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Earn an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN)

Earning an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) degree is one route into the health care industry. Today, nursing remains one of the largest and fastest growing career fields in the U.S. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing should see 22 percent growth between 2008 and 2018. In 2009, registered nurses earned median salaries of over $63,000.

There are various steps one must complete in order to become an ASN. While the actual process may vary depending on the school and program of choice, there are six common steps to earning an ASN:

Step 1: Earn a High School Diploma or GED

The basic educational requirement for admission to an associate's degree in nursing is a high school diploma or GED. Often, many nursing programs require a minimum GPA of between 2.5 and 2.75 (on a scale of 4.0) in order to be admitted.

Step 2: Take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or American College Test (ACT), if Required

The second step is to complete either the SAT or ACT. Common scores for program admission include:

  • A minimum combined score of 990 on the SAT
  • A minimum score of 21 on the ACT

Step 3: Complete Prerequisite Courses or a Pre-Nursing Program

For students transferring from another college program, a series of prerequisite courses may be required before admittance. ASN nursing programs often evaluate completed credits for transfer and generally only accept credit for courses where a grade of "C" or higher is earned.

Some ASN programs offer pre-nursing programs that allow students to complete their prerequisites before entering the associate's degree in nursing program.

Step 4: Pass the Pre-Application Exams, if Required

Some schools require applicants to pass the NLN Pre-Admission Examination (PAX) for Registered Nursing (RN)--the PAX-RN or the PAX-VN/LPN for Practical/Vocational Nursing. Other schools may require students to pass the Test of Essential Academics Skills (TEAS) which covers subjects such as vocabulary, grammar, science, reading, and math.

Step 5: Apply to ASN Programs

Once students meet all the pre-admission requirements, applying to an ASN program is the next step. During this process, students must gather all required materials such as transcripts and letters of recommendation. Organization is key, and aiming to complete and turn in the application a week or two before it is due can prevent last-minute scrambles.

Step 6: Complete the Required Coursework and Training

Once accepted, it is time to get studying. Programs typically take two years to complete the necessary classes and clinical training required to become an ASN. Typical coursework includes:

  • Fundamentals of nursing
  • Biology
  • Microbiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Nursing care (children and adults)
  • Anatomy and physiology

In all, ASN degrees require approximately 72 credit hours for graduation. After graduation, students can sit for the NCLEX-RN examination which is required to secure an RN license.

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