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Can I go straight to nursing school after I graduate high school? (If so, how can I get in?)

Hello, I am currently a rising junior in high school. I am very interested in nursing, and becoming an RN. I want to obtain a BSN, and later my masters because I want to specialize in sports medicine or orthopedics. I believe I read somewhere that you can go straight to nursing school right after you graduate high school. The nursing school will save you a spot in their program, so you don't have to apply to nursing schools after finishing prerequisites (I'm not sure if this is correct). nursing medicine nurse healthcare college registered-nurses

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John’s Answer

Hi Athena

Athena there are many different levels of nursing degrees and credentials, and I think this is what is causing the confusion.

A NURING DEGEEE IS NOT ONE–SIZE–FITS–ALL

The truth is there are many different levels of nursing degrees and credentials, and many specialties and job titles under each umbrella. There is a precise path and various nurse education requirements you’ll need to meet to pursue the position you have your sights set on. It means there are potential opportunities out there for those wanting to make an impact in the healthcare field—no matter their level of educational attainment. And the options don’t end once you’re employed, either—you can mold your career to fit your passions and priorities by continuing to climb the nursing hierarchy later on.

1.) CERTIFIED NURSING ASSISTANT (CNA) – While these professionals are not actually nurses, they are on the frontline of contact between medical staff and patients—and the role can serve as a starting point for many nurses. Nursing assistants bathe their patients and help them dress, eat, use the bathroom and perform other daily activities. They measure vital signs and listen to their patient’s health concerns and transfer patients between beds and wheel chairs.
• CNA EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS – To become a CNA, you must complete a state-approved education program. A nursing assistant training program can will typically take three to eight weeks to complete. Upon completion of the program, aspiring nursing assistants must pass an exam to earn their CNA (or related) title. After successful completion, CNAs are state-certified.

2.) LICENSED PRACTICAL NURSE (LPN) – They monitor patient health and administer basic care. Their tasks might include taking blood pressure, inserting catheters, starting IV drips (in some states) and changing bandages. They communicate with patients and sometimes patient family members to educate them in the care plan. State regulations vary for LPNs on administering medication and supervision requirements.
• LPN EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS – LPNs get their start by successfully completing a Practical Nursing Diploma program. These programs can be found at technical schools, community colleges or career colleges and can usually be completed in as few as 12 months. After graduation, you’ll be required to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-PN) to receive your state license and be qualified to work.

3.) REGISTERED NURSE (RN) – Registered nurses (RNs) tend to be the group most people associate with the term “NURS.” They assume a wide variety of roles in patient care. They are responsible for recording patient medical history, monitoring symptoms and medical equipment, administering medicine, establishing or contributing to a plan of care, performing diagnostic tests and collaborating with doctors.
• RN EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS – There are 2 levels of nursing degrees that can lead to a career as an RN:
– Associate's Degree in Nursing – In order to become an RN, candidates need to have earned at minimum an Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN). Completing this degree program allows graduates to take the licensing examination to become RNs. Common courses include anatomy, nutrition, adult care and medicine practices.
– Bachelor's Degree in Nursing – Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree programs allow nursing students to learn about providing care and obtaining work experience in medical settings. Common courses include human development and healthcare, nursing theory, chemistry and infant care.

When choosing which track to take, it’s important to think ahead and determine what the educational preferences are for the type of work you want. Some employers (especially hospitals) prefer RNs to have a Bachelor’s degree. Many working RNs with an ADN opt to go back to school later to earn their Bachelor’s degree through an RN-to-BSN online program. But whichever nursing degree level you decide on, you’ll still have to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) if you want to start working as an RN.

4.) ADVANCED PRACTICE REGISTERED NURSE (APRN) – These nurses have all sorts of options when it comes to career choices. They can work independently as well as in collaboration with physicians. They can perform all of the duties of an RN as well as more extensive tasks like ordering and evaluating test results, referring patients to specialists and diagnosing and treating ailments.
• APRN EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS – To become an advanced practice nurse, you must complete your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program. Some MSN programs accept applications only from licensed RNs. Advanced practice nurses include nurse-midwives, nurse anesthetists, clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners. Courses in graduate nursing degree programs vary because they are usually focused on the area of concentration.

