When I started this blog recently, I had expectations of what I’d do with it and what I’d turn it into. As you can tell, I’ve been MIA a bit and far less consistent as I’d like to be and hope to be in the future. For all good reasons though! The lasts several months have been spent gathering paperwork and perfecting my nursing school application. I’m so happy to say it has been officially submitted as of last week! As I anxiously await for the response, I’ll let you in on how I managed to complete possibly the most stressful application of my life.
1. Inform yourself BEFOREHAND
The very moment you decide to major in Nursing, head straight to your school’s Nursing Admission requirements. (This is also where, if your school does not have its own program, research and look into others. TIP: choose one that it has a BSN program, or at least an RN-BSN option. They say by 2019, all nurses will be required to receive their Bachelors degree, so just get it done while you’re at it!) Get familiar with the admission requirements and make note of what you have already completed and what still needs to be done. Figure out how long each requirement will take to acquire, and do. not. put. it. off. With that, know the deadlines. Put them in your calendar now. Research how often they accept applications and about how many students they accept per cycle. Know what kind of competition you’re up against. And possibly the most important necessity, know which classes are pre-requisites for the program.
2. Plan out your pre-requisites and have a “Grad Plan”
Once you know which classes you need to complete before applying, start planning for them. Figure out which semester each is offered and organize it in a way that will be most efficient and quickest to complete. For example, it would be a bummer to put off Psychology for your last pre-nursing school semester in the Spring, only to find out it’s only offered in the Fall and you’ll have to wait another 8 months..ESPECIALLY if your program only accepts new students in the fall. You just wasted a whole year. TIP: Take similar classes simultaneously! There are also many classes that are 10x easier if taken with another alike course. For example, I took Medical Dosage Calculations and Chemistry together, and that better helped me grasp dimensional analysis since we went over it in two of my classes. Human Anatomy & Physiology 201 and Nutrition, and Human Anatomy & Physiology 202 and Microbiology are also other great pairs.
Making a Grad Plan is basically the sum of what we’ve talked about thus far. Write it all out and organize the classes into the anticipated semester. This will be the perfect tool in having a goal of when to graduate by and knowing what classes should be taken when. Many schools offer a template like this, called a Course Sequence, but of course it will vary student to student.
3. Take your co-requisites before entering the program
Confession: I accidentally did this. 2nd Confession: Best decision (but not really my decision) I ever made. I anticipated applying to nursing school last semester and starting in this current semester (Spring 2017). The reason I didn’t is I didn’t follow my own advice! By the time I went to go look at the deadlines, I realized that my nursing application had been due the day BEFORE! It flew right by me. By default, I had this extra, current semester to take more classes before going into the program. In most nursing programs, like mine, each semester consists of a “block” which is an 8-10 credit class (breathe..you’ll be okay, at least that’s what I keep telling myself), and a similar course(s) to go with it. My school’s course sequence looks like this:
First Semester – Block One, Pharmacology, BIO 202 (A&P)
Second Semester – Block Two, Human Pathophysiology, ENG 101
Third Semester – Block Three, Nutrition, ENG 102
Fourth Semester – Block Four, Microbiology
Most people don’t realize that all those non-block classes, co-requisites, can be taken outside of the nursing program by anyone. So with this extra semester, I got a head start in these. I am currently taking BIO 202, Microbiology, and Statistics (needed for my RN-BSN program in a few years). I will be taking Pathophysiology over the summer, and I already took both Englishes in high school. This leaves me with only Pharmacology my first semester, and I will spend the rest of the program focusing solely on those ridiculous block classes. A nursing student needs any sanity she/he can get, right?! I highly recommend taking a semester to get ahead on these, so you will be more focused and less crazy later.
4. Acquire your CNA and work if possible
Not all programs require you to be a Certified Nursing Assistant/Aide, but many, many do. If this is something that is required, make sure to take those classes and become certified well before the application deadline, because it usually takes a few months to do so. Even if it isn’t asked of you, you may want to consider it anyway. It will help you become a better nurse, and also help you make sure that Nursing is the right field for you. Nursing is a HARD career, and many students realize it’s not for them while pursuing their certification or working in the nursing field. It’s better to find that out before spending a ton of time, money, and unneeded stress over nursing school. Once you become certified, it’s a good idea to get in some work experience. I worked as a CNA for 8 months, and it has been my favorite job ever. It was emotionally and physically exhausting, but so worth it. I still tear up thinking about all the sweet moments I had as a nursing assistant. Plus those reference letters will come in handy for your application!
5. Fingerprint Clearance Card
If you last-minute realize your application is due next week, this sucker will be your buzzkill. Depending on your state, it usually takes 3-6 months to receive your fingerprint clearance card. TIP: If you end up in a time crunch, see if your state offers an online process for fingerprinting. You apply and fill out the paper work online and are able to go get prints done locally by the next day. In my state, I was told it would take 4-6 weeks, but I got mine in just over 2 weeks. The only drawback of the online route is it’s more expensive than the original paper way.
6. Entrance Exams
Before submitting your application to your nursing institution, you’ll need to take and pass an entrance exam. There are many different exams used as Nursing program entrance exams – the most common ones being:
- NLN PAX – National League for Nursing Pre-Admission Exam
- TEAS – Test of Essential Academic Skills (the one I took)
- HOBET – Health Occupations Basic Entrance Test
- HESI – Health Education Systems, Inc Exam
Get in touch with your institution to find out which one they require, what score is considered “passing”, and if retakes are allowed. Begin preparing for it as soon as possible. Study guides and practice quizzes can often be found in your school’s library or online. TIP: The earlier you take it, the better so that you can have time to study again and retake it (if allowed) in case you fail the first time around.
I took the TEAS and was required to get a 60%. It was separated into 4 sections – Reading, Math, Science/Anatomy, and English. We were given 4 hours to complete it; and I finished it in about 2. In my opinion the Reading, Math, and English were all things you should excel in if you graduated high school. The anatomy was much more difficult, even with all the anatomy classes I’ve taken..Good thing I only needed a 60%!
Last but not least, pray! And soak up these last few months of being a normal person. We are coming up on such a stressful time of our lives but I know it will be so worth it! Best of luck to all you aspiring student nurses out there! We can do it!