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Pre-Nursing Resources

How to Become A Nurse

A Guide to Nursing Degrees 
The Washington State Dept. of Health lists approved programs offering Certified Nursing Assistant (NAC / CNA), Licensed Practical Nursing (PN), and Registered Nursing (RN) programs through the completion of an accredited program.

As a CWU student, the two most common paths you can take are 1) pursuing a major at Central and graduating with a bachelor's degree before transferring to a nursing program, or 2) completing only your prerequisite courses here before transferring to a nursing school. You may choose to seek your RN credentials through completing an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), or in some cases, a direct-entry Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program. If you complete a bachelor's degree at CWU, the University of Washington offers an accelerated BSN program.

CWU does not offer a full nursing degree program. However, CWU offers all of the necessary prerequisite courses for entry into nursing school.  You can pursue any bachelor's degree you wish while completing your nursing prerequisites, but many students choose either Biology or Public Health (which has specializations in Community Health Education and Pre-Nursing). Pursue a course of study you feel best fits your goals, interests, and financial considerations and seek academic advising early on to help you determine your best course of action. Understand you must transfer to another school to earn your nursing credentials.

Carefully weigh your options to map an ideal path. Considerations should include costs, financial aid limits, career goals, and time to degree completion. 


CWU Courses Helpful for Bachelor of Science Nursing Programs

Review the recommended nursing prerequisite coursework with your pre-nursing advisor and faculty mentor as soon as possible to assist in your course planning.

Regardless of which path you take, it is essential you complete your prerequisites as soon as possible. There are firm prerequisites for certain courses. For example, you must successfully complete CHEM 113 (which has prerequisites of CHEM 111 and 112) prior to enrolling in BIOL 220. Likewise, BIOL 220 is a prerequisite for BIOL 322. Classes are offered on a somewhat limited basis. For this reason, please seek advising as early as possible to discuss your course of study.


CWU Pre-Nursing Advisors and Faculty Mentors

Work with the pre-nursing advisor and a faculty mentor to create a course plan that works both for your CWU major and particular Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs you are interested in attending. Because each program can and may change their requirements, it is absolutely essential that interested students check their prerequisite classes against their top choices for nursing schools on a regular basis. 

College of the Sciences Advising Office
Advising for students with interest in pre-nursing study paired with Biology or Chemistry majors.

Patrick (Pat) Coffey
Advising for students with interest in pre-nursing study paired with Public Health, Clinical Physiology, or Exercise Science majors.

Faculty Contacts:
Dr. Melody Madlem
Department of Health Sciences
Office: Black Hall, Room 208-14
Phone: (509) 963-1971

Dr. Mary Poulson
Department of Biological Sciences
Office: Science Building, Room 236K
Phone: (509) 963-2808


Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I pursue a BSN degree?
NurseJournal: "10 Reasons Why RNs Should Pursue Their BSN Degree"

What benefit is there to get a bachelor's degree at CWU before I earn a BSN?
Consider this:  Students with a bachelor's degree are often given preference for spots in nursing school and can choose to do an accelerated BSN program, or ABSN. In addition, a bachelor's degree in any field will give you employment opportunities, even if you are not successful at earning a highly competitive spot in a nursing program.

What is an ABSN?  
Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program is for you if you want to pursue a career in nursing but you have already have completed a Bachelor's degree in a field other than nursing. Typically, ABSN programs are rigorous courses, allowing you to achieve a BSN degree in about 12 months. ABSN programs are therefore a full-time commitment. Admission is very competitive, and you should take into consideration the application requirements if you are considering applying to an ABSN program. Once you graduate you can apply for your Registered Nursing license. 

Typical application requirements include:

  • Bachelor's degree in any field other than nursing
  • Minimum cumulative and science GPA's (will vary by school)
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Volunteer or paid health care experience

*Most schools also require certain prerequisite courses be taken before you can apply. These prerequisites vary by school; you should research the prerequisite courses required by your prospective schools and seek advising.

See also:
American Association of Colleges of Nursing: Accelerated Baccalaureate and Master's Degrees in Nursing

What other non-degree nursing programs are there?
Nursing students are often required to obtain nursing assistant credentials, as part of their training and experience.  See the Washington State's Board of Nursing / Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission's "Nursing Assistant Training Programs." for a comprehensive list of community colleges and technical institutes who offer this license in Washington State.

Another option is the PN (Practical Nursing) program.  Practical nursing programs can usually be completed in one to one-and-a-half years. Graduates of these accredited programs (below) are eligible to sit for the Washington State Practical Nursing exam. You must show proof of high school completion to sit for the exam.'s LPN Programs in Washington webpage provides information on PN programs in the state.  Like the CNA, a PN program is beneficial for you to gain further clinical experience and/or if you wish to become a Licensed Practical Nurse [LPN] before becoming an RN. Licensed graduates are qualified for employment as entry level staff in long-term care facilities, hospitals, outpatient clinics, and home care agencies.

Other Resources

American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the Academic Progression Brochure
Washington State's Board of Nursing: "Nursing Education Information for Students" 
Washington State Nurses Association

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