You’ve determined that you want to be a nurse, and are ready to consider nursing school. But how to begin? We’re here to help. Below you’ll find the Who, Why, What, Where and How of earning your college degree.
You, of course, that’s who. What made you consider nursing? Do you have a specialty in mind? Take some time to consider things. What do you do well when it comes to school? Were you strong in the sciences? Do you have any experience observing nurses work? Are you prepared for the realities of a nursing career?
Also, consider nursing school itself. What were your strengths and weaknesses when you were in school? Are you comfortable in a classroom, or do you prefer hanging out online? How do you feel about writing papers, memorizing, and taking notes during lectures?
All of these are important factors to consider before moving forward. A good exercise is to sit down and write down answers to the questions above. Nursing school is challenging, and knowing your strengths and weaknesses before you go in is key. Take the time to really dig deep and understand yourself before taking the next step.
This is important: WHY do you want to become a nurse? Are you fulfilling a life-long dream of helping people when they are sick or injured, or are you simply following the expectations of your parents or friends? Are you hoping for a job security and advancement, and a nursing degree is the next step down that path? Whatever your reason, if you are doing it for yourself and the dreams you hold for your life, you are more likely to succeed.
If you’ve already chosen to pursue a nursing degree, you probably already have some idea of what area of nursing interests you the most. Whether you’ve decided to work with children, cancer patients, or the elderly, it’s still a good idea to take a good look at your personal goals before choosing your next step.
How much of an investment are you willing to make for your nursing career? Will you earn your LPN, or will you go further and become an RN? Do you want a four-year degree? What about graduate school—are there advanced degrees available in your nursing specialty?
When considering which nursing degree to choose, it’s important to consider your long-term goals. Sure, a two-year LPN program may get you into the workforce more quickly, but is that what you see yourself doing in ten years? How about twenty? If you are planning a return to school now, it might be a good idea to earn the degree that best suits your long-term goals, rather than taking any shortcuts.
This question is just as important but much more practical. Do you want to stay close to home, or are you eager to explore other places? Do you have a preferred college or university’s nursing program, or can you attend anywhere? Do you want a place where you can live on campus, or would you rather live off-site?
The first step, of course, is to find out the best nursing program for your long-term goals. Then you can check out the best local options as well as visit other locations. What nursing school offers the courses you want at the times you want them? When visiting a school, be sure to check out the surrounding neighborhoods and the services they offer. If you are going to spend a lot of time in that area, you will need more than just what the college offers—after all, you’ll also need to eat and shop!
Secondly, you should spend some time researching how the nursing school assists its graduates. Does it have a strong career center? How about their job placement office? Once you’ve graduated you’ll need some assistance in taking that next step. Check out how your college will help you.
Once you have all this information, you will know which nursing program is the best place for you.
Ah, how may seem like the biggest question. How will I get in? How will I pay for nursing school? Can I manage to work while going to school?
Luckily, in this day and age there are as many diverse options for earning your nursing degree as there are students. You can go to school part-time and keep that good job. You can go to school online, part-time, full-time, or for just some of your courses.
Financial aid is readily available to anyone who needs it, making nursing school a reality for everyone. The admissions counselors at the nursing school you choose can help you navigate the paperwork required and provide guidance on both financial aid and your course load.
To become a nurse, all it takes is you making the commitment and taking that first step. Good luck, and good learning!