Accelerated BSNAdmissionsProgram Advice

How to Choose a Nursing Program Without Feeling Overwhelmed

Summary: Want to know how to choose a nursing program without feeling overwhelmed? It starts by considering factors such as accreditation, NCLEX pass rates, eligibility requirements, and admissions support. If you have a minimum of 60 non-nursing college credits, the Accelerated BSN program at Felician University is a great choice for your nursing education.

closeup of woman thinking how to choose a nursing program, surrounded by medical icons

Today’s prospective nursing students have more education options to choose from than ever before. And while we all like having choices, when offered too many, we can’t make up our minds and give up. Think about the last time you couldn’t decide what to watch on Netflix. So, if you want to become a nurse but don’t know where to start, you’ve come to the right place. This post shares valuable insight on how to choose a nursing program without feeling overwhelmed.

But first things first. You need to decide what type of degree you want to pursue before choosing a nursing program. After all, you can become a registered nurse with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). However, these degree options don’t produce the same career outcomes.

Nurses with a BSN tend to have more job opportunities and earn higher salaries than those with an ADN. Not to mention, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) recognizes a BSN as the minimum education requirement for professional practice. Also, a BSN is a prerequisite for earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).

Traditional BSN vs. Accelerated BSN

Now that you know it’s best to enter the nursing profession with a BSN, you need to know the difference between the two most common BSN programs. There’s the traditional BSN that caters to high school graduates and the accelerated BSN that targets career changers with a non-nursing college education. If you’re the latter of the two, you’ll want to read this entire post because we’ll discuss how you can earn a BSN in 16 or 18 months via our ABSN program in New Jersey.

What to Look for in a Nursing Program

As you start to research different BSN programs, you’ll want to assess their quality, cost, and requirements. In doing so, you’ll be able to narrow down some of your choices.

Accreditation

When choosing an accelerated nursing program, or any nursing program for that matter, it should be accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (AACN). An accredited nursing program provides a quality education that adheres to nationally established standards designed to safeguard the public.

Tuition and Fees

You also need to make sure you can afford a nursing education. Because no matter where you attend, nursing school is an investment that requires financial planning. You’ll find that the tuition and fees vary from program to program. When you find a nursing program within your budget, you need to identify ways to pay for nursing school. Aside from cash, federal direct loans, private loans, and scholarships are among the most common forms of payment. Not to mention, every university has a financial aid office that can assist you with the payment process.

Admissions Requirements

Every nursing program has a different set of admissions requirements. Schools use everything from cumulative GPA to entrance exam scores to prerequisite grades to determine your eligibility. So, before you apply to a nursing school, make sure you meet its admissions requirements.

Nursing School Questions Worth Asking

Once you have a solid list of nursing school contenders, you’ll want to contact them and ask the questions below. In doing so, you’ll be able to narrow down your options even further.

Felician ABSN students working in skills lab

What is your admissions process like?

Here’s why this question is important: Given that nurses are in high demand across the country, more people want to enter the profession. However, most nursing school admissions teams can’t keep up with the influx of applications. Thereby, countless applicants aren’t getting the support they need to submit the most competitive application possible. So, it’s important to try and gauge the level of admissions support you’ll receive when vetting potential nursing programs.

What are your NCLEX-RN® pass rates?

Here’s why this question is important: Every nursing school graduate must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to practice as a registered nurse. You can often judge the quality of a nursing program based on its first-time NCLEX pass rates.

Do you have a nursing school waitlist?

Here’s why this question is important: A significant number of nursing schools in this country don’t have enough faculty, space, and/or clinical placements to expand their class sizes. As a result, they must turn away or waitlist thousands of qualified applicants every year. So, if you’re looking to start nursing school as soon as possible, you’ll want to steer clear of programs that have waitlists.

What do you look for in prospective nursing students?

Here’s why this question is important: When it comes time to apply to a nursing school, you’ll probably have to submit a goal statement or personal essay on why you want to become a nurse. Knowing what a school looks for in a student can help you craft your message.

We’ve reached the point in our post where you can stop reading if you don’t have a minimum of 60 non-nursing college credits.

Nursing students in lab coats
Felician nursing students learning how to use an automated medication dispensing system.

Felician ABSN Program in New Jersey

Felician University’s CCNE-accredited ABSN program makes it possible for you to earn a BSN in as few as 16 months. The accelerated nursing program builds on your existing education so you can jump right into the nursing curriculum on the first day of class.

