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non-nursing student, what are my chances??

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Hello all,

I am new to the forum and actually new to nursing field. I am currently a student at UCLA as a Microbiology and Immunology major and Biomedical Research minor that has no clinical experience. Up until now, everything that I have done has been geared towards graduate school. I have a full-ride here, 2.5 years of research experience, have attended a couple national conferences and have a 3.5 GPA. But I don't think that really matters because I have no clinical experience. I have had a change of heart and would like to pursue a career in nursing, but as of right now I don't know what my chances are of being accepted into an accelerated BSN or Master's entry level program. I am assuming not good.

At a graduate fair I had two diff nursing schools confirm that my research doesn't really mean anything, what I need is volunteer hours in the hospital. I volunteered at Loma Linda Medical Center in the children's oncology department for about six months but then started working in a lab. My volunteer experience was very minimal and I was not shadowing an RN. But at a conference, I spoke with the director at John Hopkins and she said that they encouraged research (but am sure they want volunteer work as well).

My dilemma is this. This summer, I am supposed to go to Singapore on a research internship that is 9 weeks long, which I am willing to quit so I can work in a hospital all summer and get experience (as well as take pre-reqs). But I don't want to cancel the internship unless I am a competitive candidate. I lose more than the internship, I lose my funding and position in a program. But I believe going to graduate school would be a huge mistake. I would love to continue here at the UCLA School of Nursing, but really don't know what my chances are. Realistically, would one summer, full-time right before I apply in the fall be enough?

If anyone has any insight it would be greatly appreciated! I have tried calling schools but it seems like everyone is backed up with admissions right now. :/

Talk to your counselor. See if you can switch into the nursing major. That would be your best option. I'm sure the major is impacted at UCLA but you never know until you talk to someone.

If you can't switch into the major, then I'd start looking at ABSN and MEPN programs. Let us know what the counselors say and we can probably give better advice.

CrunchRN, ADN, RN

Specializes in Clinical Research, Outpt Women's Health. Has 25 years experience.

Do not pursue a graduate degree if it is not what you want. You will be stuck and the field for PhD's is pretty limited and very narrow.

Try other schools. Not all require volunteer work to get accepted.

No, I already know that I absolutely cannot switch into the major, that I know because I asked at a recent graduate fair (too bad that I didn't ask more questions at the time). Even coming in as a transfer student was nearly impossible, I think they accept only 4-5 students? Realistically, their MSN program is quite competitive too and me already being a student here does not give me an edge. There are other programs out here that are easier to get into, private institutions that my friend (who is a nurse) says they will take nearly anyone because they just want your money. Many of her friends have tried to get into UCLA and ended up going to one of the private institutions or Cal State. She also said that regardless of where I get my Master's, it wouldn't be hard to get a job because the demand is high. I don't know whether or not that is true, but I still would like to attend a good school and pursue either practitioner or CRNA afterwords. Maybe much later, research and PhD. I don't know, how much does it matter?

THELIVINGWORST, ASN, RN

Specializes in Public Health. Has 4 years experience.

You know UCLA is not the only school in Cali right? And meeting with a counselor from the school is the only way to know for sure. Because they will have your transcripts already.

You can switch majors if you want but UCLA is not the end all-be all of nursing programs. Go somewhere else if you can't get in there.

No, I already know that I absolutely cannot switch into the major, that I know because I asked at a recent graduate fair (too bad that I didn't ask more questions at the time). Even coming in as a transfer student was nearly impossible, I think they accept only 4-5 students? Realistically, their MSN program is quite competitive too and me already being a student here does not give me an edge. There are other programs out here that are easier to get into, private institutions that my friend (who is a nurse) says they will take nearly anyone because they just want your money. Many of her friends have tried to get into UCLA and ended up going to one of the private institutions or Cal State. She also said that regardless of where I get my Master's, it wouldn't be hard to get a job because the demand is high. I don't know whether or not that is true, but I still would like to attend a good school and pursue either practitioner or CRNA afterwords. Maybe much later, research and PhD. I don't know, how much does it matter?

I'm going to have to disagree with pretty much everything your friend has told you.

