Accelerated BSNHospital Clinical RotationsOnline ABSN CourseworkOnline PrerequisitesSimulation & Skills Labs

What Are the Requirements to Become a Nurse?

Summary: In a time when nurses are in high demand across the country, ABSN programs are a great way for folks to accelerate into the profession. However, not just anyone can hop on this education fast-track. In this post, you’ll learn what it takes to get into our nursing school, what being a student in our ABSN program is like, and what happens after you graduate.

Accelerated Nursing 101 - nurse in lab coat

Nurses play an invaluable role in patient care, so it’s hard to believe there was a time when the general public saw the occupation as demeaning. But truth be told, nurses didn’t start to get the respect they deserved until 1860. It took Florence Nightingale establishing nursing standards for these selfless caregivers to join the professional spotlight.

While Florence set the stage for modern nursing, how nurses are prepared for the profession has evolved significantly over time. What are the requirements to become a nurse nowadays?

Before we get into the specifics, it’s important for you to know that getting into nursing school is tough. Even if you meet all of the nursing school requirements, you still risk rejection because most schools don’t have the resources to keep up with student demand.

However, as you’ll soon see, your odds of getting into nursing school are higher when you apply to our Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program in Parsippany or Rutherford, New Jersey.

Your Shot at Nursing Starts Here

When it comes to ABSN programs, every nursing school has a different set of admissions requirements. At Felician University, we believe more students should have a shot at the nursing profession, especially since our country is in desperate need of nurses.

While most ABSN programs are second-degree options, meaning you need a non-nursing bachelor’s degree to apply, we consider individuals who have at least 60 non-nursing college credits and a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA for all undergraduate courses.

So now you’re probably wondering why our ABSN program doesn’t have a waitlist. Well, it’s because we have the space, faculty, technology, and clinical partnerships to graduate a high number of accelerated nursing students annually.

Not to mention, our ABSN program is the only one in New Jersey to offer four start dates a year—three for the hybrid option and one for the on-ground option. What’s the difference between the two? Our 16-month Hybrid ABSN program blends online and on-site instruction, whereas our 24-month On-Ground ABSN program follows a traditional campus approach.

Felician University campus building

Hybrid vs. On-Ground Nursing Curriculum

Generally speaking, nursing school is one of the most challenging education paths available. So no matter which full-time ABSN program option you choose, the nursing curriculum is going to prove difficult. And rightly so because people entrust nurses with their lives.

Whether you enroll in our Hybrid or On-Ground ABSN program, you can expect to complete the same nursing curriculum, which comprises fundamental coursework, hands-on nursing labs, and clinical rotations in diverse practice settings.

Hybrid or On-ground - ABSN Program Admissions Process infographic

Together, these learning components prepare you to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN®) with confidence and enter the nursing profession practice-ready.

Despite having the same nursing curriculum, there are a few distinct differences between the two ABSN program options.

Hybrid ABSN ProgramOn-ground ABSN Program
Length16 months24 months
LocationABSN Learning Site – ParsippanyMain Campus – Rutherford
CoursesOnlineClassroom
LabsABSN Learning SiteMain Campus
ClinicalsLocal Healthcare FacilitiesLocal Healthcare Facilities
StartsJanuary, May, AugustMarch

If you’re not sure which option is best for you, it helps to think in terms of your learning style and study habits. The most successful hybrid ABSN students tend to be those who are highly organized and have a lot of self-discipline. If you need a lot of structure and external accountability to succeed, our On-Ground ABSN program might be the better option for you.

Sooner or Later

You can begin your nursing education sooner by applying to our Hybrid ABSN program. It has three start dates a year, whereas the On-Ground ABSN program only has one. Not to mention, the hybrid program’s online learning component enables us to enroll a high number of qualified students per start.

Accelerated BSN Program Requirements

At Felician University, you’re able to complete your BSN degree in a compressed time frame because we allow you to build on your previous non-nursing college education (minimum of 60 credits required).

Keep in mind, however, there are a series of general education and prerequisite course requirements you must satisfy before you can apply to our Hybrid or On-Ground ABSN program.

General Education CoursesCredits
Faith and Reason6
Ethics, Values, and Truth3
Communication and Expression6
Critical and Analytical Thinking3
Information Literacy4
Technological Acumen3-4
Quantitative and Scientific Reasoning7
Global Consciousness6
Liberal Arts9

If you have an associate degree or baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution, we may waive some of the general education course requirements.

ABSN Prerequisite CoursesCreditsMinimum Grade Requirement
BIO 202: Microbiology + Lab4C+
BIO 205: Anatomy and Physiology I + Lab4C+
BIO 206: Anatomy and Physiology II + Lab4C+
BIO 307: Pathophysiology3C+
CHEM 105: Principles of Chemistry4C+
MATH 122: Statistics I3C+
PSY 105: Lifespan Development3C+

If your previous field of undergraduate study involved the sciences, you may have already met some of the prerequisite requirements. An admissions counselor can help you determine whether you have any transferable credits.

