Important Steps to a Career as a Nurse

 Take the right courses, besides typical PSY courses (Intro, Research Methods, Stats)

  • Pre-med courses including Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Math
  • Physiological Psychology
  • Neuroscience
  • Learning
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Lab course in Physiological or Cognitive Psychology
  • Seminar in Physiological or Cognitive Psychology

It is critical to do well in your courses.

  • Overall GPA.
  • Psychology GPA minor (if you have one).
  • GPA last two years in college GPA.
  • Maintaining a high GPA from your freshman year on
  • If you do not get an A or B in a course you should probably repeat the course.

Get involved in research

  • Get even more involved in research by doing a Senior Honors thesis or some other research where you can get your name on a conference presentation or journal publication. This kind of recognition is rare for an undergraduate and will really boost your standing when you apply to medical school.
  • You can get involved in research as part of Independent study course and thus earn credit hours and possibly increase your GPA if it counts as a graded course or volunteer.
  • An advantage to working in a lab is that you get to know a faculty member who can write you a strong letter of recommendation when you are ready to apply to graduate school. Given you need more than one letter of recommendation, it is probably best to work in two different labs as an undergraduate.

Do a nursing-related internship

  • By doing an internship you can again show your high level of motivation for nursing school.
  • This internship can be with an on-campus clinic/organization, or off-campus clinic/organization dealing with nursing or medicine.

Develop critical skills

  • There are a number of skills you can develop in addition to what you learn in classes and by conducting research-- computers, writing, and oral communication skills.

Get involved in extracurricular activities involving nursing

  • Among others, you can volunteer at a medical hospital, psychiatric hospital, group home, clinic, after-school program for children, senior home, or a research setting that involves medicine.
  • This involvement demonstrates a high level of motivation and interest in nursing. Any involvement just adds to your overall record and makes you a more competitive applicant.

Be active in nursing organizations

  • This can include an undergraduate nursing association on campus.
  • Once again, this involvement demonstrates a high level of motivation and interest in nursing. Any involvement just adds to your overall record and makes you a more competitive applicant.

Get work experience in a nurtsing context if you can

  • It is not critical that you are employed in a nursing conext (such as those listed above) as an undergraduate, but if you can get such a job that is a real bonus.
  • Adds to your overall record and makes you a more competitive applicant.

Shadow one or more nurses

  • Shadowing gives you insight into the life of a nurse.
  • Demonstrates a high level of motivation and interest in a nursing career.

Understand the importance of the Nursing Entrance Test

  • What is the Nursing Entrance Exam? If you are not clear about the Nursing Entrance Exam, you must understand that this is the standardized exam that almost everyone who applies to nursing school must take. It can be viewed as the “nursing SAT or ACT”. Because it is a standardized exam that means everyone across the country and even in the world takes the same exam in the same way.
  • Your Nursing Entrance Exam scores are extremely important. Because the Nursing Entrance Exams are a standardized test, the argument is that this score allows each nursing school selection committee to compare your score in an equal fashion against all other applicants.
  • This gets even more important if you are going to a college that is perceived as less strong academically. For example, if you go to the University of Kentucky (U.S. News and World Report college ranking of 129) and get a high Nursing Entrance Exam score and a student going to Harvard (U.S. News and World Report college ranking of 2) gets a low Nursing Entrance Exam score your application will likely be viewed as quite strong.
  • Another way Nursing Entrance Exam scores can work for you is if you have only mediocre grades (e.g., a 3.20 overall GPA), but you score really high on the GREs your high score can, in effect, offset those modest grades.
  • As far as preparing for the Nursing Entrance Exam, some argue that you should begin preparing for the Nursing Entrance Exam by your sophomore year. This would involve using Nursing Entrance Exam practice books and software on a regular basis. You might also consider taking an Nursing Entrance Exam course from a company like Princeton Review or Kaplan.

Interact with your Professors