ABSN Curriculum

Our full-time ABSN program combines fundamental coursework with hands-on nursing labs and in-person clinical rotations. It’s a rigorous curriculum that requires a lot of hard work and dedication to make it through. But when you do, you’ll be prepared to sit for the NCLEX and enter the profession as a practice-ready nurse.

Felician University BSN graduates had a 95.83% first-time NCLEX pass rate in 2020. This percentage is based on the exams taken between January 1 and September 30.

Also, when it comes to our ABSN program, you have two learning modalities from which to choose. We have the 16-month Hybrid ABSN program in Parsippany and the 18-month On-Ground ABSN program in Rutherford. No matter which modality you choose, you’ll receive the same accelerated nursing education taught by supportive faculty.

So, what’s the difference? Aside from location and program length, hybrid ABSN students complete their fundamental coursework online, whereas on-ground ABSN students complete their coursework in the classroom.

Fundamental Coursework

Whether you complete it online or in the classroom, our ABSN coursework teaches the fundamentals and theories of nursing. Covering everything from pharmacological therapeutics to moral dimensions of healthcare to nursing research, these courses set the foundation for your education.

Online vs. Traditional Nursing Education
As an ABSN student, you’ll need to absorb massive amounts of information in a short period of time. So when trying to choose between our Hybrid and On-Ground ABSN program, it helps to think about your learning style and study habits. Consider how you collect, organize, and retain information best.

For the most part, successful Hybrid ABSN students are self-disciplined, highly organized, and have good time management skills. If you prefer more structured learning activities and face-to-face interaction, our On-Ground ABSN program might be the better option for you.

Nursing Labs

Nursing skills and simulation labs are the bridge between your coursework and clinical rotations. You could say they’re a haven for developing your applied skills and clinical judgment without consequence. Guided by faculty, you and your classmates will complete a series of nursing labs within a contextual setting. Overall, there are eight labs associated with the fundamental coursework.

Through nursing labs, you’ll learn how to perform core clinical skills, including catheterization, nasogastric tube insertions, intramuscular injections, and wound care. You’ll also develop your critical thinking and problem-solving skills when participating in realistic clinical interventions that involve patient simulators.

Hybrid ABSN students complete their labs at our learning site in Parsippany, while on-ground ABSN students do so at our Rutherford campus.

front desk of nursing simulation lab
Inside the Barbara J. Toscano Nursing Resource and Simulation Center on the Rutherford campus.

Clinical Rotations

Starting in the second semester of the ABSN program, clinical rotations provide you with real-world patient care experiences across the healthcare continuum. Areas of clinical practicum include medical-surgical care, behavioral health, maternity care, pediatrics, and public health.

As a fourth-semester ABSN student, you’ll participate in a clinical immersion experience. You’ll work one-on-one with a preceptor (an experienced registered nurse) in a concentrated area of practice, taking care of one to two patients then gradually increasing your patient load.

Overall, you’ll complete more than 860 clinical hours in various local healthcare facilities within the Atlantic Health System. Please note that we cannot guarantee placement in a specific facility.

Student-Preceptor Relationship
While in the clinical immersion portion of our ABSN program, it’s your responsibility to make sure the experience is successful. It starts by establishing a working relationship with your preceptor. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your preceptor for feedback on your performance and let them know if you don’t understand a concept or feel uncomfortable in a situation.

Admissions Requirements

To apply to our ABSN program, you must have:

  • A minimum of 60 non-nursing college credits from an accredited institution.
  • A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 for all undergraduate coursework.
  • A grade of C+ or higher in the seven ABSN prerequisite courses.

Admissions Process

Our admissions team makes applying to the Felician School of Nursing as seamless and straightforward as possible. Every prospective ABSN student works with an assigned counselor whose job is to provide that individual with personalized support every step of the way.

