How to Get Into Nursing School

NursingDecember 12, 2016

You have graduated from high school, so now what? If you have decided to pursue an Associate’s Degree in nursing, congratulations! You have taken the first step towards a rewarding career in nursing. Maybe you even have a track record of volunteering at a local hospital, clinic, or nursing home. Although it is not required, anything that demonstrates a desire and willingness to help others in need could be a plus for you.

Here are some steps to take to put yourself on a path towards getting accepted and taking your first associates in nursing courses.

  1. Delve into the requirements at various nursing schools or online nursing programs. Different students have different needs and learning styles. Consider which career path works best for you. Many nurses begin their career journeys by becoming Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs). Certification takes roughly a year to obtain. Afterwards, you will be qualified to do certain important tasks such as taking and recording vitals and dispensing medications—albeit under the supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN). For most nurses, the ultimate goal is to become a RN. As a RN you will be eligible for better pay and more responsibility than a LPN. Getting an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN), which takes about two years, is a good way to become a RN. After obtaining RN licensure, many nurses further their education and career options by earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.

  2. Apply to your top choice. Once you have decided on a program, whether it is at a bricks-and-mortar institution or an online school of nursing, it is time to apply to your top-choice school, or schools. Follow application guidelines carefully. As a working nurse, you will be expected to do your job attentively and carefully, so following all steps during the application process is important. It is your first chance to show your ability to pay close attention to detail. Take special care with any personal essay requirement. This segment of the application, if applicable, can help you stand out from other candidates. This is your opportunity to shine as an individual. Any anecdotes you can share that illustrate your determination, perseverance, or dedication can be helpful. The idea in both your essay and later in your personal interview is to sell yourself. Do not be shy about it.

  3. Participate in a nursing information session offered by your chosen school. Some schools will actually require attendance as an integral step in the application process. View this session as an excellent opportunity to size up the programs and staff at the school. Do not be shy, ask questions. You are shopping for the right fit just as administrators are looking for the best, most qualified student candidates.

  4. Prepare for and take the TEAS or HESI test. The Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) is an important initial step on the road towards obtaining your associate’s degree in nursing, at least at some schools. Others require you to take and pass the Health Educations Systems Incorporated (HESI) Admissions Assessment exam.  Some schools do not require an entrance exam. These standardized exams should be viewed not as hurdles to overcome, but as beneficial opportunities to practice test taking. After all, you will be taking many more tests and exams as you continue to pursue final RN certification. Nursing is a career that never stands still. Hence, continuing education is of paramount importance throughout one’s nursing career.

  5. Ace your entrance interview. Be aware that the school you are interested in attending will probably require a background check and an entrance interview before you are accepted. You will also be asked to supply a record of required vaccinations. In order to make a good impression in your interview (usually with experienced nurses or administrators), you should be able to show that you are aware of the program’s particulars. The rest is about being professional in appearance and demeanor, and showing some enthusiasm for the challenges ahead. Remember, your interviewers want you to succeed. They simply wish to get a sense of your temperament, advance preparation, and commitment level. This is also a good opportunity for you to learn more about the program and the educators you will be working with.