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Is my GPA important?

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Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Columnist) Educator Columnist Innovator Expert Nurse

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience.

Dear Future Nurse,

So glad you asked, because things have changed from the day when a new grad's GPA didn't matter.

Your GPA can be very important if you apply for a position along with 300 new grad applicants very much like yourself.

Jamie, my good friend who is our Nurse Residency Program Director, personally screens 200-300 applications per cohort. On the front of every application packet is a little yellow scoring card used to total the following points:

  • GPA > 3.75 (1pt)
  • Referral by an employee (1pt)
  • Current employee (1pt)
  • Outstanding essay (1pt)
  • Sponsored collaborative student (student sponsored by local hospital) (1pt)

Of course, every employer determines their own screening criteria, but it seems reasonable that many would include the GPA because it's an easy metric to use. All things being equal, the candidate with the higher GPA has a better chance of landing an interview.

The Nurse Managers at my hospital typically do not even see applications until Jamie has whittled the number down substantially.

GPA also matters later when applying to grad school or for an externship. Pass the word on to your classmates, and good luck in nursing school!

Best wishes,

Nurse Beth

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Edited by Joe V

It annoys me that GPA factors in at all. I know some really smart nurses, have a 4.0 GPA and all the book smarts in the world, but they are horrible at bedside care. I also know some really smart nurses and some not quite as smart with great bedside care.

Great GPA ≠Great nurse, but unfortunately it does help get an interview, while possibly keeping out a good bedside nurses who may have struggled in school. Although both passed the same NCLEX exam.

I do agree a better GPA should and will help with grad school.

I'm also worried about that, because I attended college from 1995-1997 and did horribly. I have bipolar disorder and that was before being diagnosed. Hopefully I can get academic renewal for financial aid (student loan has been paid off for 10 years) and my grades

Nurse Beth, MSN

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience.

I'm also worried about that, because I attended college from 1995-1997 and did horribly. I have bipolar disorder and that was before being diagnosed. Hopefully I can get academic renewal for financial aid (student loan has been paid off for 10 years) and my grades

I hope you receive financial aid. With your diagnosis and treatment, school should be a much better experience for you now :) Your previous low grades were a long time ago and those classes can always be repeated. Good luck!

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 15 years experience.

Here's my personal observation in the very glutted employment market where I reside: GPA is unimportant for positions outside major hospital systems, but could totally make or break a new nurse who wants to secure employment within an acute care hospital setting.

When I completed an LPN-to-ASN bridge program in 2010, I submitted an online employment application to a local major teaching hospital (UT Southwestern). The recruiter telephoned me with a request to email her a copy of my college transcript because they only grant interviews to candidates whose GPAs were 3.5 or greater.

I was granted the interview, but was not offered the job. However, my career has unfolded nicely and I've made lemonade out of a potential lemon.

KJM-RN, BSN

Has 2 years experience.

I agree that GPA does matter. I have 2 years experience as an RN and recently went on an interview where my GPA was discussed during the interview. Not sure if it was a huge factor in me being hired, but they did ask me about it. I imagine it matters the most if a new graduate is trying to get a position in a residency program.

DrKim

Specializes in Med-Surg; Infectious Diseases; Research. Has 10 years experience.

The importance of GPA depends on your plans after nursing school. In my experience, GPA is not important for most New Nurse Residency Programs. Unless the Director is controlling for variances in how GPA is calculated across different schools, it really isn't a fair comparison of applicants. Nurse Residency Programs care most about the applicant's ability to communicate and the program from which they graduated. If a Director knows that a certain program consistently churns out strong nurses with good retention rates, then nurses who graduate from that specific program may have a better chance at being selected. That's probably why the Director mentioned counting Referrals from Current Employees.

If you plan to apply to Grad School with less than 2-5 years of practice, then your undergraduate GPA will be looked at closely. Sometimes students barely get through nursing school but they pass the NCLEX and become phenomenal nurses. Should that happen, enroll in a few grad courses as a "non-degree seeking student," earn As and show the Admissions Committee that you can handle graduate work.

tacomaster

Specializes in ninja nursing.

Regarding GPA, every school has their own grading metric. For example, I went to a private university and a C was 75-84, B 85-94, and an A was 95-100. I graduated with a 3.2 GPA but if I would have gone to a state school, my GPA would have been higher. I have only had one or two HR people ask what my GPA was for hiring purposes and as long as it's over a 3.0 you can get into the ICU fields (supposedly that's where the smart kids go).

I've been preceptoring a new RN grad with a 4.0 GPA (I didn't ask, she just feels led to tell EVERY SINGLE PERSON) and she's very book smart but lacks in skills, communication, and confidence. Those things will come with time I'm sure. GPA isn't everything. The whole package is what is important. Just remember, you just have to get a year of nursing under your belt and then you can go anywhere.

fostercatmom, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in ER and case management. Has 29 years experience.

One of my best friends in school ...always just barely passed tests..put her on the floor she could do anything, answer any question... she was incredible. I do would well on a test and freeze on the floor and look like the world's biggest fool if someone surprised me with a question

cnmbfa

Specializes in OB/women's Health, Pharm. Has 40 years experience.

While I somewhat agree, as a faculty member, I see GPA as a stand in for a lot more than just smarts. It is a reflection of self-discipline and willingness to work hard. It is also under student control to a large extent. Some persons learn from mistakes and never make excuses for themselves. They also read their textbooks, ask questions, come to lecture and clinical prepared, stay off Facebook in class, know their priorities, and are willing to make sacrifices (like working fewer hours and not buying new clothes or going out as often). None of these things are impossible. I for one am SICK of the people who don't do these things, yet expect the same A. They say to me "but I worked so hard." My responses: the criteria for getting an A were spelled out to everyone. If you want an A the next time, what will you do differently?

Be sure to get disabled student qualified if you can. It may include extra time for test taking, and access to many resources that may help you to be successful. Best of luck to you.

It is a reflection of self-discipline and willingness to work hard. It is also under student control to a large extent. Some persons learn from mistakes and never make excuses for themselves.

This.

The anti-academic bias that I see in nursing has always concerned me...perhaps more so because I came to nursing as a second career. Those who achieve great results in school should be applauded, but among nurses, the first response you hear is often that a great GPA means nothing. Really? That GPA did not come out of nowhere. It does, to a large extent, reflect hard work and the application of critical thinking to problems that are presented. As a hiring manager, I want those qualities.

In medicine, architecture, and engineering, new grads with excellent GPAs will receive the best offers. Five years down the line, experience is a much bigger factor--as it should be.

There was a student in my class with a mediocre GPA who we all knew would be a great nurse. She had a documented learning disability and struggled with tests despite having accommodations made. (She did pass every class and passed NCLEX on the first try.) But when I think of the top five people in my class, every single one is a phenomenal nurse today.

I often think of one professor who reminded us constantly, "Nursing is not about being the best at starting an IV."

Personally I think there is much more to,nursing school than GPA.. I'm hoping that places take into consideration other factors. While not having a 4.0 but doing well in nursing school. I worked full time and have two kids. If anything my gpa should mean more because it shows I can prioritize and have real life experience...well here's hoping.