Are you discouraged because nursing school is so competitive? You may have noticed that it’s difficult to be accepted to a nursing program, or that it’s hard to keep your grades to perfect levels to keep your seat in your program. Why are nursing schools so competitive? 

This blog will give you an overview of a few factors that contribute to nursing school competitiveness, as well as explain workarounds that can help you understand how to navigate this tricky territory.

Here are the four biggest reasons nursing schools are competitive:

1. Nursing school shortages

One of the biggest reasons for nursing school competitiveness is a shortage of nursing education. There are not enough nursing schools to educate everyone who wants to be a nurse. Why?

Brick-and-Mortar limitations

There is a shortage of nursing schools in urban and rural areas. In rural areas, it’s too expensive to build a brick-and-mortar campus to house nursing equipment if there are only a few learners needing education in that area. Brick-and-mortar campuses also pose a problem in urban areas: when a classroom can only hold 25 learners, the school can only have 25 seats in its program.

Equipment Expense

Additionally, equipping a campus for nursing education is expensive. Not only do you have to think about a campus or location and pay for upkeep, but nursing programs have to provide equipment for experiential learning, such as nursing mannequins, IV arms, foleys, catheters, scrubs, wheelchairs, lifts, beds, and much, much more.


To get accreditation, schools must have some learners in their program, and be established for many years, but learners want to attend a school that is accredited (as they should), so it becomes very difficult for new programs to enter the market.

2. Nursing faculty shortages

A large contributor to the nursing education shortage is a shortage of nursing educators. As part of the same cycle, a nursing education shortage increases the nursing faculty shortages. If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably aware of the nationwide nursing shortage. Jobs in the registered nursing career field are expected to grow quickly in the next few years according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Due to the nursing shortage, nursing salaries are increasing, and it becomes difficult for schools to pay their faculty more than what they can make as a seasoned, specialized nurse. There is little motivation for nurses who love what they do to pursue an advanced degree needed to teach, creating a shortage of credentialed applicants for nursing education positions.

3. High demand for nursing education, Wait lists

Due to this short supply of faculty, the demand for nursing education is not being met. Why is nursing school in such high demand? Because nurses are in high demand, and it is a highly sought-after career. With just two years of education (in an ADN program), individuals can enter into a respected career, with flexible shifts, that pays a good salary even in an entry-level position. This career is also highly transferable, with job opportunities in almost every city.
With such a high demand for nursing education, many schools have to put a wait list in place for their programs, which delays their learners’ education by several years.

4. Pass rates being used as a measure of program quality

Currently, the public and many nursing boards and accreditors view NCLEX first-time pass rates as a measure of program quality. There are a few reasons why this is not a good practice.

  • An emphasis on first-time pass rates increases schools’ motivation to implement heavy testing in the admissions process to screen out those who may not be the best at testing. This not only eliminates many people who may be great nurses, but it disproportionately impacts minorities. Health Affairs noted “Increasing the racial and ethnic diversity of the health care workforce is essential for the adequate provision of culturally competent care to our nation’s burgeoning minority communities.”
  • Schools’ emphasis on high-stakes testing.
  • Because schools want to preserve a high pass rate, they implement benchmark tests to see if their learners are on track, and if they are not, the learners are not allowed to continue in the program. Learners are then kicked out and left with nothing to show for their work. This practice is commonly referred to as “wash out.” When scoping out a nursing program, take a look at their program retention rate and graduation rate. That statistic will show you how many of their learners failed out or were kicked out prior to graduation. 

  • Employers do not ask, nor do they care, if a nurse passed the NCLEX on a first or second attempt, therefore evaluating a nursing program based on  how many times it took their students is not helpful for hospitals in desperate need of nurses.
  • Schools that have a higher pass rate are perceived as better quality by the public, which increases the demand for their programs. This in turn increases the school’s motivation to wash out learners they feel will not pass. This makes these programs extremely competitive.

What does this mean for you?

Learners who want to get into nursing school are left to choose between waiting for a competitive public program or paying for a more expensive private-sector program that will admit them immediately. More often than not, learners end up waiting for a public program, not realizing it’s more expensive to wait when you factor in opportunity cost. (For a helpful video on how to calculate opportunity cost, click here.)

