There is a shortage of nurses throughout the United States, a profession that has an estimated 16% growth rate from now until 2024. This rate of growth is faster than average, which would make you believe that getting into a nursing program would be more simplified. That, however, is actually not the case. Thousands of prospective nursing students are denied entry into nursing programs every year as not only is there a shortage of nurses, but a shortage of nursing educators as well.
Getting into a nursing program isn’t impossible, it may just take more effort on your part. We’ve outlined some tips that will help you better prepare and get accepted into a nursing program. Following these tips, as they apply, will help you be on your a-game when it’s time to submit applications.
- Make a Presence in Your Community: Volunteer work is excellent to include on your application, especially in a health care setting, such as a hospital. This works well with your essay when you are explaining why you want to be a nurse. Institutions like to be sure prospective students have researched the nursing field to be sure it is a good fit for them. Another great factor that weighs very positively on your application is if you become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). Training programs are often offered at long-term care facilities, hospitals and nursing homes at little or no cost.
- Letters of Recommendation: Ask the connections you’ve made in your community or health-related field to write recommendations that you can include with your applications. Before submitting them, you should carefully go over them to be sure they are well-written and easy to understand.
- Write a Top-Notch Essay: A well-crafted essay may be the deciding factor for entry into a nursing program. Before writing your essay, practice by writing out a few rough drafts. Your essay should be as compelling and unique as possible. It should include why you want to pursue a nursing career and how you hope to make a positive impact. Be sure your essay is detailed and personalized. Its good practice to mention in your essays why you have selected that particular program, making it understood why their program is the right one for you.
- Submit a High Quality & Error-Free Application: Your application should be proofread by you and other friends or family. Be sure there are no missing checkmarks or answers. Also, nurses should have excellent organization skills. So, be sure your application is neat in appearance and possibly even with special packaging, but be careful not to overdo it. This is where your letters of recommendation should be included. Admissions counselors like to see applications from students who are motivated and committed to academic and personal growth. It’s ideal to be able to show your involvement in a volunteer program, athletics, student government and other clubs and activities. In terms of academics, it is ideal to have completed all of your prerequisites if possible. Many nursing programs require a GPA of 3.0, but strive to be as close to 4.0 as best as you can.
- Make Yourself Known: It’s a great idea to visit your school of choice. You may even be able to set up an appointment time to meet with the nursing advisor, or possibly sit in on some classes offered in the nursing program. Before visiting, be sure you’ve read everything you can about the school and its nursing program online so you are better versed for conversation. Make certain to be very polite to all the staff, you would be surprised how much influence a secretary might have. If you have the opportunity to meet privately with the nursing advisor, thank her/him for their time by following up your visit with a personalized thank you note.
- Prepare for Your Entrance Interview: If you don’t have a lot of experience interviewing, this may be an intimidating experience. So, you want to do everything you possibly can to impress your interviewer, who frequently plays a large part in your acceptance. Consider these tips for preparation:
- Arrive Prepared – Have a friend or family member ask you some practice interview questions so you’re not pondering around for an answer at the actual interview. Be sure to bring a well-polished copy of your resume and your nursing license.
- Dress Appropriately – Remember, if you are applying for admission into a nursing program you should dress as if it were a job interview. You want to look and be perceived as professional. So, take a good look at yourself before you go to be sure nothing negative about your attire will pop-out at the interviewer, like scuffs on your shoes or a stain on your shirt.