Importance of ABSN Prerequisites

It’s important to do well in the ABSN prerequisites because they prepare you to hit the ground running on your first day of nursing school. Not to mention, what these courses teach is key to your nursing career preparedness.

ABSN prerequisites are challenging and time-consuming, particularly those with lab requirements. If you’ve struggled with science in the past, you may want to consider taking one science prerequisite course at a time. It’s important that you not stretch yourself too thin because each course covers complex concepts.

Take Note

It’s important to have a solid understanding of math and science before starting nursing school. For example, as an ABSN student, you’ll be required to calculate medication dosages. Plus, what you learn in anatomy and physiology will help you understand how specific systems work within the human body.

How the ABSN Program Works

Our ABSN program follows a full-time format that blends fundamental coursework with hands-on nursing labs and in-person clinical rotations. It’s a rigorous learning path that requires you to manage your time wisely as well as maintain a consistent daily routine. You should expect to spend 40 or more hours a week on your education.

Fundamental Coursework

Focused on the fundamentals and theories of the profession, our ABSN coursework sets the foundation for your nursing education and the hands-on skills you’ll develop during labs and clinicals.

Nursing Skills Labs

Nursing labs allow you to hone your clinical skills in a mock hospital setting. Our lab features task trainers and full-body medical manikins so you can practice skills, such as catheterization and nasogastric tube insertions, without the fear of putting actual patients at risk. Overall, there are eight labs connected to the didactic portion of the program (coursework).

Felician University simulation lab scene

Nursing Simulation Labs

Simulation labs provide opportunities for you to integrate theory, practice, and reasoning in real-time. These labs challenge you to think critically, problem-solve, and collaborate, with the intent of building your confidence prior to entering the actual clinical setting. Simulation exercises vary and are based on the specific learning objectives of the instructor.

Real or Fake?

Either an actor or a manikin carries out the patient role during simulation exercises. We use patient actors when covering community and behavioral health. Actors will alter their status during the simulation, requiring students to think critically and apply clinical reasoning to come up with an appropriate response. Our high-tech manikins, which deliver realistic physiologic responses, serve as patients in complex clinical scenarios, such as childbirth and cardiac arrest.

Nursing simulation lab in progress

Clinical Rotations

Clinicals provide you with relevant, real-world patient care experience across the healthcare continuum. Your first clinical inside the hospital takes place in the second semester and focuses on medical-surgical care and behavioral health. Overall, you’ll gain 864 hours of practical experience in settings that range from hospitals to nursing homes to outpatient clinics.

Clinical Immersion

In your fourth semester of the program, you’ll work one-on-one with a preceptor (a trained registered nurse) over 12-hour shifts. You’ll begin by taking care of one to two patients and will gradually increase your patient load until you have a full assignment.

Good to Know

Our ABSN student retention rate is greater than 95%. If you’re having trouble with a particular nursing concept, you have access to an academic success coach throughout the program. You can also take advantage of our one-on-one tutoring services and open skills lab hours.

ABSN Program Success Tips

When it comes to being a successful nursing student, Sabratha Thomas, director of nursing services for the Hybrid ABSN program, offers this advice:

  • Make your education a full-time commitment.
  • Be authentically present for the entire program.
  • Develop efficient study habits and eliminate distractions.
  • Practice good time management and plan ahead.
  • Be ready and willing to take on a challenge.
  • Trust in the learning process and always be prepared.
Nursing students in lab coats

Four ABSN Program Myths

In speaking with prospective ABSN students, our admissions team has uncovered a few myths about the accelerated path to nursing.

Myth #1: Curriculum for an Accelerated BSN program is easier than that of a traditional BSN program.

Fact: Accelerated and traditional BSN programs teach the same principles of professional nursing practice. ABSN programs take less time to complete because they build on an individual’s existing college education.

Myth #2: A classroom education is better than an online education.

Fact: Whether you learn the fundamentals of nursing online or in the classroom, you’re completing the same coursework. The only difference is how you receive and submit course materials.

Myth #3: Given the high cost of attending nursing school, everyone should be able to graduate.

Fact: If you’re not fully committed to your education, you’re not going to graduate from nursing school.

Myth #4: You don’t need a solid understanding of math to succeed in nursing school.

Fact: You can expect to perform math calculations in most every course throughout the ABSN program.

Six Essential Nursing Skills

While it’s important to have a sincere passion for helping others, there’s a lot more to being a good nurse than meets the eye. The best nurses are those who are equally competent and compassionate. They also embody certain unique qualities that make them good at what they do, including the six below. (Skills that you’ll develop during our ABSN program.)

1. Critical Thinking

A good nurse draws upon evidence-based research and past clinical experiences to solve patient problems.

2. Emotional Strength

When faced with the harsh realities of human suffering, a good nurse remains cool, calm, and collected.

3. Collaborative Mindset

A good nurse is able to work effectively with pharmacists, physicians, and other disciplines to coordinate safe, quality patient care.

4. Good Communication

Whether it involves explaining medications, treatments, or instructions to patients, family members, or fellow team members, a good nurse is able to communicate effectively and in a timely manner.

