Let’s not sugarcoat it: Gaining acceptance to an accredited nursing program can be difficult. The career is in great demand, and competition for slots can be intense. Here are four things you can do to improve your chances of being accepted into a reputable nursing program.
1. Keep Up the Good GradesThere’s far more to being a good nurse than being good at taking tests. But, unfortunately, tests, and grades, remain the shorthand standards by which most prospective students are judged. You won’t necessarily be expected to maintain a 4.0 GPA—most programs have a minimal cutoff of about 2.75 GPA for entry.
But the higher your grades the better your chances when it comes to competing with otherwise equally-qualified applicants. Give special consideration to science courses, too. Higher grades in hard sciences or higher mathematics, such as anatomy, biology, chemistry, physics, calculus, or statistics, can go a long way towards counterbalancing any low grades you may have earned in subjects of less interest to nursing admissions personnel. Few admissions counselors will hold it against you if you failed to earn above a C in philosophy, for example. But a C in biology could raise a red flag. From a medical educator’s perspective, struggling with Nietzsche is one thing. Struggling with a basic life science is another.
2. Do Your HomeworkIt’s helpful to do your research. Not the assigned kind. The kind where you take initiative and research admissions policies and procedures at the institutions you’re interested in. Nursing programs often involve jumping through hoops not required by other majors or areas of study. Examples include background checks and/or drug testing.
Many require you to take the Health Education Systems Incorporated (HESI) exam, and to achieve at least a score of 75% in order to be considered for admission. The standardized exam provides an overview of your knowledge of core subjects, such as science, English and math. Scoring well on the exam is also a good indicator that you will do well on the NCLEX-RN exam, which you will eventually be required to pass, to obtain certification.