How to Prepare Yourself for Nursing in 7 Steps

Each blog post is dated and contains accurate information as of that date. Certain information may have changed since the blog post publication date. If you would like to confirm the current accuracy of blog information, please visit our ABSN overview page or contact admissions at (866) 483-8705.

The seven steps for how to prepare yourself for nursing include: shadowing a nurse, researching nursing programs, contacting an admissions counselor, completing prerequisites, passing the TEAS exam, getting immunized, rallying your support system, networking with future classmates, and purchasing nursing school supplies.

woman sitting at desk writing on paper

If you’re planning to become a nurse, good for you! Nursing is a highly desirable career — offering job security, a good living wage, room for growth and scheduling flexibility. As you’re waiting to begin nursing school, though, you may wonder how to prepare yourself for nursing. We’ve got you covered. We’ll show you exactly what to do to get on the right track before you start nursing school.

If you want to make a transition to nursing, and you have at least 60 non-nursing college credits, consider enrolling in an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program like the one at Averett University in Norfolk, Virginia. This program allows you to earn a BSN and graduate as a practice-ready nurse in as few as 16 months.
Here are seven steps you can take to make your transition into health care as seamless as possible. Let’s look at how to prepare yourself for nursing.

1. Shadow a Nurse or Volunteer

There is no better way to get a feel for the health care field than to experience it first-hand. Contact the nursing director at a local hospital to see if you can schedule a time to shadow an RN, or sign up to volunteer as a patient tech or care assistant. Exposure to the realities of patient care will help you decide whether becoming a nurse is right for you.

Some potential experiences you can pursue to gain patient care experience include:

  • Volunteering in a nursing home
  • Volunteering for a blood drive
  • Working as a nursing assistant
  • Shadowing a professional nurse
  • Working as a surgical tech

Finding a way to connect with patients in a clinical environment will reinforce why you want to become a nurse and help you clarify why nursing is a career that appeals to you. Furthermore, you’ll also gain valuable communication skills and begin adjusting to the workflow of a health care setting.

2. Research Programs

If you want to be a nurse, you should know that a BSN is the preferred standard in nursing degrees. If an Accelerated BSN program appeals to you, there are many to choose from. There are a few important criteria to consider when choosing your future school.

Outside photo of Averett University

See the top 11 nursing school questions to ask before choosing a nursing program.

NCLEX Pass Rates

The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN®) is an exam prospective nurses are required to pass to earn a nursing license. You should check into students’ NCLEX pass rates at prospective schools, as they’re strong indicators of program quality.


You’ll want to ensure the school’s accreditation as well. If the state’s board of nursing doesn’t approve the nursing school you attend, you may not be allowed to sit for the NCLEX. And if you can’t take and pass the NCLEX, you won’t receive a nursing license. Averett University and its School of Nursing are accredited and approved nationally, regionally and in the state of Virginia.

Admissions Timeline

You should also find out whether your desired school has a waitlist. The ABSN program at Averett offers three start dates per year — in January, May and August — with no waitlist, so you can start your degree sooner.

Averett reviews applications on a rolling basis, so the sooner you submit your application, the better your chances of receiving your preferred enrollment date.

Two nursing students checking the blood pressure of another averett nursing student

3. Contact an Admissions Counselor

School admissions counselors are there to help you determine whether their nursing program is a good fit for you. Always be honest with your admissions counselor. They have a vested interest in seeing you succeed, and their job is to support you with the admissions process in any way they can. At Averett, your counselor will evaluate your transcript(s), determine which prerequisite courses you’ll need to take, select an enrollment date, help you submit your best application possible and work with you to develop an individualized academic plan.

4. Complete Prerequisites

Nursing prerequisite courses comprise the foundation on which you’ll build your nursing education. At Averett, most of these courses can be completed 100 percent online, using the same learning management system you’ll use in the ABSN program. The number of prerequisites you’ll need to take will depend on your previous coursework or degree. Applicants with a Bachelor of Science degree are required to take fewer prerequisites than students with advanced standing, for example. Averett’s prerequisites include:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Introduction to Statistics
  • Developmental Psychology

Learn more about the prerequisites for nursing school and how they'll prepare you for success in the ABSN curriculum.

person writing on a piece of paper

5. Pass the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) exam

Applicants must pass the TEAS exam with a score of 65 percent or higher within one year of application to the Averett ABSN program. The exam assesses skills in reading, math, science and English. It’s designed to gauge whether a student has the knowledge required to succeed in a nursing program. Because admittance to nursing school can be competitive, the test serves as a supplemental tool for those tasked with selecting entrants.

How Can You Prepare for the TEAS?

The exam will not be easy, but there are study tools available to help you prepare. You can opt to take practice tests online or invest in a hard-copy study guide if you prefer. The website offers several courses that can help you get ready for the TEAS. They include quizzes after each lesson as well as practice exams, so you can track your performance improvement as your study progresses.

You should study for the TEAS often and early. Be sure to register for the exam well in advance to avoid last-minute difficulties. And when it’s exam time, get a full night’s sleep ahead of the test so you can give it your best shot.

6. Activate Your Support System

Before classes begin, let your friends and family know that you’re about to get started on a life-changing path. Don’t be afraid to ask for help — whether with childcare, meals, or simply a listening ear. You’re heading into a busy season of life and you’ll need all the support you can get.

woman working on laptop

Learn more about how online learning in nursing school can provide more flexibility to balance family and wellness with your education.

Averett nursing instructor with students in a skills lab

Once classes start, you’ll want to expand your support system to include instructors and staff. Becoming acquainted with your professors will make it easier to approach them with questions. And the better they know you, the more apt they will be to provide positive references for you in the future.

At Averett, you’ll also want to connect with one of our academic success coaches, who will help you get the most out of your time in the program. Our success coaches are here to help you navigate the nursing school life, and they will help you with anything from improving your study strategies to advocating for your mental health. Connecting with your success coach is another way you can improve your chances of success in Averett’s ABSN program.

7. Network with Future Classmates

See if your admissions counselor can put you in touch with fellow ABSN students-to-be. It will be highly beneficial to develop study groups or accountability partners as your start-date approaches. Forming friendships with fellow students will help you become more invested in the program and will likely challenge you to succeed. And if you’re ever struggling with the subject matter, your classmates will be in a unique position to help. The friends you make as a nursing student may very well become your friends for life.

Ready to Start Your Nursing Journey?

Now that you know how to prepare yourself for nursing school, don’t hesitate — contact us today with any questions and start your path toward a rewarding career.