Registered nurses make up the largest occupation in health care, with 2.6 million jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. More and more people are trying to join nursing, but as more students attempt to enter nursing school, admissions become more competitive. Those trying to enroll in nursing programs may find themselves rejected or placed on a long waiting list if they are unaware of, or do not meet, the most common nursing school admission requirements.
Prerequisite courses are those that students must be complete before gaining admittance to nursing school. The exact courses required can change depending on the school but usually include mostly general education courses like math, English, literature and an elective. They also often include psychology, sociology, anatomy, microbiology and chemistry.
Many nursing schools ask that students have a minimum grade point average (GPA) or score in their previous college work or prerequisite courses before being admitted. GPAs and grades may also determine how fast the school admits you; many school use a point system to choose new students, and higher grades equal more points. The minimum GPA is different for each school. Texas Christian University's Harris College of Nursing requires a minimum of a 2.5 GPA, while Baylor University only considers students with a 3.0 or higher.
Many nursing schools ask that students submit test scores from one or more standardized tests. Some of the test scores undergraduate nursing programs may require are those from the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), the American College Testing (ACT) exam, the Health Education Systems (HESI) Assessment Exam, the National League of Nursing's RN Pre-admission Test and the Psychological Services Bureau, Inc.'s (PSB) Registered Nursing School Aptitude Examination.
Many nursing program ask that students obtain a certificate or card in giving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) before enrolling in any nursing courses. The certification generally must come from the American Heart Association or the Red Cross. Schools may also ask that the CPR certification be kept up-to-date throughout your school career.
Some nursing programs require prospective students to submit personal or professional essays as part of the admissions process. These serve not only to help the school see your English, writing and communications skills but can be a way to whittle down the list of waiting students. According to Kathy Quan, a registered nurse and the author of "The Everything New Nurse Book," essays can be the deciding factor as to whether you get into nursing school. "Nursing is not an easy job", she says in a 2008 article on nursing school admission requirements. "Are you sure you can do this? Tell them why you are sure."