How to Prepare for Nursing School: 8 Strategic Things You Could Be Doing NOW

Prepare for nursing school

Whether you’re considering applying or mere months away from walking through those classroom doors, you’re looking for some tips on how to prepare for nursing school. You’ve picked up snippets of “do this, don’t do that” along the way. But you want to have the whole picture—the need-to-haves and the nice-to-haves for starting nursing school.

To get all the pieces in one place, you need to hear from nurses who have been there and can share advice on how to best prepare for nursing school. Read on as we explain some things you should do in order to walk into class that first day feeling confident and ready for your new adventure.

The need-to-haves

If you’re planning on attending nursing school, then you’ve probably already been hard at work ensuring you’ve met all the necessary requirements. But just in case, take a peek at the list below to make sure nothing is left unchecked on your to-do list.

1. Complete all the prerequisites

This one may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to be sure you’re meeting all of the requirements, according to Michelle Katz, LPN, MSN, author and healthcare advocate. These will obviously differ based on the program. The Rasmussen College Nursing program, for example, doesn't have the rigid requirements many programs have, providing opportunity for more nursing hopefuls.

Be sure to double check with a program advisor or admissions counselor to ensure you’re on track to meet the requirements to attend your future program. Additionally, don’t forget that grades matter and starting out on the right foot means working hard to achieve the best grades possible.

2. Take the TEAS test

The Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) is administered by ATI Nursing Education to assess your skills in reading, math, science, English language and usage. Earning a favorable score on this test it is essential for getting into many nursing schools, so be sure you prepare for the TEAS before taking it.

3. Update your immunizations

This may surprise you at first, but you’re going to need to safeguard yourself against the onslaught of germs coming your way. Check with your admissions counselor to see which immunizations are required for your particular program, but to play it safe, you can always be sure to start gathering the basics outlined below:

  • Tetanus
  • Rubella
  • Rubeola
  • Mumps
  • Meningitis
  • Pertussis
  • Chickenpox
  • Tuberculosis
  • Hepatitis B

The nice-to-haves

Now that you know the bare essentials for preparing for nursing school, you may be wondering what else you could be doing to set yourself up for success. Going above and beyond will not only help you thrive as a student, but could also prove valuable when it comes time to enter the workforce.

4. Network, network, network

“Set your sight on a clinic or hospital that you might want to work at, so you have a goal and then start networking,” Katz suggests. But before any of that, you should take time to network with those at your future nursing school. Katz recommends connecting with other nursing students attending your future school to learn more about the program, professors and how to better prepare for the program.

5. Shadow a nurse

“Following a nurse around for the day helps to solidify the reality of the job,” says Nick Angelis, CRNA, MSN. He adds that every position, hospital and department is unique, so the more experience you have in this area, the better.

An up-front look at your future career can be extremely beneficial, and there’s no better way to do that than experiencing a “day in the life” by shadowing a current professional. If you’re not sure how to get in touch with a current nurse, contact a representative from the program you’re interested in and see if they can partner you with a recent graduate.

6. Become a certified nursing assistant (CNA)

Depending on the program, becoming a CNA may actually be a requirement of your nursing program, but either way it’s a beneficial step to consider. This will allow you to get your hands dirty by gaining practical experience in a healthcare setting.

“Some programs require applicants to be certified nursing assistants prior to entering school,” according to RN Lisa Braatz. “I found working as a nursing assistant also helped with people finding a RN job quicker,” she adds.

Check with your nursing program to see if they require a CNA certification before or upon entering. Even if it’s not necessary for the program, it may be worth considering in order to gain an edge.

7. Pursue “people” positions

You may not always be able to find an entry-level position in healthcare near your school. But any job that involves working with people can help you prepare for the work of a nurse, according to Angelis.

He explains that having experience in a position like retail, restaurants or hospitality can help sharpen your interpersonal skills. Interacting with professors and classmates in school is important, as is communicating with patients and coworkers on the job.

