Are You Ready For Nursing School?

“Congratulations, you’ve been accepted into nursing school.” reads the first line on your acceptance letter. You grab your phone and start calling everyone to share the great news as you tuck away the rest of the information packet on a shelf, figuring you’ll worry about it closer to the start of school.
Don’t wait. Read all the information ASAP and get started right away. There are things you may need, like immunizations, that may take months to complete. Below is a typical checklist of prerequisites for nursing school with tips and links to help prepare you for school.Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
CPR certification is a requirement for entry into all programs with clinicals. There are several types of CPR certifications such as: Adult CPR, Child/Infant CPR, First Aid, Blood Bourne Pathogens, Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and CPR for Health Care Providers (usually recommended). Don’t sign up for one without checking with your school to find out exactly which type(s) they require. Courses will run about 5-8 hours and cost around $45-$80. Usually getting requirements done early is a great idea however, take this course between semesters. You don’t want to have to re certify your CPR just as your May finals begriming.The American Red Cross and The American Heart Association both hold classes and you can enter your zip code, on their web sites to find a class near you. You can also check your local hospital for classes. Hospital Sponsored CPR is less expensive and is usually good for 2 years. Note that the Red Cross Certification is good for one year while the Heart Association’s is good for two years.

Immunizations and Physical Exam
Make an appointment with your doctor right away and check with your school for any forms your MD needs to fill out. Immunizations common to most all schools are:

  • MMR-documented 2 dates given or positive titer (Do not get MMR if you are pregnant and do not become pregnant within 3 months after receiving the vaccine)
  • Hep B-documented 2 or 3 dose series, or have had 1st of 3 dose series (2nd dose in 30 days, 3rd in six months), or positive titer
  • Varicella-(Chicken pox) documented 2 dose, given 4-6 weeks apart, or positive titer
  • Td-documented booster within the past 10 years
  • Tuberculin Skin test (PPD)/Chest X-Ray-All nursing students are required to have a TB skin test every year. Students with a positive result are required to provide results of a recent chest X-ray.
  • Drug Screening – This is becoming more common as medical centers, where you may do clinicals, are requiring this of anyone providing care in their facility.


Many schools have distinct school uniforms for purchase in the school’s store, while others may say any white scrub-type top and bottom is acceptable with your student ID. Lab coats with your school’s patch sewn on the sleeve is common. If you can choose your own style, get scrubs with pockets. You may or may not use them however, they will be there if you need them. Check with your school on any shoe restrictions. All white, no laces (for cleaning purposes), no open backs, are some of the common restrictions. Stethoscopes and Accessory Items
You may have to buy a specific stethoscope, or they may issue you one and the cost will be included in your fees. There are nursing student starter kits sold by several companies. Your school may have contracted with one of the suppliers and have a custom kit issued to you with all the supplies you require for your program. Here are some typically helpful items for nursing students.

  • Watch-one with a second hand is a must. A watch that includes military time is very helpful if your clinical site works in military time.
  • Stethoscope-a double bell is good to have and may be required by your program.
  • Blood Pressure Cuff-not absolutely necessary if not required by your program but, it’s nice to have your own. These run about $20.
  • Medical Scissors-blunt tip scissors do come in handy.
  • Penlight-A must for checking pupils among other things.
  • 4-Color Pens-or at least 3 colors (Blue, Black & Red), depending on the colors your clinical site uses.
  • PDA-More and more, Personal Digital Assistants are becoming a requirement. Even if it’s not required, it’s HIGHLY recommended.

Liability Insurance
You will either purchase your own or your school will purchase a group policy and will include the cost into your fees. An individual policy price varies by state. The average cost of a year’s coverage is $30.

Background Checks
CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) and SORI (Sexual Offender Registry Information) background checks are required by many clinical sites. Most schools will process these check and include the cost in your fees. If you need to submit one to the school it shouldn’t cost more then $20.

Read your school’s entrance paperwork; including the fine print. I heard many stories of students being dismissed from programs for not having all their requirements in order. Read everything the school sends you and if you are unsure of anything, give the school a call and ask. Also, be aware of general school requirements such as, health insurance, registration and financial aid deadlines, signing up for online school user accounts, housing, meal plans, etc. Get it all organized and completed and you’ll be ready to start school.Have you done all the above and still have some time before school starts?
Would you like to know what else you can do to prepare yourself for school? Honestly, nursing is a very tough course. Reading over nursing material suited for beginning students will be of great benefit. You will have a chance to become familiar with nursing terms so they won’t seem so foreign when your professor discusses them in class. Student Nurse Journey ( is the resource community for nursing students. The more time you can spend there the more prepared you’ll be for the work ahead.
Congratulations again! You are on your way to a challenging and rewarding career full of unlimited possibilities.