Yes, there are private schools and CalState schools where you can get your ABSN or do a MEPN, however none of these are "easy" to get into. You definitely cannot just throw money at them and get in, your friend is completely exaggerating.

Secondly. California is insanely competitive for nurses. California needs EXPERIENCED nurses (and even then people aren't finding jobs...if you don't believe me go look at the California board and look at how many posts there are from people who can't find a job). Did your friend tell you that almost 45% of new grads take 18months to find a job after graduation.

Back to your original question. I would continue on with your degree, go on the research trip and take the pre-requisites you need for ABSN programs you are interested in. Apply to ABSN / MEPN programs when you're a senior to immediately start after graduation. You've got a FULL ride to one of the best universities in the world, you're also in a competitive major and doing very well (my brother graduated from the same major). 9 weeks abroad is an AMAZING experience, don't turn that down. Go enjoy. When you come back, if you have time go volunteer, or better yet go get your EMT, UCLA has an amazing EMS education department (at least they did) and volunteer doing health fairs or grab a summer job on an ambulance.

Other than finishing your degree, taking your pre-requisite courses and getting some volunteer experience, the most important thing you need to do is, figure out WHY you want to be a nurse and have experiences that back your reason up.

I would take what your friend tells you with a grain of salt. Read around the California forum and post back with any questions. Good luck.

Wow, thank you so much for all the information you just gave me. I wasn't sure about what my friend had said because I've always been under the impression that nursing was extremely competitive. I think getting into nursing at UCLA is actually much harder than as an MIMG major.

The only problem is, I am already a senior and am supposed to graduate in the fall, which is why I would like to take the GRE this summer and apply in the fall so I can begin next fall 2016. During the winter and spring quarters I was going to take AnP at a community college. I have all of the other prerequisites. With that being said, the only reason I was considering cancelling my internship was so I could bust my ass full-time in a hospital to gain experience, IF that made me a competitive enough candidate to apply here at UCLA (of course will apply to other schools as well, just hoping to get in here).

One more question to settle any misconceptions I may have, for anyone that has advice, is that I have heard that where you get your BSN does NOT matter. However, a Master's is a little bit different, especially if you want possibly extend your education. I would like to think later on that I would possibly pursue a PhD. Any thoughts? (again, thank you gunrock)

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 14 years experience.

One more question to settle any misconceptions I may have, for anyone that has advice, is that I have heard that where you get your BSN does NOT matter. However, a Master's is a little bit different, especially if you want possibly extend your education. I would like to think later on that I would possibly pursue a PhD. Any thoughts?
Stick to regional state universities (CSU system), flagship state universities (UC system), or private nonprofit colleges in your area (e.g. Loma Linda, Point Loma Nazarene) with decent reputations. As long as you avoid the investor-owned schools of poor repute, you should be fine.

As a fellow bruin, I felt compelled to make an account to answer your questions and concerns. Graduated with my B.S. in 2013 and just applied to nursing schools last cycle. The primary issue I see is that you feel compelled to apply to nursing programs ASAP because you are a senior and you want to continue your education. I also went to the career center to talk to admission officers and get a feel as to what their schools were looking for. The best advice I learned from that experience is that the application you turn in when you apply to any nursing program should be the absolute best application you are able to generate. Period. If you do not get in the first round/time, then the next time you apply, your application has to be significantly better in many ways than your initial attempt. I have had admission officers tell me it must be twice as good as the first application. Let that sink in. Also, many ABSN and MEPN programs will require letters of recs and when you reapply, your recommenders will have to submit yet another letter on your behalf, and the letter has to mention your work and improvements since your last attempt, which might be burdensome for both you and your professors. (Sorry for the run on sentence).

My intention is not to scare you. My honest intentions are to inform you. Knowing that information, I spent a year finalizing the list of all the schools I wanted to apply to, finishing all my pre-reqs for every school, took the GRE and the TEAS (most schools require one or the other), got clinical experience working in a private office, and basically spent 6 months applying to all my schools (some deadlines were as early as July and others as late as Jan). I was honestly praying for just one school to accept me (I had a pretty long list). So far, I have received good news from 2 schools. Do not feel compelled to put yourself out of the running because you have more research than volunteering experience. Many people in ABSN or entry level MSN programs come from business, law, teaching, and other backgrounds and their unique experiences and desire to now pursue a career in nursing makes them desirable to particular nursing programs.

