Top 4 Mistakes People Make When Looking for a Nursing Program

Top 4 Mistakes People Make When Looking for a Nursing Program

Top 4 Mistakes People Make When Looking for a Nursing Program

Finding a nursing program that fits your unique needs, goals, and schedule can be challenging. You might be tempted to enroll in the first program you find or go to a school where a friend or family member went. However, you must explore several options before selecting your nursing school.  

And, while you might feel like you’re taking on this journey alone, many nurses have searched for a school and learned a few lessons before you. So, we’ve rounded up the most common mistakes made when selecting a nursing program so you don’t make the same ones. 

Mistake 1: Not Researching Nursing Degrees 

Not all nursing licenses are the same. Many people choose an RN program, thinking it’s the right choice, but it might not be the best for you. Therefore, it’s important to consider both LPN/LVN and RN programs before enrolling. A big part of choosing the right nursing degree is understanding the scope of practice and everyday job tasks for each type of nurse.  

LPN/LVNs are trained to provide primary nursing care. They typically work in long-term care facilities, home care, and clinics. They provide hands-on care that includes the following:

  • Collect and chart vital signs
  • Administer medications
  • Check blood sugar levels
  • Assist patients with activities of daily living and personal care tasks 

LPN/LVN nurses usually work on teams but don’t lead the team or develop care plans. Instead, they follow the direction of the registered nurse. The average annual salary for LPN/LVNs ranges from $37,150 to $63,790, depending on experience and where in the U.S. you live and work. LPN/LVN programs usually last 12 to 18 months and can be found at community colleges and private institutions. 

RNs can do all of the tasks an LPN/LVN can perform. In addition, RNs perform the following care tasks: 

  • Conduct patient assessments
  • Start IVs and administer IV medications
  • Collect blood samples
  • Conduct diagnostic tests
  • Create care plans that organize and lead patient care goals
  • Coordinate treatments and care with the interdisciplinary team 

The main difference between an LPN/LVN and an RN is the nurse’s level of oversight of care and leadership. RNs often hold team lead, charge nurse, or nurse manager positions for a specific nursing unit. If the RN has a Bachelor’s degree, they can work in more specialties, including higher-level leadership roles and administration. RNs programs last two to four years, depending on whether you want an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree. As an RN, you can expect to make between $59,450 and $120,250 depending on experience and where in the U.S. you live and work. 

Mistake 2: Only Visiting One or Two Programs

The nursing curriculum is similar from one school to another. However, the school’s culture and the extensiveness of the hands-on experiences can be very different. Touring the school also lets you see the classrooms and labs you’ll be learning in as a student. You’ll also get the opportunity to meet faculty and staff, talk to current students, and ask as many questions as possible. A few things to consider when touring a nursing school include:

  • Classrooms – Look at the school’s technology to ensure it fits your overall learning needs and style.
  • Skills Labs – Ask to tour the nursing labs and pay attention to the type of manikins and simulation experiences they offer. These learning tools elevate your clinical knowledge, and better prepare you for hands-on nursing care. 
  • Practice Hours – You’ll be in nursing school for long hours each day, but you may need to practice your skills outside class. This means you need to know if the lab is open in the evenings or on the weekends so you can practice before competency check-offs. 
  • Break Rooms and Dining – You’ll arrive at nursing school in the morning and not leave until later in the afternoon. You might have time between classes and need a quiet place to study. So, tour all dining and break rooms before picking your nursing school to find one that meets your study and dining needs. 
  • Policies – You must understand more than just the admission policies before applying to a school. Ask if you can see their policies, including health, attendance, grading, and emergency, to choose a program that fits best with your life. A new requirement for most programs is receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. While many employers might allow you to be exempt for health or religious reasons, schools don’t have this option. They must comply with the rules of their clinical sites, which often make it mandatory that students receive COVID-19, flu, and other immunizations regardless of possible exemptions. 

Mistake 3: Not Reviewing the School’s NCLEX Scores

Whether you choose an LPN/LVN or RN nursing school, you must pass the national licensure exam for nurses, known as the NCLEX. Every nursing school publicly reports its current pass rates. Researching and reviewing this information ensures you make an informed decision about the school’s performance. 

To find this information, perform an online search for your state’s Board of Nursing. Be sure to look at the results for the last few years to get a true sense of the school’s overall performance. Look for first-time and overall pass rates to understand how students perform when taking the test and on subsequent attempts. Once you find the school’s scores, compare them to the state and national pass rate averages for the same period to understand how prepared you’ll be when taking the NCLEX. You can find information about the NCLEX along with pass rates on the National Council of State Boards of Nursing’s website.

Mistake 4: Allowing Financial Concerns to Hold You Back

Nursing school is a big financial commitment that keeps many people from starting. However, the good news is that you might qualify for grants or scholarships that you won’t have to pay back. Loans can also help you fill in the gap if you have expenses that aren’t covered. 

To understand your financial aid options, you’ll need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, often called the FAFSA. The FAFSA consists of an online application determining your eligibility for financial aid from the state and your school. Once you’re accepted to nursing schools, they’ll offer you a financial aid package that fits your unique financial situation. You might also get loan offers from private financial institutions using FAFSA information to determine your qualifications. 

One of the best forms of financial assistance? Scholarships! You won’t have to pay back any scholarship funds you’re awarded. However, there might be criteria you must meet to qualify and receive the scholarship funds, so be sure to review the scholarship conditions carefully. To find local scholarships, connect with organizations and foundations in your area. For national scholarships, search online by using sites like the U.S. Department of Labor Scholarship Search or

If you’re ready to explore nursing schools to reach your dream of becoming a nurse but need support, NurseDash is here to help! Send us an email at to get started now.

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