How I Got Into Nursing School With A Low GPA

For as long as I can remember, my dream was to become a nurse. However, in high school a lot of poor decisions on my part caused me to ruin my GPA, putting me at a 1.9 at graduation.  I still was determined to become a nurse, I just knew it would take a lot  of work to rebuild my GPA. I won’t try to sell you some story about how GPA does not matter, and tell you that you can get into nursing school with a low GPA if you just do x, y, and z. The fact of the matter is, nursing school is rigorous, and entry is competitive. Therefore, if your GPA is suffering (less than 2.5) you are going to have a nearly impossible time getting accepted unless you raise your GPA. The journey will be difficult, but worth it if you really want to be a nurse.

Step One: Raising your GPA

Depending on how low your GPA is, raising your GPA may simply be a matter of taking 1 or 2 courses and getting an A. For me, there was no saving my GPA and I had to start over by attending community college. I went to community college for 2 years and took all of the pre-requisites for the nursing school I was interested in (you can do this even if your GPA is not low if you’re looking to save money).  If you decide to go this route, make sure your credits will transfer to your desired school(s), as not to waste time (and money). Do well in your classes! My GPA from community college was a 4.0!

Step 2: Prepare a letter of explanation

If your poor GPA was more than 10 years ago, then this step is not needed. Otherwise, you’ll want to have this letter to add to your application. A letter of explanation does just that – explain what caused your low GPA. Armed with your improved GPA, this will let your prospective school know that you’re serious about your education. In your letter, be sure to outline that the obstacles that previously stood in your way are no longer an issue.

  • Examples of reasons for low GPA: being young and not focusing on school, personal health issues, family hardships, financial troubles, etc.

Step 3: Letters of Recommendation

This is a necessary step for most schools, but if your GPA is lacking you want great letters of recommendation. I was still pretty young when I applied to nursing school, so I used my high school teacher and my community college professors for my recommendations. If you’ve been out of school too long to use your teachers, I would suggest using a manager/supervisor, and/or a mentor. You want to be certain that your recommenders can speak to your ability to be a successful learner and can attest to your passion for becoming a nurse.

Step 4: Nail Your Admissions Essay

Your admission essay should make you stand out from other applicants. You want to highlight your strengths, as well as emphasize your desire for becoming a nurse. In my essay, I discussed how caring for my ailing mother solidified my dreams of becoming a nurse. If your story isn’t similar to mine, don’t worry! Everyone’s call to action is different, just be sure to accentuate yours in your essay! You also want to tell the admissions committee why you are choosing their school. You want to focus on how the school’s mission, vision, and values align with those of your own.

Step 5: Going above and beyond

I will not go into too much detail on this step, as its pretty self-explanatory. I will, however, discuss some of the ways I went above and beyond to help strengthen my application. One thing I did was volunteering. The school I applied to values caring for the underserved populations. Knowing this, I volunteered at the free clinic, blood drives, and feeding the homeless during the holidays.

I also sought out shadowing experiences at my local hospital to get a feel of what a typical day in the life of a nurse is like. Schools like to see that you’re taking the initiative to be in charge of your education. Nurses are lifelong learners, so you want to show your potential school that you’re willing to do what it takes.

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Float Nurse vs. Staff Nurse

There are a few different names for float nurses: flex nurse, pool nurse, etc.. What ever the title, the description is the same – you show up to work and “float” to whichever unit is understaffed for that shift. I’m not going to lie, I’m a little biased because I LOVE being a float pool nurse. For me, the benefits outweighed the drawbacks which is why I’ll never go back to being a staff nurse. That being said, float pool isn’t for everyone. In this post, I’m going to discuss the pros and cons of float pool nursing to hopefully help better your understanding.

Please take this post with a grain of salt – my pros may actually be cons in your opinion, and vice versa. Also, keep in mind that every hospital has different policies and requirements for their nurses.

