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Student FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions By Students

The following Questions and Answers are available to help you move along in your nursing journey. If you have a question not listed please post them in one of the Students forum.

When researching nursing programs, should I be looking at “accredited” programs only? What does that even mean?

National accreditation indicates a nursing program has met a set of stringent standards that ensures a high-quality education.

Accreditation is a voluntary process by which nursing programs are evaluated to assess, improve, and ensure quality control, criteria for certification, licensure, and future course upgrade, and elevate common standards through evaluation and re-evaluation.


  • Graduates are more competitive when seeking jobs
  • Students who may need to transfer schools will more than likely be able to transfer all earned credits
  • Students have a higher chance to be eligible for federal financial aid

What are the major nursing program national accrediting agencies?

Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)

ACEN is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). It accredits the Practical/Vocational Nursing (LPN/LVN) programs as well as the Registered Nurse (RN) diploma programs and the associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree nursing programs.

Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)

CCNE is recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education. It accredits programs at the baccalaureate and graduate levels, as well as post-graduate Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) certificates.

Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA)

COA is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). It accredits nurse anesthesia programs in the U.S. and its territories.

Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME)

ACME is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. It grants pre-accreditation and accreditation for basic certificate, basic graduate nurse-midwifery, direct-entry midwifery, and pre-certification nurse-midwifery education programs, including those programs that offer distance education.

What is the Pearson Vue Trick (PVT)?

Nursing students who have graduated must successfully pass their national examination, the NCLEX, before being eligible for state licensure. After taking the NCLEX exam, many want immediate results. The Pearson Vue “trick” is an attempt to immediately obtain pass/fail results before the Board of Nursing (BON) officially releases the results.

The process includes:

  • Wait approximately 1 hour after taking the NCLEX
  • Log into the personal Pearson Vue account
  • Enter credit card information to register a new exam
  • If the individual receives the following message, it is interpreted to mean that they passed the NCLEX: “Our records indicate you have recently scheduled this exam. Another registration cannot be made at this time”.

For official results, always contact and/or rely upon your state Board of Nursing.

What is the PVT "good pop-up"?

All nursing school graduates must sit for the NCLEX examination. After taking the exam, most are anxious and want immediate results before the official Board of Nursing results. The individual can log into their Pearson Vue account and enter new information to register another examination.

If the screen displays a red triangle exclamation mark symbol stating, “Our records indicate you have recently scheduled this exam. Another registration cannot be made at this time”, then this is considered the “good pop-up” and is interpreted as a successful NCLEX pass.

However, always contact and/or rely upon your state Board of Nursing for official results.

What is the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX)?

The NCLEX is a national standardized examination for the licensing of nurses in the United States and Canada. Exams offered are the NCLEX-RN for Registered Nurses and the NCLEX-PN for Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurses. Once the individual successfully passes his or her respective NCLEX examination, he or she is eligible for state licensure as an RN or LPN/LVN.

NCLEX examinations are developed, owned, administered, modified, and evaluated by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc. (NCSBN).

What is the purpose of a Nursing Regulatory Body (NRB) or Board of Nursing (BON)?

The purpose of the NRB or Board of Nursing (BON) is to protect the health and welfare of the general public and ensure that safe, competent nursing care is provided by legally licensed nurses.

These regulatory bodies establish requirements that nurses must meet in order to be legally licensed to practice nursing.

There is a BON in the fifty states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.

The BON ensures (not all-inclusive):

  • Graduate from an accredited entity and BON-approved RN or Practical/Vocational nursing program
  • Negative criminal background
  • Successfully pass the NCLEX (RN or LPN/LVN)
  • Current, unencumbered RN or LPN/LVN license in U.S. state/territory of practice
  • Adherence to each state/territory Nurse Practice Act (NPA)

Find your state Board of Nursing.

What is the Nurse Practice Act (NPA)?

The Nurse Practice Act (NPA) is the body of state law that mandates the Board of Nursing (BON) to establish and administer rules and regulations defining the Scope of Practice (SOP) and responsibilities of the RN and LPN/LVN. The RN and LPN/LVN earn the right to practice Nursing, are guided by the NPA rules and regulations, and have a duty to understand his or her state/territory NPA.

Find Your State’s Nurse Practice Act (NPA)

What is Standard of Care (SOC)?

Standard of care is explained as what a Nurse would do when faced with a similar care situation as another professional with same/similar/like training and experience. Deviations from the standards of care can result in professional negligence. Adherence to the standards of care is required of all reasonable, prudent nurses and sets the minimum criteria for proficiency.

I have to learn about the Nursing Process in my RN program. What is a simple explanation?

The Nursing Process is a systematic set of guidelines that utilizes critical thinking skills to formulate a centric plan of patient care thereby upholding quality standards and continuity of care.

