Nursing is a diverse field providing many different opportunities for providing direct patient care and one with excellent job prospects. There are a number of ways to enter the nursing field. A BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) degree qualifies the student to certify as a registered nurse (RN) and also gives flexibility to continue advanced training. Most nursing schools award a BSN; some accept students who have a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing major and offer a Master's degree (MSN) as their entry-level nursing degree.
North Central students interested in nursing have a number of options. You may choose to complete only the nursing entrance requirements, usually in two years, and then study at a nursing program for two more years to obtain a BSN (the "2+2" option). Or, you could complete a bachelor's degree here and then continue to either an accelerated BSN program or an MSN program. Through North Central's affiliation agreement with Rush University's Generalist Entry Masters (GEM) nursing program, students qualify for preferential admission to the GEM program by earning bachelor's degree at North Central and completing the pre-requisite courses (see below) with a GPA of at least 3.0.
Entrance requirements and prerequisite courses to nursing programs vary. You should identify schools that interest you early on and be sure your academic plan will meet their entrance requirements. Typical nursing school requirements include:
Specific prerequisite courses for Rush University's GEM program:
Please note that these courses may have prerequisites of their own; for example, BIO 340 requires BIO 251 and 252, which in turn require BIO 151 and 152.
Most BSN nursing schools do not require an entrance exam. MSN programs may require the GRE. Rush University's GEM program requires the GRE for students with a cumulative GPA less than 3.25.
If you plan on completing two years at North Central and then applying to a BSN nursing program, you do not need to declare a North Central College major: your degree will come from your nursing program. There is no specific major that is required to enter the GEM program, so long as the prerequisite course requirements are met. If you plan to apply to the GEM program at Rush University through our affiliation agreement, you must meet regularly with the Pre-health advisor.
Nursing schools value experience in the medical field to demonstrate that you can work comfortably in a clinic or hospital environment and with people who are ill. For example, you might:
Our Pre-Health Organization (PHO) can be helpful in finding these kinds of opportunities. Additionally, you might consider becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) or Medical Scribe; these certifications can be obtained relatively easily at a community college and give you access to a wider variety of patient-care jobs.
Research experience is less critical for a nursing career than for medical school, but this in-depth experience can nonetheless increase your skill and understanding and strengthen your application. If you are a four-year student majoring in the sciences, you should consider how research could help you reach your goals. See the Biology research page for more information on working with NCC faculty mentors, applying for an off-campus summer research program or finding a research internship.
Service and Leadership
Extracurricular activities that are important to nursing school admissions committees include significant volunteer service and demonstrated leadership potential. NCC's Ministry and Service programs can connect you with local service opportunities or take you around the country.
Volunteer work does not have to be in a medical setting, but volunteering at a clinic in an underserved community is certainly one good way to demonstrate your dedication.
Leadership activities might include being a student lab assistant or preceptor, serving as an officer in a student organization, tutoring or leadership roles in employment.
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Pre-health advisor Marguerite Degenhardt