Does it matter where you go to nursing school? The answer is yes. The school you attend is responsible for preparing you for the rest of your career, and your future patients depend on you having a strong nursing education. So how do you know what to look for in a nursing program? There are many nursing school questions to ask when choosing the program that’s right for you, and we’ll discuss each one.
If you’re looking to transition into the rewarding nursing profession from a non-nursing field, attending an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program like ours at Averett University can help you earn a BSN in as few as 16 months.
When you’re considering multiple schools, it’s important to know what makes certain accelerated nursing programs stand out. Having a clear understanding of what to look for in a nursing program helps you choose a school that will prepare you for a successful launch into your nursing career.
We’ll cover the top 11 questions to ask about nursing school so you’ll know how to choose a program that’s right for you.
1. Is the Program Accredited and Approved?
The first checkpoint when considering a nursing program is whether the program meets national and state standards. Choosing an accredited and approved BSN program means it has met the standards of quality that are vital for nursing education. After all, you’re paying for nursing school, so you want to ensure it’s an approved program.
Nursing programs should have national accreditation from one of the regulatory agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, including:
- Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
- Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
- Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (CNEA)
National accreditation is important to ensure you’re getting a high-quality nursing curriculum. It’s also the surest way to allow for career growth if you want to attend graduate-level nursing programs. To be admitted into a nurse practitioner or other advanced practice nurse program, you’ll need to have a BSN from an accredited nursing program.
As well as national accreditation, nursing programs should have state approval from the board of nursing where the school is located. The state nursing boards are in charge of ensuring high nursing quality and safety standards, and they’re also responsible for licensure.
If you graduate from a state-approved nursing program, you’ll be able to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN), which is required to obtain your nursing license.
Make sure you choose an approved program like Averett University’s baccalaureate degree, which is accredited by the Commission on College Nursing Education and approved by the Virginia Board of Nursing.
2. What’s the NCLEX Pass Rate?
Passing the NCLEX is the last piece to getting your nursing license, so preparation is key for success. Though you are responsible for studying and taking the exam, your nursing program also plays a key role in preparation. Thus, the yearly NCLEX pass rate of students who graduate from a nursing program is another factor that goes into choosing a nursing school.
The NCLEX is the culmination of your nursing education. It’s a comprehensive and challenging exam. It takes practice to get comfortable with how the NCLEX expects you to answer questions. You must choose the best answer to a question even when the test gives multiple correct answers.
Mastering the NCLEX takes thoughtful and dedicated preparation. Choose a nursing program with high NCLEX pass rates, and look for those that actively help prepare students for the exam. For example, Averett students have seen consistently high pass rates on the NCLEX. Our ABSN exams use NCLEX-style questions, meaning students adjust to answering this type of question from the start of school. We also offer intensive NCLEX preparation sessions in your final semester to help you get a feel for what the exam is truly like.
3. What Degree Do Students Get?
One of the important nursing school questions to ask is the degree that program graduates earn. You’ll want to choose a program that offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (BSN), as this degree will set you up well for your career.
Nurses with a BSN are better able to experience career growth and pursue higher education. They also can earn higher salaries and can work in more specialties than nurses educated with a certificate or associate degree program.
If you’re looking for a rewarding nursing career where you can earn a comfortable living, experience career growth and work in diverse areas of practice, a BSN is the ideal foundation.
4. What’s the Application Process, and Do You Meet Admission Requirements?
The next quality to consider for what to look for in a nursing program is whether the program requirements align with your educational history. Some accelerated BSN programs require a prior non-nursing bachelor’s degree. The Averett ABSN program also accepts students with 60 prior college credits. Schools have unique prerequisite requirements as well as GPA requirements that may limit your eligibility. At Averett, our minimum cumulative GPA requirement is 2.8.
To evaluate your eligibility for a nursing program, reach out to the school’s admissions counselors to talk with them about the specific program requirements. At Averett ABSN, we are committed to helping you every step of the way. Our admissions counselors are always happy to answer questions about prerequisites, talk through your program eligibility and help you plan your nursing future.
5. How Long Does It Take to Earn a Degree?
Another one of the major nursing school questions to ask is timeline. If you’re looking to optimize your time and launch into your new career as soon as possible, it’s important to choose an accelerated program. These programs compress a traditional four-year nursing degree into a much shorter timeframe.
For example, Averett University’s ABSN program is 16 months long. This is possible because we leverage your previous college credits so you can jump right into nursing-specific courses. We also offer three start dates each year, so you can choose from one of these three — January, May or August. This means you won’t waste time waiting for the next school year to begin.