Recognized by the acronym ADPIE, there are five (5) evidence-based steps in the Nursing Process:

  • Assessment – collection of subjective and objective data
  • Diagnosis – clinical skills, scientific reasoning, and nursing judgment
  • Planning – formulation of goals and outcomes
  • Implementation – carry out interventions
  • Evaluation – reassess

What is Scope of Practice (SOP)?

Nursing Scope of Practice is the provision of defined/established services by a competent, legally licensed Registered Nurse (RN), Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurse, and/or Advanced Practice Nurse (APN).

Scope of Practice involves the passing of state legislature and the development of rules and regulations as outlined by the individual Boards of Nursing (BON).

For example, when in doubt, here are a few questions the Nurse should ask him/herself before performing an intervention:

  • Is the intervention deemed acceptable as outlined by the NPA guidelines?
  • Has the nurse demonstrated competence in the performance of the intervention?
  • Are there policies and procedures in place that support the Nurse performing the intervention?

What are some questions that I need to ask when researching a nursing program?

  • Is the program nationally accredited? If so, by whom?
  • Is the program presented via online, in-class, hybrid?
  • What is the NCLEX pass rate?
  • Do you have a SIM lab?
  • Do you have a waitlist?
  • Are Preceptors provided or will I be required to secure my own?
  • Is the nursing program approved by the State Board of Nursing (BON)?
  • Do you have evening and/or weekend classes?
  • What percent of new nursing graduates had job offers at the time of graduation?

See also The Difference Between Approval and Accreditation

After I graduate, what will I be able to do as a Registered Nurse?

The Registered Nurse (RN) receives basic training during their nursing education. More advanced critical thinking skills will be learned and developed while on the job.

The following are included in the role of the RN. They are certainly not all-inclusive:

  • recognize/understand legal implications within RN scope of practice
  • observe, assess, intervene, evaluate patients
  • develop, modify, monitor effectiveness of nursing care plan
  • establish nursing diagnosis
  • enter medical record documentation
  • provide patient education
  • render safe, effective, high-quality nursing care directly or indirectly by delegation
  • administer medication and/or perform treatments as ordered by licensed/authorized healthcare providers
  • effectively communicate and/or collaborate with healthcare professionals and other members of the health care team
  • assist with procedures
  • act as patient advocate
  • participate in on-going continuing education

For more information about the role of the RN, please review your state’s Nurse Practice Act (NPA).

What are the duties of an LPN?

The Nurse Practice Act (NPA) of each individual U.S. state defines the practice of the Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurse (LPN/LVN).

The following are just a few duties as outlined in the LPN/LVN scope of practice.

  • Contribute to the nursing process and document nursing assessments of the patient-client as directed
  • Observe, collect, report, and document objective and/or subjective patient data as directed
  • Administer medication as ordered by licensed/authorized healthcare providers
  • Perform treatments as ordered by licensed/authorized healthcare providers
  • Maintain competence through ongoing continuing education and application of knowledge in nursing practice
  • Provide patient teaching as directed
  • Initiate appropriate emergency procedures when indicated
  • Obtain/monitor patient vital signs
  • Maintain patient confidentiality
  • Perform CPR in emergencies
  • Act as patient advocate

Note: It is of extreme importance that the LPN/LVN be familiar with his/her NPA as well as the policies and procedures of the healthcare employer.

Are online nursing programs really legitimate?

Brick and mortar (in-person attendance) used to be the common standard, but with so many changes occurring in our lives, many individuals search for a more convenient way to obtain a nursing education. Enter online education.

There are many universities that offer accredited, exceptional online programs and have done so for at least a decade. (Note that when clinicals are required, this will be done in a healthcare facility.)

Once again, the potential nursing student should exercise due diligence and ask important questions in order to ascertain if this style of education is something he/she wants to seek. Here are just a few questions to ask:

  • Is the university accredited and if so, by whom?
  • Is the nursing program nationally accredited and if so, by whom?
  • What is the NCLEX pass rate?
  • Is the program 100% online?
  • Does the program require “some” in-person attendance?
  • Does the university have collaboration contracts with healthcare facilities for clinicals?
  • Does the university have contracts with preceptors for clinical rotation or will I have to secure my own preceptor?
  • Can I do clinical(s) in my own area or will I be required to travel?
  • Is the online nursing program approved by the Board of Nursing (BON)?

US News & World Report: Best Online Master's in Nursing Programs (2020)

I need to work. Will I be able to keep my job and go to Nursing school?

It is not uncommon to ask this question and probably one of the first ones we encounter. There isn’t a solid one-size-fits-all answer. First, you must be very familiar with what will be required of you in your program. Talk to other current students and graduates and see how they handled working and studying.

The final answer will depend upon several factors and a lot of self-reflection about whether to keep working full-time, go part-time, or quit entirely.

