The U.S. needs more nurses, (one study shows it would take 1.2 million RNs to address the shortage by 2030). But high school students looking toward a nursing career aren’t guaranteed they’ll get into a nursing program. In fact, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing reported that four-year institutions alone turned away more than 80,000 applicants last year because of faculty shortages and space constraints.
Wingate University is working to address the problem with a new direct-admit option that will reserve slots in its nursing program for qualified incoming students as a way to ease the angst associated with applying for nursing school and to encourage more would-be nurses to embrace the largest field in the healthcare system.
“Essentially we will be extending a vote of confidence to these students, saving their place in the program for their junior year, pending successful completion of required criteria during the first two years,” explains Dr. Kristen Barbee, director of nursing at Wingate. She says Wingate, which is ranked among the state’s top nursing programs and has had a 100 percent pass rate on the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) for five of the last seven years, is the only traditional university in the state to offer direct-admit.
Beginning in the fall of 2023, the University will tap roughly two dozen incoming students for its first direct-admit cohort. To be considered, high school seniors who have been accepted to Wingate must meet at least two of three criteria:
- High school weighted GPA of at least 3.8
- High school unweighted GPA of at least 3.0
- SAT score of at least 1,100; of ACT of at least 23
Students who meet or exceed the required standardized test scores will be able to sidestep the Test of Essential Academic Skills. Those who don’t will have to score at least a 72 on the TEAS, which is offered once each fall and twice each spring and can be taken during a student’s first year at Wingate.
Barbee and other nursing faculty members will review applications, noting not only GPAs but reviewing what specific science and math classes students have taken and whether they attempted Advanced Placement courses.
“If I could give advice to high school students considering nursing, I would tell them to take the hard sciences: chemistry, biology, anatomy and physiology if it’s available. You need to be in the upper level science and math classes to be prepared,” Barbee says.
Once the direct-admit cohort is established, nursing faculty members will offer support and programming to help keep students on track as they work through their prerequisites and move toward their junior year when they start the nursing program in earnest.
“Nursing students know they have to keep their grades up. If you make all Cs and Ds, you are not ready for nursing,” Barbee says. Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.3 in the sciences to progress toward the nursing program. And they must make at least a B in their Health 210 course, which they can only repeat once.
“The point of direct-admit is to encourage students, it’s saying ‘you’ve got your slot in the program. Now, just continue to work hard,and you’ll keep your slot,” Barbee says.
First-generation college student and Golden Leaf scholarship recipient Chloe Greer wishes the direct-admit option would have been in place when she came to Wingate. A sophomore pre-nursing major from Lexington, N.C., Greer would have met the initial qualifications for the program.
“Having a direct-admit slot would have indicated that Wingate believed in me and believed that I was a successful student from the start,” Greer says. “It would have made this year a little less stressful.”
Students who are accepted to Wingate and plan to major in pre-nursing but aren’t chosen for the direct-admit option will still have an opportunity to apply to the nursing program, just like Greer and her classmates.
“There’s room here,” Barbee says. “If you don’t meet the initial criteria, that doesn’t mean you can’t make it into the program. Come to Wingate, try hard, and prove yourself.”
Learn more about studying Nursing at Wingate by visiting wingate.edu.