Nursing School Journey: How to Get In and Taking Pre-requisite Courses

My Nursing school journey started this fall term, and I’m sharing some tips on how to get in and planning out pre-requisite courses.

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Why I Decided on Nursing School

I have a Bachelor’s in Business Finance and Economics, a Master’s in Healthcare Administration Accounting, and in August of 2018 I decided that I wanted to try to get into Nursing school.

WHY would I want to go back to school when I have all of the above?

Sometimes your path takes you to unexpected places, and in this instance, mine led me to this option. I figured - oh, what they hell, why not?

I used to work in hospital EDs (emergency departments), and I found that the experience was my most rewarding professional experience so far. For years, I’ve tossed the idea around in my head, and never really did anything about it, until now.

So I applied to the local community college in August and started classes a couple weeks later.

That was all I had to do - JUMP.

How Nursing Programs Work

My dude was very confused about this nursing business - how can you be a nurse without a Bachelor’s degree?

Well, my dude, it’s like this:

To be a Registered Nurse (RN), you need to graduate from an accredited nursing program that makes you complete all the requirements to apply for and take the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination - Registered Nurse).

You can either get an Associate’s Degree in Nursing or a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing to complete this accredited nursing program requirement.

Choosing Between an Associate’s or Bachelor’s Nursing Program

If you choose the Associate’s route, you spend about 2-3 years in school, depending on your pre-requisite semester(s).

You can take the NCLEX-RN after graduation, get a job, and then depending on your employer, you might need to go back to school to complete your Bachelor’s (you have the ability to do this online, while working as an RN).

If you choose to pursue a Bachelor’s, you spend about 4-6 years in school, also depending on the program.

You can then take the NCLEX-RN after graduation and be done with school, unless you want to move up. In this case, you would go back to school for a Master’s, NP school, whatever you want to move into.

Whatever you decide will depend on what your goals are. If you want to get a job as a nurse quickly, then getting an Associate’s may be something you want to look into.

If you have time to kill and want to get it all out of the way, a Bachelor’s might be for you.

Now, getting accepted into the program… that’s where it’s at.

Signing up for Pre-requisite Courses

Most nursing programs have pre-requisite semesters where you take the basic courses. For my program, these are the required pre-requisites:

  • English Composition I

  • Human Anatomy & Physiology I

  • Human Anatomy & Physiology Lab I

  • Human Growth and Development

  • Microbiology I

  • Microbiology Lab I

Some programs require Arts/Humanities courses to also be completed at some point.

These courses must be completed before applying for official admission into the nursing program.

Getting Considered for Admission to a Nursing Program

At my school, they accept about 80 out of 150 applicants each term. That’s a little over half, so the competition is pretty stiff. However, we’re going to do this!

One thing to note is that pre-requisite grades matter - a lot. If you’re not confident you’ll get an A or B in the class, most people recommend that you drop and retake it the next semester.

The program I will be applying for requires at least a 3.00 (B) grade for consideration, though I’m sure they will choose those with higher grades.

They base admission on a points system. The higher your GPA and/or Grade is, the more points you get:

GPA Points

  • 3.800 - 4.000 = 5 points

  • 3.600 - 3.799 = 4 points

  • 3.400 - 3.599 = 3 points

  • 3.200 - 3.399 = 2 points

  • 3.000 - 3.199 = 1 point

Pre-requisite Grade Points

  • A = 4 points

  • B = 3 points

Do You Need to Take an Entrance Exam

It depends.

My school requires the HESI (Health Education Systems Incorporated) Exam prior to applying for admission. I have 2 tries to take these components and score 80% or higher:

91% or higher = 3 points

86 - 90% = 2 points

80 - 85% = 1 point

  • Reading

  • Math

  • Grammar

  • Anatomy and Physiology

On the Critical Thinking test, I must score 800 or higher:

  • 901 or higher = 3 points

  • 851 - 900 = 2 points

  • 800 - 850 = 1 point

Nursing School Journey: How to Get In and Taking Pre-requisite Courses

My Pre-requisite Courses

This term, I’m taking Human Anatomy and Physiology I Lecture and Lab. I am also studying Biology on my own to make sure that I have the knowledge I need to take Microbiology in the Spring.

A&P is DIFFICULT. If you can take it alone, I highly recommend it, unless you ADORE science and already know most of it.

There is a crap ton of information to be taken in, and I suggest you invest half of your life for the entire term into the course. At least, that’s what I’m trying to do.

This is coming from someone who hasn’t taken or seen a science course since high school… more than a decade ago, so there’s that, haha!

Next term, I would like to take Microbiology and Human Growth & Development. Everything really depends on my grades for A&P.

So there’s the end of the first part of this new series on my blog: Nursing School Journey: How to Get In and Taking Pre-requisite Courses. I hope you found this information useful in your own journey or even to satisfy your curiosity.

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