If you have a question not answered here, feel free to comment! I answer them as quickly as I can! If your question is in regards to specific blog post, it might be best to leave your comment there. You can also use the search tool to the right to try to find posts/comments/etc. based on keywords!

Recommended Websites for Balling on a Student Budget

Amazon Prime for Students (I use this for EVERYTHING)
***You may need to confirm you are a student, but it so worth the free 2 day shipping! Hint: this is how I got away with buying books as I needed them***
Where I get my glasses (Review on the pair I Just bought coming soon)
***Use Coupon Code IF9D6W9E4H for $10 off***
UNiDAYS – Apple Music
*** There a ton of discounts for students, but I only use it for the $5/month Apple Music Student Subscription! I was paying $14 to list to my study playlists and workout playlists I made!

FAQ #1: Tips for Applying to Nursing Programs:

  1. Buff up your resume

    As with any resume, gear it toward to job your are applying to… or in this case nursing program. Be sure to include anything that will make it stand out. Reword skills, job descriptions, etc. to show how your past experiences will contribute to you being an excellent nursing student and nurse. I had never worked in a healthcare setting before and I didn’t have the opportunity to shadow any RNs/NPs because I decided on nursing school so late in my academic career. I did work as a server. A server has to multi-task to meet the needs of multiple tables at once. They have to make sure each table gets things they need as they need them. They have to make sure orders are accurate and delivered on time. Replace tables with patients and that sounds a lot like a nurse right? In addition to fine tuning, try to include the following:

    • Any healthcare experience!!!! (shadowing, volunteer, employment, etc.)
    • Any honors, awards, certificate, etc. (Obviously put the most prestigious/academic first, but to buff up my resume because I didn’t have a whole lot I added a couple awards I got from my sorority and explained them further in my application)
    • Clubs you were a member of and if you held any positions
    • If you have a previous degree and that and any degree honors (i.e. Sum Cum Laude)
    • Volunteer experience (both healthcare and not health care related)
    • References (pick your best 3 that reflect your work ethic… you can use your recommendations for school-related)
  2. Apply. Re-apply. Keep applying

    You want to include as much relevant information on your application as possible! Some programs actually read them and others have a machine that pick our key words for the first cut. Many people don’t get accepted their first time to their first choice. Keep applying because most have some way of accounting for that if you apply again. Most programs will require these, but make sure you have the following…

    • Updated resume (see above)
    • Descriptions for volunteer experience, honors, awards, etc. that you would like to elaborate on (not all will have this option)
    • All degrees you have
    • Some sort of letter or personal statement (avoid sob stories unless you can put a positive spin on it… you don’t want them to pity you. You want them to admire your resilience)
    • Recommendations (Do as many as they will allow! This is usually 2-5. Pick your best ones. I gave my recs a list of major points I wanted them to hit and even offered to help them write it. This is nice because its less work for them but they are still helping you!)
  3. Prepare for your interview!!

    For the interview, this is where you have a chance to stand out.At this point, you have met the qualifications on paper that are required. They want to see what makes you different from the stacks of applications they have. My best advice if to be yourself. DO NOT regurgitate your application. They may ask you to explain things from your application in further detail. Don’t recite your application word for word. They have most likely already read through your application. They want to get to know you as a person. Show your personality. Show your passion. Show your desire to be in the program.

    • If you want to know what questions they might ask, Google or search allnurses.com for groups from past applicants. They will usually give some insider info/tips on the interview. If they don’t, leave a comment and ask if someone can let you know how it went.
    • They will usually ask you to tell them a little about yourself, ask any questions they have about your application (i.e. “Tell me about your volunteer experience at Kaiser”), ask a few generic questions (Why nursing? How did you handle a challenging moment? etc.), etc. Don’t have a set of answers that you prepared for every program’s interview. They will know if you are reciting answers you prepared.
    • Prepare answers for generic questions, but be sure to include bits of YOU in them. Have a challenging moment in mind to share, have a time you overcame something in mind to share, have a well-formed idea of why you want to go into nursing, but don’t just tell them what they want to hear. Tell them WHY they should want YOU! Honesty and sincerity is key.
  4. Are you stuck?

