With a worldwide nursing shortage it's easy to get into nursing school, right? Wrong.
According to an American Association of Colleges of Nursing report on 2007-2008 Enrollment and Graduations in Baccalaureate and Graduate Programs in Nursing, U.S. nursing schools turned away 40,285 qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2007, because of an insufficient number of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, clinical preceptors, and budget constraints.
Almost three quarters (71.4 percent) of the nursing schools responding to the 2007 survey pointed to faculty shortages as a reason for not accepting all qualified applicants into entry-level nursing programs. What does this mean for you? It means that getting a slot in a nursing program is becoming more and more competitive.
Here are a few useful tips to attain one of those coveted nursing school slots:
■Grades: This one is obvious, but needs to head up the list. Any prior scores (SAT, GRE, and transcripts from High School and previous colleges) matter. Knowing what you want and doing your best to get there is imperative.
■Prerequisites: Know the prerequisites for the nursing program(s) you are applying to. Complete them as soon as possible. Many programs will enroll you even if you haven't finished all prerequisites.You will take the remaining ones in conjunction with the nursing classes. If you wait to apply until all of your prerequisites are complete, you are missing out on the potential to start earlier. Even if your prerequisites are not completed, apply! You may be put on a waiting list and get in a semester or two earlier than anticipated!
■Work experience: Whether a paying position or volunteer work, colleges count work experience when looking at nursing school candidates. If you are not yet a nurse, volunteer or work as an assistant or unit secretary at a hospital. Any experience is better than none.
■Application: Complete the application without errors; check and double check. I personally know a college admission officer who sets aside applications with errors and only goes back to them if there are not enough candidates left in the "good application" pool. Take your time and remember that first impressions matter.
■Let them know who you are: Call the nursing department(s) prior to application. Ask for a conference with one of the adjunct professors or the department head (this might be harder to access). Explore the nursing program face to face. This gives the nursing department a chance to "meet you." Send a note after the appointment thanking the person for his/her time. When your application arrives to the nursing department, you will likely have one person on the selection committee who "knows" you.
■Perseverance: Reapply as many times as it takes and to as many nursing schools as you can!