What to Look for in an Entry-Level Nursing Program

Nurses are dedicated, hard-working, compassionate professionals who are committed to making a difference in people’s lives. In this profession, every working hour is pledged to helping the sick, the injured, the weak, and the recovering heal and get back on their feet. As some say, nurses are guardian angels disguised in scrubs. They are also some of the most valued healthcare professionals out there.

If you dream of becoming a nurse, but are hoping to start from the ground-up, you are in the right place.  In this blog, Goodwin College will help you choose the best possible, entry-level nursing program. That’s right – we said entry-level. This means that, for those of you with no nursing experience and (maybe) a few science classes under your belt, a nursing career is still completely in reach. To get there, you’ll just need to check a few, preliminary educational requirements off your list.

Unlike with many other healthcare careers, though, you do not need to shoulder years of expensive med school to land a nursing job. There are many entry-level nursing programs that can qualify you for a successful career in just two years or less. Let’s start by looking at your options.

If you are just starting out and considering a first-time, entry-level nursing program, you can choose to:

  • Go for your CNA certification
  • Pursue an LPN diploma
  • Earn an Associate degree in Nursing (ADN)

Your first step in researching entry-level nursing programs is to decide which type of program best aligns with your career goals. What do you hope to do as a nurse? Do you prefer to fulfill basic bedside tasks, such as helping patients to eat and dress? Do you hope to work with generally stable patients who have already been treated? Or, are you interested in more complex and critical cases, too? Do you wish to take on advanced clinical duties, such as diagnosing patients, performing lab tests, and administering medications, in addition to basic nursing care? Answering these questions will help you decide which entry-level nursing program – CNA, LPN, or an ADN program – is right for you.

While Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) are two popular, entry-level nursing careers, most aspiring nurses will choose to pursue their education at the degree level. This is because, by earning an Associate degree or higher, you qualify to become a Registered Nurse. Registered Nurses (RNs) work side-by-side doctors, taking on advanced nursing duties such as diagnosing health conditions and developing treatment plans for patients. RNs often oversee LPNs and CNAs, positioning RNs for higher earning potential.

Registered Nursing is also a great stepping stone to other, advanced nursing positions down the road. By starting your career with an Associate degree in nursing, you will find it very easy to transition into a Bachelor’s and Master’s level program. For example, after you have earned your RN license and are ready to advance in your career, you can enroll in the RN to BSN program at Goodwin College. Offered completely online, this degree program will expand your job opportunities, further your skillset, and help you stand out amongst other aspiring nurses. You cannot go directly from an LPN or CNA certification to a Bachelor’s or graduate nursing program – you must first become an RN nurse.

Once you decide the type of entry-level nursing program you’d like to pursue (one that best aligns with your career ambitions), you should then look for:

  • A program that offers hands-on, practical experience. Practical training is the cornerstone of a successful nursing program. Be sure to look for a nursing school that offers hands-on, clinical experiences in either real-life or simulated healthcare settings.
  • A nursing program that offers flexibility. We know you are busy. Especially if you are planning on working while going to nursing college, it is important to have courses that work with your schedule—courses that you’ll actually attend. Goodwin College, for example, offers most of our entry-level nursing classes on days and evenings. Clinicals include day, evening, and weekend options. And, as you advance your nursing education, you can start to enjoy the flexibility of online coursework through our BSN and MSN curriculums. Here, you can still work full time or part time while completing your RN degree – and complete it in as few as 20-months part-time.
  • A nursing school that leaves you room to grow (and encourages you to do so). You should never feel limited by your level of education. Even if you can only commit to an entry-level nursing program right now, you should always leave the door open for additional learning down the road. You never know when your employer will ask you to earn a BSN degree, or when you will wish to expand your knowledge and skillset in the nursing profession. That is why we highly recommend choosing a school with other, advanced nursing degrees available – so that your credits will easily transfer over, and so that you can always look forward to a quality education.

Goodwin College is a leading nursing school in the state of Connecticut, with nursing degrees offered at the Associate (ADN), Bachelor’s (BSN), and Master’s (MSN) level. Why wait to get started? Work your way to the top of the nursing ladder, starting with an entry-level nursing program!

Whether you’re just starting your college venture, transferring from a community college, or simply looking to change-up your career and go back to school, rest assured there is an entry-level nursing program for you at Goodwin College. Contact us at 800-889-3282 or visit us online to learn more.