Whatever you call them, accelerated nurse practitioner programs, bridge programs, or MEPN programs, are a quick way for students without a healthcare background to become nurse practitioners (see more about How to Become a Nurse Practitioner Without Nursing Experience). These programs are typically two to three years long, and confer both a RN and MSN degrees. There are very few of these programs in the country, meaning a competitive admissions process for interested applicants. How do you make yourself stand out among the pack?
1. Do Professional Due Diligence
One thing admissions teams want to know, is that applicants truly understand what they are signing up for – a career as a nurse practitioner. Make your application shine by demonstrating a clear understanding of the NP profession in your personal statement and application responses (these 9 Tips for Writing the Perfect NP School Application Essay will help). Spending some time job shadowing a practicing NP can help give you content for showing your understanding of the profession that packs a punch.
2. Submit Multiple Applications
Your acceptance to an accelerated nurse practitioner program is certainly based on your academic and professional credentials. But, it’s also a bit of a numbers game. You may be a highly qualified applicant, however few schools in the country offer such programs, and they can only accommodate a certain number of students. Applying to multiple NP programs increases your overall chances of admission, not to mention, gives you more options should you be selected to multiple schools (How Many NP Program Applications Should You Submit?).
3. Make a Personal Connection
Most accelerated nurse practitioner programs require that qualified applicants interview with faculty members. If you get the opportunity to interview, if at all possible, do so in person. Making a personal connection gives faculty a face to put with the name on the application. It makes you more memorable. A solid in-person interview might even be enough to overcome weaknesses in other areas on your app (here’s How to Answer Any NP Program Interview Question).
4. Show Dedication to a Healthcare Career
Applicants to Masters Entry Programs in Nursing (MEPN), or bridge programs, are not required to have a background in nursing. Sowing dedication and interest in the healthcare field, however, never hurts. Volunteer for a healthcare organization in advance of submitting your application. Job shadow physicians, physician assistants, or nurse practitioners, to get a clear picture of each provider’s role. Don’t forget to mention your experience on your application and/or resume so faculty are aware of your interest in and dedication to patient care.
5. Start the Process Early
Accelerated nurse practitioner programs have very specific admissions requirements. They require that applicants have completed a lengthy set of prerequisite courses, not to mention the usual set of application essays, paperwork, and recommendations. If you think you might be interested in becoming a nurse practitioner, get started on your prerequisite requirements immediately. Research your schools of interest, so you make sure you can comply with any additional admissions requirements, like taking the GRE. The earlier you start the research and application process, the more time and effort you can devote to meeting (and exceeding!) admissions standards.