Your GPA is fantastic. I would know, I went to UCLA! haha. But do not apply just for the sake of applying. You can probably get in somewhere your first attempt, but it may not be the program you want. Take a year off, it was one of the best decisions I made in my young adult life. Finish all your pre-reqs (this will strengthen your application). Do your research on every school and try to volunteer in a hospital so you can see what nurses do and have to put up with on a daily basis. I interviewed for a few programs this past year and I learned that many of the people I interviewed with had more to say in the interviews and in their personal statements about the stuff they were able to do once they finished their undergrad studies. A huge chunk of my personal statement was devoted to a unique volunteer experience I was offered after college.

You sound stressed. It's completely normal haha. Remember that you are young and not applying this cycle is not the end of the world. Taking one year off to make a decision that you will be devoting your next 40-50 years towards is not the worst idea in the world. Good luck.

Thank you so much for taking the time out to give me such a detailed message, I really appreciate that (and always great to talk to a fellow Bruin!). I think what you've said is good advice and it sounds very realistic, rather than my gf telling me I can get into any private institution. I would absolutely love to go to UCLA for nursing, but I really think that if I apply this year I do not have a good chance. If when I apply, have all of my prereqs completed and a year's worth of volunteering done, I am hoping that maybe I would? I will still talk to admissions, but I am not against waiting as you have recommended.

If I continue with my internship in Singapore, I was considering volunteering in Cambodia for 2 weeks, maybe Africa if I am still going there afterwords. This is something I wanted to do since I went backpacking in SEA for 9 weeks, so maybe I can have a unique volunteering experience of my own.

Again, many thanks. This definitely has been very stressful, as well as emotional since I am walking away from what I have been working so hard for.

I am actually wait listed this year for UCLA and my GPA was not as high as yours if that gives you confidence... haha but the MECN program is fantastic. I know someone who got in and their resume is completely different from mine so different schools are looking for different things and they want students who are the best "fit" for their program and mission statement. If you are really set on a program like the MECN, consider the MEPN program at USD (San Diego) or Entry Level MSN-CNL at USF (San Francisco). The Singapore experience sounds pretty awesome! I would definitely go. You always want to stand out in your applications, but the key is to stand out for the right reasons. Do not try to be "safe" by taking a hospital job because you think it will help buffer your resume. If it does not work out, you will have wasted your time and efforts. I wish you all the best and commend you for taking the time to research your future nursing career. It will pay off. :yes:

Congrats on getting in on the waitlist! Hopefully you will continue to get good news. :)

Yes, I don't think I'll turn down the opportunity to go to Singapore. As an MIMG major I've been dying to work on a project that revolves around infectious disease (I currently work in the Orthopedic Hospital on cartilage and bone development) and the project works with malarial antigens for potential vaccines. I guess it'll be my last chance to confirm that I really do not want to go to graduate school because I love the science. It actually works out well because I am supposed to climb Kili in September and the flight is not as expensive or nearly as hellish as flying out of LAX. :D

I actually already did take a look at the MEPN program in USD and at UCSF. The tuition at UCSF is pretty steep, 55K the first year not including housing or anything else? Yikes. My PI refers to UCSF as "the school people apply to and never get accepted." lol. USD was pretty steep too, $1345 per unit. Actually, almost all were pretty expensive and made UCLA look like a bargain. So far the only place that seemed somewhat hopeful in terms of acceptance was Columbia, they responded and said that since they do not require any clinical experience and I should apply with what I have (God I hate NY though).

May I ask, what unique volunteering experience did you get to experience after graduation?

Update:

I recently spoke with admissions from UCLA (personally), Columbia and John Hopkins.

Although it is not required that clinical or some form of hospital experience is required at UCLA, it seemed like it would be difficult to get in without it (or at least volunteer experience).

When I spoke with admissions at Columbia, it seemed like it wasn't as much of a big deal and they really stressed taking a holistic view when considering their applicants.