Consider …

  • What type of learner am I?
  • Am I dedicated enough to actually juggle a full-time job and go to school full-time?
  • What are my financial obligations?
  • Am I easily distracted?
  • I wonder if I could get a scholarship and then decrease my work hours?
  • Will I really be able to find time to study and work, too?

What are the steps I need to take to obtain my Registered Nurse (RN) nursing license after graduation?

  • After successful graduation, you must apply for an RN license with the Board of Nursing (BON) in the state you intend to practice.
  • If the BON requires and requests additional information, complete their request(s) in a timely fashion.
  • Once all information is completed to the BON’s satisfaction, the applicant will be authorized to take the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX).
  • Once you have received BON authorization, you will need to register with Pearson VUE (the NCLEX testing organization) and pay the examination fee for the NCLEX-RN.
  • Pearson VUE will schedule a test date.
  • An Authorization to Test (ATT) will be issued that contains the date, time, and test site location for the examination (NCLEX-RN).
  • The BON will issue the official pass/fail NCLEX results.
  • If the applicant passed and he or she has completed all application requirements, a Registered Nurse (RN) license will be issued.

What is the difference between an LPN and an LVN?

It all depends on the state in which you are employed. California and Texas are the only U.S. states that use the title Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN). The remainder of the U.S. use the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN).

Each state Board of Nursing (BON) defines what a nurse can or cannot do via the Nurse Practice Act (NPA) and you will find minor differences between the LVN and the LPN. But, you will also find that the states that utilize the LPN title may have minor differences amongst them as well as defined by the individual BON NPA.

So, to answer the question, the only difference is the title.

After I graduate from my Practical Nursing program and receive my license as an LPN, where can I work?

  • Hospitals
  • Private clinics
  • Long-term Care (LTC)
  • Rehabilitation settings
  • Home Health
  • Public/Community Health
  • Ambulatory Surgical Clinics
  • Utilization Review/Management Companies
  • Insurance Companies
  • Medical Equipment and Supply Companies
  • Call Centers

I’ve already been accepted to a nursing program and now I’m wondering just how difficult is nursing school?

There really isn’t a simple answer to this question. Some find their programs easy. But, what does that really mean? It probably means they know themselves and developed a great study plan.

You’ve already been accepted, but you need to ask yourself a few questions … and be honest.

  • Why do I want to be a Nurse?
  • Am I an independent learner or do I study better with group learning?
  • Do I get distracted easily?
  • Am I an organized individual?
  • Do I have a good support system?
  • Am I a glass half full or glass half empty type of person?
  • Am I a procrastinator, putting off today what I can do tomorrow … until I’ve run out of tomorrows?

Here are a few ways that can help alleviate apprehension and minimize the worry about some of the difficulties you may face:

  • Prioritize your time by structuring a weekly study schedule, then stick to it
  • Take good study notes in class
  • During study time, minimize distractions like the phone, text-messages, emails, TV
  • Utilize flash cards
  • Study review questions
  • Be good to yourself
    • If possible, take a day off
    • Take a walk in the fresh air
    • Eat healthy
    • Focus on a positive attitude
  • Take care of your physical and mental health
    • Be well-rested
    • Take power naps
  • Don’t hesitate and/or be afraid to ask family for help with child-care and household duties
  • Get a tutor
  • Ask questions in the allnurses® Student forums
  • Know thyself

In the end, you will realize that you faced some difficulties and overcame them. Good luck in your Nursing program. Stay positive!!

I want to be a Nurse. Should I start out as an LPN? Or, do I need to go straight to an RN program? What’s the difference?

The decision to become a Nurse is very important. Once you realize this is what you want to do, you need to decide which pathway is the right one for you. Are you seeking a diploma, certificate, degree? Are you wanting a “fast-track” to graduation? What are your salary expectations?

Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurse (LPN/LVN)

This is a fast-track entry level to nursing and is typically a 12-24 month technical program. Upon graduation, a diploma, certificate, or an Associate’s Degree in Practical Nursing (PN) is awarded, depending on the educational entity.

Graduates will sit for the NCLEX-PN and receive a license to practice as an LPN/LVN in their respective U.S. states.

In many U.S. states, one may discover that the LPN/LVN can be restrictive in the care they can provide and find their employment opportunities limited. Also, some employment entities will only hire an RN. Many LPNs/LVNs can pursue an LPN to RN program to increase their employment opportunities.

Salary (2020)

According to salary.com, the average LPN salary in the U.S. is $49,524 and ranges between $45,036 and $55,448.

Registered Nurse (RN)

There following are three entry-level programs leading to RN licensure:

  • Diploma:  2- to 3-year hospital-based school of nursing
  • Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN): 2- to 4-year Community/Technical College
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN): 4- to 5-year College or University

After graduation, all three levels are eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN and receive a license to practice as an RN in their respective U.S. states.

