So, you have chosen to pursue a career in nursing. CONGRATS! Discovering what you want to do for the rest of your life is no small feat. I hear nothing but incredible stories about the nursing profession and am excited that you have also decided to embark on this journey. If you're like me, you would have already had a Bachelor's degree in a Non-nursing major. Having studied at UC San Diego where there was no nursing major, I didn't really decide to pursue nursing until later in my college career when I had my facts together. If you are still figuring it all out after completing a Bachelor's degree, and are considering nursing, welcome! This is the post for you!
In summary, here are some basic requirements you should keep track of:
*** Most of the accelerated programs I applied to had a SUMMER start (with the exception of some Fall), so be sure to make note of this before applying -- also, most applications are due beginning of the Fall semester (mainly around October - December)
***Also as a side note, applying to nursing programs ARE NOT ROLLING ADMISSIONS. So seriously take your time in applying. I clicked submit roughly 2 days before an application was due in case of website glitches, but I did submit an application or two literally the day before >.<
--> You will have graduated with a BACHELOR'S DEGREE in a non-nursing major by the time you apply - OR will have obtained your Bachelor's Degree by the start of the nursing program -- this is the beauty of ACCELERATED nursing programs -- they understand you want to pursue a career in nursing, but perhaps your college didn't have a nursing major, you had a passion for a different major, you want a career change, etc.
--> You will have completed these general PREREQUISITES before the start of the nursing program:
- Anatomy (with lab)
- Physiology (with lab)
- Microbiology (with lab)
- Developmental Psychology
- English Course / Writing ((Columbia required this, but not all schools do))
- Biology with lab ((UPenn required this, but not all schools do))
- Chemistry with lab ((UPenn required this, but not all schools do))
- Healthcare Ethics (optional at UPenn, most schools don't require)
***NOTE: Most schools will allow some of these prerequisites to be pending by the time you submit your application, some may require ALL pre-requisites to be officially graded by the time you submit)
--> TAKE THE GRE -- you will need to be able to submit official scores by the time you submit your application, and most official scores aren't available until 10-15 days after you take the test. And then it may take another day or two to electronically send over to the school you want.
I gave myself about two and a half months to study for the test. I wish I gave myself more time, but, oh well. I did it! I scored very average... Perfect segway into the next requirement -->
--> WRITE A KICK ASS PERSONAL STATEMENT -- there's not much else to be said here. When it comes to nursing programs, good GPA and GRE scores are great.. but your personal statement is a deal breaker in many cases. The personal statement is a place to showcase your narrative -- who YOU are as a person... the things you've done, how it's affected you, how it's inspired you, what your true goals are, etc. etc. Most prompts are generally the same, so once you just start one, it's a good base for the other schools. BUT OF COURSE -- PERSONALIZE each personal statement to each school. It's important for the school to know you've researched their program, know what's unique about their program, and why you would be a good fit there.
--> CLEAN UP YOUR RESUME -- There are endless amounts of resources on the internet to help with this requirement. The resume is a place to show the admissions committee everything you've been involved in. And of course, tailor your resume to applying to nursing school. Use strong verbs to show you can take charge, be a leader, delegate, produce, collaborate, spearheaded, aid, supervise, design, organize, create, assist, manage, raise, plan, contribute, provide, educate, facilitate, participate, execute, the list goes on.
--> LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION -- most schools require 3 letters of recommendation, so if you are still figuring out which schools you want to even apply to, just start thinking about 3 individuals to write you killer letters. My suggestion is to have at least one be from a professor. Some schools may even require one to be from a professor, so it doesn't hurt to start going to those office hours! Remember, choose people who you think would be able to best describe your abilities to succeed as a student, as a nurse, and how you can contribute as a professional.
HERE IS HOW I ASKED MY LETTER OF REC INDIVIDUALS:
- FIRST -- I would send them a nice email about 3-4 months BEFORE an application is due (this time frame worked perfectly for me since I wanted to really have all my materials together at least a week before an application was due). Within this email I would describe a little bit about the program and my interests in nursing (try to meet them in person if you can!). Then ask if they are willing to write you a letter of recommendation. ONCE you get the OK, I would proceed to...
- Mention explicitly what types of things the schools are looking for in their potential students, and how I embody those characteristics through class (if I'm asking a professor) or through my work (if I'm asking an employer or volunteer coordinator) -- this way, it makes it easier and clear for the letter of rec writer. I am ALL ABOUT spelling it out for them and providing them with as much information about myself and what the program is about so that they don't have to stress about it.
- Then I would let them know that I have more information they can view attached to the email so they have a more well-rounded view of who I am as an applicant (ie. personal statement (try to have this for them, or at least a really good rough draft) AND resume)
- And of course, once you see that they have uploaded letters of recommendation to all your applications, I would send a really nice email thanking them for their time. I also sent cards with a little gift to each person.
And there you have it! A nice, clean, application ready to be submitted! Keep in touch with your letter of rec writers if they are slacking on uploading the documents.. and then the next step -- the horrid WAIT. Trust me, you will be dying to scour allnurses forums seeing if anyone has any update on their application. Be patient, y'all. Go on with your lives and keep yourself distracted!
In the mean time... some schools may invite you to interview if it's a part of their process.. and some may not! I will create another post about interviews soon! Keep calm!
QUESTIONS? Leave me a comment on the left side bar on the main BLOG page, or write to me on the CONTACT page! :) Good luck!