I spoke with the admissions from John Hopkins and they were actually very enthusiastic about my research experience and said that it weighed just as much clinical experience. I was very surprised. She did add that working in a hospital would only improve my application, but she also said that she already a good applicant. She recommended that I apply for the next upcoming cycle (they have two application periods), and if I didn't get in the first time then try on the next cycle with my added hospital experience. Her enthusiasm made it impossible to get excited at the prospect of at least having a chance to getting in. I know that Hopkins is terrible expensive, but what a fantastic school.

Anyway, just an update for anyone else that is in a similar situation.

There are short BS to RN programs out there---usually a year long. Or you might consider medical school. I'd contact many schools b/c they can vary widely in their requirements.

Happy you had such a great experience with Hopkins. I also graduating from a UC and did my ABSN at Hopkins.

If you have any questions about the program or my experience feel free to PM me.

Fellow Bruin here, graduated 2012 in Biochemistry. Unlike you, I had some personal issues and never went into research. I think research will make you a very strong candidate, so don't rule that out.

I worked for two years in the education field and decided that I wanted to do nursing. I finished my prereqs at community college because PhySci classes at UCLA are pretty much impossible to get into if you aren't a PhySci major. I actually didn't even start my hospital internship experience until the week before I got my acceptance at Columbia (ETP Fall 2015). If you want clinical experience, I strongly recommend looking at the Care Extender program at UCLA hospitals, as well as Clinical Care Extender programs run by COPE at many SoCal hospital locations.

Columbia really evaluates each candidate holistically. Looking at the Facebook group for the accepted students, students come very diverse backgrounds with all kinds of unique experiences.

Whoa, I haven't been on here in a while, otherwise I would have gladly taken you up on hearing about your experience at Hopkins! I just finished my last essay tonight. :) I went to a research conference in DC this past November and took the opportunity to visit Hopkins while I was there. I really liked it. The nursing school seemed small, quaint and family-like. I would jump at the opportunity to go there, my only concern is that it is SO expensive. My original post was inquiring whether the costs were worth it. In your opinion, was it? I've heard mixed reviews. Some people say that they would do it again for the sake of networking and connections. Others said that it was way too much money for a BSN or MSN.

Ah, another concern of mine is my GRE score. Between finals and meeting the deadline to send in my scores on time I had roughly 4-5 days to study and I did terrible. It was in the 63-64th percentile for both quantitative and verbal. I don't know my writing score at the moment. Do you know much emphasis is placed on the GRE?

I took your advice and went to Singapore. It was an amazing experience and am so glad that I went. I even took the last month I had off to do some traveling on my own. Toward the end, I met with some friends in Tanzania and climbed Kilimanjaro. :D

Fellow Bruin here, graduated 2012 in Biochemistry. Unlike you, I had some personal issues and never went into research. I think research will make you a very strong candidate, so don't rule that out.

I worked for two years in the education field and decided that I wanted to do nursing. I finished my prereqs at community college because PhySci classes at UCLA are pretty much impossible to get into if you aren't a PhySci major. I actually didn't even start my hospital internship experience until the week before I got my acceptance at Columbia (ETP Fall 2015). If you want clinical experience, I strongly recommend looking at the Care Extender program at UCLA hospitals, as well as Clinical Care Extender programs run by COPE at many SoCal hospital locations.

Columbia really evaluates each candidate holistically. Looking at the Facebook group for the accepted students, students come very diverse backgrounds with all kinds of unique experiences.

Thank you so much for your response! I actually did apply to Columbia and even sent them my updated transcript today. :) I should hear back from them mid-February. The problem is that even if I was accepted, I would have to finish my finals early and be moved into NY by June 1st (my finals are June 10th), on top of take an additional Anatomy and Physiology class with my 21 units at UCLA and an online class at my old JC. I already reached out to the PhySci department and got it cleared to take Physio this winter if need be. It'd be crazy, but I'd do it and just pray that I'm left with a few marbles by the end of spring quarter. I have heard of the CARE Extender program at UCLA. With my current situation though there is no way I can take on anything else. I already have a graduate mentor in her 6th year that is very ambitious to publish and graduate so I already expect that she will want me there as much as possible.

I had the same concern with Columbia that I did with Hopkins, whether the tuition was worth it? If you had a free moment to tell me your opinion and experience I'd really like to hear it!

Edited by mrisajne