How to Prepare for Nursing School: 10 Tips

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If you have decided nursing school is in your future, this is an exciting time! Amid the anticipation you are feeling, how can you ensure you are ready for school? Knowing how to prepare for nursing school can help you begin on the right foot. At Pacific Lutheran University (PLU), we are experienced at helping our students transition smoothly to our 16-month Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program.

smiling nurse with backpack walking up stairs

We will discuss 10 nursing school tips for success. Use these tips so you know how to succeed in nursing school.

1. Write Down Your "Why"

Before embarking on the life-changing path of becoming a nurse, reflect on what you hope to gain from a nursing career. This is the first key point when thinking about how to prepare for nursing school.

Consider what aspects of nursing resonate with you. What brought you to this career? Perhaps a nurse made a personal impact on your life. Or maybe you have a passion for helping kids. Whatever your reason, it is unique to you. Common themes exist for why people choose nursing, but by fleshing out your specific reason, you become empowered.

Knowing your “why” empowers you to work hard and never give up on the path to achieving your goals. When you need motivation to study for an exam, you will be able to pull out your “why” and remember why all the hard work is worthwhile.

nurse looking at monitor above patient's bed

Need some inspiration for why nursing is a great career? Here are eight reasons to become a nurse.

2. Complete Admissions Requirements and Prerequisites

If you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or at least 60 non-nursing college credits, an accelerated BSN program like ours can help you save time. Before starting at PLU, you will need to fulfill several admissions requirements, including taking any prerequisite courses.

Here is a list of the admissions requirements for PLU’s ABSN program:

  • A minimum of 60 non-nursing college credits OR a non-nursing bachelor’s degree
  • Completed prerequisites with a minimum grade of B- in each:
    • Intro to microbiology with lab
    • Human anatomy & physiology I and II with lab
    • Chemistry of life with lab
    • Development across the lifespan
    • Introductory statistics
    • Nutrition in health care
  • A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale

Our admission counselors will assist you with creating a plan for completing any requirements before beginning school. With three start dates each year for the ABSN program, you will be able to begin soon after finishing your prerequisites.

Pacific Lutheran University ABSN students looking at hospital equipment

Wondering how to become a nurse with a prior bachelor's degree or 60+ college credits? Follow these five steps to become an RN.

3. Talk with Loved Ones

Nursing school is a challenge and having the support of those closest to you will make all the difference. We recommend sitting down with your partner, family and closest friends to explain why you are pursuing a nursing career. Let them know that you will need to focus on studying during the 16 months of the ABSN program and ask if they are willing to help you throughout the process.

How loved ones help can look different for everyone, ranging from bringing you a meal or sending you an encouraging message to helping care for your children. Most of all, having people to talk with and open up to will be an essential part of maintaining your mental health during nursing school.

4. Plan Relocation Details

If you are relocating to another city to attend nursing school, such as coming to PLU’s ABSN program near Seattle, it is important to take time to prepare for your move ahead of time. Even though part of the ABSN program is completed online, you will need to live in the greater Seattle area so you can attend required in-person nursing labs, clinical rotations and exams.

woman sitting at desk using laptop

If possible, make a trip out to the area before moving so you can find housing, get acclimated to the city and visit the ABSN site in person.

Here are a few things to consider when relocating for nursing school:

  • Find an apartment or home near the ABSN site.
  • Ensure you have reliable transportation to the ABSN site and clinical rotations.
  • Plan how and when you will move your belongings to the city.
  • Arrive with a few days to settle in and unpack before the ABSN program begins.
  • If you have children, figure out the details for school or childcare.

5. Organize Your Finances

Nursing school is both an investment in time and financial resources, and it is important to make a financial plan before you begin the ABSN program. Our program is a full-time commitment; we do not recommend students work during it because you will be busy with your studies. Therefore, finding other ways of financing your education is ideal. It is also helpful to make a budget, as this helps you know what to expect.

Reach out to our Student Financial Services office at (253) 535-7161 for more information about paying for nursing school.

6. Implement Healthy Habits

Accelerated nursing school is a challenging pursuit and maintaining good lifestyle habits will be essential for your wellness. The key to habits is consistency. Therefore, beginning them before heading to school will make it easier to continue once you start.

woman outside stretching her legs before a run

Here are a few of the habits to consider implementing before the ABSN program begins:

  • Consistent sleep schedule, aiming for 7-8 hours per night.
  • Healthy eating habits, focusing on whole, unprocessed foods with a mix of healthy fats, lean proteins and healthy carbs.
  • Exercise regimen, at least 3x per week.
  • Daily time outdoors.

7. Purchase Supplies

Another part of how to prepare for nursing school is to get the supplies you will need ahead of time for online courses, labs and clinicals. Talk with your admission counselor about any program-specific supplies, such as branded scrubs.

A few items to consider purchasing ahead of time include:

  • Comfortable, closed-toed shoes for clinical rotations
  • High-quality stethoscope
  • Pen light and nursing scissors
  • Planner
  • Backpack
  • Compression socks
  • Laptop and optional tablet

8. Determine Your Learning Style

Nursing school is hard, and optimizing your study strategies is key to getting ahead. So before starting, figure out how you learn best to implement the most effective study strategies when school starts. If you want to know whether your learning style is visual, auditory, kinesthetic or reading/writing, take this free VARK questionnaire.

9. Connect with Peers

One of the most valuable strategies for how to prepare for nursing school is to reach out to your future classmates. As your start date nears, you will find out who else is in your cohort. It is worth taking the time to get to know them before the busy nursing curriculum begins. These people will be by your side as you all embark on this challenging yet rewarding journey, so forging good relationships from the start will be valuable.

students sitting outside together smiling

10. Schedule Wellness Appointments

Always remember that your health and wellness are the top priorities. It is only when you are mentally, emotionally and physically well that you will be able to make a positive impact as a nurse. So, before you get busy with school, take time now to see your doctor, get your dental cleaning, consult your optometrist and visit your therapist. Being proactive about your health will take a weight off your shoulders when school begins and ensure you are in tip-top shape as you embark on this new educational path.

Learn More About Nursing School at PLU!

Are you ready to begin the path to becoming a nurse? At PLU, our accelerated BSN program provides students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or at least 60 college credits the chance to earn a BSN degree in as few as 16 months. Our program offers three start dates a year so you can begin sooner.

Nurse smiling talking with patient

Why is a BSN in nursing important? See how earning your bachelor's degree will help you get ahead.

The curriculum combines innovative online courses, in-person nursing labs and clinical rotations at local health care facilities. Our ABSN students graduate ready to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) and start their professional nursing careers.

To learn more about whether the ABSN program is the right fit for you, fill out our online form to get in touch with an admission counselor. Then we will schedule a call with you to discuss the program and answer all your questions. Now is the time to make your nursing career a reality!