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Pre-Nursing Track

Student posing next to imaging machine; Students dissectin biomaterial; Students working through a practice lab with their textbooksWe offer advising, programs, and connections that help you reach your goal to be a competent and compassionate leader in health care. We contribute to your success with guidance during your college years and during the time of your application to nursing programs. We work with you to help you identify your best strategy for becoming an advanced practice nurse or clinical nurse leader– a trendsetter in the rapidly changing field of twenty-first-century nursing practice. Loyola does not offer a traditional four-year undergraduate nursing degree; our model prepares you to apply to an accelerated bachelor of science in nursing degree program or a direct undergraduate entry master of science in nursing program. Our model gives you the advantage of a broad range of choices and an environment that gives you confidence to progress toward your highest aspirations.

Juliabiopsychology major/pre-nursing track

At Loyola, you will learn so much more than at a traditional nursing school. I have been able to take courses in philosophy, theology, history, psychology research, and even how to be a better writer. I have gained so much confidence in myself academically.  I am now fully confident to enter a nursing program—and I have completed every required course to do so.  When I graduate from Loyola, I will have a bachelor's of science in biology and psychology, which will give me many opportunities in and beyond traditional nursing.

What a Nurse Does

Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care in clinical and community settings. They educate patients, their families, and the public about various health conditions and evidence-based care. They manage nursing teams, delegate work, and ensure patient safety. Nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, clinical nurse specialist, and nurse practitioners, also referred to as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), provide primary and specialty healthcare in clinical and community settings. They manage health care teams, engage in research and advocacy, and serve as leaders in preventative health care to the public. As of 2019, nurse practitioners have independent and full practice rights to diagnose and treat patients in 28 states and District of Columbia. In other states, they practice either collaboratively or under supervision of a representative from another discipline, often a physician.

With almost 4 million registered nurses nationwide in 2019, nursing is by far the largest health care profession in the United States. There are more than four times as many nurses as there are physicians, and the data shows that the current demand for highly trained nurses exceeds the supply. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for all registered nurses is expected grow at a fast rate of 7 percent from 2019 to 2029. The demand for advanced practice nurses is expected to grow at a much faster rate of 45 percent. Loyola’s pre-nursing model is built with advanced practice nursing in mind. The academic foundation and service experiences that you receive at and through Loyola will position you to be among the growing number of nurses who hold graduate degrees, including a doctorate in nursing.

What a Pre-Nursing Student Studies

Loyola’s model prepares you to excel in nursing through a mastery of natural and behavioral science skills, critical writing and analytical reasoning, and opportunities to grow through service, health care internships, and research. You will enjoy the freedom to reflect on your career choice while you also build a foundation for your professional success. Loyola students’ self-reported success rate with applications to both accelerated bachelor’s degree programs and master’s degree programs reaches 100 percent.

Your undergraduate studies should include courses that are standard pre-requisite courses for nursing schools:

  • 2 semesters of biology with laboratory
  • 1-2 semesters of general chemistry with laboratory (usually just one)
  • 2 semesters of anatomy and physiology with laboratory (200 level)
  • 1 semester of microbiology with laboratory
  • 1 semester of human nutrition
  • 1 semester of statistics
  • 1 semester of human development across life span (psychology)

The purpose of pre-requisite and recommended courses is to build your competency to process advanced scientific knowledge and to respond to culturally complex health care situations. Nursing schools do not accept deficiency grades (C-, D+, D) in pre-requisite courses, but a passing deficiency grade will not hold you back from progressing into successive courses. Usually, retaking a course with a passing deficiency grade can wait; it is more important to first secure your timely graduation and solid overall academic success.

What Are Nursing Degree Options

The increased demand for advance practice nurses has created a need to provide various accelerated pathways into nursing leadership.

You have two degree options to aim for after you graduate from Loyola and successfully complete your nursing pre-requisites.

  • An accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program
    • Program lengths range from 11 to 18 months
    • More than 280 fast-track nursing bachelor’s degree programs for you to choose from
    • Highly motivated students who thrive in a fast-paced learning environment.
  • A direct non-nursing undergraduate entry into an accelerated master of science in nursing degree program.
    • Program lengths range from 15 to 22 months
    • Almost 70 fast-track direct entry master's degree programs for you to choose from
    • Master's degree programs include a wide range of options. Most are general master of science in nursing programs, some with direct entry pathway to nurse practitioner. Some provide clinical nurse leader (CNL) training.