Some programs are different!

A facet of Nightingale College’s mission is to reduce the nursing shortage, especially in rural communities. By not kicking out our learners when they don’t pass tests, we ensure that we graduate as many nurses as possible. We believe that whether a nurse passed on a first or repeat attempt has no bearing on whether the nurse will be a confident, competent, and compassionate nurse. Although this has an impact on our overall NCLEX first-time pass rates, we believe this to be an outdated measurement. Nightingale College is leading the nationwide effort to educate the public on appropriate metrics of program quality. Only by considering admissions testing and graduation rates will the public understand how cutthroat a school is.

Additionally, instead of building a brick-and-mortar campuses, Nightingale College partners with healthcare facilities in communities with nursing shortages. These healthcare facilities offer space for us to house an experiential learning hub that we stock with our equipment, and then we educate nurses right there in their hometown. This allows us to operate in rural areas. However, there aren’t very many schools that operate like Nightingale, so the shortage of nursing education remains.

We hope that you found this blog answered your questions about why nursing school is so competitive. If you have more questions about our ADN, BDN, or RN-to-BSN programs, request info here.

Everyone wants to be helpful, compassionate and trusted, but does everyone want to do that for a profession? This article talks about different attributes of nursing, and hopefully it will help you answer the question “Is nursing right for me?”.


If saving lives is your lifetime dream

Having the opportunity to save someone’s life is not a daily occurrence … unless you work in a hospital. All nurses have a wild spectrum of skills, but one of them is being CPR certified. As you all know, that is a very crucial skill to have in times of when someone is choking, not breathing, or entering cardiac arrest. This, along with many other skills that you will utilize in the hospital, will LITERALLY save lives. Major things like CPR, codes, or other intense moments such as that can happen often, but making patients comfortable, easing their pain, and being their voice when they have none also saves lives. Spending an extra five or 10 minutes with a patient just to see how they’re doing or feeling can flip their day rightside up.


If you have inexhaustible amounts of  sympathy and empathy

Are you a sympathetic and compassionate person? Sympathy and empathy are HUGE traits that are important for nurses to exemplify. When a nurse feels and shows sympathy to a patient, it shows that they care, and caring is your main responsibility as a nurse.  Are you willing to put yourself in your patient’s shoes and treat them with respect, even when they are being frustrating or you’re at the end of your rope?


If you want a flexible schedule

Being a nurse has the benefit of having a flexible schedule that accommodates a busy lifestyle, whether you are a night owl or an early bird. Nurses are needed at ALL times of the day regardless of location.


If you crave an active workspace

Not everybody wants a desk job. If you’re looking for something other than a desk job – quite the opposite, in fact – nursing is the true epitome of that. Be prepared to clock in more than a few miles on your FitBit with each shift, because you’ll be rounding and picking up those steps!

As a nurse you will rarely get bored. There are always so many places to be and so many things to do. Instead of sitting at a desk waiting for or making phone calls all day, you can be out and about constantly being productive and proactive. That proactivity pays off, because in the end of the day, you can give yourself a proud pat on the back for the day full of service and good deeds.


If you like leaving options open

If you’re looking for a career with a very wide variety of things to do, nursing has MANY different specialties to choose from. There’s at least 99! Although they are all “nursing” jobs, all of them focus on very different things. For example, there are nurses who work in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) that work with both ill and premature babies, there’s nurses who work in Labor and Delivery, Long Term Care, Psych, Community Health, Med/Surg, and many, many other places.  For more information about nursing specialties, click here to read more details on another blog!


Nurses who work in the NICU are very different from nurses who research how to improve outcomes of health in the population. There is a very wide range of career options to dive into in the nursing industry, so don’t worry about ever getting bored!


If you’re concerned about job security

Nurses will ALWAYS be a necessary part in the healthcare system. Those systems cannot function without them. Even when the economic status is uncertain, nurses can be confident that there will still be a demand for nurses. so job security is the last of things to worry about.


