Getting into a RN Program

  1. Hello All!

    So I have been doing everything in my power to make myself the ideal nursing school applicant. I live in Portland, OR and the nursing program I will be applying to is competitive (as they all are) they get about 1000 applicants and accept 80. So that alone scares me. I am 20 years old and have taken some time off from school since graduating HS. I have been working full time in customer service just to pay the bills and gain some life experience. I am now starting to really buckle down on getting my prereqs done so I can apply for the 2016-18 RN program. I get good grades and I have good recommendations but 88% of the accepted RN student had worked previously in healthcare and 50% of had prior degrees. That really scares me. I love my current job but I am willing to resign so I can gain healthcare experience. I am interviewing for a caregiver position next week at a local nursing home. I will be making less than I do now if I take the job but I can live with that as long as the experience is worth it in the long run. What do you guys think? Anyone do anything similar? Any advice? Thanks!!

    - SP
  2. Visit SPinOR profile page

    About SPinOR

    Joined: Mar '14; Posts: 7; Likes: 1


  3. by   Concrete Rose
    Does the school look at your resume when considering you? If not, I don't think you necessarily need to resign from your current job. I personally think customer service is an essential skill in nursing so your job may make you a standout candidate without you realizing it. I will say working in a nursing home will give you experience as far as fundamentals is concerned and can be helpful with basic skills. As far as other applicants are concerned, sometimes life happens to applicants and that's how they acquire their experience. I know a lot of grads that didn't become a CNA or even work in healthcare prior to applying and were accepted and became great nurses afterwards.

    If your school requires an entrance exam I would spend time more mastering the content and ensuring all prerequisite grades are stellar because I am sure that is where more of the emphasis will be placed. Volunteering in the community is something to consider too.
  4. by   SPinOR
    Its based on a points system. There are 100 possible points and if you work in healthcare with patients directly you can get up to 6 points. I volunteer with the Red Cross and that gets me 1 point. They don't look at the resume but if you are invited to the essay portion they say that people with previous healthcare experience do much better on that essay because they have more experience to talk about. There isn't an entrance exam. I am just very conflicted on whether its worth it to quit a job that pays very well and has good benefits for a job that I will love but pays much less with little benefits. Thank you for your input!
  5. by   akulahawkRN
    Even in a points-based admissions system, there really aren't any magic potions or solutions for getting into RN school. If you have the entry criteria, you simply have to do well in those areas that will garner you the most points and if you're close to what's a typically competitive points value, then consider finding other things that add points. Don't quit a good, well paying job that provides you decent benefits unless you absolutely have to or unless you know you can afford to. Another thing is that you should apply everywhere that you can. Often you're competing against the same 1000 other applicants for seats in the entire region so if you apply to more places, you stand a better chance of landing a seat in a school than if you apply to just one school.

    If you're invited to write an essay, I would suggest that you find a way to relate your current job to the delivery of healthcare. Many jobs, even if not directly healthcare related, have some characteristics that relate to the delivery of healthcare.

    If you're NOT selected, that's OK. The next time an application filing period comes around, apply again. If not selected, apply again, and again. Eventually one of a couple things will happen. You'll be selected by random chance or you'll be selected because they're getting tired of seeing your name come across their desk on an application.

    But don't quit a job that pays well and provides bennies unless you absolutely have to. Even if you're "qualified" as an applicant, it may take several rounds of applications before you're selected. You may need that better paying job until then.
  6. by   LoveMyBugs
    There are 7 RN programs in Portland. Do not limit yourself to one school.
    Most of the schools are point based and previous healthcare experience adds points.
    Get your CNA certificate.
    I quit my grocery store job for a nursing home job. Which was lower pay, but I quickly got hired into a hospital for higher pay.
    Having a job that pays the bills but if the long term goal is to get into a program make yourself the best candidate possible, getting as many discretionary points as you can
  7. by   13grad71
    Just keep applying, you never know. I applied to just one nursing school and was fortunately accepted.
  8. by   RunBabyRN
    I would consider working as a CNA as soon as you can. It will get you in there elbow to elbow with nurses, and you can make connections that will help you a lot when it comes time for looking for RN positions.

    Cast a wide net- don't limit yourself to one school. Apply everywhere you can feasibly attend, even if it's not your first choice. I applied to 10 schools. The programs here have about the same acceptance rate you mentioned.

    Your GPA is vital. Do what you need to do to get As. Take one or two classes at a time if that's what it takes. You're very young and have a lot of time ahead of you (though it likely doesn't feel that way, I'm sure!).
  9. by   SPinOR
    Thank you! The position I am being considered for is a caregiver. I have entertained the idea of going through CNA training and applying around for CNA jobs. What prevents me is that CNA school isn't too cheap here (about $1500) and they get paid $1 more an hour than the Caregiver position. I do not want to waste time or money (mostly time) going to CNA school when being a caregiver gives me experience in the field. I understand that CNA's are more qualified than caregivers but when applying to nursing school, how much of a difference does it make? Thanks!
  10. by   RunBabyRN
    Eh, it may or may not behoove you to get your CNA license, but it will likely open you up to hospital CNA positions that you may not otherwise qualify for. You'd also make good connections that way, and develop skills that will be helpful in nursing school. Some schools now require CNA licensure prior to starting (like mine does). It can also help when you are applying to RN positions. Even though it (obviously) doesn't count as RN experience, it does show that you have patient care experience outside of school, and are familiar with the nursing environment.
  11. by   SPinOR
    Definitely. The programs here don't require CNA but I'm sure CNAs are favored. Also, What is the difference between a CNA and a caregiver in the field? Obviously CNA's require State certification and caregivers just need to pass a background check but what is the difference in the actual work itself?
  12. by   RunBabyRN
    I would imagine that varies by state, but unless you have something that shows that you can do the tasks required of a CNA (for example, I was a hospital corpsman, and was offered a few CNA positions), you may not get a job as easily. I would do some research and find out what a CNA is able to do in OR and what is limited by their certification/what is only allowed BECAUSE of their certification.
  13. by   LoveMyBugs
    Look into various CNA programs I took mine through Clackamas Community and it was only a term in length financial aide covered a portion of it.
    What school are you looking at applying to?
    Portland, clackamas and mt hood community colleges give out discretionary points. Some of those are;
    Paid healthcare experience
    Having a CNA certificate
    And then how many years of paid healthcare experience
    Did you take your pre-reqs through them

    The schools are not only GPA based.
    Working as a CNA will open doors for you
    The only new grad my unit has hired this year is a new grad who was a CNA on the floor and everyone who knew him advocated for him to be hired.
    We have another CNA who is just starting to apply to programs and we as the floor staff can not wait until this CNA is a nurse because we want him on our team.

    Look at all the schools you are applying to
    Know their application requirements
    Make yourself the best possible candidate....if this is what you really want....go for it
  14. by   SPinOR
    I was hoping for PCC just because I am right down the road. I was told that Financial aid would not cover CNA classes (at PCC anyways.) Would you say that RNs who were once CNA's are more competitive for job positions than RN's who were not? Of course right now my focus is getting into nursing school, but I also need to consider getting a job in the field post graduation. I plan on getting RN at PCC and BSN at OHSU. Thank you for your help! I'll look into Clackamas for CNA classes!