Now that you’re more familiar with the nursing hierarchy Athena, you may have a better idea of which path you'd like to pursue. This simple breakdown of the different levels of nursing should help you have a better understanding of your options in the field. Even though, these only scratch the surface of the career options available within each level. Regardless of which level of nursing credential you choose, completing the TEAS test is a common education requirement you'll likely encounter.

Hope this was also Helpful Athena

John recommends the following next steps:

CNA SALARY OUTLOOK – The average Certified Nursing Assistant salary in the United States is $32,200 as of June 28, 2020, but the range typically falls between $29,500 and $35,500. Salary ranges can vary widely depending on many important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, the number of years you have spent in your profession.
LPN SALARY OUTLOOK – The average Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) salary in the United States is $49,400 as of June 28, 2020, but the range typically falls between $44,900 and $55,300. Salary ranges can vary widely depending on many important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, the number of years you have spent in your profession.
ADN SALARY OUTLOOK – The average Registered Nurse (ADN) salary in the United States is $54,000 as of June 28, 2020, but the range typically falls between $50,900 and $59,500. Salary ranges can vary widely depending on many important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, the number of years you have spent in your profession.
BSN SALARY OUTLOOK – The average Registered Nurse (BSN) salary in the United States is $69,000 as of June 28, 2020, but the range typically falls between $60,000 and $80,000. Salary ranges can vary widely depending on many important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, the number of years you have spent in your profession.
APRN SALARY OUTLOOK – The average Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) salary in the United States is $92,900 as of June 28, 2020, but the range typically falls between $82,000 and $114,000. Salary ranges can vary widely depending on many important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, the number of years you have spent in your profession.

Thank you! This was very helpful. Just to clarify, do I have to become a registered nurse before becoming an APRN? Athena R.

Yes, an Advance Practice Registered Nurse must first fulfill the requirements to become a registered nurse. Then you complete your Master of Science in Nursing degree and attain additional licensing to practice as advance practice nurses. Only after you've earned your bachelor's degree in nursing can you take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to meet your states' requirements to become a registered nurse. John Frick

Thank you for the quick response! Athena R.

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Corin’s Answer

The above answer is pretty comprehensive but I wanted to touch on a few of the specifics of your question.

There are so many nursing programs that have different offerings it is difficult to say if that is a possibility. As a general rule, unfortunately, you can not go straight into a BSN program. Like all other degree programs you will need to complete your prerequisites prior to applying. Schools of nursing typically have entrance exams that you will need to take prior to acceptance. Honestly, those exams are pretty intense and you would fare better after a few years of college.

I also wanted to address your desire to specialize in Ortho or Sports Med. You do not need a Master's degree to do this. There have been many changes in the field of nursing, however, it remains mostly a practical knowledge field where you learn your specialty on the job. The function of a Master's degree in this career would be to move up into a management position. Your specialty you learn solely by getting a job in that field and gaining experience. Most specialities offer a certification program that you can take to gain extra credentialing in your field. Here is the cert program for Ortho so you can get an idea https://www.oncb.org/

Corin recommends the following next steps:

Get your prerequisites done
Apply to nursing school
Start working in your field of choice
Obtain specialty certification

Thank you, this was very helpful! Athena R.

I have a question: If I wanted to become a nurse practitioner that specializes in ortho/sport med, do I need to become a rn first in order to do so? Athena R.

Yes, you need to be an RN before you can be a NP. Nurse practitioners are advanced practice registered nurses. I think over the years there has been confusion as what exactly an NP is. An NP is an RN with advanced education, training, and experience that has proven they can function autonomously. Corin Reyes

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Donna’s Answer

Excellent advise given. Just to add a touch further, there are local Community Collages that do offer 2 year Nursing Programs. You will need to apply however, once accepted to a "program" most of these will focus on some of the Gen-Eds you will need. It will also help to expose you to other nursing modalities. This exposure will help you determine, yes - I like this area.. or NO WAY do I like this particular area. Sometimes you think you want to go in a certain direction until you have more exposure. The more dialog and networking you can do now the better! Good Luck!

Donna recommends the following next steps:

Search out local community colleges or colleges that offer a Nursing Program
Speak to the actual nursing departement at your local community or college and they can most likly give you some great detailed information
Speak to your Doctor's Nurse he/she could give you their thoughts and why they chose the direction they did
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