Nurses are not just normal people with an altruistic trait. They are selfless individuals who have devoted their life and career to be at the service of others who are in greater need than themselves. Nursing is not for everybody. An individual must have passion and the willpower to accept the reality to constantly be at the service of others, taking account of both the rewards and the consequences.


If you’re passionate about changing lives

Nursing is a profession that has an impact on individuals and they are the ones who can literally make or break a patient’s experience. One bad experience in a certain setting can scar someone forever, but one person who reached out to them in their grief and pain can truly lift and heal them.


Nursing is for you

Nurses play a major role and make a difference in a countless number of lives. So if you want to be that person that works hard for a good cause, is proactive and quick to search for opportunities to help, learn and grow, look into Nightingale’s ADN Program, which is hybrid-virtual and as few as 16 months, or complete our BDN Program in 32!


Author: Chelynne Lee

The exciting thing about a career in nursing is that it provides a huge variety of roles and career options, which means that you’ll never get bored working in this rewarding field.

Whether you’re at the start of your career and wondering what you can do with a BSN, or you’re a mid-career professional starting to investigate the different possibilities and jobs for nurses who don’t want to be bedside nurses, this guide will give you all the information you need to find a fulfilling nursing career that suits you.

Read on to find out the most interesting BSN careers that don’t involve patient care and where to look for them, as well as the kind of jobs you can do without a nursing license.

Read more



Dear new nursing students,

There’s quite a few things that we nursing students wish we would have known in the first week of nursing school. Don’t buy shoes that look good but aren’t comfy, GO FOR COMFORT even if they look bulky and unfashionable. Keep your head up. Don’t let the stress seize the joy out of learning about the human body and the amazing things it can do. Thank your family for their support. Start studying early. We could go on and on. We just wanted to pass on the things we’ve learned so that maybe nursing school will be a little less painful for you.

There are many tips and tricks we could tell you, from the secrets of dose calc to the best mnemonics for remembering steps in certain processes, but some of you might be taught that, or might already know. We wanted to tell you, just in general, what helped us get through. Good luck, and we look forward to have you join us as nurses in this great field.


Start preparing for the NCLEX from week one.

You can’t become a nurse if you’re not prepared for the NCLEX. Although your classes will teach you concepts and content, you really need to be preparing for this test from the very beginning. Familiarize yourself with the style of the test early by using books and apps to help you become mentally aware of what is re

quired, so it doesn’t seem too overwhelming when you get to the upper levels.

“Start studying for the NCLEX now. You’ll be much better prepared for the test once you graduate. Also to reach out to fellow students and get together in study groups. You’re not in it alone so use your community of fellow students to help each other along the journey.” – Monique Van Orden, class of Fall 2017

Open up that NCLEX study book, now, right now the very first week. Don’t wait until your last semester. It’ll help you more the more you use it.” – Maranda Hammack, class of Summer 2017


Make school a priority

School is the most important thing in your life right now, and you get out what you put in. If you have a job, be prepared to work minimal hours or even quit. If you have a family, make sure you have the time blocked out to study at the library or at least a few hours a day where you can be sure to get some serious study time. No one ever said nursing school was easy – it takes a lot of time, patience, and dedication.Commit to focusing on nursing school. This is a fast program, and it will be over quickly if you really dig in and work hard. Giving a halfway effort could end up costing you in the long run if you do not pass and need to retake classes. Just set aside this time just for school and really give it all your attention.

“Don’t let yourself get behind – catching up is so much harder than staying up.” – Jessica McFadden, class of Summer 2018


Plan Smart

Nursing school can be overwhelming, especially if you’re also juggling a job or a family. You need to become a list master. Make sure that when you start the semester, you have a list of the things you will need, how much it will cost, and what to expect. Our blog page (where you found this one) contains many blogs for new learners that can help you navigate this complex world. Simply search by the “New Learner” category to sort out the ones that would be useful to you. Ask your cohort what they have done to stay on top of their course load and stay motivated, because everyone has a different system. Find what works for you, and stick with it. If you find that you’re falling behind, talk with Learner Services to find tutors, planning tips, and other resources that can help you catch up start dominating this!

