I recently received an email from a prospective nursing student and thought that it was worth posting my answers.
I came across to your blog while searching for NYU’s accelerated nursing program. Reading your blog has been very helpful. Congrats on becoming a nurse. Currently I have my undergrad in a business discipline and I am really considering a nursing career instead. I just have some questions regarding nursing, it would be great to get your feedback. Thanks so much if you have the time to answer any of these questions!
1. Does it matter whether you take your pre-reqs at a community college or 4-yr college when applying to NYU? Do pre-req grades matter? Will there be a higher chance if acceptance if pre-reqs are taken in NYU?
You can take your pre-reqs at a community college or a 4 year college. Pre-req grades matter a lot. Definitely do well on these. I don’t believe there’s a higher chance of acceptance of the pre-reqs are taken at NYU. Majority of students take pre-reqs at a community college or a 4 year college.
My GPA was 3.84. As for experience, I volunteered at a hospital when I was applying. It’s important to highlight your feelings towards nursing especially after speaking to them and seeing what they do.
NYU is a great school and I’m glad I attended the school. The professors are top-notch and the students are helpful. There’s an interdisciplinary program so med students and nursing students learn about working together and each other’s roles. It is one of the top research institutions as well especially in elder care (NICHE Program http://www.nicheprogram.org). However, it is a really expensive program so I don’t recommend it to everyone.
The other nursing schools in New York / Long Island that I hear good things from include Hunter, Columbia, Stony Brook, Adelphi, Molloy and Pace.
After I passed the NCLEX, it took about 6 months to find a nursing position. A couple of problems I ran into included not knowing how to interview (because this is a skill you need to practice). I didn’t start my search until after I passed. Some students connected with nurse managers during clinical and were able to secure a position shortly after graduation.
I did work once a week as a swim instructor during school to help supplement the costs. Some students didn’t work at all while others worked 36 hours a week (a full-time job!!). The first and second semester are the toughest so give more time devoted to school before deciding to work.
Some employers require a minimum GPA (3.4, 3.5) before they even look at your application. Some don’t. It’s how you present yourself and your mannerism that matter and whether you retained information from school and can apply it.
Starting salary differs from location to location, ranging from $40-80k. In NYC, it starts around $70-80k if you’re working at a private hospital.
Becoming a NP is dependent on the person. While I’ve heard that becoming an NP is the greatest thing in the world (I hear a lot of positive feedback), there are still a few who are discontent with the position, as there is more responsibility that comes with the position. Some people don’t want to deal with the higher stress and responsibility but wanted to go back to school and ended up hating being an NP. This requires a lot of self-reflection. What do you think would suit you and are you ready for it?
Personally, I’ve explored many advanced nursing professions. Not only should you look at your duties but also the lifestyle. Where would you want to work, what would you do, when would you want to work, what income would you make, what mobility is there? The best advanced nursing profession depends on the individual and what they want out of life. I picked Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. I like the one-on-one direct patient care aspect requiring a high level of critical thinking and autonomy and teamwork.
Life as a nurse differs between the environment that you work in. I work at the hospital where there’s 12 hour shifts (7-7:30am and pm), 3 days a week (for full time) and you can choose your schedule (with some limitations such as having to choose at least 3 weekend days, 2 Fridays, etc). Some people choose to do 3 in a row each week and have 4 days off. Other hospitals have it so you work 3 12-hour shifts plus 1 additional day every 4 weeks. Some units, especially in CTICU, PACU and ER, have other shifts from 11am to 11pm or 2pm to 2am.
It’s great having 4 days off because you definitely need it to recuperate and you’ll have time to do something else if you’d like.
Some places have day (7a -3p), evening (3p-11p), and night shift (11p-7a), especially in rehab and nursing homes, and require you work 5 days a week.
At work, you often need to have handoff communication about the patients. Then you assess the patient and pass out medications. You make nursing diagnoses about each patient and use critical thinking. You think to yourself: What’s the goal for the patient today? And then make it happen. You’ll speak to various disciplines to coordinate the care.
There’s a couple of tough parts about being a nurse.
1) Families – Some follow the unit policies and others do whatever they want. Communication is sometimes hard but trying to understand where they are coming from helps.
2) Physicians, MLP – your input is often crucial to the patient’s outcome but sometimes the provider will disagree with you.
3) Patients – some are nice and others are crazy, confused and not so nice.
4) Self- being able to let go everyday of the outcome is tough. At the end of the time, you have to set 1 small goal for the patient and as long as they meet that, you have to be satisfied with the care you provided. Nurses tend to be overachievers and want to always give more but with the number of things that must be done, it’s impossible to do everything you had in mind. You have to remember that nursing is a 24/7 job.
The good parts about being a nurse is knowing that you’ve made a difference is someone’s life. You get to think about an active problem and you get to take yourself and solve that problem. You get to hold someone’s hand and reassure them. It’s an amazing privilege to have to save a life, to have a better life, or to let someone die with dignity.
As for expectations in the workforce, there are several different angles you can discuss but I’ll discuss about your own expectations. There’s a nursing theorist named Patricia Benner who stated that the nursing career is based on the nursing model-
You really do start not knowing a lot, just the basics. You focus a lot on technical skills because it’s something you have to work on. Then as you progress, you build more confidence. Soon you’ll start to see areas in nursing where care can be streamlined or have protocols to standardize care. You’ll be in charge, take on harder assignments, be a preceptor, etc.
Do well on your pre-reqs, volunteer or work in healthcare, and get to know a few professors who will write a letter of recommendation for you. And write a killer personal statement answering every question asked.
I hoped that helped! Read my first post for more information on NYU’s Accelerated Nursing Program, find out if NYU Nursing is worth it, how to pick a good nursing school, and find out if you can afford an accelerated program. Or if you have any further questions, email me.