How to Prepare for Nursing School: 8 Tips to Consider

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Wondering how to prepare for nursing school? It requires various steps and careful consideration, which includes understanding why you want to become a nurse, the type of degree you want, type of program, requirements, prerequisite courses, talking with an admissions counselor, and having a support network.

woman sitting outside using laptop

You’re ready to make the career switch to nursing, but you have questions and you’re not sure how to prepare for nursing school. Sound familiar? You’re not alone. Applying to nursing school requires a serious investment of time and effort, so it’s important that you know what’s needed to get started.

University of St. Thomas Houston’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program can help you reach your nursing goals faster. In this 12-month program, you will gain the skills necessary to become a registered nurse through online coursework, simulation labs, and clinical rotations. But what will you need to do in order to reach your goal? Here are some tips on how to prepare for nursing school.

1. Understand Why You Want to Become a Nurse.

What encouraged you to transition into nursing in the first place? Perhaps the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic has played a role, a personal experience, or maybe you’ve always felt called to help others. Having a solid intention will help you stay motivated and focused throughout your nursing education.

As a prospective ABSN@UST student, you will be encouraged by a student body and faculty driven to carry forward the university’s core values of goodness, discipline, and knowledge. Our primary mission is to educate students to think critically, communicate effectively, succeed professionally, and lead ethically. This starts with a goal, a purpose, a reason for why you are here. Without a driving purpose, the regular demands of the nursing field could lead to dissatisfaction in your career choice. With this in mind, it’s important to understand your motivations and draw on them to deliver the compassionate care that each patient deserves.

2. Decide the Type of Degree You Want.

If you’re looking to maximize your opportunities within nursing, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is a great route to take. Not only is a BSN degree becoming the preferred standard academic qualification in healthcare facilities, but a report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has also found that hospitals employing more BSN-prepared nurses have lower mortality rates and healthcare costs as well as shorter average patient stays.

The demand for the skillset and level of autonomy that BSN-educated nurses enjoy offers them better salary opportunities. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual mean wage for nurses in Texas was $79,120 as of May 2021. A BSN degree not only opens more doors for employment, but it allows nurses to pursue an even higher education more easily.

3. Find a School and Program That’s Right for You.

Before transitioning into nursing, you must find a program that fits your needs and aligns with your nursing career goals. Various programs offer different lengths, usually 16-18 months. The Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program at University of St. Thomas Houston in Texas lets you earn your BSN in 12 months, if you already have a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field or at least 60 non-nursing college credits.

UST ABSN student in lab with sim manikin

When finding the right program for you, you must also take location into consideration. Even though the ABSN@UST offers its nursing theory courses through online coursework, it still requires skills and simulation labs at our ABSN Site in the Woodlands and our main campus in downtown Houston as well as clinical rotations in the Houston metro area. So, you must be physically present for some aspects of the program.

As the fourth-largest city in the U.S., Houston’s healthcare sector is very large, and it keeps on growing. With institutions like Houston Methodist, Memorial Hermann, Texas Children’s Hospital, and the immense Texas Medical Center, there is no shortage of top healthcare jobs for qualified candidates.

4. Research Academic Qualifications.

Before starting your journey as a nurse, you should research what academic requirements your specific program needs. In addition to holding a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or at least 60 college credits, the ABSN@UST program requires students to have a cumulative GPA of 3.0, complete the required prerequisite courses, and earn a passing score in the HESI or TEAS exam., among other admissions requirements.

5. Reach Out to an Admissions Counselor.

If you choose to move forward with our Accelerated BSN program, your next step is to talk to an admissions counselor. They are the best resource on how to prepare for nursing school. Don’t be alarmed if your admissions counselor asks you a lot of questions right off the bat — this helps them get to know you better.

Your admissions counselor will become your main point of contact throughout the rest of the application process, and they are available for any questions you may have and provide any additional details about the program’s admission process.

Speaking with an admissions counselor will help you determine your eligibility for our ABSN program, and they will help you design a plan to ensure you meet your target start date goal. Best of all, ABSN@UST offers three start dates per year, in January, May and August.

6. Complete Prerequisites.

Your admissions counselor will help you sign up for the necessary prerequisite courses. These prerequisite courses provide each student with the same academic foundation and will ensure a baseline of academic skills necessary for the program. Taking prerequisites through UST will introduce you to our mission and vision, as well as familiarize you with the same online learning management system we use for the online portion of our ABSN program.

student sitting outside with a laptop

7. Complete the HESI Admission Assessment Exam.

To be admitted into our accelerated nursing program, you must complete the Health Education Systems, Inc. (HESI) Admission Assessment exam and pass with a score of 80% or higher in each of the following sections: reading comprehension, grammar, vocabulary, math, and anatomy and physiology. It is a common standard nursing school admissions requirement, and the higher your score, the more possibilities you have of being accepted into nursing school.

8. Have a Support Network.

As an accelerated nursing student, you can expect to have a lot on your plate, spending up to 60 hours a week on your education. At UST, you’ll complete a rigorous blend of online coursework, hands-on labs and in-hospital clinical rotations, all in a span of three semesters. With that said, it’s best you have a support system in place before getting started.

As an ABSN@UST student our faculty and staff are here to answer questions and support you through the rigorous journey of becoming an RN. In addition, you will find the support of a community within your cohort, you will help each other and feel the confidence of not walking this learning journey alone.

UST nursing student in red scrubs standing outside

Ready to Apply?

The process of applying to nursing school requires a lot of time and effort. Fortunately, you’re taking the steps necessary to get started on the right foot. With our 12-month Accelerated BSN program in Houston, you won’t have to navigate the nursing school admissions process alone.

If you’re ready to accelerate your path to nursing, contact us today to get started!