Learning Experiences: The nursing major is too popular and the UW can’t handle it

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It is no secret that the nursing program is considered one of, if not the most, competitive major at the UW. With an acceptance rate of around 10 percent, hundreds of students are left frustrated, disappointed, or utterly crushed. But this disparity is fixable.

Though the major itself is not this competitive due to its relative difficulty; it’s that nursing has exploded as a popular major in recent years, and the UW is still trying to adjust to the higher demand for Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) students.

Gretchen Chase, a first-year nursing student, thought that getting into the major was the hardest part.

“Once you’re in, it’s not as bad,” Chase said. “There’s so much stress with the prerequisite courses. It’s kind of crazy, figuring out what you have to do to get one of the spots.”

The application itself is daunting to say the least. On top of maintaining a competitive GPA through natural world courses, applicants must complete 100 hours of “health care experience” in a three-month time frame, within 12 months of applying.

“Don’t do it on your own,” Diane Byun, a pre-nursing student, advised. “I made the mistake of not going to my advisor sooner and I was stressing out so much.”

But there is a reason for the madness.

“I think the application and getting in is so difficult because they want people to be sure when they go,” Chase said.  “A huge part of the application is having that experience.”

In this way, the hundreds of hours of clinical, hands-on work does make sense, but the application inbox is no doubt filled with students who are passionate about nursing and ready to dedicate themselves to the field. That’s where the frustration surrounding the dismal acceptance rate comes in.

“Like c’mon,” Byun said, already feeling defeated. “If we’re putting in this much effort it means that we really want this. We’re not putting in hundreds of hours beyond school just so we can be told no.”

Byun is resigned to the possibility that she’ll have to transfer to be admitted into a BSN program, and it understandably makes her sad.

“I love UW, I love being a Husky,” Byun said. “It makes me sad because I’ve lived here for three and a half years and to be able to just lose all that sucks.” 

Chase was one of only 63 students accepted into the nursing program for the 2018-2019 school year. Chase loves it and even though the hardest part is behind her, the program is still a huge commitment.

“The most challenging part is the time commitment. You’re in class all day, the lectures are two or three hours long,” Chase said. “You have labs which are three hours long and then your clinical days which are 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. It’s like a full-time job.”

Despite the demanding schedule, Chase loves being part of the UW’s Nursing program.

“My favorite thing is that it really feels like a community,” Chase said. “The professors know you and care about you succeeding. They genuinely care for how we’re doing, as an individual.”

Chase’s final thoughts showed why so many students put in the hours and hope for one of the few coveted spots that the UW’s BSN program has to offer.

“I just love it,” Chase said. “I love it more than I thought I would.”

Reach writer Miranda Milton at opinion@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @mirandamilton99

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(1) comment

Natalie Rand

Although I agree that UW's nursing program is crazy competitive, I'd like to point out that nursing acceptance rates are often just as low at many other schools - even community colleges. It kind of just sucks all around because society needs more nurses and a lot of people *do* want to be nurses, but schools only have the funds to educate so many people per year.

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