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Nursing School Admission Requirements

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Nursing School Admission Requirements

Many nursing programs require an essay on why you want to become a nurse as part of their admission requirements. Each of the requirements is scored or carries a weight which, when combined with the other requirements, will determine whether or not you get into the program, get put on the waiting list, or rejected all together. You will want your essay to stand out. Don’t just say “because I want to help people.”

Altruism is an inherent characteristic for nurses. Everyone wants to help people, and there are thousands of other jobs where you can “help people.” Don’t state the obvious.

Be creative. Was there a nurse who influenced your decision? What about that person impressed you and why? Did you learn how to give your father insulin shots? Were you a primary caregiver for your grandmother? Are you interested in research? Would you like to become a nurse educator? Do you have a desire to learn about juvenile diabetes and teach children how to control their disease? Do you have experience in the health field and are looking to expand your role?

Your essay should reflect your desire to become a nurse and to meet the challenges of the profession. Nursing is not an easy job. It is physically and emotionally exhausting. Are you sure you can do this? Tell them why you are sure. Your essay may mean the difference between getting in or being rejected.
The nursing shortage has impacted nursing schools. There is a shortage of nurse educators which means that nursing schools have a finite number of spaces for students. This often means nursing schools have long waiting lists and many qualified students are turned away each term.

The nursing shortage creates a sort of Catch-22 situation for nurse educators. Simple economics means that to meet demands, hospitals and other employers have increased salaries and benefits for nurses far above what most schools are able to pay nurse educators. Consequently, nurse educators are hard to find and to retain and schools have to turn away students.

In order to improve the process of selecting students, many schools have instituted various additional entrance requirements such as an essay. Other requirements may include specific nursing entrance exams, and previous health care experience.

Schools have found that the success rate for nursing students is enhanced when they have some previous health care experience such as becoming a CNA, working as a medical assistant or volunteering in a hospital or clinic setting.

Entrance exams which test reading and language skills as well as math and science preparation are also good indicators as to which students will stick it out, graduate and successfully pass the NCLEX.
The entrance essay gives nursing students the opportunity to seriously consider why they want to become nurses and to express this desire.

Gaining entrance into a nursing program can prove to be a competitive experience. Understanding why you want to become a nurse and being able to express that reason may be one of the most important steps you will take.

By Kathy Quan RN BSN. Kathy is the author of The Everything New Nurse Book and the author/owner of