Nurses coordinate and provide care for patients, emotional support to both patients and their families, and advice and education to the public and patients. While it is common to associate nurses with hospitals, they can work in a variety of locations and settings. Some of the places you can find nurses include home healthcare services, physician offices, nursing home facilities, schools, the military, summer camps and correctional facilities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for the occupation is just under $65,000 as of 2010, which is the date of their most recent survey data. Of course, in order to earn that salary, a college degree is required for the profession. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that an associate’s degree is generally the minimum acceptable education degree, but bachelor’s and master’s degrees are available in nursing.
Selecting a Nursing School
Before checking into the requirements for a nursing school, it is advisable to confirm that the school and its program are deemed acceptable by the Board of Nursing in your state. Usually this means that the school or program is accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission. Enrolling in and completing a nursing program that is not approved by the state Board of Nursing can result in licensing difficulties upon graduation. The state Board of Nursing generally issues nursing licenses to those who have graduated from an approved nursing program. Each state Board of Nursing maintains a list of approved programs that can be consulted before selecting a school or program.
Going to Nursing School
In order to attend nursing school, certain requirements must be met before admission is granted. The specific requirement can vary by school. Some states even have stricter requirements than others. For instance, the state of Arizona requires fingerprinting for all nursing school applications; and for some schools in the state, a background check is required as well. But in Texas, the state Board of Nursing leaves admission requirements up to each nursing school. Additionally, requirements may be stricter with four-year programs than two-year programs or private schools compared to public schools. Fortunately, each nursing school makes the program requirements readily available for perusal.
The most basic requirement for nursing school is completion of high school or a general educational development (GED) equivalency program. Most schools also require the completion of select prerequisite courses. The exact courses vary by school. For instance, Covenant School of Nursing requires completed courses in English, chemistry, history, psychology, anatomy, microbiology and government.
Grades are also commonly considered when nursing schools evaluate admissions applications. Not only do prerequisite courses need to be met, but a minimum grade point average (GPA) needs to be met as well. The minimum acceptable GPA varies by nursing school.
Standardized tests play an important role in the admissions process as well. In addition to the normal college ACT and SAT scores, potential nursing students may need to sit for other standardized tests that are specific to the nursing school. For instance, the University of Central Florida nursing school program requires the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) test score.
Most nursing schools require that students have and maintain CPR certification. Some schools will allow students to get certified once the program starts, but others require it as a condition of admission. For instance, the University of Washington’s School of Nursing requires a valid CPR card at the program orientation before classes start.