Salary (2020)

  • According to salary.com, the median salary for the ADN-prepared nurse is $72,988 - $77,323.
  • According to salary.com, the median salary for the BSN-prepared nurse is $73,331 - $77,712.

Well, of course, they don’t eat their young … not literally.

It is an idiom or metaphor that has existed for years. Simply explained, it means that Nurses use bullying and negative behavior, usually against a newly licensed nurse in the workplace. This is considered lateral or horizontal violence. Newly licensed nurses are usually the targets, but the older, more experienced nurse may find that he/she is a target, too.

Lateral/horizontal violence examples (not all-inclusive):

  • Instigate gossip
  • Perpetuate rumors
  • Withhold vital patient information
  • Ignore questions
  • Provide incorrect patient information
  • Intimidate
  • Refuse to help
  • Socially isolate
  • Mock/ridicule
  • Remain silent

When we see and/or are the victim of bullying, nurses must break the silence. Nurses must tell their nursing supervisors, managers, and/or nurse administrators, as well as fellow nursing colleagues, that the bullying cannot continue and the excessively disproportionate power relationship must end.

What are some of the best graduate Nursing programs in the U.S.?

I have an interview for my nursing program. I feel unprepared. What are some of the questions they may ask?

First impressions are exactly what everyone says they are. You never get a do-over. So, make a great first impression.

The nursing school interview is very important. It’s not only a way for the faculty members to get to know you, but a way for you to get to know them, too. There are so many questions that can be asked during an interview. Some are quite common and expected like, “why do you want to become a nurse?” or “tell us about yourself”. Here is a list of common and not so common questions.

  • Why did you choose XYZ University’s nursing program?
  • What are your long-term goals as a nurse?
  • Can you describe a difficult situation where you had to act quickly in order to avoid a grave outcome?
  • Where do you see yourself 10 years down the road?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What is one weakness that you’ve never been able to overcome?
  • You have a great GPA. Why should we choose you over other students with the same GPA?
  • Nursing is fast-paced and stressful. How do you perform under pressure?
  • What are three (3) words you would use to describe yourself?
  • We see you are interested in XYZ Nursing. What do you know about this nursing specialty?
  • What would you do if you see your BFF cheating in class?

And, a very important question is, “do you have questions for us?” Be sure to research the program and be prepared to ask them some questions. Failure to do so could make you appear to be uninterested if you have no questions.

In the end, you must paint a very favorable picture of yourself. Sell yourself. It may feel awkward talking about yourself at first, but you must convince them that you are serious about this career choice.

Remember, you only have one chance to make a great first impression.

I am about to graduate from my RN program and am a little anxious about actually working as a Nurse. I am especially anxious about making a mistake. What are some common mistakes?

This is a very good question. It is a common and valid concern. The truth is, Nurses can and do make mistakes. It has happened to every Nurse. Mistakes will occur.

Newly licensed nurses are vulnerable in that they are excited to get started in their nursing careers and very eager to shed the new-kid-on-the-block persona. It takes time to move from student/new grad to seasoned nurse. If fact, it will probably take at least two years to become somewhat acclimated to this new career. Rushing the process often leads to mistakes.

First, here is a list of some of the most common errors/mistakes:

1 – Probably the most common are medication errors (and, you learned about this in your nursing program early on). For example:

  • Wrong medicine
  • Wrong dose
  • Wrong patient
  • Wrong time
  • Wrong route

Whether it is 5 or 6 or 10 rights of medication administration that you learned, all Nurses must ensure that the rights are met before administering the medication. Don’t rush, don’t take detours, don’t get side-tracked. Focus on the task and nothing else.

2 – Patients who are vulnerable to falls is a safety issue. For example:

  • The elder, feeble patient
  • Patients with disabilities
  • Patients who are injured
  • Patients receiving pain medication

The Nurse must ensure patient safety. So, how can he or she do this?

  • First and foremost, the Nurse must perform a risk assessment
  • Remove hazards such as spilled liquids, loose flooring, other objects
  • Perform frequent rounds, reassess
  • Raise side-rails as needed
  • Place call light in immediate reach; ensure patient understands

3 – Documentation errors/mistakes most often due to time management issues. Nurses should chart as soon as absolutely possible, be detail-oriented and thorough.

  • Wrong chart
  • Omitting pertinent information (change in condition, response to treatment/meds, etc.)
  • Charting before-the-fact
  • Illegible entry
  • Failure to chart

4 – Not asking for HELP.

This may not be an error, but it is certainly a mistake. Your primary goal is patient safety; you are the patient advocate. Nurses have made the mistake of trying to do it all on their own, leading to sentinel events (patient death).

  • When you need help, ask for it.
  • There is no shame.
  • It does not imply weakness or loss of control.
  • It shows strength.
  • It enables you to grow professionally.