Spring has officially sprung, which means hopeful nursing school applicants are already hard at work, polishing off their interview skills and trying to find whatever leg up they can to increase their odds of being accepted into the program of their choice.
Obviously, grades play a pivotal role in determining admissions eligibility, but there are other proactive things ambitious students can do to make their applications more attractive.
Here’s are a few best practices to help improve your chances.
Kickstart Your Application with an ACLS Certification Course
Between the years of 2012 and 2015, more than 78,000 prospective nursing school applicants were denied admission.
In other words, the competition to get into nursing school on the first try is extremely fierce.
Leveraging everything within your power to stand out from the crowd is your best bet, and it starts with a strong application.
Creating a powerful, admission-worthy nursing school application, however, takes time and attention.
The best time to get started is now.
You can begin by completing some extracurricular coursework, such as BLS or ACLS.
This demonstrates to decision-makers on the admissions’ panel that you are ambitious and forward-thinking – two things that could help differentiate you from other applicants.
The good news is, obtaining your ACLS certification is super easy – especially with an online program.
Completing your coursework can be done at your own pace, which means even if you’re under the gun to start sending in applications, you can become certified within just a couple of hours.
Other Application Best Practices
The act of preparing your nursing school applications can be cumbersome and challenging.
To make the process go more smoothly and alleviate some of the stress involved, here are a few best practices to follow.
Gather all of the necessary information
Before you begin filling out applications, determine what information you will need and start gathering it sooner rather than later.
For instance, start compiling details about your physical and mental health history. Doing this in advance will reduce back-and-forth and speed up the process once you get started.
Submit your FAFSA and other financial aid documentation.
If you are in need of tuition assistance, the next important step is completing and submitting your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application.
This should be done as soon as possible – well in advance of the start of the school year, as it takes time for processing and awarding of funds.
You may also wish to apply for other financial aid, such as scholarships or grants.
(Here’s a list of scholarships to get you started.)
Review all program pre-requisites.
Each nursing school program has its own set of academic pre-requisites that are necessary in order for a student to be accepted.
For example, in the case of Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) programs, students are often required to complete one or more pre-requisite courses, such as Microbiology or Anatomy.
Additionally, there may also be a time frame requirement as well.
For instance, many programs require that pre-requisite courses be taken within the previous five or 10 years.
Finally, taking the same course a specified number of times (i.e. four) before passing could also hinder admission.
To avoid any unexpected surprises and subsequent delays, you should carefully review all the requirements of the program you are applying for.
If you need assistance with this, the admissions’ counselor should be able to help.
Get a physical that includes a vaccination update.
Because health care workers may be exposed to certain vaccine-preventable and/or communicable diseases in the course of their day-to-day duties, nursing students must meet certain vaccination requirements, as mandated by the CDC.
This is meant to reduce the chances of an outbreak and lessen the spread of disease.
All nursing students must have an up-to-date physical along with proof of the required vaccinations, which typically include the following:
• Hepatitis B
• Varicella (Chickenpox)
• Tdap or Tdap booster
If you previously had the chicken pox, you will likely be required to submit proof of infection and immunity, either via a blood titer or a parent attestation.
Additionally, nursing students must have a recent tuberculosis (TB) test.
Be sure to carefully review all of these requirements, schedule the necessary immunizations and gather all relevant documentation prior to sending in your application.
Sign up and complete your entrance exam.
It’s important to note that the admissions exam for your university of choice may differ from the nursing admissions test.
For instance, some colleges require students to pass the TEAS test in addition to their own entrance exam.
Review all testing requirements for your chosen program and school before you apply, and arrange to take the test as soon as possible.
Also, check to see if your desired school offers an online practice test and take advantage of it, if necessary.
Obtain a state-approved background check.
In the interest of safety, the State Board of Nursing (BON) requires that all nursing school students complete an FBI-level background check before they can be admitted.
Keep in mind, also, that most states require that any and all criminal infractions (including minor traffic violations) be disclosed on the application.
Failure to do so may result in anything from a refusal of licensure to a disciplinary fine.
In other words, be prepared ahead of time and BE HONEST!
Complete extracurricular coursework, such as ACLS certification.
Individuals sitting on the admissions’ board for nursing school take into account a broad spectrum of information about each student being considered.
Students who demonstrate the willingness to complete coursework in addition to the pre-requisite academic classes, can really stand out from the sea of other applicants.
This includes volunteer work in the health care field as well as the completion of certification coursework, such as first aid, CPR, BLS and ACLS certification.
Participating in extracurricular activities such as these can benefit you in a number of other ways, including:
• More options for where you may work, such as critical care environments.
• Greater earning potential.
• Completion of CEU/CME for use when renewing your nursing license.
• Ability to accept additional assignments that offer better benefits.
• Opportunity to work with interstate or international groups.
Put Your Best Foot Forward
The actual application for nursing school may logistically take less than an hour to complete, but that doesn’t mean you can simply fill it out and expect to be admitted.
It takes time, preparation and a certain degree of ambition to really improve your odds.
Set yourself up for success by tackling the best practices above and enrolling in an online medical certification course today.