5. Detail Driven

A good nurse checks and rechecks his/her work to ensure patient safety. He/she also observes and reports, drawing attention to a problematic side effect or symptom before it causes complications.

6. Culturally Aware

A good nurse doesn’t pass judgment when caring for patients from all walks of life. He/she has empathy for others and can look at every situation from the patient’s point of view.

Nursing students practicing taking vitals

Five Steps to Become a Nurse

Whether you apply to our ABSN program or not, if you’re serious about a career in nursing, here are five steps you must take to get into the profession.

1. Research the Profession

Nursing is a high-demand, fast-growing profession full of reward and opportunity. Only it’s not a job you want to enter into lightly. So make sure you understand all the pros and cons of being a nurse. For example, while nurses earn high wages and have the trust of the general public, they also have exposure to needle sticks, germs, and bodily fluids.

2. Choose a Nursing Degree

While you can still become a registered nurse with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is the preferred entry degree for professional practice. In 2018, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) published the results of a survey that asked 627 nursing schools about employer preferences regarding student education levels. AACN found that 45.6% of employers require new hires to have a BSN, while 88.4% strongly prefer applicants with a BSN.

3. Apply to an Accredited Program

It’s important to apply to an accredited nursing program. Accreditation means the program has been properly vetted for quality and integrity. There are two autonomous agencies responsible for accrediting nursing programs throughout the United States: the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The difference between the two is that CCNE doesn’t accredit LPN, Diploma, or ADN programs, whereas ACEN does. The program should also be in good standing with its affiliated state board of nursing.

In case you were wondering, our ABSN program has CCNE accreditation and the approval of the New Jersey Board of Nursing.

4. Commit to Your Nursing Education

No matter where you go, nursing school is hard. So be prepared to devote a lot of time and energy to your studies. Being in nursing school is on par with holding down a full-time job with required overtime. Therefore, a lot of schools recommend that students not work while enrolled in an accelerated nursing program.

5. Pass the NCLEX-RN® Exam

After graduating from nursing school, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination to be able to practice as a registered nurse. And just so you know, we had 15 BSN graduates take the exam during the first quarter of 2020 and collectively achieved a 100% first-time pass rate.

What Employers Look for in Nursing Graduates

Newbie registered nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, a high level of clinical competence, a compassionate personality, and a collaborative mindsets are the ones who stand out the most with healthcare employers.

Nursing Licensure in New Jersey

While every nursing graduate must pass the NCLEX-RN to become a registered nurse, the licensure process tends to vary from state to state. If your plan is to live and practice in New Jersey, here are the steps you need to take to earn your RN title.

  1. Visit the New Jersey Board of Nursing website and locate the Licensure by Examination application.
  2. Complete the online application and submit the required support documentation.
  3. Register with Pearson VUE to take the NCLEX and obtain your Authorization to Test (ATT).
  4. Pass the NCLEX exam and receive your license within 24 to 48 hours.

What happens if you fail the NCLEX? You must submit a re-exam application to the New Jersey Board of Nursing each time you want to re-test. Those who fail the exam three times must complete a 30-hour review course before being issued a fourth ATT.

Also worth noting is that New Jersey recently became part of the Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC) and is working through the implementation process. As of right now, 34 states are participating in the compact.

With only partial implementation at this point, New Jersey currently allows nurses who hold active, unencumbered, multi-state licenses issued by eNLC states to practice in New Jersey under their multi-state licenses. When the implementation is fully complete, nursing graduates in New Jersey can get a multi-state license that authorizes them to work in any other eNLC state.

Nursing Employment in New Jersey

If the stats on CareerOneStop.org are any indication, it appears registered nurse employment in New Jersey will grow 12% between the years 2016 and 2026, with 5,730 job openings projected annually. The site also lists $81,820 as the median salary for nurses working in the Garden State. Several factors, from experience level to employer type, influence how much a nurse makes in a year.

A Profession of Endless Opportunity

While nursing is a high-demand, fast-growing profession, it’s also one of the most diverse occupations available today. So once you’ve got your license to practice, you can seek out employment in any number of settings, including hospitals (still the largest employers of RNs), urgent care clinics, outpatient clinics, private practices, military bases, and schools. You also have the ability to care for patients around the country, maybe even the world, as a travel nurse.

Your BSN from Felician University also paves the way for career advancement. You have the opportunity to take the next step and earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree with specialty certification.

With an MSN and advanced practice certification, you’ll have access to some of the highest-paying jobs in the profession, which includes the nurse anesthetist and nurse practitioner titles. You could also work beyond the bedside in a research or healthcare administration role.

Ready to Get Started?

If you have at least 60 non-nursing college credits and a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, you meet the basic requirements to become a nurse. Contact our admissions team to learn more about what you need to do to apply to our 16-month Hybrid ABSN program or 24-month On-Ground ABSN program.

And just so you know, we review applications as they come in rather than waiting for the submission deadline to pass, which means we can give you an admissions decision within a few weeks of receiving your application. No waiting, no wondering.

Get Started Today

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