What Are Nursing School Requirements?
What Are the Requirements for Nursing School?
The nursing field has changed dramatically over the last few decades, from the types of uniforms worn to the technology used on the job.
But one constant is the continual growth of nursing jobs, which is rising along with the tremendous expansion of the health care industry.
The Demand for Nurses
Registered nurses are expected to be in high demand for the foreseeable future, but nursing programs are among the most competitive. Most nursing programs are careful in how they screen applicants, searching for the right candidates who have what it takes to make it in this demanding—but rewarding—field.
If this career path has been on your mind, then you’ve probably had one major question on you mind: What are the requirements for nursing school?
Nursing school requirements include the background courses and other credentials you must have before applying to nursing programs. These requirements, or prerequisites, are set by schools set to ensure students entering their program have the right background knowledge to successfully complete college-level coursework.
Going to Nursing School
There is more than one educational pathway leading to eligibility to take the standardized National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).
As someone thinking about a nursing career, you’ll want to decide whether to pursue an associate or a bachelor’s degree before you can figure out what you need to enroll in school.
Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)
An associate degree is a two-year program, and it is an entry-level degree that will prepare you to become a nurse.
You’ll learn basic lab skills, nursing theory, and clinical practice. With an ADN, you can become either a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or registered nurse (RN), and this is the quickest and easiest way into the profession.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
A BS in nursing is a four-year degree, and you’ll likely have more job opportunities if you make the commitment to earning a BSN. In addition to the basic nursing skills and clinical education, you’ll develop the leadership and administrative skills that can help you advance your nursing career.
Once you’ve chosen your degree path, the requirements you need to complete admission become clear.
What If I Already Have a (Non-Nursing) Degree?
If you’ve previously earned a bachelors’ degree in another field but now want to change career paths, there are fast-track programs to help you transition to nursing programs.
An accelerated bachelor’s program can build upon your previous college experience and provide a quicker route to RN licensure. These fast-track programs usually take 18 months or less to complete, and then you’ll be well on your way to choosing from the many nursing careers that fit your background.
Requirements for Nursing School
Now that you know whether you want to pursue an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree, here are the requirements you’ll need to meet.
Admission standards are set for both the associate degree ADN and baccalaureate BSN levels.
There is typically more academic competition for BSN programs, and you’ll likely find that there are more requirements accordingly. You may need to submit a resume, personal goal statement, or references who can speak to your character and drive.
No matter which degree level you choose to pursue, you can expect some prerequisites for both ADN and BSN programs—though more will likely be required for BSN programs.
At the ADN level, common prerequisites could include anatomy and physiology, nutrition, and statistics, as well as a few science courses. For a bachelor’s program, common prerequisites can also include microbiology, biology, or other more advanced science courses.
More coursework will also be required for BSN programs, such as research, leadership skills, and public health awareness. Accordingly, advanced college-level reading and writing will be required by BSN programs.
Grade Point Averages
The minimum GPA is set at 3.0 for most BSN programs, while the minimum for ADN programs is often set at 2.5. Of course, different programs may have different requirements—either for grades themselves or for additional metrics.
Some schools may admit students with lower GPAs, for instance, if they can show commitment and eligibility in other ways. Schools may also give priority to students who reside within their local area or those who have previously worked in health care settings.
Testing and Exams
At some point, tests will be required. You’ll have to take tests throughout your coursework, of course, but you’ll also need to prepare for the examinations required to complete your program and to achieve certification.
Those requirements vary by state—or even my municipality—but your school should provide information about getting the right certifications you’ll need to find work after graduation.
As these requirements illustrate, some hard work lies ahead of you if you want to pursue a nursing degree.
But while there’s a lot to learn, becoming a nurse can be a particularly rewarding career path. If you can manage to keep your eyes on that end goal, all those reading, homework, and testing requirements will help you build the strongest application to nursing school (and a nursing career!) you can imagine.
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