“I also found it useful to become a tutor so I wouldn't forget the biology and other basic sciences from pre-nursing courses as I continued to learn,” Angelis adds.

8. Round up the essentials

Nursing school is notoriously challenging, but a little practical preparation can help you avoid burnout. Katz recommends investing in a comfortable pair of shoes, finding some healthy snacks you can enjoy on the go and identifying a few exercises you can do almost anywhere.

Her last piece of advice? “Have a friend on speed dial you can call when you’re delirious from lack of sleep, or if you just need a virtual hug!”

Prepare for success

Now that you have some expert advice on how to prepare for nursing school, you should feel more confident as you take the next step in your journey. The road ahead won’t be easy, but it will all be worth it when you earn your scrubs and clock in for your first nursing shift.

Hungry for more insider knowledge about the career you’re embarking on? Check out our article, 7 Career Insights I Wish I Knew Before Starting Nursing School.


Take the Next Step—Talk to Us!

There are some errors in the form. Please correct the errors and submit again.

Request More Information

Talk with a program manager today.

Fill out the form to receive information about:
  • Program Details and Applying for Classes 
  • Financial Aid and FAFSA (for those who qualify)
  • Customized Support Services
  • Detailed Program Plan

Step 1 of 3

What's Your Name?

Please enter your first name.

Please enter your last name.

Step 2 of 3

Contact Information

Please enter your email address.

Please enter your phone number.

Please enter your five digit zip code.

Step 3 of 3

Program Preferences

Please choose a school of study.

Please choose a program.

Please choose a degree.

The program you have selected is not available in your area. Please select another program of interest.

By requesting information, I authorize Rasmussen College to contact me by email, phone or text message at the number provided. There is no obligation to enroll.

Megan Ruesink

Megan is a freelance writer for Collegis education who writes student-focused articles on behalf of Rasmussen College. She hopes to engage and intrigue current and potential students.


Related Content

This piece of ad content was created by Rasmussen College to support its educational programs. Rasmussen College may not prepare students for all positions featured within this content. Please visit for a list of programs offered. External links provided on are for reference only. Rasmussen College does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced. Rasmussen College is a regionally accredited private college.

Add your comment


Please enter your name.


Please enter your email.


Please enter your comment.


icon-colored-advance icon-colored-build icon-colored-certificate icon-colored-continual-developement icon-colored-growth icon-colored-national icon-colored-prep icon-colored-regional icon-colored-state icon-colored-student-centered icon-colored-support icon-colored-world-experience icon-general-connect icon-general-degree icon-general-discuss icon-general-email icon-general-find icon-general-laptop icon-general-leader icon-general-map icon-general-paperwork icon-general-phone icon-general-speak-out icon-camera icon-filter icon-info-circle icon-mail-forward icon-play-solid icon-quote-mark-left icon-quote-mark-right icon-share-square-o icon-spinner icon-tag logo-accreditation-acen logo-accreditation-ccne ras-logo-flame ras-logo-horizontal ras-logo-stacked icon-simple-chat icon-simple-desktop icon-simple-find icon-simple-hamburger icon-simple-phone icon-testimonial-quotes icon-social-facebook-square-colored icon-social-facebook-square icon-social-facebook icon-social-google-plus-square icon-social-google-plus icon-social-instagram icon-social-linkedin-square-colored icon-social-linkedin-square icon-social-linkedin icon-social-pinterest-p icon-social-twitter-square icon-social-twitter icon-social-youtube-play-colored icon-social-youtube-play icon-util-checkbox-white icon-util-checkbox icon-util-checked-white icon-util-checked icon-util-chevron-down icon-util-chevron-left icon-util-chevron-right icon-util-chevron-up icon-util-loading icon-util-open-window-button icon-util-open-window-link icon-util-pdf-button icon-util-pdf-link icon-util-refresh icon-util-x