Plans change. Things happen. Inspiration sparks. Right now, you may have a great degree – maybe even a great job) – but it’s in a field that don’t want to spend the rest of your life in. Maybe you want to step out from behind your cubicle wall, from behind your computer or microscope, and step into a role that means much more to you. Perhaps you yearn to work with people on a daily basis, or even more, make a difference in other people’s lives. So, you are considering a nursing career.
The good news is, it is never too late for non-nurses to become nurses. Your dream is within reach, and within a matter of months. With the right steps taken, you can elevate your non-nursing degree to a BSN in less than two years’ time. This can be done through a second degree nursing program, also known as an accelerated BSN (ABSN).
The question is, where do you begin? How do you enroll and qualify for a non-nursing BSN program? As an aspiring nurse just starting out (even if it’s later in the game), it is important that you meet some basic requirements. Admissions requirements will vary depending on the nursing school of interest. At Goodwin College in Connecticut, for example, accelerated BSN program applicants must:
- Have a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing major
- Have graduated the previous bachelor’s program with a minimum 3.0 GPA
- The bachelor’s must be from a regionally-accredited university or college
If you meet these initial requirements, you can then apply to an ABSN program and begin taking your non-nursing degree to that Bachelor’s of Nursing. To help you get started, Goodwin has outlined the general steps needed to get on the registered nursing career path.
- Apply to your program of choice.
The first step is simple – fill out an application to the nursing school you wish to attend. Generally, this means completing an admissions application to the college or university, getting accepted, and then filling out a second application for the second nursing degree program.
As part of the application process, you will be required to submit official college transcripts from your previous degree program. These will serve as proof of your level of education, at the bachelor’s degree level. They will also show that you have completed the prerequisite courses required for admission (if applicable), and ease the transfer process should you wish to apply previous coursework to your BSN.
- Complete the necessary prerequisite courses.
As noted above, most second degree nursing programs will require you to complete some general education courses before applying. Typically, these prerequisites will consist of both math and science courses, which are very applicable to a healthcare career. At Goodwin College, for example, ABSN applicants are required to complete the following prerequisite courses with a “C+” or better:
- Math 1XX or higher (you may also score into college-level math on the placement test)
- Chemistry 101 or equivalent
- Foundational Biology courses, including BIO 211 and BIO 212 (Anatomy & Physiology I and II), or equivalent, completed within the last five years
- Applicants must also complete Microbiology before entering the program. This can be completed after application, as long as it is prior to beginning classes. However, preference is typically given to those applicants who have either completed Microbiology or are in progress at the time of applying to the ABSN program.
These prerequisite ABSN courses may have been fulfilled in your prior college experience (within the last five years), or can be completed at the time of application. At Goodwin, all requirements must be met before enrolling into Nursing 205 – Health Assessment and Nursing Skill Development.
Remember, since you already completed a bachelor’s degree, past courses will count towards your BSN! This is what helps to make the second nursing degree a shorter commitment overall. At Goodwin College, students entering the accelerated BSN program are automatically awarded 38 credits for their first bachelor’s degree.
- Complete the pre-admission examination.
The Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) is a pre-admission examination required of aspiring nursing students. It is administered at the various levels – whether you have a non-nursing degree or no college degree at all – to measure a person’s aptitude to succeed in nursing school. Most second degree nursing programs, including Goodwin College, will use the TEAS exam scores as part of the admission criteria.
The TEAS exam is offered three times per year (January, May, and September), off-campus, and can be taken one time per semester (six total attempts). Usually, there is a pre-determined, minimum score that must be met in order to be considered for admission. It’s important to note that this exam does not cover nursing specific knowledge – so do not sweat! More than likely, you are already well-prepared for this pre-entrance exam. The TEAS test covers subjects such as math, science, reading, and language use.
- Once accepted, complete any necessary health and background checks.
As a nurse, it’s important that you are healthy – emotionally, mentally, and physically. That said, nursing applicants are generally required to submit a medical examination report by a physician, describing their physical and emotional health. Because you will be working with a vast diversity of patients, of all different ailments and conditions, you’ll also want to protect yourself. Most nursing programs will require you to get several vaccinations, including the Hepatitis B vaccine series and annual flu shot.
To ensure you are fit to work with patients, schools will also conduct a background check and drug screening. Any criminal background could interfere with future licensure, which is why this done early on in the process. Finally, ABSN applicants are usually required to become certified in CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) by the American Heart Association or the Red Cross. Certification must be maintained throughout the nursing program, as you will be working with real-life patients as part of your practical training.
- Transfer Your Non-Nursing Degree to a BSN!
Once you are accepted into a program and complete the necessary requirements, you will be full-steam ahead in earning your Bachelor’s of Nursing degree. Now, it’s just a matter of absorbing knowledge, gaining experience, making connections, and building your nursing skillsets. Take advantage of your ABSN courses, and remember your end goal: to become a registered nurse.
Rest assured that other students around you will be doing the same. This is your second degree, after all. According to the American Association for Colleges of Nursing (AACN), non-nursing students that enroll in accelerated BSN programs are typically:
- Motivated, older, and have higher academic expectations
- Excellent learners who are not afraid to challenge their instructors
- More mature, possessing strong clinical nursing skills
Take your non-nursing degree to the next (and a whole new) level: towards a BSN. To learn more about starting the process, or applying to Goodwin College, please do not hesitate to reach out. Call us at 800-899-3282 or visit us online to learn more.
Goodwin College is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin College was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.