Hi everyone! Sorry for the bit of a delay! I wrapped up my first week back for Spring semester and trying to catch up breath. What can you expect out of an accelerated program cramming essentially a BSN and Master's degree into 15 months, am I right?
Since starting my blog, I've gotten a decent amount of emails from you all with questions I have answers to that could potentially benefit others! So without further ado, let's dive in:
1. I am considering nursing as a profession, and was wondering what made you want to become a nurse?
I was actually just reviewing my post about why I chose nursing as a profession which could be found here: http://sincerelymeagan.wixsite.com/nptrek/single-post/2016/05/06/Why-did-I-choose-to-pursue-a-career-in-nursing
I fell in love with the nursing profession because of its focus in health promotion and health education. There is such a strong focus on preventative medicine and patient centered care when it comes to nursing. Having been a peer health educator in undergrad and witnessing the impact I had on my campus community through interactive health education, I knew this was something I wanted to hold close to me in my future profession. I love working with children, adults, geriatric patients... and that is why I chose the Family NP route. I intend on subspecializing in Women's Health since it's still a strong passion and interest of mine. Specializing in Family would hopefully open more doors for me and allow for more flexibility in the future.
2. Were you always strong in science/math? I have always considered myself to be a humanities person, so that would be a barrier for me to becoming a nurse.
Although I majored in Human Bio, I was not the best at biology. Let's just say... UC San Diego kicked my butt - it was a difficult time for me. I believe the humanities will help you be a unique applicant and is in no way a barrier. Nursing is becoming more and more of a second career. In my cohort, there are students who have recently graduated undergrad, but there are also individuals who haven't been in school for 10 years, worked as a lawyer, a business person, a single parent with two children, etc. What nursing schools are really looking for are individuals who are genuinely interested in the career and have qualities that would make an excellent nurse.
3. What was your undergrad GPA and GRE scores?
I will say that most accelerated nursing programs (you already have a non-nursing Bachelor's degree) will require a minimum of 3.0. I had around a 3.1 and my GRE scores were somewhere between 50th - 65th percentile. My pre-requisite GPA was probably closer to a 4.0 As you can tell, my scores were super mediocre. For accelerated nursing programs, they are really looking who you are as a person and what you can bring to the nursing profession from your past experiences.
If you are a high school student deciding to apply to a 4 year college that has a BSN degree, you will probably want to have somewhere above a 3.5 and good SAT scores.
4. I am a high school student interested in becoming a NP but I am not sure if I want to major in nursing. What are my options later down the road?
Here are some options you can take if NP is you overall goal (keep in mind length of time of the program varies between individual schools):
A) Attend a four year university graduating with a BSN, eligible to take NCLEX and become a RN
- Then attend a MSN program that grants a NP certificate afterwards (about 2 years)
- Apply to, and attend a DNP program (about 3 years for those with only a BSN)
B) Attend a four year university graduating with a Bachelor in Non-nursing (plus taking all the nursing prerequisites)
-Then attend an Accelerated Bachelor of Nursing (ABSN) program to obtain your BSN, eligible to take NCLEX and become RN (about 1-1.2 years)
- Then attend a Master's nursing program (the kinds that accept students with a BSN) -- these programs grant NP certificate (about 1.5-2years)
- You can also go on to obtain the Doctorate in the future if that is something you would like
C) Attend a four year university graduating with a Bachelor in Non-nursing (plus taking all the nursing prerequisites) -- aka my route!
- Then attend a direct entry master's in nursing program (often called direct entry master's in nursing, or master's entry in nursing programs -- these MSN programs are for those with non-nursing majors) -- these programs CAN grant NP certificate (Columbia University does not. They require that you go on to the Doctorate in order to obtain NP licensure)
-After receiving master's, go on to obtaining DNP degree in order to obtain NP licensure
It can get confusing -- so do your research!
5. I just decided to reach out and contact you to see if you have any advice for prospective applicants for accelerated nursing programs?
As far as advice goes, just make sure to take your time and truly work on your personal statement, resume/CV, and obtaining quality letters of recommendation. These aspects of your application are what you currently have control over. GPA and GRE scores are pretty much done and over with, so focus your energies on making yourself shine through those other aspects I listed. Make sure to complete your applications accurately and on TIME! Sometimes prereqs vary between schools, so make sure you meet the requirements. Also, taking the prereqs at community college or a junior college may be easier than at your four year university.
6. Do you think jumping into the nursing profession at the Master's level lowers your job prospects? As opposed to getting your Bachelor's degree first.
Nope! I actually met with a couple of Columbia Nursing administrative staff and asked them this question for you guys. Since Columbia has removed the Bachelor's portion all together and are now moving into the Master's/Doctorate combo, they are committed to advancing nursing education and clinically preparing their students for their careers. There are still classes and amount of clinical exposure, etc, etc that schools are mandated to cover in their programs. I think what most employers are really concerned with is that you have passed your NCLEX (so you're now a licensed registered nurse) and can do the job.
7. What are some of your favorite things about Columbia Nursing?
The CLINICAL EXPERIENCES! I love love love that Columbia rotates us at 5 weeks at a time in different clinical settings. As some of you know, we go through these 5x5 rotations (5 specialities, 5 weeks at a time). In each of these rotations, we are placed in different parts of NYC (how exciting!) -- in the Bronx, community settings (like in Chinatown), all up and down Manhattan, and there's even a site in Nyack (upstate). It's a great opportunity to be exposed to a variety of patient populations. I also love that Columbia is in NYC. It's an expensive place to live... but I can't imagine a better time in my life to let myself explore a brand new city. The quality of students they accept is pretty great, too. Everyone is pretty friendly and eager to help one another!
8. What schools did you apply to? When did you hear back from the schools?
You can find the answer in this blog post here: http://sincerelymeagan.wixsite.com/nptrek/single-post/2016/03/17/Accelerated-Nursing-School-Admissions-Summary
9. How intense is the work load at Columbia?
! Columbia's MDE program is pretty intensive. Any accelerated nursing program will be what it is exactly called -- accelerated. So it's really important to just stay on top of the pace. However, I am having a great time learning both in the classroom and in the hospital. The grading is definitely fair. I am finding myself doing really well here, something that came as a surprise as I struggled throughout college at UC San Diego.
To give you some insight -- this past summer semester, I took 19 units. In the fall semester, I crammed in 21 units. I also had class today from 9am-5pm with a 10 minute lunch break. Oy, it's been a long day. A lot of hard work, but I am hopeful for a great future ahead!
10. Why become a nurse practitioner as opposed to becoming a doctor or PA?
GREAT question! I feel like answering this question in a blog post of its own some other day :)
I hope this is helpful to you all! Best of luck with your journeys ahead! Have a great week.