Pros of Float Pool

  • THE PAY! As a staff nurse, I made 25.76/hr on night shift – at the same hospital I make 35/hr as a float RN.
  •  You get to go to all the units in the hospital (except PEDS, NICU and L&D usually)
  • You don’t have the responsibilities of a typical staff nurse. i.e. unit meetings, committees, etc.
  • You get to make you own hours for the most part. For example, at my hospital we are required to work 24hrs a month with one major (ex: Christmas) and one minor holiday (ex: 4th of July).
  • As an added perk, we can break up our hours. For example, I’m not required to work 3 12hr shifts like a staff nurse, I can work 4, 8 or 12 hours as long as I work 24 hours in a month.
  • I can work as many hours as I like (actually, I think the cap is 80hrs/week, but I’ve never tested this theory!)  
  • Skill expansion: becoming a float pool nurse has helped me expand my knowledge and hone my critical thinking and interpersonal skills.

Cons of Float pool

  • No shift differential pays. Most hospitals pay more for night and weekend shifts. As a float nurse, I don’t get this added benefit.  
  • No insurance coverage. At my hospital, float nurses are considered PRN, meaning you don’t qualify for health insurance coverage through the employer.  
  • Some nurses take comfort in knowing their co-workers and knowing what unit they are going to be on for their shift. As a float nurse, I don’t find out what shift I’m going to work on until an hour before my start time.  
  • Mid-shift floating. This is definitely my biggest con of float pool. Mid-shift floating is when you work part of your shift (usually 4hrs), then you are floated to another unit to work the rest of your shift. My hospital’s policy is that we only get floated mid-shift once per 12hr shift, but they also state that we aren’t supposed to have more than 3 patients on critical units *insert side-eye*.  
  • Getting a “bad” assignment. Now, as a nurse I resent the term “bad” when referring to patients, but please bear with me as I try to make my point. As a float nurse, you are usually new to the unit, so you run the risk of getting patients that none of the staff nurses want. Examples are getting all total care patients, combative/sundowning patients, and/or patients that are borderline critical care patients. This has never happened to me, but I’ve heard many horror stories.

I hope this post helps make your decision a little easier when deciding whether to join or leave float pool. As always, please let me know what you thought of this post by leaving a comment, and sign up to receive emails so you never miss out!

How I Made 90k With My BSN Degree In 2020

You didn’t read the title wrong and no, I’m not exaggerating.  By the end of this year I will have made over $90,000 (before taxes) as a registered nurse – with my BSN! The best part is, I’m going to show you how you can too! You’re probably thinking I’m full of it right now, but I promise you I’m not. I’m going to give you my pay breakdown, in addition to hours worked so you can actually see the calculations.  

 Now, I need you to keep an open mind before I dive into the details. You may think that what I did is not feasible for your lifestyle. I’m here to tell you that you CAN do it! I was able to manage my workload and still be a mother to my toddler.

Okay, lets face it, unless you want to go back to school to get an Advanced Practice degree of some kind, your BSN won’t make you 90k with one job. Now that we’ve all stepped into reality, with our open minds 😊 lets get into the breakdown of how I make this moneyyy!

To make 90k, I hold a total of 3 jobs. WAIT! Don’t hit the X just yet! 2 of the 3 jobs are 100% from home!

Job 1: Float Pool RN at local hospital

  • This is a PRN (per deim/as needed) position. My hours for this job are 24hrs/month  
  • Pay rate: $35/hr  x  24hrs  =  $840/month —————– 10,800/yr         

Job 2: RN Case Manager

  • This is my full-time job, I work this job Mon-Fri 8hrs/day
  • This job is salaried 75,000/yr

Job 3: Utilization Review

  • This is also a PRN position, requiring 16 hrs/month
  • Pay rate: $35/hr  x  16hrs  =  $560/month———————$6,720/yr

$75,000 + $10,800 + $6,720 = $91,800/yr

So, there you have it! 90k with my BSN degree! On paper it may look like a lot of work, but honestly its not! I actually prefer working 3 jobs to having 1 full time job as a bedside nurse! In my next post I’ll be discussing how I manage 3 jobs and a busy toddler! I hope this post was helpful, please feel free to ask me any questions!!

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