With the aging population, and 79 million baby boomers who will need to be cared for over the next 20-30 years, health professions are an excellent choice for those entering the workforce and those considering a career change. A nursing shortage is looming as we strive to serve the aging population. Nurse practitioners are filling the gaps in primary health care. So, what should you do to prepare for your application to nursing school?
Competition is fierce as many applicants vie for limited places in nursing programs. Applicants must be strategic in standing out among the crowd. Basic tips for the application process:
- Be respectful of everyone you deal with in the application process. Your demeanor speaks volumes about who you are as a person, and specifically, how you will be as a nurse.
- Be enthusiastic. Nursing is hard work & often includes dealing with difficult people & situations that are stressful. You need to show that you have the skills to meet the challenges.
- Be professional. Dress to impress in business attire. Even though you are applying to college, you should treat the application process as if you were applying for a job. Applicants who show up for interview in jeans, shorts and a tee shirt, obviously, are not taking the process seriously. If applicants are lax about the interview, they will also be lax about nursing and professionalism.
- Be prepared to describe your vision of nursing and plans for the future.
- If you are applying to nursing, do not talk about going to medical school. 1. You are on the wrong track if that is your goal. 2. You are probably not realistic about either profession.
- Do your research. It is helpful to know what characteristics about nursing are inspirational to you & what your goals for the future will be. Sharing personal experiences that have led you to the desire to be a nurse help significantly. Aim high: Program directors want to see you achieve the highest goals in nursing such as a masters degree, a clinical specialist, a nurse practitioner, a nurse educator, a PhD.
- Submit your paperwork timely! There are many requirements as part of the application process. If the admissions advisor has to chase you down consistently for all your documentation, you come across as disorganized and unprepared, which may or may not be shared with the nursing Dean or program chair.
- Prepare for the entrance examination. Many nursing schools require aptitude tests to determine whether applicants can achieve the requirements of nursing school academically. Familiarize yourself with the test that you will be required to take, the questions that will be asked & the requirements for the test.
Action speaks louder than words. When you "are" the person you want to be, than all you need to do is "be" to show that you are serious about a nursing career. Ways to prove that you are the perfect candidate include:
- Volunteering in your community. This does not necessarily need to be in health related activities. Demonstrating that you are vested in the well being of your community AND that you want to help is a big plus.
- Volunteer in healthcare organizations. Hospices and nursing homes are great places to get your feet wet. They love to have volunteers assist with daily activities. Show that you are committed to healthcare by volunteering.
- Join health related organizations in your community: Volunteer Ambulance Corps are a wonderful choice as you will get some experience with being in the healthcare field.
- Take courses that are health related such as a CPR course or a First Aid course.
Lastly! If at first you don't succeed...try and try again. The fact that you may not be selected is not a judgment on your appropriateness for nursing school, and most definitely, you should not consider it a failure if you do not succeed. There are limited places. Keep trying.