Choosing a Health Profession
Allied Health Program
How to Prepare
Registered Nurse (R.N.)
Registered Nursing is one of the fastest growing career fields in the health care industry. Registered Nurses have a unique scope of practice ranging from direct patient care to case management to preventative health care. Although Registered Nurses can practice independently, they also collaborate with all members of the healthcare industry to provide the care needed for each patient and develop an individualized long-term healthcare plan.
Upon completion of the RN Degree, registered nurses have the option of specializing in a particular field of nursing. There are over 100 specialized fields of nursing, all of which require additional training and certification requirements. The below list is just a sampling of the specialized fields available:
Accelerated Programs / Advanced Degrees
There are several universities that offer nursing programs for students who already have a Bachelor’s Degree or a Master’s Degree in a field other than nursing. These programs, which are often shorter in length than generic programs, are ideal for individuals who have graduated college and wish to enter the field of nursing. The admission requirements for both programs vary by school and it is highly recommended to review the list of schools offering these programs on the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) website.
Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
The accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program, also known as a second degree nursing program, offers individuals with non-nursing baccalaureate or higher degrees the opportunity to complete a nursing program in less time than a traditional baccalaureate program.
Accelerated Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program is designed for individuals who hold baccalaureate degrees in fields other than nursing and who wish to become a nurse. The program builds upon the student's broad educational preparation and provides an intense, accelerated and specialized nursing curriculum to meet the student's career goals.
Advanced Degrees in Nursing
- Degree Completion Programs for RNs (RN to BSN and RN to MSN)
- Master’s Degree (MSN)
- Doctoral Degree (PhD, EdD, DNS, DNP)
- Post-Doctoral Programs
All applicants are strongly encouraged to gain work/volunteer/shadowing experience in a health-care setting as part of the application process. Most competitive nursing schools look for a range of 100 – 400 hours of shadowing, but applicants are encouraged to research the individual nursing schools admission requirements prior to applying. The experience will not only confirm your desire to enter the field of nursing but will also make you a competitive nursing school applicant. In addition, you will be asked to provide a letter of recommendation from a nurse or health professional, along with letters of recommendation from two science professors.
In addition to the pre-health academic requirements, students interested in nursing are encouraged to take the following courses (requirements vary by school):
Applications for most nursing schools are submitted online through NursingCAS, the only centralized application service for students applying to registered nursing (RN) programs at all levels. Similar to online central application services for medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, and the other health professions, NursingCAS offers students a convenient way to research and apply to multiple nursing schools with a single online application. Through NursingCAS, prospective nursing students may apply to diploma, associate degree, baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral programs offered by participating schools. Please look at the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) for a list of participating schools. Students should apply at the earliest possible date, which varies by school. Please visit the websites for the schools to which you are interested in applying for their complete schedule of application deadlines and application requirements, specifically whether or not the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is required for entrance into their nursing school.
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