As with any professional degree, gaining admission into nursing school is an extremely competitive process. Nursing has been voted the most trusted profession for over 17 years in a row, and is always in high ranks for being one of the best jobs in America. I graduated from the UCLA School of Nursing in 2018, and here my biggest tips for applying to nursing school.
GAIN DIRECT PATIENT CARE EXPERIENCE.
I cannot emphasize how important it is to have experience working and developing relationships with patients. The entire purpose of your nursing school application is to prove why nursing is the right career for you, and the BEST way to do that is to SHOW them that you already have worked part time at a senior home, or volunteered at a hospital, and talk about why those experiences motivate you to continue your education.
PLAN IN ADVANCE.
There are MANY different career paths to becoming a nurse. You can get a community college degree, a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing, a second bachelors in Nursing, Master’s Entry program... the list goes on. Many of these programs have specific prerequisite courses that must be completed. All in all, they can take anywhere from 1-3 years to complete. When I was applying to nursing school, I had a GIANT excel spreadsheet that outlined which prerequisites each school required. The more competitive/prestigious the program, the more likely they are to require more advanced level classes like Microbiology, Calculus, etc.
TAKE A HOLISTIC ADMISSIONS APPROACH.
Nursing schools get hundreds of applications per open spot. In addition to being academically stellar, it is equally important to make sure your extracurriculars have flying colors as well. In general, you wait to aim for at least 100 volunteer hours. Many high school applicants have 500+ hours of community service. Whether you are serving as the treasurer of your school’s Red Cross Club, or serve on ASB at your high school, Leadership experience is also a must.
Many programs do not have interviews, so your application is the only way nursing schools will get to know you. Having grammar and spelling errors indicate a lack of attention to detail, and definitely will have a negative impact on your application. I had my parents, my mentors, and my college counselors read my application. The more eyes, the better!
About the author:
Miki Rai BSN RN is a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit Registered Nurse based in Los Angeles, California. She graduated from the UCLA School of Nursing cum laude in 2018. She is trilingual, speaking English, Chinese and Japanese. Miki is passionate about working as a patient advocate, and simplifying healthcare concepts in a way that patients and their families can understand. Follow Miki on Instagram!