  • Are you not even getting an interview? Try calling and asking if you can speak to a counselor/ program rep. to review what you can improve on for the next application round. Also, start adding to your resume! You now have time to try to find healthcare volunteer work, shadow a RN/NP, or find better recommendations! Join a club!
  • Don’t have a close relationship with a professor yet for a rec letter? Start now! Last resort use a classmate you have known for awhile and knows your academic capabilities and use them as a “Pre-Nursing Peer Mentor”. My school actually had students who were further in the nursing pre-reqs/nursing application process that could be assigned to you to help you through the process. They answered questions and helped you create a solid application. However, if your school doesn’t have this but you have a classmate who is mentoring you… use them! If you are involved in church, have a pastor as a last resort!
  • Don’t have any academic honors, certificates, or awards? Get creative. My sorority gave out an award for a member who was helpful to other members and was a role model of our 5 standards. I used that because besides for President’s list/Honor Roll I didn’t have a whole lot either. Something is better than nothing when it comes to applications!

FAQ #2: How to prep for nursing school?

To get ahead and prepare yourself, I would at the very least complete everything under Nursing Prep in the Resources tab! It covers the very basics of each system, and really prepared me for nursing school.

If you finish that and still have time,
(in order of importance)
1. review your A&P notes (focus on BASICS and systems you are weak on)
2. watch Kahn academy videos on cardio, renal, and then any systems you feel you haven’t mastered yet
3. review common meds used in the hospital (see list under Pharmacology in the Resources tab!)

FAQ #3: Help! My care plans take me forever! How do you manage them?

See the Resources tab for all my tools I used. Also, I made sure to start scouting patient 1-3 weeks before it was due. You don’t want the most difficult patient you can find, but you don’t want one that doesn’t offer much to learn from either. Also, keep all your old ones! If a patient has the same medications, copy & paste! Also, I used google to find all my medications by typing “medication name here” davis pdf. I gives you everything you need to know for just about every care plan I have had to fill out without buying the book app!

FAQ #4: Nursing books are so expensive!!! Do I really need to buy all of them?

Every program is different based on how much they use the book. People are also different in how they learn. I would ask your mentor or student further ahead in your program how much they used their books. For the books you have decided you do need to buy, don’t be afraid to buy a later edition or a used copy! You can find so many on amazon, ebay, valore, etc. Also, consider buying books if they are in a specialty you want to work in!

For APU-SD students, these are the books I recommend buying:

– Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association
– Nursing Diagnosis Handbook (Ackley & Ladwig)
– Calculating with Confidence (Morris)
– ECGs Made Easy (Aehlert)
– Think Like A Nurse (Rischer)
– Understanding Pathophysiology (Huether & McCance)
– Saunder’s Comprehension Review for the NCLEX Examination
– Medical-Surgical Nursing: Assessment and Management of Clinical Problems (Lewis, Bucher, Heitkemper, & Harding)
A planner of some sort

You will need a couple pages here and there from What Do I Say?, Spirituality in Nursing, and Communications in Nursing. I recommend buying used version from current/previous students or buying the pdf version, sharing online (google docs/dropbox) and splitting the cost among your cohort to cut down on the price.

For APU-SD students, these are the books I recommend renting:

– Principles of Biomedical Ethics (Barnes & Noble)
– Code of Ethics for Nurses
– Middle range theories: Application to nursing research
– Foundations of Maternal-Newborn and Women’s Health Nursing
– Wong’s essentials of pediatric nursing
– Critical Care Nursing: Diagnosis & Management
– Foundations of Nursing in the Community
* My fave renting sites are Amazon and Barnes & Nobles. Ebay sometimes has the books for sell for less than the rent price!*

FAQ #5: Do you recommend Ebook or Hardcopy?

I prefer physical textbooks for my medical surgical and patho classes. Something about flipping through and reading actual pages sticks with me better. This could be related to my learning style (visual/kinetic).

If you have never had a problem studying ebooks. I would recommend those for all your courses. One of my favorite advantages of ebooks are that you can bring them with you anywhere, they’re affordable, and the search feature that allows you to type in specific keywords and will show you all the pages they appear on. For all the classes so far at APU (except GNRS 556), you will be simply using your books for reference and to supplement your learning so ebook may be best.

FAQ #6: Is it possible to work during nursing school?

There are 2 people in my cohort who work once or twice a week. I personally don’t. I rely solely on loans. I have a really tight budget, but I really want to learn as much as humanly possible. It isn’t recommend for the first 16 months because the coursework is so intensive, but it is definitely doable. After the first 16 months, you are encouraged to work! You need to get as much RN experience as possible! Also, I was told you are eligible to apply to nursing assistant/tech jobs after your first semester! I have not followed up on this, but would highly recommend if you have excellent time management skills.

