Planning and Prereqs for Nursing School Students

May 8th, 2011


By , BSN, RN

Once you've decided to attend nursing school there are many new issues to be addressed. Among those is how to complete the required prerequisite courses to get accepted to an accredited nursing program. Organization is key to pursuing any goal. Knowing what you need and how to get it will make all the difference when starting the nursing journey.

It is time to get your academic ducks in a row. In this case, that means have all your nursing program prerequisites completed or close when the time comes to apply for nursing school. Competition is fierce to get into an accredited Associate or Bachelor degree nursing programs and preparation is the key.

The first prerequisite for admission to a college nursing program is completion of high school with a diploma issued or the completion of the GED test with a good score. Most schools will also require a strong score on the SAT or ACT, the standardized tests for high school achievement.

Many college level nursing programs are all-inclusive. The curriculum is built to teach you everything you need to know to get to the NCLEX, the nurse licensing test. But, most schools will require you to complete some prerequisite classes on your own before starting the actual nursing coursework.

In a survey of nursing schools in the Texas Medical Center in Houston, the largest medical center in the world, admission requirements to the schools of nursing were very similar. Four programs, from the University of Texas Health Science Center School of Nursing, Prairie View A&M, Texas Woman's University and Houston Community College Coleman School of Nursing all show prerequisite requirements which are very much the same. Courses may have slightly different names but there is a certain universality to what you must complete before learning to use your stethoscope.

  • Anatomy and Physiology-the cornerstone of any medical education
  • Microbiology
  • Chemistry (sometimes Biochemistry)
  • Pathophysiology
  • Statistics
  • Nutrition
  • Psychology and/or Sociology
  • General Education-your English, Writing, History, Math and other classes all programs require for graduation

Some programs require all prerequisites be completed before even applying for the nursing program so they can see all the grades.

While not prerequisites usually, some computer and medical terminology knowledge are useful in showing your interest in attending nursing school. Hospitals all use computer charting and nurses are expected to use accurate medical language when discussing care with other health care professionals. Also, an ethics class or two can be seen as a commitment to quality healthcare when applying to nursing school.

If not already in attendance at a full four-year university it is certainly cost effective to take as many prereqs as possible at the local Junior College or online. However, before jumping into either, make sure that the classes taken either way will be accepted by the nursing schools you hope to attend. Not all schools will accept all coursework from other institutions.

On a related note, there are some prereqs for life that you might want to meet before starting an intensive nursing program. Try to have your life in order. If you have debt, try to lessen it. Starting school is probably not the time to buy a new car or house. Have your loved one's support before starting the grueling task of taking nursing school courses, particularly the clinical coursework. Parents may be enlisted to help with your daily living needs, a significant other can be asked to help with the chores and responsibilities of keeping a home.

There is a lot of work to be done away from school and as calm an outside life, as possible, will smooth out the learning process. It is possible to work, have a family and a life while in nursing school…it just takes some planning.

2 Responses to “Planning and Prereqs for Nursing School Students”

  1. Linda Says:

    What is the best online RN to BSN program?

  2. admin Says:

    The best program is a very subjective question. What’s best for you might not be what’s best for me. I think you need to investigate several, question people you trust who have worked on their online BSN and consider what is important to you. There are different class requirements, availability of clinicals, when and where they are and how long are classes. Can you handle the pace of 5 week courses or would it be better for you to have 8 or 9 weeks to complete course work. Just like going to traditional brick and mortar universities you have to tour the school and its programs, even if it is only a virtual campus tour.

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