High school students who want to prepare for nursing school have several options available to them. Nurses experience strong job security and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects job growth 12% job growth for registered nurses between 2018 and 2028 -- much faster than the national average for all occupations. These professionals also stand to earn substantial salaries, with RNs earning an annual median salary of $73,300 in 2019.
High school students interested in nursing should review the list below for 10 ways they can prepare for their future careers while still in high school.
Take the Right Classes
Because nursing relies heavily on an understanding of math and science, students should prioritize these at the high school level. They should also take as many AP courses as possible in these subjects, as this can help them meet requirements while still in high school and become familiar with college-level topics. Nightingale College provides a list of prerequisites.
Spending a couple of hours each weekend at a hospital, assisted living facility, or in another healthcare setting can help students learn more about the profession and understand whether it offers a good fit for their personal and professional needs. Volunteer work hours also look great on a college application.
Interview Your School Nurse
Even if your goal isn't to become a school nurse, don't neglect this excellent professional resource. Most students have easy access to these professionals during the school day and can ask about their experiences. School nurses can share advice and offer tips on how to avoid common mistakes in nursing education.
Become a HOSA Member
Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) provides an opportunity for future health leaders -- including nurses -- to take advantage of professional and academic resources while still in high school. The group offers events, competitions, scholarships, and plenty of resources to help connect learners with the nursing world while still in high school.
Research Degree Types
Many different nursing degrees exist at various levels, making it important for prospective students to get a clear sense of the path that best serves their needs. Those who are unsure about a lifelong nursing career may pursue a licensed practical nurse qualification or an associate degree in nursing. Others who feel confident in their decision may move directly to a bachelor of science program in nursing.
Learn About Waiting Lists
Some nursing programs -- particularly those at community colleges and vocational schools -- may have waiting lists, even for learners who meet all admission requirements. Ask prospective schools about their acceptance rates and when you could start the program.
Check Out NCLEX Pass Rates
NCLEX pass rates are one of the best and easiest ways to determine whether a postsecondary nurse training program actually prepares students for the rigors of the working world. Avoid schools with low pass rates, as this means learners did not gain the skills needed to meet basic competency requirements.
Learn CPR/First Aid
First aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation skills come in handy for a variety of professionals, including students who aspire to become nurses. Weekend training courses can help familiarize learners with basic skills and help boost college applications.
Research the TEAS
Used widely by nursing programs, the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) assesses a student's mastery of basic education topics such as language, math, and science. Take a practice test while still in high school to identify areas that could use improvement.
Stay Up To Date
Reading publications such as the American Journal of Nursing or Science Daily can help learners stay aware of current trends and issues in the field of nursing. Following these publications also provides insight into some of the challenges facing the profession in the aftermath of COVID-19.