.
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Is Nursing School Expensive
The higher the degree achieved usually the more expensive the degree. In-state and in-county public school tuition will be the least expensive option.
ADN programs: $3,000 to over $20,000*
BSN programs: $40,000-100,000+*
*Prerequisite coursework means additional cost. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing has financial aid resources here.
What Social And Recreational Options Are There For Students
Interaction with other students can make your school experience a lot more enjoyable, and space to relax can help keep your studies from feeling too overwhelming. You should consider what type of experiences are important to you while looking at schools. The activities available to you might depend on the size of your school, but common options include:
- Intramural sports teams
- Arts or media activities such as student theater
- On-campus coffee shops
- Open parks or green spaces
- Nearby nightlife or entertainment choices
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Verify State Approval & Accreditation
The school you choose must be approved by your states Board of Nursing if you want to get your license. You can verify Board approval by searching the database on each Boards website. Beyond that, you should strongly consider attending a program thats accredited. Though not a requirement for licensing, accreditation verifies that your program meets the quality standards laid out by the U.S. Department of Education. Whats more, if your schools not accredited, you could find it hard to get financial aid, have trouble transferring credits to an advanced degree, or limit your opportunities for employment.An important thing to note is that school accreditation and program accreditation arent the same thing. Your overall school may be accredited, but that doesnt guarantee that your program is. For nursing, you want to look for a program thats been approved by at least 1 of the following:
Create A Budget And Stick To It
Creating a budget also requires planning. Hold yourself accountable with a budget tracking app, and be sure to check it routinely to see how youre doing. It is helpful to automate any payments or deposits, which will help keep your mind focused on your nursing classes so you dont stress later when trying to remember if you are squared away with your bills.
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Prep Healthy Meals In Advance
Healthy meal prepping and planning can help you save time throughout the week . While transitioning from school to work, you can have a healthy meal along the way. Try packing a variety of easy-to-grab veggies and some hummus for dipping, or roll-up slices of deli turkey, mozzarella cheese, and sliced cucumbers for a convenient, tasty, and refreshing snack. When it comes to meal prep, it is important to get organized, as you will need to anticipate your energy needs for the week. A good rule of thumb: pack more food than you think is enough, therefore you wont have to deal with the effects of hunger while youre on the go. This will help you maintain a healthy lifestyle and ensure you have enough energy for your busy days.
Phase : Find A School Thats Approved And Accredited
Approval and accreditation may very well be the cornerstone of good nursing schools. This should be one of the deciding factors when picking any type of educational institution because a schools accreditation or lack thereof can directly impact your future as a Registered Nurse.
Accreditation refers to the process by which an accrediting body evaluates the educational institution and/or the programs it offers. Its essentially a stamp of approval recognizing the schools quality and credibility. There are two types of accreditation institutional and programmatic. The first one evaluates the school as a whole, while the latter focuses on the individual educational programs offered by the institution. For that, accrediting bodies can check curriculum, faculty and resources. Pursuing accreditation is a voluntary process, but it has a wide array of benefits both for the institution and the learners.
As a prospective student, there are many reasons you should opt for an accredited nursing institution and program:
Find out from our video about institutional accreditation and why it matters in selecting the right college or university:
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