7 Things That Nursing Schools Look for in Applicants

Each blog post is dated and contains accurate information as of that date. Certain information may have changed since the blog post publication date. If you would like to confirm the current accuracy of blog information, please visit our ABSN and BSN transfer track overview page or contact admissions at 844.347.2108.

woman sitting at desk looking out window

If you hold a non-nursing bachelor’s degree and are interested in pursuing a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) track may be your best path toward this life-changing profession. Typically, accelerated nursing tracks take about 16–18 months to complete, plus any time necessary to complete the admissions requirements, such as taking prerequisite courses.

Mercer University’s Accelerated BSN track in Atlanta, Georgia, allows highly motivated individuals to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing in as few as 12 months. However, there is more to nursing than academics alone. Just like you consider many factors when applying to nursing school, nursing schools are also on the lookout for personal characteristics that can demonstrate your natural aptitude for nursing.

In this blog we’ll explore seven of the most important qualities you can have as a nursing student, and answer the question “What do nursing schools look for in applicants?”

1. Compassion

You often hear about nursing less in terms of it being a job and more of it being a calling, and there is a great deal of truth to be found in that. The work can be physically demanding, the hours can be long, not everything you do will seem glamorous, and some days will be emotionally challenging. All of this makes it essential that you are a compassionate person who thrives on helping others.

For this reason, nursing school enrollment counselors and other decision makers are very interested in getting to know you and your personal story. Becoming a nurse is a calling that is answered by compassionate individuals who hold a strong desire to care and provide for others. In fact, compassion is increasingly considered an integral component of quality care.

ABSN students in skills lab

2. Dedication

As any nurse will tell you, successfully completing nursing school requires hard work every day. Many consider it among the more challenging things they have done, and this is especially true of an accelerated nursing track such as Mercer University’s 12-month, Atlanta-based Accelerated BSN track.

Over the course of three full-time semesters, you will receive a comprehensive nursing education rooted in holistic and evidence-based practices and core values that contribute to patient-centered care. During this time, you will complete weekly assigned readings and discussion assignments, engage with interactive online learning elements, participate in hands-on skills and simulation labs, and attend clinical rotations around the Metro Atlanta area.

This is a challenging curriculum and learning process by any standard, so knowing your “why” is important to remain dedicated along your journey to becoming a nurse.

3. Good Communication Skills

Nurses spend a great deal of their time on the job communicating with others, whether talking to patients and their family members, charting information for reference by other healthcare professionals, or coordinating patient care with other members of the care team. This makes strong written and verbal communication skills two must-haves.

Keep this in mind as you conduct check-ins with your enrollment counselor throughout the application process, ensuring to clearly communicate any concerns you have.

4. Being a Lifelong Learner

Regardless of the type of nursing degree you earn or the practice area you gravitate toward, as a nurse, it is important to be a committed lifelong learner. Healthcare is constantly changing and evolving. New treatments emerge, electronic records management systems change, protocols evolve, new regulations take effect, and nurses must stay up-to-date on all of these changes. In fact, many hospitals and even some state nursing boards require RNs to take continuing education (CE) courses each year.

Students in class

Because of this, nursing school faculty want to know that you are intellectually curious — that you are driven to learn as much as you can. This trait is especially important for accelerated nursing school students, because not only is there a lot to learn, there is an accelerated timeframe to learn it within.

5. Being Organized

Learning something as complex as modern nursing practice in 12 months necessitates excellent organizational skills. Successful ABSN students set schedules and stick to them (including when they intend to study, complete assignments, etc.), are good note-takers (and keep their notes organized), retain all of their old assignments, and always show up for clinicals, labs, and exams on time.

Not only will organization help you as a nursing student, but it will also translate into professional practice as a nurse. After all, nurses must take excellent notes on patients as well as manage the care of many different people at the same time.

6. Having High Academic Standards

Every nursing school has different requirements for acceptance, though most tend to be looking for similar characteristics, like a competitive GPA. Before you apply to any nursing track you should be aware of the admissions requirements because getting into nursing school is very competitive.

Before you speak with an enrollment counselor, write an admissions essay, or fill out your application, make sure you research what nursing schools look for in prospective students. The way you tailor your interactions when applying to nursing school can help demonstrate your academic commitment as well as personal drive, and showcase that you have the makings of a great student and nurse.

7. Preparation

Accelerated nursing school is a big decision, which is why we recommend students view Mercer’s ABSN track as a full-time commitment. It is also why your enrollment counselor wants to get to know you – they know what it takes to be successful in Mercer’s ABSN track and want to ensure Mercer can help you begin achieving your goals.

students sitting with laptop

Personal Preparation

Well-prepared students know that it is important to create expectations with friends and family. They need to know that you may not be as present at social outings or that you may need some extra help — for example, with watching your kids if you are a parent — while you are studying to become a nurse.

However, do not wait to get into nursing school to make important arrangements, such as arranging for childcare. It is best to have a plan in advance of applying — and being able to discuss your plans with your enrollment counselor will show them that you will approach nursing school with a similar level of preparation, and that is important.

Academic Preparation

To be successful in nursing school, it is important to proactively complete assignments and study for tests in advance. Nursing students who show up for ready for labs and clinical sessions are often better positioned to form connections that can ultimately lead to job offers after graduation.

ABSN student in gray scrubs standing in hallway

Make Your Nursing Dream a Reality in as Few as 12 Months with Mercer’s ABSN

If you hold a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, Mercer’s ABSN track in Atlanta, Georgia, could be an accelerated path to a rewarding new career.

Mercer’s Accelerated BSN track makes it possible to earn your nursing degree in as few as 12 months, so you graduate ready to sit for the NCLEX and to make a difference in whatever healthcare setting you find yourself in. Speak with an enrollment counselor today to get started.