An increasing number of registered nurses with a master’s degree continue their studies into the doctoral level. A popular doctorate is doctor of nursing practice (DNP). A doctorate in nursing is currently offered at over 350 nursing colleges.

How to Prepare for the GRE

Most accelerated Master of Science in Nursing programs require a competitive Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test score. Additionally, a few highly competitive accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs, such as Duke University School of Nursing and Columbia University School of Nursing, call for a competitive GRE score. The GRE is a standardized test designed to test your capacity to master graduate level information in three main areas: analytical writing, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning. The GRE tests are managed through Prometric testing centers – they are easily available throughout the year. Loyola’s liberal arts curriculum will prepare you to succeed across the testing areas, but it is important to refresh your foundational mathematical skills, just as you did with your SAT, and give focused attention to your English vocabulary and writing strategies. It is important to familiarize yourself with the test by taking practice exams. This will help you to understand what you will encounter in this just over three-and-a-half-hour test. You are not alone – each year over 600,000 Americans take the GRE test.

Most accelerated baccalaureate level programs do not require a GRE score. A sometimes used standardized test for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree programs is the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS), which tests basic reading and language usage skills, mathematics, and science concepts. Your successful studies at Loyola will give you a solid foundation to succeed with the GRE test and TEAS.

How to Apply to Nursing Schools

Due to the high demand of registered nurses, many nursing colleges offer summer and winter starting dates. You will probably need about a year for the application phase. Make sure to understand the specific requirements of your choice schools and their application timeline. Search for nursing schools and programs on the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) member program directory. Also make sure you are set with the prerequisite courses, take your GRE or TEAS exam, contact your two to three references, finalize your resume, request your official transcript(s), write your application essay and/or personal statement, and prepare for the interviews.

You will probably find that some of your choice schools use a centralized application platform, NursingCAS, which is offered through The American Association of Colleges of Nursing, while others use their own systems, even paper applications. About 300 nursing programs use the NursingCAS, the several hundred programs do not – expect a broad range of application practices and prepare your references for that as well.

What to Expect at Nursing School

At bachelor and master level accelerated nursing programs, the course work and clinical training move quickly. Your successful completion of pre-requisite courses combined with a degree from Loyola show that you are prepared to absorb information and learn skills at a fast pace. In both accelerated bachelor and master’s degree nursing programs, you will learn about preventative health promotion, effective and cost-sensitive management of infectious and non-infectious diseases, and indicators of high quality health care across the continuum of health care environments and across a life span. You will take courses and do projects on pharmacology, ethics and culturally sensitive care, information management, and evidence-based health promotion. You will build your clinical competency through skills-based training and rotations in such settings as medical-surgical nursing, pediatrics, and psychiatric health care. You will also learn to offer culturally sensitive nursing care in diverse ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic settings. Upon completion of your Bachelor's degree course work and clinical training, you will be eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to practice nursing in your state. At this point, you can begin practicing as a registered nurse, and you may set a goal to continue into a master’s degree and advanced practice nursing later in your career.

If you are enrolled in an accelerated master’s degree program, you will continue directly onto your advance studies and advanced clinical training upon the successful completion of your baccalaureate level studies and NCLEX. During the two remaining years of your master’s degree program, you will broaden your skill set and gain competence in assessing the patient, planning and implementing care, and evaluating outcomes, especially within your chosen scope of practice. In nurse practitioner programs you have several practice areas to choose from. These include pediatric, family, adult, emergency, or acute practice areas. In nurse anesthetist programs you will become an expert in anesthesia management in surgical settings, including general and local anesthesia, and in pain management programs. As a nurse midwife you acquire an advanced skillset to work across the spectrum of reproductive health, including pre-conception, pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. As a master's-level registered nurse, you become eligible to earn your final certification as an advanced practice registered nurse by passing APRN licensure exam offered through The American Nurses Credentialing Center and some other authorized credentialing bodies. Students in clinical nurse leader (CNL) programs focus on practices related to communicating, planning, implementing, and evaluating care delivery. As a clinical nurse leader you will take a certification examination before you are eligible to practice as a CNL. This certification is separate from the licensure exams of advanced practice nurses.

SiobhanLoyola graduate and current MSN candidate at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing

I was able to study abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, at Loyola—an experience that many traditional nursing schools do not offer. There, I compared the European and United States health care systems, studied medical ethics, and developed my communication skills (a key competency in health care professions) when traveling to different countries. My time abroad allowed me to take medical courses while also gaining a priceless education: the conversations I had with Danes, Germans, and other foreigners that broadened my worldview and humbled me.