Understanding the path to your education is key in your success to becoming a nurse. Having a plan and implementing it will help you to be successful on this journey. Here is our step by step guide that will teach you how to become a nurse while using your time intelligently and safely through the process.
Choose Where you are in your Education.
The Pre Requisites for nursing school are often as daunting as the actual schooling itself. Many people consider going to nursing school and then once seeing how much work it will actually take to get into nursing school, reconsider and choose a different path. The Pre-reqs are not easy, but very few things are that are worthwhile. Don’t let these pre-reqs get in your way.
The pre-reqs will usually take you four semesters from start to finish.
- Semester one – Chemistry – Chemistry is a requirement in order to take the actual pre-requisites classes. This will be the first class you will want to tackle and is usually the gateway to all of the big science courses. Take this class very seriously…many people tend to come into this class unprepared and fall behind quickly.
- Semester two – Microbiology – Microbiology is often seen as one of the more enjoyable classes in the nursing pre-reqs. This class is difficult, but enjoyable at the same time. You could take this class at the same time as Anatomy and Physiology Part One, just remember that you need an “A”. Most nurses will recommend against taking them both at the same time. However you alone know your study skills and abilities, just be careful and remember slow and steady wins the race!
- Semester three– Anatomy and Physiology Part 1 – This class is different depending on where you take the course. Sometimes schools break the course up into Anatomy or Physiology, or they mix the two together and concentrate on body systems. These courses are difficult if you don’t have the right study skills. Flash cards for this type of course are highly recommended.
- Semester four– Anatomy and Physiology Part 2- The second half of Anatomy and Physiology. If you were able to get an “A” in Anatomy and Physiology in the first set, the second set will be even easier. Not because it is an easy course but because you will now have the hang of the course work. Since you are finishing your pre-reqs make sure to be mindful of your nursing application deadlines.
Often further Pre-requisites for nursing school will be Nutrition, Human Development, and Drug Calculations, fit these into the above semesters. Obviously make sure which requirements your college specifically needs.
1. You must STRIVE to get A’s in Microbiology, and the Anatomy and Physiology set. Nursing school is highly competitive and having A’s in these courses are often times a must to be in the running as a candidate. Be very careful about which teachers you take these classes with. Research the professor on rate my professor prior to taking these classes. They will be challenging no matter what, but having a great professor can be the key between a “B” and an “A”.
2. Anatomy and Physiology and Microbiology are often times impacted courses. Apply to all of them. The Part one Anatomy class is the hardest one to get into out of the bunch. If you get into it, put it in front of Microbiology course and take Microbiology the second semester.
Getting into Nursing School
Depending on which nursing school you are applying to there are various different criteria they will use to select candidates. Most schools go on a point system. Some schools use a raffle system. However often times in the raffle system, they have a strict point system one must achieve in order to enter the raffle. Usually criteria that will increase your point scoring will be:
- Having a High GPA in the Science Pre-reqs (Highly Weighted)
- High Score on the TEAS Entrance Exam (Highly Weighted)
- Knowing A Second Language
- Working in the Healthcare Field Prior to Applying (EMT, Paramedic, LPN, CNA, Phlebotomist, Medical Assistant)
- Having a High GPA in non pre-requisite courses
- Volunteer Work
Getting an AA in nursing is the minimum requirement for applying for a License as a Registered Nurse. How long it takes to get your AA degree depends on which program you are accepted into.
These programs Usually take two years. The program, like all nursing programs, will include course work and clinical rotations. Some colleges will offer accelerated programs. These programs will usually be 14 month programs in length and are quite a bit more aggressive in the speed and flow of their curriculum.
Another option some students will have is an accelerated LPN to RN course and some states are even allowing Paramedic to RN courses now. These courses vary in length from 12-14 months. Be very careful when using these programs, make sure and call your state Nurse Registry and inquire what the requirements are for these programs in your state. For instance California does not currently allow the Paramedic to RN program as a viable route to earning a license and working in California. However the courses are still taught in California. Just be careful and make sure that the school is a viable choice for the state you are in.
The Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing is the recommended degree for nurses. While the AA will help you get your foot into the door in the nursing job market, there is a growing number of BSN holding nurses and a decreasing amount of nursing jobs. Thus the Nurses with their BSN’s are in a much better situation to get hired.
Many four year colleges offer this as part of their nursing program curriculum. The added coursework is usually simply implemented into the nursing program and the end result is after the two year program you have your BSN.
If you are coming from a community college the BSN usually requires a years worth of coursework after the Associates Degree. These courses can be taken at a four year college or they can be taken at other private colleges in your area. Many nurses are choosing to take their BSN course work at an online college such as Phoenix University or Devry. These courses can be expensive, but they are usually fast, easy to get into, and get you to the same place in your education as any other four year college would.
For Further information on the BSN visit here.
If you have your BSN and you are thinking of furthering your education in nursing then the next step would be earning your Masters Degree. Earning a Master’s degree in nursing often times will help to specialize the nurse into certain areas of healthcare. These areas are:
- Nurse Practitioner (NP)
- Certified Nurse Anesthetist CRNA (CRNA)
- Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
- Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM)
These Programs usually take from 18 to 24 months and are often rather intense programs. Not only can it be competitive to get accepted into the programs, but the program itself is quite intensive. This is after all a Master’s program.
For Additional Information visit the Choosing a MSN Degree Page.
The Nursing Doctorate is the highest degree a nurse can achieve. The Nursing Doctorate is usually used for research, clinical practice, professorial roles, health system management, and many other healthcare leaderships roles that require an in depth understanding of the healthcare to patient model.
These programs are usually another three to five years in length. The schooling emphasizes research methodology, statistical and data analysis, and leadership.