If you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree and no prior experience in the healthcare field, the process of transitioning into a nursing role can seem intimidating. You know you want to become a nurse and that you need to earn a nursing degree to do so, but that’s about it. How to choose a quality program that integrates with your current situation and future career goals is probably a mystery to you.
A great place to start is to research nursing schools and develop a list of nursing school questions to ask their admissions counselors. Doing so can help you make a more streamlined comparison of what nursing programs have to offer and determine if a particular school is the right fit for you. To help you get the ball rolling, we compiled this list of questions to ask your nursing school admissions counselor.
1. Is the program accredited?
One of the first things you’ll want to ask about is the school’s accreditation status, both on the regional and national levels. You can rest assured you’ll gain a quality nursing education from the University of St. Thomas’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, called ABSN@UST, because it checks both of those boxes.
Regionally, the University of St. Thomas is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award baccalaureate, masters and doctoral degrees. On a national level, the baccalaureate degree program in nursing at the University of St. Thomas is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
Why does accreditation matter so much when choosing a nursing school? Accreditation by a national body, such as CCNE, helps to assure that a nursing program provides a quality education that meets national nursing standards.
From a career growth perspective, you’ll stand a better chance at landing a nursing job with a degree from an accredited institution. Employers tend to prefer to hire nurses who graduated from an accredited nursing program. Not to mention, if you have any plans to advance your nursing education you’ll likely need a degree from an accredited school, as many advanced degree nursing programs do not accept credits from non-accredited nursing programs.
2. What are the admissions requirements?
While you’ll likely be able to find these requirements on the program’s website, it’s still beneficial to ask your nursing school admissions counselor because he or she can help you make a plan to complete any lingering admissions requirements you may be missing before the application deadline for your target start date. This person will be able to identify if you’re an ideal candidate for the program you’re considering and help you stay on track with completing any prerequisite courses you may need to take. He or she can also assist with any forms or documentation you may need to submit with your application once you meet the program’s admissions requirements.
Besides holding a non-nursing bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited university, to qualify for enrollment in ABSN@UST, you must:
- Complete the prerequisites for the program prior to enrollment.
- Have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher (including a 3.0 GPA for all prerequisite science courses).
- Earn a score of 80 or higher on the Health Education Systems, Inc. (HESI) Admission Assessment exam (required 80% in each of the following sections: Reading Comprehension, Grammar, Vocabulary, Math and A&P)
3. Will I be able to succeed without any prior nursing experience?
ABSN@UST is designed to help those with existing non-nursing bachelor’s degrees enter the field on an accelerated timeline. You’re eligible to apply to our program regardless of if you have a bachelor’s degree in biology or one in interior design. While those who hold bachelor’s degrees in a scientific discipline may have an easier time adjusting to the rigors of accelerated nursing school, students from all sorts of academic backgrounds can succeed.
You can expect to take classes that build on the fundamentals of biology and science during early semesters, but if you’ve never taken those sorts of classes before, don’t fret. All students accepted into ABSN@UST have to take the same prerequisite courses, so you’ll be starting on similar academic footing as those students with science backgrounds.
4. What student support resources are available?
Second-degree BSN programs such as the one UST offers are geared toward adult learners who have the ambition and motivation to further their education to become a nurse. Internal drive and dedication are both great traits to have if you want to pursue a second degree in nursing, a notoriously challenging field of study, but finding a program that offers support resources can help increase your odds of success.
In talking with your admissions counselor, it’s important to ask about the levels of academic assistance the program has in place to help students succeed. For example, ABSN@UST makes it clear that student success is its top priority starting with your initial inquiry into the program. Your admissions counselor is there to help you devise an academic plan that sets you up to succeed on a timeline that works best for you.
The support doesn’t stop there. Once admitted, our expert nursing faculty and clinical instructors make themselves available online, over the phone and in-person if you’re ever struggling with a course concept or specific nursing situation. Our academic success coaches can also point you in the right direction for additional study resources or offer strategies for finding a healthy school-life balance.
5. How soon can I start the program?
The answer to this question depends largely on your existing academic background and your motivation to complete and successfully pass any prerequisites and entrance exams needed to apply. If you majored in a scientific discipline, you may not need to take as many prerequisites as someone with a bachelor of arts in marketing, for example.
Prerequisites are available through the University of St. Thomas; your admissions counselor can work with you to enroll in those courses, develop strategies to boost your GPA if it’s just below the minimum requirement and keep you on track to pass them on a timeline that aligns with your target start date.
Once you complete prerequisites and pass the Health Education Systems, Inc. (HESI) Admission Assessment exam, you can choose from one of three start dates per year — January, May or August.
Make a bold call for your future
Knowing the right nursing school questions to ask can help you streamline your conversations with admissions counselors and make an informed decision on choosing the best nursing program for you.
The admissions counselors at ABSN@UST are here to answer these and any other questions you may have about our second-degree ABSN program. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you start your nursing journey.