By Josephine Reid
A minimum requirement for getting into nursing school is getting a high school education. No matter whether you are receiving a high school diploma or GED (General Education Diploma), it is a must. Nursing schools look for candidates who show a passion for nursing, but also have some of the prerequisites as a solid foundation.
A way to add to a firm foundation as well adding to your resume while you’re finishing up the required prerequisites is to volunteer at a local clinic or hospital. You might not earn a stable salary this way, but you’ll definitely gain self-wealth from the experience, which could bring you a few steps closer to getting into the nursing program of your dreams. Later you'll be able to see if you’re qualified to work as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) or registered nurse aid to result in compensation.
It is also important to weigh your options and do your research when looking at potential nursing programs. Explore your options until you find the program that feels like the perfect fit for your learning style, location and everyday lifestyle.
Two Years or Four?
To start off, there are a few different nursing career paths you can take. The type of program you’re looking for might vary depending on the particular nursing program requirements.
A licensed practical nurse (LPN) is considered the next step up from working as a CNA. Becoming an LPN usually takes about a year to complete and qualifies you to administer medicine, check patients’ vital signs and perform a variety of tasks under a supervising registered nurse (RN). It takes an associate degree to become an RN, which typically means two years of schooling. RNs are the direct connection to patients, coordinating necessary medical care, education and support.
Going further to earn your bachelor’s of science degree in nursing (BSN) which takes approximately four years and would qualify you to take a job as a nurse manager, such as supervising a staff of RNs.
Filling out an application for a nursing program requires the same amount of work and time spent as the researching portion of the process. It is also important to pay strict attention to any deadlines, these should be posted on the school's website. Most schools will provide a nursing information session for prospective students who are looking to learn more about their program; they may even be required with the enrollment of courses at their school.
One of the basic requirements for enrolling in nursing school is the test of essential academic skills (TEAS). TEAS is a standardized exam proctored through Assessment Technologies Institute for anyone who’s interested in attending school for nursing. It is important to prepare by reading through some helpful tips to manage your stress level in the midst of your journey into and through nursing school.
After the application process, tests and completion of requirements, a school may start to show some interest. You’ll want to make sure all your vaccinations are up-to-date and be ready to submit to a background check. Soon it'll be time to prepare yourself to sit down for an interview with the nursing dean or other high-level faculty from the program of your choice.
Certification is a way that nurses can show their ability to care for certain groups of people, such as children, the elderly or patients with mental illness. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), even though these credentials are earned voluntarily, some employers may insist that the nurses they hire have additional certifications.
Professional organizations, such as the American Nursing Credentialing Center (ANCC), offer a wide array of certifications in diverse specialty areas, including pediatrics, psychiatric care and diabetes management. Another professional organization is the National League for Nursing, which offers certification for nurse educators. Additional education may be required for some certifications depending on the speciality.