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How to Get Into Nursing School?

A high school diploma is typically required in order to enter a basic nursing school. After high school, an aspiring nurse can go on to earn a nursing diploma, an associate's degree, a bachelor's degree or a master's degree, depending on his or her career goals. View article »

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  • 0:04 Applying to Nursing School
  • 1:42 Certified Nursing Assistant
  • 2:15 Licensed Practical Nurse
  • 3:09 Registered Nurse
  • 4:01 Nurse Practitioner

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Video Transcript

Applying to Nursing School

Those who are hoping to get into nursing school will need to meet specific education requirements and possess certain qualities that will help them succeed in the field. We'll look over preparation tips and admission requirements for different types of nursing programs.

For many types of nursing programs, a high school diploma is the minimum educational requirement. A high school student planning on entering nursing school after graduation may want to complete high school courses in the following subjects: biology, chemistry, English, and algebra. They may also want to seek opportunities to volunteer at medical facilities or shadow working nurses in order to demonstrate their commitment to the field. When preparing their application, it is important for aspiring nurses to show that they have the skills needed for success in the career. Through academic transcripts, application essays, letters of recommendation, and extracurricular activities, it is important for prospective nursing students to ensure that the following qualities shine through:

  • Critical thinking abilities
  • Communication skills
  • Compassion and emotional stability
  • Attention to detail
  • Organizational abilities

Nursing school applicants can also seek the advice of a guidance counselor or practicing nurse for more application tips. The specific requirements for acceptance into a nursing school depend on the type of program. Here are some of the nursing education options available to students interested in this field.

Certified Nurse Assistant

A student interested in entry-level positions in the nursing field may be interested in becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). Students can earn a CNA certificate in as little as 6-10 weeks at a vocational school or community college. A high school diploma is required for entry. Upon graduation, individuals must sit for the Board of Nursing certification examination in their state of residency. CNAs perform such tasks as cleaning, bathing, and transporting patients.

Licensed Practical Nurse

Prospective nursing students may also be interested in becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). Along with a high school diploma or GED, LPN programs may require student to take the ACT test or specific nursing pre-admission tests. These programs take about a year to finish and can be found at vocational schools or community colleges. Individuals can look up accredited nursing schools through the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing website. Once students finish the program, potential LPNs must pass the National Council Licensure Examination - Practical Nursing to be licensed in their state of residency. Successful completion allows a graduate to work in entry-level LPN positions, performing such tasks as basic patient care and taking vital signs.

Registered Nurse

Earning a Registered Nurse (RN) license is often the best choice for people wishing to get into the nursing field. A background in medicine is not a requirement to enroll in an RN program, but students will need a high school diploma or GED and may have to undergo a background check and meet minimum GPA standards in English, physiology, and anatomy prerequisite courses. Registered nursing programs are available at the diploma, associate's degree, and bachelor's degree levels. Students can find these programs at community colleges, vocational schools, and universities. A passing score on the National Council Licensure Examination - Registered Nursing is needed to become licensed and work as an RN. Registered nurses assist doctors with procedures and work closely with patients.

Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners (NPs) must complete a graduate-level degree program in nursing and be licensed in order to practice. To get into an NP program, individuals usually need to submit bachelor's-level transcripts with a minimum GPA, provide proof of taking prerequisite nursing-related courses, hold a valid RN license, turn in a resume, provide letters of recommendation, and write a statement of goals. In most states, a nurse practitioner works without the supervision of a physician and can even prescribe medications to patients just as a doctor can.

In order to get into nursing school, aspiring nurses need to make sure that they complete the admissions requirements for the specific program they are interested in. Undergraduate and graduate nursing programs are available for a variety of occupations ranging from nursing assistant to nurse practitioner.

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