6. Will You Get High-Quality Clinical Experiences?
It’s no surprise clinical opportunities are a key marker of a great nursing program. Clinical rotations are the part of nursing school most directly related to your future career, and it’s vital to have enough experience in a real-world health care environment.
Look for a nursing program that offers a robust clinical curriculum at clinics, hospitals and other health care facilities in the region. These clinicals should cover a wide array of specialties, including:
- Primary care
- Inpatient hospital nursing
- Women’s health
- Mental health
- Community health
The ABSN program at Averett University offers 488 clinical placement hours at top health care facilities in Norfolk, Virginia. With this much real-world nursing experience during nursing school, our students are ready to jump into their clinical nursing careers after graduation.
7. Does the Program Offer Hands-On Labs?
Another one of the key nursing school questions to ask helps ensure the program is high-quality are simulation and skills labs. While clinical rotations provide real-world nursing experience, hands-on labs allow students to practice and refine numerous nursing skills, protocols and techniques in a safe and comfortable environment.
Skills labs are key for helping students learn how to use equipment and perform the many technical skills nurses do every day. Also, choose a nursing program that has regular simulation sessions. Furthermore, having high-fidelity manikins in the lab accelerates learning by allowing students practice what they’ll do in realistic patient scenarios.
At Averett University, we place high importance on our skills and simulation labs, and we’re committed to offering students hands-on lab experiences with forward-thinking technology, qualified instructors and small group sizes.
8. What Academic Support Resources Are Available?
Accelerated nursing school is challenging. With the rigor inherent in an ABSN program, it’s important to know ahead of time that your nursing program is there to help you academically if you need it. Choose a nursing school with support resources such as:
- Instructor availability via office hours, email and phone
- Tutoring or study group opportunities
- Academic success coaches to help with study strategies and planning a schedule
Averett ABSN offers our students numerous academic support resources, including accessible faculty, tutoring and academic success coaches. We are here for our students throughout their education, and we’re fully committed to their success.
9. Does the School Provide Networking Opportunities?
While the primary goal of clinical rotations is to prepare you for real-world nursing responsibilities, they can also be a great place to meet people who can support your career path. Clinicals are often a prime opportunity to meet future employers or people who will provide job references for you. You also get to experience a facility firsthand to see if it’s a place where you’d potentially like to work in the future.
During clinicals, you’ll work closely with your nurse, and you’ll also meet many other nurses and health care team members. Choose a nursing school that provides clinical experiences at well-respected health care facilities. That way you’ll be able to make connections at places where you may apply for jobs in the future.
10. Does the Program Make Sense Financially?
Along with the important nursing school questions to ask, you’ll want to ask about how the program fits into your financial plan. At Averett, we want to help you earn your BSN without unnecessary costs, which is why our ABSN program leverages your prior college courses for your general credits and lets you jump right into your nursing-specific courses.
One great way to obtain financial assistance for the ABSN program at Averett is through filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which allows qualified applicants to receive grants and/or low-interest loans to pay for their education.
The financial aid team at Averett is committed to ensuring nursing school is affordable for you, so we will work with you one-on-one to help you plan what’s best for your financial situation. Thankfully, with a BSN in hand, you’ll be equipped for a career with a median annual salary of $75,330, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data from May 2020. That means your BSN will be well worth the investment of money and time.
11. What’s the Campus Community Like?
The final more abstract factor to consider when considering what nursing school to choose is the feel of the community. Try to get the opportunity to visit the ABSN campus or meet any students from the school. This is a great way to assess the intrinsic culture of the program. The time you spend in an ABSN program will be demanding and challenging, but it’s more enjoyable to spend it with people who are warm in a community that supports you.
Averett ABSN students develop tight-knit connections with each other as well as with faculty. We focus on fostering a collaborative community where students feel comfortable asking for help. We work to ensure our students feel supported every step of the way.
Access Your Nursing Future Sooner
Knowing what to look for in a nursing program can help you make an informed decision and choose the best nursing path for you. If you’re looking to make a career change and become a nurse, earning your BSN at the Averett ABSN program can get you there in as few as 16 months. We offer three start dates each year that provides a flexible timeline.
Our accelerated nursing program is available to students with at least 60 prior college credits or a non-nursing bachelor’s degree. The ABSN program offers a robust, hybrid curriculum that educates students through online courses, hands-on labs and clinical experiences.
The Averett ABSN admissions counselors are here to answer any other questions you may have about our accelerated nursing program. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you start your nursing journey sooner.