Nurses are in high demand throughout much of the developed world. A national U.S. nursing shortage means nurses' wages have increased, making it a professional field that captures students' interest. A major contributing factor to the nursing shortage is a lack of qualified instructors, leading to strong demand for nursing education. Nursing programs are usually competitive. A few select aspects of nursing education have a noncompetitive admission process.
BSN Bridge Programs
Nurses who become RNs with two-year nursing diplomas sometimes want to earn a bachelor's degree of nursing science. Some schools, such as the University of North Florida, make these RN to BSN bridge programs noncompetitive. Nurses often have completed much of the required nursing education, including general distribution credits, which doesn't require as much attention from scarce instructors.
Some licensed practical nurse or licensed vocational nurse programs are competitive--particularly those in public community colleges--but some private programs aren't. LPNs earn a one-year certificate, and can sit for the NCLEX-PN national licensing exam. Their practice is restricted to performing nursing interventions under the supervision of a licensed registered nurse--so not all LPN programs are credentialed. There are credentialed and noncredentialed private vocational schools with LPN programs that feature noncompetitive admissions. Many state nursing boards, including the California Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians, warn against noncredentialed programs, even if they're licensed and accredited in other countries or states.
Few nurses pursue doctoral degrees, given that most nurses enter the profession to care for patients, and highly academic programs lead away from patient care. Doctoral candidates usually must complete prerequisites such as a master's degree of nursing science, limiting the number of potential applicants. Many respected nursing schools, such as Pennsylvania State University and University of Washington, offer doctoral degrees.
Noncompetitive admissions doesn't mean applicants don't need to qualify. Credentialed LPN programs, for example, require a high school diploma or GED and often an entrance exam administered by the school. Some schools, such as Gurnick Academy of Medical Arts, require that students take prerequisite courses before beginning a nursing course sequence. Admissions interviews may also be part of the entrance process.