In order to promote a more inclusive approach to undergraduate nursing student selection, the BYU College of Nursing will be implementing changes in the application process.
“The idea is to get a more holistic view of the students and to have a more holistic applications and admissions process,” says Cara Wiley, the nursing advisement center supervisor. “That way we’re taking into consideration some of the other aspects of students and not just GPA.”
“We don’t believe that the characteristics of being a good nurse are exclusively GPA and ACT scores,” says College of Nursing associate dean Dr. Katreena Merrill.
These changes will take effect for students applying for the winter 2019 semester. Listed below in bold are the main changes and what they mean.
1) Students must have completed all prerequisite classes before applying to the program—midterm grades will not be accepted.
Previously, students could apply to the program while still enrolled in prerequisite courses and simply give their midterm grades for the prerequisites. Now students will need to have finished all pre-reqs before submitting their application.
“As usual, we will admit twice a year,” Merrill says. “The application for fall semester will end in May each year so that students taking prerequisites can finish those up in their winter semester and apply in May for fall. Applications for entering the nursing program in the winter semester will close in late August so that students applying to go to the nursing program in the winter will be able to finish classes in spring and summer.”
2) Students with over 75 BYU credits or 100 overall credits will no longer be able to apply.
This falls in line with official BYU policy, which says that students cannot change majors after earning 75 BYU credits (excluding AP or language exam credits). The idea is that more spots for students will be created while students with lots of credits will be able to use the more efficient path of a nursing accelerated course. Overall, this should help reduce the nursing shortage.
“If a student is already in college for three or four years before they even figure out they want to do nursing, the fastest way for them and the most financially beneficial way for them is to then do an accelerated nursing program [outside of BYU],” Wiley says.
3) While grades are still an important consideration factor, other variables such as service and possibly an online behavioral assessment will play an increased role in the selection process.
Now before you go slacking off in your next class after reading this, don’t think that GPA and ACT/SAT scores don’t matter anymore—there is still going to be strong weighting towards these factors. However, now the process is going to put more emphasis on other factors like leadership, community service, healthcare experience (see next section), and possibly an online behavioral assessment.
4) Students need healthcare experience, either as a volunteer or employee.
Students should have some time in a healthcare environment under their belts if they want a competitive application. Healthcare does not mean just in hospitals—it can include nursing homes, therapy centers, or other places where medical professionals work.
“We want to see that they really want to be in the healthcare profession and that they’re doing things for that,” Wiley says. “If you have six months or more [of experience], then you’d be in a good place.”
5) There is no longer an essay in the application.
All students weary of application-caused tendonitis can rest easy—with a catch. While there is no essay, there are small writing portions of the application where students talk about themselves, their goals, and their qualifications.
6) The application process is now two-tiered, a process that seeks to ensure that well-rounded applicants progress between the tiers.
- a) Tier 1 will include grades, ACT scores, letters of recommendation, service, leadership, healthcare experience, the writing portions of the application, and possibly an online behavioral assessment.
- b) If students pass Tier 1, they proceed to Tier 2, which is an interview at the College. Students must attend in person barring circumstances such as being on a mission or living far out of state—in these cases, a Skype/telephone interview will be arranged.
When do these changes come into effect?
“This will take effect Fall 2018 which means that the students who are first affected by this are those who are looking to apply for the Winter 2019 application,” Wiley says.
More changes and adjustments may be announced as details and logistics of the new application process are finalized.
What does this all mean?
Wiley explains that these changes will help change the College’s demographics and promote a more comprehensive student population.
“We’re hoping for more well-rounded students,” she says. “That could mean that you don’t have a 3.9 and still make it in.”
“While we know that the nursing program is hard and we want students to be successful, we also realize that nursing is a caring profession and GPA and ACT don’t necessarily measure caring and empathy,” Merrill says. “We want to make sure that our nursing students are yes, smart, but we also want to make sure that they have empathy and are able to care for people. That is why we are called the Healer’s Art, because we care and we take care of people as the Savior would.”