The nation's number of registered nursing jobs is expected to grow by 19 percent into 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Practical nursing will grow at an even faster national rate. Knowing you're going to be needed is great, but the first step to becoming a nurse is finding the right program and getting yourself admitted.
Regardless of whether you plan to attend a two- or four-year program, there will likely be some prerequisites for nursing school. The term "prerequisites" applies primarily to academic coursework, but it's important to know a school's non-academic entry requirements.
Associate Degree Prerequisites
An associate degree in nursing (ADN) is a two-year program available at public and private community colleges. The requirements for a two-year degree in Nursing School can be anywhere from 60 to 80 credits, depending on the school. The coursework is concentrated on vocational skills necessary to work as an entry-level nurse and to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Most programs advise completing some combination of prerequisite coursework in English, mathematics, psychology, biology (especially anatomy and physiology), humanities and electives.
Bachelor's Degree Prerequistes
Studying toward your bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN) takes the equivalent of four years, or 120 semester hours of coursework, at a university. Although the BSN is more comprehensive regarding liberal arts, nursing concepts and theory, the entry prerequisites are similar to associate degree programs. Whether you're considering an ADN or BSN program, many recommend you complete them before you apply. This way, you can later concentrate strictly on the program's nursing courses.
Other Admission Requirements
The best nursing schools have rigorous admission criteria, and most programs are highly competitive. All nursing programs have their own unique entry requirements, but also share similarities. Here is an example of what a typical accredited community college requires:
- Completing high school or obtaining your GED. Classes in biology, algebra and chemistry are "strongly suggested"
- Meeting the host college's entrance requirements
- A physical and mental certification of fitness for nursing work
- Having all necessary immunizations
- Being certified in CPR
- A criminal background check and drug testing prior to any clinical fieldwork.
Every school has a website that should describe its own prerequisites for nursing school and admissions requirements. The best way to start your career path is to find the school you want; then, stand out in the admissions process by doing well on all coursework and exams and by submitting all application material in a timely fashion.