“One thing I did was got a weekly planner, and scheduled out my week with assignments, and wrote down ALL test dates and clinical dates, then at the end of each week put down however many days to the end of the semester and graduation 👩🏻‍🎓💃🏻” – Leathie Yeaman, class of Spring 2019

How much $ it will cost you for everything extra you need including books that the school doesn’t supply you with. Aps, books, extra scrubs, new stethoscope…” – Shannon Abrams, class of Fall 2018


Maximize your Resources

Make sure that you set yourself up for success. First off, talk with the LALR counselors. They are the best. Don’t be afraid to talk to your instructors if you’re not understanding the concept. They are extremely understanding and they really want you to succeed, and they can recommend resources for you to really learn the concepts and understand the content. Form study groups early, with people who care about their schooling at the same level you do. Download study apps, get extra books, take steps early to succeed. If you do, you can maximize your understanding of nursing.

I have found the nurses I work with to be an awesome resource.” – Stacey Figuera Lopez, class of Fall 2018

“The additional books are EXTREMELY helpful for the semester. NCLEX study prep, HESI, drug books, any other material or apps or podcasts or YouTubers are a helpful source throughout school.” – Emme Kaylor, class of Spring 2019


Keep your Head up

Don’t get discouraged! It seems SO daunting at first, but just plan ahead, and you’ll be surprised how fast it goes by. Don’t let a bad score on a test get you down; use it to gauge the concepts that aren’t yet concrete and take the opportunity to really study these weak areas. These tests are HARD! Nursing is not for the weak! But just because you scored badly on one test doesn’t mean that you aren’t going to be a good nurse. You are going to be an AMAZING nurse, full of competence, confidence, and compassion. You are going to rock it. In the words of Babe Ruth, “Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” Start now. Don’t wait. You can do it. We believe in you.



“It’s not as impossible as you think it is!!!!!” – Leathie Yeaman, class of Spring 2019

Best of luck and FLAME! FORWARD!



Nightingale Learners


Are you thinking about becoming a nurse? If you’re a junior or senior in high school and you’re thinking about going into nursing, you can take some classes in high school that will accelerate your progress in nursing school. Depending on the college or university you want to attend, nursing prerequisites taken in high school can transfer as long as they are college level. Let’s get started!

To become an RN, you can either pursue an Associate’s of Science in Nursing (ASN or ADN), a two-year degree, or a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN or BDN), a four-year degree. You also have the option of first doing the ADN, becoming a nurse, and then returning later for an RN-to-BSN bridge program.

Interested in becoming a nurse? Click here to speak with admissions. We have an admissions adviser just for high school students. 

In order for you to get your BSN, one will need to obtain a total of 120 credits. Of those credits, 48 will be general education and 72 will be nursing credits. While still in high school you can take some concurrent enrollment classes through local colleges that can possibly transfer over to Nightingale College, or other nursing schools, that will go toward the 48 general credits of general education.

Note: These are requirements of Nightingale College’s programs. Other colleges and universities might vary in what they accept or require.

Below is a list of classes you can take as a junior or a senior to help possibly get some credits under your belt before you even begin nursing school.



Physical and Life Science

A minimum of 15 semester credits is required in this category. Courses marked with an asterisk (*) are mandatory, or required in our curriculum. The others are not required but may transfer. With these classes, you need to earn a B- grade or higher to transfer credit.

       *CE Medical Anatomy and Physiology

       *CE Pathophysiology

        CE Biology

        CE Chemistry

       CE Environmental Science

        CE Physics


English and Composition

A minimum of 6 credits is required in this category. Courses marked with an asterisk (*) are mandatory. These classes require a B- grade or higher to transfer credit.

       *CE Technical Writing (usually English 1010)

         CE English Composition

         CE Technical Writing

        CE Academic Writing

        CE Creative Writing

        CE Communications



A minimum of 6 credits is required in this category. B- grade or higher to transfer credit.

       *CE Statistics

         CE Intermediate Allegra (usually 1050)

         CE Calculous

        CE Trigonometry


Human Behavior and Social Science

A minimum of 6 credits is required in the category. C- grade or higher to transfer credit.

