Now, more than ever, the United States needs skilled nurses, particularly those with BSN degrees. However, getting into a good nursing program is highly competitive, with few schools able to accept as many students as are needed to meet the growing demand. Nor is nursing school easy, and for good reason: nurses carry a great deal of responsibility, requiring them to be well versed in clinical knowledge, as well as to possess critical soft skills like compassion, empathy, and patience.
To help you on your journey toward becoming a nurse, we will be discussing advice for nursing students, specifically what you need to know about getting into and succeeding in Mercer University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) track in Atlanta.
How Can You Improve Your Chances of Getting Into?
We have outlined seven ways to improve your chances of getting into nursing school that also double as valuable advice for nursing students, whether they just started nursing school or are nearing graduation.
1. Reach Out.
Before you even think about applying to nursing school, you need to talk to an enrollment counselor. He or she will walk you through every step of the process, discuss your previous academic experience (including how to submit your transcript for review), and explain how the program works. After your initial enrollment call, your counselor will follow up to help you create a plan for applying.
Your individualized plan will include:
- Which prerequisites you will need to take and where so that they count
- Ways to improve your chances of being accepted, which could mean retaking a past course to raise your GPA
- A timeline for submitting various paperwork, fulfilling requirements such as taking the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS), and formally applying
This advice is not just for prospective students, though. In nursing school — especially a fast-paced program like Mercer ABSN — you have to be willing to reach out and ask for help when you need it. Failing to do so could result in you falling behind.
2. Tell a Compelling Story.
No doubt, you have heard of an elevator pitch — those precious 30 seconds you have to communicate who you are, what you bring to the table, and so on. Well, that same concept applies to why you want to be a nurse. When you call to talk to an enrollment counselor, you will be asked why you want to be a nurse, and how you answer shows your level of seriousness. Remember, being a nurse is no ordinary job. It requires not only hard work and commitment but also patience, compassion, empathy, and a strong stomach. Being able to communicate why you want to be a nurse will not only benefit you in talking to your counselor, it will also help you to write a more compelling admissions essay when the time comes.
The ability to tell a compelling story will also benefit you in the online discussion posts and essays you will complete as part of your coursework. Even further down the road, being able to explain why you feel passionate about nursing will benefit you when it comes time to interview for your first nursing job.
3. Be Open to Advice.
Mercer’s Accelerated BSN track was created to afford individuals who already hold a non-nursing bachelor’s degree the opportunity to pursue a rewarding career in nursing. However, just because nurses are in high demand does not mean it is easy to get into nursing school. The good news is your enrollment counselor is there to help you get in — but you must be willing to take his or her advice. If, for example, your counselor recommends retaking a course to improve your GPA and thus your chances of being accepted, it is in your best interest to heed the advice.
This goes doubly for your interactions with your instructors, especially in labs and clinicals. Remember, feedback on how you could have better handled a simulation or answered an essay question comes from a genuine desire to help you be the best nurse you can be. Not to mention, receptivity toward feedback is critical in healthcare and will show your commitment to lifelong learning.
4. Take Detailed Notes.
Your enrollment counselor will communicate important details with you; however, it is a good idea to get in the habit of writing things down now, because you will be taking a lot of notes in nursing school. Not to mention, countless studies have shown a number of benefits to taking notes, such as improved memorization and recall.
5. Keep a Calendar.
Also a good idea? Keeping a calendar of important dates, and that goes for both the enrollment process as well as your time in the ABSN track, when you will have a busy schedule of assignments, clinicals, exams, and labs.
6. Have a Plan.
It is common for adult learners to want to work while in school. After all, you may have held a part-time job while earning your previous degree. Nursing school — in particular, our 12-month ABSN track in Atlanta — is different, though. You are going to learn a lot in a short amount of time. You will also have skills and simulation labs, tests, and clinicals to attend. All of this adds up to a substantial time commitment.
Before beginning school, you should not only secure financial aid to cover the cost of school and not working, but also talk to your family and friends. Make sure they understand you may be absent from events for a while. If you have children, talk to friends and family in advance to find out whether they can help. Doing so will help minimize stressors when nursing school needs to be your priority.
As with applying for a job, your nursing resume and admissions essay need to be free of typos, grammatical errors, misspellings, and so on, making it critical that you read over everything you submit. However, do not stop there. Ask a trusted friend or family member to look over your resume and essay, and make clear that you want his or her honest feedback … good or bad. The same goes for writing assignments, where taking the time to read over them once more (preferably after giving your eyes and mind a break) could have a substantial impact on your grade.
Why do you need a BSN degree? Early in this post, we mentioned that BSN-prepared nurses are particularly in demand. Here is why.
Answer the Call to Become a Mercer Nurse
With our second degree Accelerated BSN track in Atlanta, Georgia, you can earn your nursing degree in as few 12 months. Our ABSN track features a blended curriculum of online coursework, hands-on skills and simulation labs, and clinical rotations, so you graduate ready to sit for the NCLEX. Give us a call today to start talking to an enrollment counselor.