Starting from scratch

Nursing Students Pre-Nursing


I'm planning to make a career overhaul from editor to nurse. I'm in my mid-thirties and all of my work experience so far has been in the field of publishing. I've wanted to make this transition for awhile and I'm really excited to get started. Aside from doing well in my prerequisite courses, what advice do you all have for making myself a great contender when it comes time to apply to top ABSN programs? I know many people try to work as a CNA first. I work and have kids so it would be hard to get a CNA certificate right now, but I could do that if I had to. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

It depends on the program(s) you're looking to get into. They each calculate eligibility differently. Most programs have a significant amount of information online. I'd only caution that you beware of minimum standards. The average successful candidate usually far exceeds them.

I'd at least get volunteer time in at a hospital. A lot of programs give bonus points in the application process to people who actually know the disgusting world of healthcare, and still want to do it. They don't want someone who's going to drop out when they find out that nurses have to clean up diarrhea. And the CNA route is a smart choice. And if you can't make those classes work, you won't make nursing school work. Unfortunately, they expect your life to be tailored around them. It's easier than most people think, though. There's night programs for the training, some are only weekends over a longer period of time. There's ways, you just have to make it happen. Don't accept your limits on time

I echo Sour Lemon. It's going to entirely depend on each program and what their committee will even look at. Like with mine, they ranked people by evaluating the interview, prereq GPA, and test score. So, you could include volunteer and work experience in your interview and have that hopefully help you a bit. But other programs might only look at GPA and test scores with no opportunity to submit a resume or essay. In that case, experience isn't going to help you because the committee isn't going to know about your experience.

I'd take a look at the programs you would like to get into and perhaps call the admissions person for them to get insight into what they are looking for.

Thanks for your comment. Do you think volunteer time will suffice, or do most applicants have CNA experience? I won't be applying for to nursing school for a year or two, but by then I'll be able to go all in. Right now it's tougher timewise, and I'd rather not do the CNA certificate unless it will greatly help my chances.

For most programs that will even look at experience and such, I'd assume whatever type of healthcare-related exp, including volunteering, will suffice. Volunteering could also look good because you are giving back to the community, etc, etc. I'm in an ABSN program now, and we have several people in it that have 0 healthcare exp and and others that have 0 cna exp. You just want to start thinking about how your current skills translate to nursing (assuming your application isn't strictly gpa and test scores).

Got it. Thanks for the info, it's very helpful.

I agree w/ the others: Volunteer. Many volunteer positions are one day a week for 3-4 hours. Many different positions to choose from. This is the best way to get exposure to the healthcare system if you don't already work there

Thanks. Any particular type of position you would recommend?

Like others have said, it depends on the program/s you wish to apply. Some schools may only look at your GPA and TEAS, HESI scores. While others will require you to have a high GPA, a ton of volunteer work and a CNA certificate.


You can just check the hospital/clinic websites for positions. Just type in "Volunteer'' in the search button and something usually pops up. They will usually have a list of typical positions, not all of them may be available, but at least you'll have a good idea of what's out there. Keep in mind that most might take anywhere from a few weeks to three months to get on board. You also probably have to do a background check and it's usually a basic one to make sure you're not a wanted felon or predator. From my experience, the hospital will usually pay for the background checks and/or give you vaccinations if you need them. Oh yeah, most hospitals will also need you to show proof of vaccinations or blood titers. For example, TB test, Hep B test, MMR, Varicella, etc..

I would recommend to try sticking to positions that have contact with patients and/or their families. This will usually fare better when you're applying to schools. Office work is okay, but if you become a nurse you will be having contact all day with people and schools like to see that you are capable of interacting with others in a hospital setting.

Good luck!

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