FAQ #7: How do I pass the NCLEX?!

I covered this in a whole blog post! Click here to see how I did it!

9 comments on “FAQ”

  1. This blog is a GOD-SEND! I recently have been accepted to APU’s ELM Summer 2019 ( so far from now!) and have been wondering what I should do in the meantime. This blog really helped! I have a question- how long is APU’s ELM-FNP track? How is it broken down- I know that the first 4 semesters you are preparing to take the NCLEX; however, what happens/how is the program set up after you pass the exam. I’m leaning towards the Pediatric NP track but wanted to get a sense of how long the entire program is pre-licensure and post-licensure.

    Thank you!

    • Congrats!!! It ranges in length, but the shortest amount of time it can be done is 3.5 years from start to finish. It is broken down into pre-licensure and post-licensure.

      Pre-licensure = the first 5 semesters (1.5 years)
      a. first 4 semesters = didactic/clinic rotations
      b. 5th semester = residency and NCLEX prep
      ***NOTE: you do not get to choose the order of these classes because they have set them up to where you go through as quick as possible without the load being to much to not get the minimum GPA; the didactic is a mixture of BSN and MSN level classes

      Post licensure = 2 years
      – All MSN level Didactic, clinical, writing classes
      – You have more flexibility choosing these, but must be going at least part time (I think this equates to 1 class for MSN level courses)
      – You can use your RN license and work during this portion

      I really loved peds as well. You will get a peds rotation during your pre-licensure portion. I would recommend keeping an open mind. Some going in thinking they want to specialize in on area then once they experience they change their mind. Others know the whole way through what they want to do. Fortunately, you do not have to choose your specialty until you have gone through all the rotations. I also recommend considering FNP. Family NP can care for all age groups. In case you ever want to change fields, FNP allows more flexibility. If you know you only ever want to work with pediatric patients, still with peds NP. You may get to work with Prof. Cornell if she is still teaching when you start the program. She is a FNP, but she works as at pediatric clinic. I would pick her brain if you get the chance to meet her!

  2. I totally agree with the previous commet…your blog is a GODSEND! I am enrolled in the Fall 2018 SD cohort and I am super excited that I got to start earlier than I wanted (I was admitted for Spring 2019). I have been reading your blog like a mad woman to try to prepare as much as possible and get the “inside scoop” before school starts.

    Regarding textbooks, did it matter whether it was the most recent editions, or can you use the previous editions? I am also on a tight budget and find that the previous editions are cheaper, but wanted to know your thoughts.

    And with the uniform, was there a specific brand/color they wanted to us to use for clinicals? I already have some clogs with a cute pattern on them, but I am not sure if that would be okay.

    I appreciate your help! 🙂

    • For textbooks, most of the professors were okay with previous editions. I didn’t have any trouble purchasing older editions and using those in class. Honestly, its the same material with a couple editions. I also recommend renting books too! I did that with quite a few.

      For the uniform, there is a specific brand and color. They should be sending you information on how and where to purchase those. I believe they are a burgundy color with the APU logo on them. You can purchase them new from the brand website or you can purchase them for WAY CHEAPER from students from previous cohorts. I got one new uniform and one used uniform, and I should have just bought both of them used. As for clogs, I am not sure if they would be okay. I would check with your clinical instructor!

  3. LOVE your blog! Amazing tips all around! I also got accepted to APU and will be starting the ELMSN program for their Spring cohort next year. I do have a few questions. How did you prepare before starting the program? How do you know which classes to register for, and is there anyone helping or telling you what to do? I have no idea what to expect before starting the program. Thank you!

    • I reviewed my anatomy and physio nots to review. You will go through each system again, but it is good to have a solid foundation because the program does move fast! There is someone helping you the whole way through. There are two people actually! You will be assigned a program manager and a faculty advisor. Your schedule is already pre-determined for each semester. You do have to register for your classes, but you will be told what to register for and when. I highly recommend utilizing your program manager for any questions. For the San Diego campus, it is Renee and she is amazing!!!

  4. Hi Bri,

    I am about to start the APU ELM program in the fall but I was not able to attend the Dove uniform fitting. Can you please let me know which size you got for your uniforms and how do they fit / how is the sizing?

    Thanks so much for the help!

    • Hello! I went with the unisex top and unisex cargo bottoms both small (the unisex run a little large for women). The top was a little baggy, but the material is not stretchy so I preferred that. Honestly, they are not the best quality scrubs so I would buy used form previous students if you can!

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