Published Jul 21, 2009
So, I apologize if this is kind of long, but there seem to be a lot of tracks to pursue nursing, and it's a bit confusing!
I've recently become really interested in going to nursing school. I've already graduated a 4 year university with a 3.45 in an unrelated field-- anthropology (biological anthropology, to be precise, so I have taken basic bio, chemistry, and genetics but I received B and B-'s in all the biology classes I've taken thus far). All along, I had interest in pursuing an area of public health but I wasn't sure which career path to pursue. Until I started looking into it, I honestly didn't really know what a nurses job was.
*Queue-in fabulous and moving experience being treated by a nurse*
And I was pleased to find out the field is quite diverse.
There's no question in my mind that the job itself--care taking-- would be incredibly rewarding. Additionally, the fact that there is job security in the nursing field is appealing to me, as well as location flexibility (if I even need to move, there will likely be hospitals near-by), and the opportunity for educational/career growth through out my life. The latter being one of the most appealing aspects of the three-- I like that I can continue learning and furthering my career as I gain more experience and a better understanding of what I want to do.
Anyway, I've got my BA with a fairly low GPA, and now I'd like to get my RN. What do you think is the best track?
I've looked into accelerated (second-degree) BSN programs, but I fall short of at least 3 pre-reqs in most cases, usually more. Because it would take at least two semesters to obtain the anatomy and physiology requirements I'd need, and because BSN programs seem to be fewer and more competitive than RN certification programs, I think the RN certification programs might be a better, faster route. I'm 24, I'd like to be able to support myself on more than financial aid before my 30's...
However, I want the option of pursuing a masters degree in the future, as well, so I'd definitely want to get a BSN...
Is it asinine to get a BA, then and RN, then a BSN??
Also, am I even correct in thinking that RN certification programs are less competitive than BSN programs?
I'd appreciate any advice!!
TheSquire, DNP, APRN, NP
Snarky answer: One that gets you an RN.
More serious answer: You sound like someone who was pre-med or surrounded by people who were pre-med while in school, since you call a 3.45 GPA 'low'. Not that that's a bad thing (I too once was pre-med with a lowly 3.6), but outside of that hyper-competitive sphere, a 3.45 GPA in one of the hard sciences is a respectable showing. And while you do not have a degree in nursing, anthropology is heavily related to nursing. In fact, back before there were PhDs in Nursing, nurses who wanted to earn a doctorate often pursued PhDs in Anthropology or Education.
First off, RN "certification" programs, i.e. diploma programs, are now very, very rare. In fact, there's only one left in my state. What I think you are referring to are the ADN programs, which are associate's in nursing, offered through community colleges everywhere. Getting an ADN and then completing an RN to BSN is definitely a viable option, and is often cheaper and easier for those who live away from larger cities and/or colleges that offer BSNs. Certainly, for those whose sole wish is to be a floor nurse, there's no functional difference between an ADN and a BSN when it comes to responsibilities and pay. However, if one intends to be upwardly mobile in one's career, a BSN does help (although there are some RN to MSN programs out there).
However, part of why I'm posting is to inform you of a specific option open to those with a Bachelors: Those with a BA can enter either a Graduate-Entry Master's program, which'll kick you out with an RN and some amount of additional, hopefully advanced, coursework (which varies by school), or there are also Direct-Entry Master's programs that will kick you out as some flavor of APN (Advanced Practice Nurse, if you've not yet picked up on nursing TLAs). The former tend to be two year programs, while the latter can take up to three or four, depending on how much they try to cram things in. (Full disclosure: I'm in a Master's Entry program myself.)
As for competitiveness of ADN vs BSN or GEM/DE-MSN programs, it depends on your area. Reading some of the posts around here, it seems that some community college ADN programs use a points system to determine who gets admitted (x points for living in-district, y points for having a certain GPA, z points for being born in a month with a lunar eclipse, etc.) while others set a minimum bar for requirements and then put everyone who meets them on a years-long waitlist for seats. You have to look around and see who does what. Also, I'd advise looking at your state's Board of Nursing website to find all of the nursing schools in your state and see what they offer. There are a number of well-known colleges and universities out there whose Nursing Depts or Schools are not well-known but still have good NCLEX pass rates.
As for the ADN being a faster route, it also depends on what prereqs they require. There's a nebulous set of universal pre-reqs that every nursing school seems to require, but it's common for schools to have one or two oddball pre-reqs - and this is constant for ADN, BSN, or entry-MSN schools. When I was applying, I found it helpful to make a list of all the schools that I was considering and what extra coursework I would need to get into each school. To start you off, my school's stated requirements are here. (Further note - the deadline for applying to the cohort that starts in January 2010 is usually the end of this month, so if you get your butt in gear you might make the deadline for admission).
In all, there's no one good way to become a Nurse and to progress to higher levels of education and certification within the field. (The sheer diversity is probably a major source of your confusion.) It all depends on what financial and time commitments you can handle, as well as whether or not you're able to relocate in order to attend schools.
I don't have much to add to what TheSquire said, except this:
If you're looking to get an ADN then RN to BSN, it will probably take you 4 years. A year for your pre-reqs, two years for your ADN classes, then a year for RN to BSN.
I'm guessing that since you have a science based degree, it will probably take you 3 years to get a BSN. A year for pre-reqs, and two for BSN classes.
Of course, none of these timeframes include waiting lists, long application periods, the ONE class that fits your work schedule filling up, etc.
I really appreciate the advice!
I've spent some time looking into direct entry master's programs in the CT area. Unfortunately, these programs as well as the accelerated BSN programs are a bit limited since location is and issue for me. Though, I haven't totally ruled out Boston and NY, and there are loads of schools there.
In CT there is one certificate program left, but it seems as logical as an ADN for me: if I don't have any other choice, it's certainly better than nothing, but I'd like to be on my way in a master's program or a BSN. Since I need a year of prereqs, I'm not sure it would make much of a difference if I started in an accelerated BSN program or transferred my credits to a four-year-university and majored in nursing. This plan might be a little less competitive than the accelerated option (Southern CT has an accelerated program and last year they accepted only 20% of applicants and the average GPA was a 3.53-- I have a 3.45...)
In the mean time I'm enrolling in A&P and micro and signing up for a 4-week CNA certification course. :)
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