Deciding to start nursing school is a major life choice, especially if you’re considering earning a second degree to change career paths. Undoubtedly, you already know this — it’s probably how you found this article, after all!
It’s reasonable to want to know what to expect before taking the leap on such a major career transition. To help give you a little more of an idea of what nursing school is like, we compiled this list of five things to know before nursing school.
1. You don’t need any health care experience to apply
It’s a common misconception that prior experience working or studying in the health care field is necessary to apply to a nursing program. While that may be the case in some nursing degree programs, you do not need to have a health care background to apply to the 15-month Notre Dame of Maryland University Accelerated 2nd Degree Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program. In fact, we designed the Notre Dame ABSN program specifically for students who desire an accelerated transition into the nursing field!
Whether you prefer to complete nursing coursework online or in the classroom, we offer a learning method that’s right for you. Our Hybrid ABSN program allows students to study and complete nursing theory coursework using an intuitive e-Learning platform. Students enrolled in our on-campus ABSN program attend regularly scheduled lectures at our campus in Baltimore. No matter which path you choose, you still have access to the same rigorous curriculum. In both program options, you’ll complete nursing skills and simulation labs at either our program site or on-campus labs as well as clinical rotations at top hospitals in Baltimore.
So long as you have a bachelor’s degree in any non-nursing field from a regionally accredited institution, you may be eligible to enroll in the Notre Dame ABSN program. To qualify for enrollment, you must complete:
- Non-nursing bachelor’s degree, with a cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher (on a 4-point scale)
- ABSN prerequisite courses (22 credit hours) within the minimum grade requirements
- ABSN program application
If you’re unsure whether your prior educational and life experience make you a good fit for the Notre Dame ABSN program, one of our dedicated admissions counselors can help you make that determination.
2. Prerequisites set the foundation for your nursing education
As we mentioned above, to be eligible to apply for the Notre Dame ABSN program, you must complete six ABSN prerequisites. To meet the prerequisite requirements of the ABSN program, you must have completed the following prerequisites with a minimum grade of C or higher within five years prior to enrollment:
- Basic Statistics
- Survey of General, Organic and Biochemistry
- Anatomy & Physiology I + II
The content in these courses is at the core of everything you’ll be learning as a nursing student and serve to ensure you begin the Notre Dame ABSN program with all the necessary baseline knowledge needed to succeed. They’ll also give you a great idea of what to expect from our ABSN curriculum.
3. Nursing school requires a lot of time and dedication
Between completing assignments, studying for exams, soaking up everything you can, and succeeding in clinical rotations, you’re bound to have a lot on your plate as a nursing student. Throw in the fact that in an accelerated nursing program like the one Notre Dame of Maryland University offers, you’re doing all of this in 15 months. Needless to say, things are bound to seem overwhelming!
To increase your chances of success in nursing school, it’s important to know this information upfront so you can mentally prepare yourself and make a game plan to tackle the challenge head-on. Time management and organizational strategies will be key to your success as a nursing student, as will having a strong support network (more on that in a minute).
Even though the most challenging of times, it’s also important to remain calm and remember why you want to be a nurse in the first place, whether that’s the thought of entering a rewarding profession or the career advancement opportunities that become available to you with a BSN.
4. You’ll need to re-learn how you learn
Especially in an accelerated nursing program, instructors will expect you to retain a lot of important nursing theories and concepts, but the most important skill you can develop to become a successful nursing student — and eventual nurse — is critical thinking. You will definitely need to know nursing facts and data, but the ability to think on your feet to evaluate each patient’s unique condition is critical.
The good news for you is the Notre Dame ABSN program’s rigorous and accredited curriculum is designed to help you do just that. Throughout your time as a Notre Dame ABSN student, your coursework will emphasize the importance of making evidence-based judgments. Plus, many exams are written in such a way to help you master case-based questions similar to what you can expect to see on the NCLEX, the licensure exam every nursing student must pass to become a nurse. These multiple-choice questions typically have no “right” answer; it’s up to you to choose the “most correct” answer based on the case presented in the question.
If all this still has your head spinning, don’t stress — our course developers designed the online coursework component of the Notre Dame ABSN program to be accessible for all kinds of learners. So whether you’re a visual, aural, social, or kinesthetic (learn by doing) learner, we’re confident you can find a study method that works best for you. For students enrolled in our campus-based ABSN program, you have face-to-face access to our supportive nursing faculty every week in the classroom.
5. You have resources to help you succeed
Accelerated nursing school requires a major time commitment for students to be successful. From keeping up with coursework, practicing nursing skills during the lab portion of the program, and making sure you make the most of your clinical rotations while in the program, nursing school is a lot of work! But for all the trepidation you may have about undertaking such a heavy workload in nursing school, know you’ll have a support system to help you succeed that’s much stronger than any anxiety you may encounter in our ABSN program.Even before you begin the program, our dedicated admissions counselors serve to support you on your path to becoming a nurse. They’ll help you compile everything you need to apply to the Notre Dame ABSN program and even devise a personalized enrollment plan based on your own individual career goals and target start date.
From there, once you begin in our ABSN program, you can expect that high level of support to continue. In both the hybrid and campus-based ABSN programs, nursing faculty and clinical instructors are always in your corner and available to help you navigate complex nursing topics, while personalized success coaches can assist you with study strategies and establishing a healthy school-life balance.
Are you ready to start nursing school?
Now that you know a little about what to expect heading into nursing school, are you ready to live up to the challenge and pursue a degree that changes lives? It all starts with an initial phone conversation with one of our admissions counselors, who can help you determine if you’d be a good fit for our ABSN program. Complete this form to get started today!