The Top 5 Questions to Ask your Nursing School Adviser

Are you ready to take the first step toward a career in nursing through Marquette University’s Direct Entry Master of Science in Nursing (Direct Entry MSN) program? Before you make the call or fill out the form for more information, you need to be prepared. In order to save you some research time, we’ve put together the top questions to ask your nursing school adviser.

1. Is the program accredited?

Make sure the nursing school program you are inquiring about is accredited. Accreditation happens on national, regional and state levels.

  • Regional Accreditation: You want to make sure the university you choose is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Founded in 1895, HLC is an independent corporation that serves as one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States.
  • National Accreditation: A nursing school’s accreditation on the national level is granted by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Officially recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education, CCNE is a national, autonomous accrediting agency that contributes to the improvement of public health by confirming the quality and integrity of baccalaureate, graduate and residency programs in nursing.
  • State Approval: Each state has a board of nursing that helps to ensure public safety by regulating nursing licensure and monitoring the quality of nursing programs in each state.

Choosing a nursing school program that is accredited is extremely important because it can affect your job prospects once you earn your degree and pass your NCLEX exam. Employers usually prefer to hire nurses from accredited schools. Plus, if you plan to continue your education, you will need an education from an accredited school.

When you talk to your admissions adviser about accreditation you need to ask – Is the school accredited? Is the program accredited? Who accredited them? All of these answers will make the difference in your future career as a registered nurse.

2. What is the NCLEX pass rate?

The NCLEX-RN is a national exam every nursing school graduate is required to take in order to become licensed to practice. Knowing a school’s first-time NCLEX pass rate can give you an idea of how well the faculty prepares its students. The national average for a first-time pass rate is 84%. If the passing rate is below the national average, you may want to look somewhere else. You also want to make sure to look into pass rates over the past five years.

3. What are the prerequisites for the program?

Before you can begin an accelerated nursing program, like Marquette University’s Direct Entry Master of Science in Nursing (Direct Entry MSN) program, you may need to complete some prerequisites. While you may hold a non-nursing bachelor degree, your existing education may not have covered certain courses that are important to complete before beginning nursing school.

Most prerequisites consist of science courses that help provide you with the foundation needed before starting your accelerated nursing program. How many prerequisites you will have to take depends on your previous academic history, specifically within the past five years. For example, if you have a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree, you will probably have fewer prerequisites to take than someone with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree because your education has more of a science background.

Either way, many nursing students are actually thankful they have to take prerequisites, especially if it’s been a few years since they have been in school.

“It’s good that I had to take prerequisites because it put me in the frame of mind to study and get back into that habit.”

– Marlyn Paniagua, Direct Entry MSN student

4. How much of the program is online versus hands-on?

Accelerated nursing programs offer different pathways to complete coursework: online or on campus. If the program you are looking into includes online coursework, an important question to ask your nursing school adviser is what percentage of the program in online so you can plan accordingly.

A program like Marquette’s Direct Entry MSN program is blended, meaning it combines online coursework with hands-on experiences both in labs and clinicals. Both components work together to provide you with a comprehensive learning model so you can be prepared to graduate and sit for the NCLEX exam.

5. How many total clinical hours do students attend and how does this compare to other similar programs?

Clinical experience is what provides nursing students with the hands-on experience they need. It allows them to practice the skills they have learned online or in labs and put them to use in the real world on real patients.

In Marquette’s Direct Entry MSN program, students gain more than 1,000 hours of clinical and simulation experience, more than many other programs. The clinical experience is diverse and is completed in top healthcare facilities around southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

What Your Admissions Adviser Expects From You On Your First Call

Compiling a list of questions to ask your nursing school adviser is important, but that’s not the only thing your adviser will want to discuss. Rob Hayworth, a Marquette University Direct Entry MSN program admissions adviser, says he asks just as many questions during the first phone call because he wants to know what inspired you to change directions and become a nurse.

“Expect me to pick your brain. I want to know why you want to change careers and become a nurse,” he says. “Everyone has a different story for coming into an accelerated nursing program. For example, I’ve been working with a candidate who has a fashion degree. The reason she wanted to become a nurse was because she had a store in the heart of Chicago and one of her clients had a heart attack. She told me she felt helpless and that is what sparked her turning to a new career in nursing. Another one of my students worked for a medical malpractice law firm for 14 years. She realized that, while she was helping people, it was not in the way she wanted, not directly like a nurse.”

Besides questions and background information, Rob says he also goes over the Direct Entry MSN program overview. “I want to make sure potential students know what to expect for time commitment and costs,” he says.  

Overall, he says he wants to make sure this is a two-way conversation. “I like to really build that relationship and figure out if this is the right fit because this is a big decision; this is somebody’s future,” he says.

Last Question: How quickly can I start?

If you are looking for an accelerated nursing program, like Marquette’s Direct Entry MSN program, it all depends on how many prerequisites you need to take. Because the Direct Entry MSN program has two start dates per year, you have more access which means you can begin sooner.

The sooner you make the call and speak to an admissions adviser, the sooner you can get started on your exciting new career as a Marquette nurse.

Contact an adviser today to get started.

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