Tips for Applying to Graduate Programs in Nursing

Nursing is a hugely rewarding career that can also be very demanding. It takes an individual that has excellent communication skills, works effectively with others and above all shows patience, understanding and is empathetic.

As the need for nurses increases so does the need for Graduate level nurses. A graduate degree in Nursing can open up exciting and new specializations in the field. Careful planning and searching can land you in career that meets your expectations.

� Plan your career

Planning your Nursing career is important before you start exploring schools. You need to develop career goals to determine which program best suits your career objective. There are joint programs that are available; nursing and Public Health, business administration, or health administration. There are also Online Nursing Programs available for the convenience of distance learning.

� Talk with nurses in the workforce in the different areas of specialization and get advice and tips.
� Read Professional Nursing journals.
� Talk to health care administrators asking about the trends in the nursing field.
� Attend professional meetings and network; exploring different options.
� Make sure that the program you choose to pursue meets state and national certification.

� Plan your Education

There are many options when pursuing your Masters Degree in Nursing. You could:

� Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
� Part-Time MSN
� RN to MSN
� Direct Entry MSN
� Online RN-MSN
� Online MSN

A Nursing Masters program usually takes 2 years to complete. If you opt for the part time nursing program expect to spend four to six years in school.

� Prerequisites vary from program to program, depending on the specialty you choose. Prerequisites often include statistics course and physical assessment tools.
� GRE is required to test your general knowledge and Analytical skills.
� You may even be required to obtain a license in the state where your program is being offered.
� If you are the field already remember that a positive recommendation from your supervisor is important and normally carries more weight than that from an instructor.
� Some of the MSN programs accept students who have not has any nursing background. As long as you have taken some of the core undergraduate classes you can be accepted.

� Start Looking for a Program Early

Albeit there is a shortage of Nurses, there is also a shortage of instructors in Nursing Schools. This implicates competition for the limited places in graduate nursing programs. It is imperative to start searching for programs early and send in an application early.

� Choosing a School

Find out what the School has to offer.

� Is there any flexibility associated with the time required for you to earn you degree?
� Make sure the faculty at the school holds the credentials that you are seeking.
� The program should be accredited by a recognized nursing body such as National League of Nursing accrediting Committee or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Accreditation is a requirement for certification.
� Is the location suitable.
� Does the size of the school suit your need?
� How about the class size.
� Does the school provide sufficient clinical rotation?
� What is the pass rate of the NCLEX examination?
� How must does it cost and is there financial aid available?

� Getting into the Program

Finances are very important part of your application package. Start putting all the relevant information together.

� Have your current resume, essay template ready and know who your recommenders are. The essay template will be used for you admission and scholarship applications. Use the essay to explain to the admission committees and funders the level of your commitment.
� Keep a running tab on your community services and leadership skills. This shows how you have contributed to the community.
� Search for thoroughly for financial aid. Use the internet as a valuable resource.
� Have someone review all you application materials before you send them out.

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