There are many reasons why you find yourself going back to school for nursing. It could be to complete a nursing program that was interrupted while you pursued other priorities in life. Or, to improve your current employment condition as LVN, LPN, CNA, or RN with an ADN, to become an RN with BSN. Perhaps you are considering nursing as a second career.
Whatever your reasons are, gear up because you’re in for a lot of work and things to learn. Going back to college after many years in a different field or situation will definitely demand more from you, so you should know what to expect when going back to nursing school.
Admission to the program will require preparation
Visit your school and comply with the application for admission procedure.
Different schools will have different requirements for the GPA, but many schools set a minimum of 2.75.
For LPNs, LVNs or CNAs, your updated license or certificate will be required. If you are applying for admission to nursing as a second-career student, make sure that you have a copy of your bachelor’s degree credentials.
Your scores in SAT and ACT will also be part of admission screening. Schools will also have additional requirements, which you need to pay attention to.
Course content variable
The course content will vary depending on your current situation.
If you are an LPN, LVN or CNA, you have an idea what you’re in for.
You’ve been working with RNs in the same work setting, so this doesn’t come as a surprise. For second-career nursing students, it’s a whole new story and they have to be emotionally and physically prepared for the change.
Students who pick up nursing as a second career bring with them skills and experiences from their previous field, and these can actually work to their advantage.
The academics will be rigid, and the same is true for the clinical training. Intensive clinical exposure will include trauma centers, community health, rural hospitals, and other health care areas. In the actual setting, shifts may run from 8 to 12 hours.
It may be tough if you are a single mother going back to school.
LPN-to-RN Bridge Program
If you’re taking the leap from LPN to RN, there are online and onsite bridge programs available for you.
Some bridge programs will award up to 10 credit hours of your previous education toward an RN-Associate’s Degree in Nursing.
There will be procedures for validating your previous education earned, and it is usually through a written test and lab validation.
The whole coursework will involve between 65 and 75 credit hours spread over 6 semesters (around 2 years).
There are online bridge programs, too, and these are obviously favored by part-time students who have jobs to keep.
The students will be required to complete almost the same number of credit hours, but they have the option to complete the coursework at their own pace.
Second-degree Nursing Program
Programs that offer nursing as a second-degree are available only to those who have previously obtained a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field.
The program will be around 120 credit hours compressed in a 16-month period. Students under this program must commit to studying fulltime.
RNs with either an ADN or a diploma in nursing greatly improve their career opportunities by advancing in their education.
There are RN-to-BS programs designed exclusively for them, and classes are often offered flexibly to allow them to fit in their class schedules to their work shifts.
The curriculum may also be web-based supplemented with onsite classes, laboratory, and clinical exposure.
Some schools also recognize credits, to as much as 35 credits, toward your BSN on account of your being an RN. You may also find Accelerated RN-to-BSN programs that allow students to complete the program in as short as 3 semesters.
Whatever your situation is, going back to school to become a nurse requires a lot of gumption on your part. Set your eyes on your long-term goals, and work on them one step at a time.
Good luck going back to school for nursing.