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Here’s What to Look For in a Nursing Program

5 questions to ask nursing schools when looking for a nursing program

If you’re looking to transition into the rewarding nursing profession from a non-nursing field or academic background, you may be wondering what to look for in a nursing program. You may also want to know how to go about choosing the one that’s the best fit for your current situation AND future career goals.

A great first step is to research nursing schools and prepare a list of nursing school questions to ask admissions counselors. The answers to these questions can help you compare nursing programs and assess which one is right for you. Here are five to get you started:

What are the admission requirements?

While you can typically find a nursing program’s basic admission requirements on its website, it’s still beneficial to discuss them with a nursing school admissions counselor. This person can go into more detail about specific aspects of the program and help you make a plan to meet any outstanding requirements — if any — so you can submit a complete application in time for your target start date.

Additionally, your admissions counselor can identify if you’re an ideal candidate for the program and help you stay on track with completing any prerequisite courses you may need to take to qualify for enrollment. He or she can also help you gather any required academic records or documentation to submit with your application.

If you’re considering an ABSN program, it’s also important to identify if the nursing school requires applicants to have an existing bachelor’s degree or if it permits students to transfer their undergraduate credits.

For example, Averett University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program is the only accelerated nursing program in Virginia that doesn’t require a completed bachelor’s degree for admission. To qualify for enrollment in our ABSN program, you must have at least 60 non-nursing credits from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum cumulative 2.8 GPA.

Is the nursing program accredited?

One question you’ll definitely want to ask an admissions counselor is the school’s accreditation status, both regionally and nationally.

Why does a nursing school’s accreditation and approval matter so much?

For starters, if the nursing school you attend doesn’t have approval from its respective state board of nursing, you likely won’t be able to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN®). This licensure exam is something every nursing graduate must pass to work in the profession. Without the ability to take (and pass) the NCLEX, you won’t be able to obtain your nursing license.

Plus, many institutions only consider applicants who’ve graduated from programs that meet the standards of any of the following accreditation agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, including:

Not to mention, graduating from an accredited nursing program is the surest path for you to attend other accredited schools. This is especially important if you ever choose to pursue the graduate-level studies required to further your career. For example, to become a nurse educator, nurse practitioner, nurse midwife or nurse anesthetist, you must earn a degree from an advanced nursing program. Most of these programs likely won’t allow the transfer of credits from an unaccredited undergraduate nursing program.

For all of these reasons, it’s important to verify the accreditation of any nursing program you’re considering. Averett University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), and our baccalaureate degree program in nursing is accredited by the Commission on College Nursing Education with approval from the Virginia Board of Nursing.

What are the school’s NCLEX pass rates?

How a nursing program’s first-time NCLEX pass rates compare against the national average is another great indicator of its quality. In 2019, the national average first-time pass rate for students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree was 91%.

For reference, the first-time NCLEX pass rate for Averett University’s traditional BSN track  for 2019 was 100%.

However, when assessing a nursing school’s first-time NCLEX pass rates, it’s important to remember your success in passing the NCLEX on the first try ultimately depends upon YOU. If you ever find yourself struggling, it’s wise to develop new study habits or meet with instructors sooner rather than later. Nursing school curriculum is cumulative, meaning concepts build upon each other from one semester to the next, so you’ll want to make sure you stay on top of your studies. You can read more about how Averett supports ABSN students academically and in other ways below.

nursing instructor with students in a skills lab

What academic support resources are available for students?

Nursing school is hard — accelerated nursing programs even more so, given their abbreviated academic timelines. But just because accelerated programs are shorter than their traditional counterparts doesn’t mean you’re responsible for learning any less. That’s why finding a program with supportive instructors and staff who make themselves available to help students can make all the difference.

If the difficulty of a nursing program is a concern, it’s a great idea to ask your admissions counselor about the academic support the school offers. If you’re considering an online-based program, it’s important to understand how much access you’ll have to instructors and other faculty, as well as any mentoring or other student support resources.

As a student in the Averett ABSN program, you’ll never be on your own. While it’s true the Averett ABSN program features an online component where you’ll learn the fundamentals of nursing theory, you can still expect to have access to face-to-face support from faculty and instructors and other members of our academic support team.

nursing instructor smiling

If you ever have trouble understanding a nursing concept, for example, Averett ABSN instructors are always there to help. You can participate in instructor chat sessions through our e-Learning platform, email or call professors, or stop by their office at the ABSN learning site.

Or, if you need help with developing effective time management techniques and test preparation strategies, our dedicated success coaches are here for you. In fact, it’s his or her job to assist Averett ABSN students with identifying academic and student support resources and setting goals, among other things.

How soon can I start nursing school?

When you can start nursing school greatly depends upon your academic background and your motivation to complete any prerequisites and entrance exams needed to apply. If you have more credits in university-level science courses, for example, you may not need to take as many prerequisites as someone with a Bachelor of Arts in marketing.  

Additionally, some accelerated nursing programs, such as the Averett ABSN program, offer multiple start dates per year, so you may be able to start earning your bachelor’s degree in nursing sooner than you think. Once you meet the Averett ABSN admission requirements, you can choose from one of three start dates per year — January, May or August.

Of course, the best way to find out how soon you can start nursing is school is to talk with an Averett ABSN admissions counselor. He or she will work with you to determine whether our program aligns with your personal and professional goals.

Access your nursing future sooner

Knowing what to look for in a nursing program can help you make an informed decision on choosing the best nursing education for you.

The Averett ABSN admissions counselors are here to answer these and 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.

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