Perfect ABSN Applicant

When it comes to our ABSN program applicants, here are some of the things we look for:

  • A strong academic history. To apply to our ABSN program, you must meet the basic admissions requirements. Conditions include having a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or a minimum of 60 credits with a cumulative 3.0 GPA in all undergraduate coursework.
  • Good prerequisite grades. It’s important to have a solid understanding of math and science in nursing. Thereby, we want to see you earn a grade of C+ or higher in each ABSN prerequisite course. These courses include anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, microbiology, and chemistry.
  • A commitment to learning. You must be dedicated to your education to succeed in our ABSN program. We want to see that you have the time and resources to commit to full-time study.
  • A passion for the profession. In addition to having good grades, we want to see that you have a passion for the profession and a willingness to choose selflessness over self-preservation. We find the best nurses to be those who have a genuine interest in helping others.
Felician nursing student

ABSN Application Advice

We review ABSN applications as they come in, rather than waiting for the submission deadline to pass. Thereby, the sooner you submit your application, the better your chances of securing a spot in your preferred term. As part of your nursing school application, you’ll need to submit:

  • Official college transcripts
  • A current resume
  • A letter of intent
  • Two academic or professional references

While our ABSN program doesn’t have a waitlist right now, it’s still important to submit a competitive nursing school application. After all, many prospective ABSN students share similar academic qualifications, so you can use your resume and letter of intent to separate yourself from the pack.

Current Resume

Before you start your resume, take time to outline the qualities every great nurse possesses, such as compassion, commitment, and critical thinking. Then, consider how you were able to apply such traits in past experiences. For instance, if you’ve worked in customer service, highlight your ability to empathize and problem-solve with upset clients.

While we don’t require you to have healthcare experience to apply to our ABSN program, it doesn’t hurt to list relevant volunteer experience on your resume. It allows us to identify skills that would position you as a standout nursing student. Let’s say you spent time helping care for the homeless at a local shelter or performed community service at a local food bank—be sure to tell us about it.

Letter of Intent

Another way to show us you’re an ideal candidate for our ABSN program and the nursing profession is through your letter of intent. It allows us to gain a better understanding of who you are as a person.

When writing your letter, be sure and use the “show don’t tell” approach. In other words, don’t simply tell us you like to help people. Instead, provide us with a true story that backs up this claim. Or, don’t tell us you’re a compassionate person. Instead, show us an example of what makes that true. For instance, if you’ve helped a family member recover from surgery, describe your course of action and what you were feeling at the time.

nursing student studying at desk with textbooks and laptop

ABSN Program Success Tips

Our ABSN program is highly rigorous in nature. From your first to your last day of class, you’ll experience a whirlwind of learning. However, it’s nothing you can’t handle if you’re passionate about becoming a nurse. It also helps to consider these nursing school success tips.

  1. Mentally prepare for nursing school. Read as many nursing blogs and relevant articles as you can before classes begin. In doing so, you’ll get a true sense of what nursing school is like and can plan accordingly.
  2. Visualize your future success. When you feel stress coming on, create a mental picture of what success will look like after you graduate from nursing school. You might visualize yourself holding your degree amid a cheering crowd of family and friends. Or you could envision a situation where you save a patient’s life. In doing so, you can prevent yourself from succumbing to stress.
  3. Practice positive self-talk. When you lack assurance, positive self-talk can help you boost your confidence. It’s that optimistic voice inside your head that says you’re going to ace that exam.
  4. Stay organized. At times, you’ll feel like you’re drowning in a sea of reading assignments, lab activities, and the like. To help you stay afloat, plan ahead, stay organized, and fine-tune your schedule. For instance, a planner that allows for time blocking is one of the best tools you can use to manage your time.
  5. Make friends with classmates. More times than not, your classmates are experiencing the same struggles and frustrations as you. So, it’s important to form a camaraderie with others in your nursing cohort to keep everyone as engaged and motivated as possible.
  6. Don’t sacrifice sleep. The more shut-eye you get, the better nursing student you’ll be. After all, the mind and body can’t function properly without sleep. So, when you’re tired, you’re less likely to remember important facts and comprehend complex concepts.
  7. Focus on comprehension. Nursing school is less about memorizing facts and more about synthesizing concepts. For example, when you memorize what the term “renal failure” means, you don’t necessarily know what’s going on inside the body. You must understand how the kidneys work and how they influence the rest of the body.

So, if your goal is to become a nurse, the short amount of time you spend in our ABSN program will be well worth it. Once you earn your BSN, you’ll be able to pursue employment in any number of healthcare settings and practice in one of nearly 100 specialty areas.

Ready to Choose Our Nursing Program?

If you have a non-nursing college education and want to accelerate into the nursing profession, our ABSN program in New Jersey can help make it happen. There’s no waitlist here, and our ABSN program is currently enrolling for spring, summer, and fall terms. Contact our admissions team today to begin your path to nursing school.

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