        CE Psychology

        CE Human Growth and Development

        CE Sociology

        CE Abnormal Psychology

        CE Cultural Anthropology

        CE Organizational Behavior

        CE Macroeconomics

        CE United States History


Humanities and Fine Arts

A minimum of 6 credits is required in this category. C- grade or higher to transfer credit.

       CE Religion

        CE Introduction to Philosophy

       CE Western Civilization

       CE Foreign Language


Upper-Division Electives

A minimum of 3 credits of any additional upper-division elective course(s). Other Electives Course Semester Credits. C- or higher grade to transfer credits. Here are some examples of ones that could be helpful to you in your nursing career:

      CE Nutrition

      CE Microbiology


A combined total of 48 General Education and elective credits are required for the BSN Degree.

The above classes are examples of some classes that you can take while In high school. Taking even a few of these classes can give you a great jump start to your college career. If you do not take any of these CE courses while In high school, you will be able to take them while attending Nightingale College.


Moving from an LPN to an RN is a huge career advancement. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016, the average RN’s salary was 24,000 higher than the average LPN’s. And at Nightingale College, the advancement to an RN license can take as few as 8 months. So why not?



The process of advanced placement for LPNs involves transferring credits, testing, and some paperwork. Becky Christlieb, an advisor in our admissions department, summarized the process this way, “They need to apply, pass the entrance exam, get us their official transcripts, take the Level 2 HESI to see whether they place in level 2 or 3 and take any challenge exams they might need and then finish up with some paperwork and financial aid.”

There was a lot of stuff to do in there, let’s break that down a little bit.

Application and Entrance Exams

The first step in getting into any nursing program is applying. Nightingale College has admissions advisors that walk prospective students through the entire application and testing process. LPNs should also try to apply EARLY so they have time to take all their tests without being rushed.

“They need to start early and getting the tests done so that they feel like they’re confident in their testing, they don’t feel like they’re rushed, and they can study and do it,” said Stacie McVay, Assistant Manager of our Admissions Department.

 Click here to see the application.

Click here to speak with an advisor.

The second step is the entrance exam. The exam covers arithmetic, reading, and sentence structure, among other things. The exam may be repeated to achieve a higher score, however the student will be required to pay a fee with each test.

Get us your transcripts

Active or inactive license?

An active LPN license is accepted as 12 nursing credits automatically . So LPNs get credit for Level 1. If the license is inactive, the registrar will do an evaluation of credit, and the student may have the option to complete some challenge tests, which we’ll discuss in a moment.

Challenge Exams

Some LPNs think, “I got my LPN too long ago, my credits are expired so I will have to start all over again.” But really, that may not be the case. Transcripts will be evaluated by our registrar to see what could potentially transfer in, or to identify possible challenge exams. Challenge exams allow students to take an exam to test out of a subject, if the credits they took in the subject are expired or if they received a low grade.

Have you done the right Anatomy and Physiology?

A common concern with LPN credits is the Anatomy and Physiology courses. In some cases, LPN programs do not have a compatible Anatomy and Physiology courses for the RN programs, or the LPN took the courses too long ago and the credits have now expired. The LPN may have to retake the courses at Nightingale. Consult the admissions advisors and the registrar for more information.

The good news is that even if the courses do need to be repeated, Nightingale offers an accelerated program for LPNs to get through the A&P courses in just one semester. Upon completion, the LPN can then go right into the level they placed into (2 or 3).

What about an unfinished LPN program?

If a learner has completed most of the credits for an LPN license, we recommend finishing and obtaining the license before transferring in, making it easier for the registrar to evaluate which credits are accepted. After an LPN has taken the NCLEX-PN, Level 1 is automatically completed, but without the NCLEX-PN, the courses would need to be evaluated for transfer individually, meaning the LPN may have to repeat some courses.

If you are considering an RN over an LPN, or debating between an LPN, RN, or BSN, contact an advisor to see which is the best route for you. Click here to contact an advisor.

Optional Advancement Testing

An active LPN license transfers in as Level 1, so LPNs would have levels 2, 3, and 4 left to do. However, if LPNs think that they know the material in Level 2, they can take the Level 2 final exam that all of our other Level 2 learners have to take to move onto Level 3: the Level 2 HESI. If the LPN passes, they would gain credit for Level 2 and start in Level 3.

