So I am currently a third year student in college, and I am planning to graduate Spring 2013. I am looking into nursing schools and there are a lot of options. I can either get a second bachelor in nursing or go through a direct entry to MSN. What do you guys recommend? My ultimate goal is to become a nurse practitioner.
It is very competitive here in CA to get into a nursing school. What do you guys recommend in doing to make myself stand out and more competitive in the selection process??
Oct 21, '11
Given your age and experience (still in undergrad), your GPA is your most important selling point. Obviously, the higher the better. Next, acing a standardized exam such as the GRE can slam dunk your application. Accelerated BSN programs (usually) do not require the GRE, though some programs do require the scores (mine does). Masters entry programs may not require the scores depending on your GPA, i.e. you are waived if your GPA is >3.4. It is important to note that there are two types of Masters Entry programs: one you will earn a generalist masters and the other a Nurse Practitioner degree. Finally, letters of recommendation, volunteer experience and your personal statement all carry weight. My volunteer experience gave me an inside look at hospitals and nursing AND provided me with someone to write me a letter of recommendation.
When looking at programs, it is important to keep cost in mind. In private schools, combined degree programs at a private school will easily cross the 100k mark, generalist masters programs will cross the 60K mark and accelerated BSN will cross the 40k barrier (tuition costs can vary wildly). You may find it easier to take out more loans for "graduate programs" because the government does not like to loan money for second bachelors degrees.
I would look to see what state schools offer the types of programs I am interested in first. If you want to leave CA, there are many fantastic nursing schools across the country.
Finally, each school has specific prerequisite requirements that must be completed prior to matriculation. Some of the courses are time sensitive and expire (Anatomy and Physiology sequence). Depending on the school and your background, you could possible need 5-8 classes. I would take all of these courses at a community college.
Oct 23, '11
I've heard from other nurses as well as instructors that hospitals and other health care facilities don't really hire entry-level MSN graduates because they lack experience. At a master's level you are expected not only to have the knowledge of a masters prepared nurse but many hours of RN clinical experience too. My instructors even stressed not to enter a masters program until we had been working for 2 years as an RN. However, other people may have different things to say on this issue.
Oct 23, '11
I would suggest going for the BSN. I had applied for several Master's Entry Programs here in California, and was rejected from all of them... It's unbelievably competitive and the following semester I applied to BSN programs instead and have been accepted for Spring, 2012. The difference was the GPA calculation. BSN programs generally look at your last 60 semester/90 quarter units while MAster's entry programs look at every grade you ever earned no matter how long ago they were... I had some 25 year old grades that caused me not to get in...It was frustrating, but I am actually glad that it worked out this way, because as Leafhouse stated, getting a job as a MAster's level nurse with no experience could prove difficult.
You can always get a Masters once the BSN and RN is in the bag and have some experience under your belt... That's what I plan to do. Good Luck!
Oct 23, '11
I may be biased because I am currently applying for direct entry MSNs, but I'd suggest going for it. If you want to be an NP, why wait to get there? Consider going out of state for your education, since CA is so impacted. You can always return to CA to practice. Are you in any debt? That can be a factor as well, many direct entry programs recommend students work as RNs during the MSN portion and this of course helps with debt and also allows you to gain RN experience prior to starting as a NP. I guess it just depends on your goals. What specialty are you interested in? Consider the market where you plan on practicing. Can you meet with or shadow any NPs?
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