McVay emphasized that taking the Level 2 HESI is optional, and only for assessment purposes to set them up for success as they approach the NCLEX-RN. “It’s NCLEX-style questions. They get two tries,” McVay said. “We don’t want them to feel pressured, because we don’t want them to feel bad if they don’t make it. If they don’t get it, that just means they need that information. They need that information to pass the NCLEX-RN. It’s just an assessment to place them in the right level.”

We hope that this information was helpful for your nursing journey. If you have any questions regarding LPN advanced placement or admissions into our programs, please click here to be directed to the request information form, and an admissions advisor will contact you, or email

Many learners often wonder whether to make the investment in an expensive stethoscope for nursing school. With so many different options and prices, it can be a difficult choice. Do you buy a cheap one now, and a nice one later? Or do you buy an expensive one now? Or do you buy an average one now and use it as a nurse? How much will you use it?


These questions and others can be sometimes difficult to answer broadly because of the different specialties in nursing, but we will do our best. We appreciate the help of our nursing faculty who helped answer some of those questions for us.


What level of stethoscope should I buy?


Karen Sincerbeaux, an instructor in our ADN program, said,  “I think having a good quality but not necessarily a cardiac stethoscope is the way to go for new learners. We want them to have the best opportunity to hear lung and heart sounds and bowel sounds but I don’t think they have to have to be the most expensive. The ultra inexpensive ones really are just a waste of money because often I’m letting them borrow mine.”


Buying an “ultra-inexpensive” one is a bad idea, but so is buying an ultra-expensive one. Although this hasn’t been a problem at Nightingale, some nurses from other states warned against buying expensive ones because they often get stolen.


What brands of stethoscopes are reliable?


Littmann is the main brand for stethoscopes, with models anywhere from 30 to 400 dollars.

MDF stethoscopes are often said to have better sound than a Littmann, however, they are more sturdy-built and heavier around the neck. Janet Ramos, an instructor in our ADN program said she uses Littmann. “I have two Littmanns that I paid about $100 each for and have had them for twenty years. They perform well.”


When should you buy a stethoscope?


Some nurses consider buying a cheap stethoscope for nursing school, and then purchasing a nice one when they become a nurse, but we advise buying a good quality one before nursing school, that way you are hearing the sounds properly as you learn. If you can’t hear the sounds properly in nursing school, you won’t know what to listen for when you have an upgraded scope.

Ramos also said that making the investment up front, just one time, is a good idea. Don’t wait to buy a nice one. “I would invest in a good one, absolutely,” said Ramos. “If you later go into a specialty (cardiology for example) you may want to get an amplified one at that time.  For now I wouldn’t spend an enormous amount, but would go for quality.”


Questions to ask yourself when buying a stethoscope:

  • Are you hard of hearing? You may need a more expensive stethoscope.
  • Is the device flashy? You don’t want your stethoscope to draw attention to itself, because it might get stolen.
  • Are you working in a busy hospital? In a busy environment, stethoscopes are sometimes misplaced, traded around, and forgotten, so you might not want to buy a really expensive one.
  • How does the weight feel around your neck? Is it too heavy? Make sure to lean over and wear it for a few minutes.
  • How does the tubing feel? Is it sticky on your skin, does it collect hair and lint? Does it stick to your hair and pull on it?
  • Is it dual-sided? Most stethoscopes these days are, but double check that you have both an adult and a pediatric side if you are going to be dealing with children.
  • Are the earpieces the right size for your ears? Do they fit correctly and not rub uncomfortably anywhere?


In the end, it’s not about how advanced your stethoscope is, but how well you are trained to listen. Our instructors do their very best to train you to be the best nurse you can be. A stethoscope is just a tool for you to get there!


We hope that these tips answer some of your questions about stethoscopes. If you have any other questions about nursing, what you need to start our nursing program, or your education experience at Nightingale, please contact Learner Advising and Life Resources.


Note: All Nightingale learners will be given a stethoscope in their nursing kits, so they don’t need to worry about buying one. This blog is for informational purposes only.