HEALTH CARE EXPERIENCE
• BSN applicants must have a MINIMUM of 100 hours in a 3 month period of hands-on healthcare experience to be
eligible to apply to the program; ABSN applicants must have 200 hours of experience in one setting during a 12 month
period before application.
• This is the minimum; many applicants have over 1,000 hours of hands-on health care experience.
Remember that the quality of your experience, and indications that you got something out of it, are the most critical
aspects of your health care experience
• We want our applicants to be informed about the career path and education upon which they are embarking. Health care
experience is the best way to find out whether Nursing is indeed a good fit with your interests and goals.
• In your application you will need to draw from your health care experience to convince the admission committee that
nursing is a good fit for you.
• We pride ourselves on admitting highly motivated, intelligent and successful candidates. If we admit you we want you to
succeed in our program.
WHAT WOULD BE QUALITY HEALTH CARE EXPERIENCE?
1) Hands-on: This means experience that includes direct patient contact in the context of the health care they are receiving.
Obviously as a lay person, the direct care you can provide to patients is limited. However, there are activities that you would
be allowed to do and ways in which you can SUPPORT AND OBSERVE the work of registered nurses. If you want to obtain
basic health care skills before pursuing your hands-on healthcare experience, consider pursuing Nursing Assistant Certified
(NAC) training and honing those skills first (for more information, see below).
2) Contact with Registered Nurses and the Work of Registered Nurses: In the application, you want to communicate that you
have good basic understanding of what it means to be a Registered Nurse. We want you to know what to expect and to NOT
be surprised when you are put into your first clinical at the start of the BSN program. We strongly recommend that you use
a RN who supervised you during your health care experience to write your letter of recommendation.
3) Contact with Other Health Care Providers: Allows you to observe other professionals, helping to further inform your decision
about the nursing profession. Such experiences allow for the observation of team work within a health care setting. From
this experience, you may decide nursing is not the best fit for yours skills and interests. We do NOT want you to apply to the
program if this is the case!
OTHER SUGGESTIONS: The BSN admissions committee will look in multiple places, including your personal statement, your
letter of recommendation, your resume and your proctored essay for evidence of your exposure to nursing and indications
that you are passionate about becoming a nurse, well-informed of what the profession entails and aware of and able to
negotiate the challenges of the profession.
• Think about keeping a hands-on health care journal. Record things that surprise you, things you learn, what you get out of
an experience, what you learn about the nurse’s role, what you learn about yourself. Record moments when you are outside
of your comfort zone--how do you handle the situation and what do you learn? Record experiences where you encounter a
conflict--how do you deal with the situation? What are your experiences working with patients from cultures or socio-
economic backgrounds different from your own?
• Don’t Limit Yourself to One Experience. If you have adequately fulfilled the requirement for health care experience in one
setting, think about volunteering with RN’s in a different setting.
• Give Yourself Plenty of Time to Work on Your Application. Read carefully the instructions for writing the personal statement.
• Read Carefully the Instructions for Writing the Resume. You are asked to follow a very specific format. Give a succinct but
detailed and informative description of your health care activities and responsibilities.
Speaking of the resume, don’t forget the other categories: Community Service/Involvement; Leadership/Teaching
Experience; Non-English Language Proficiency; and Health Care Training, Licenses, Certificates.
Community Service/Involvement—Experiences should involve other people. Participation in these experiences demonstrate
to the admissions committee that you are socially involved and that you can juggle multiple and competing demands in your
life. This experience should be from the last 2 years.
Leadership/Teaching—This experience does not have to be health care-related. This experience is important because, as a
nurse, you will be dealing closely with patients and families, will be required to manage the situation at hand, and be the
primary decision maker. Non-English Language Ability indicates exposure to other cultures; Health Care Training, Certificate,
Licenses: List anything relevant to health care.
WHERE DO I GO TO GET HEALTH CARE EXPERIENCE?
Want to Learn Some Basic Nursing Skills First? Consider Nursing Assistant Certified (NAC) Training
At least half of the BSN applicants are typically certified as Nursing Assistants. HOWEVER, SIMPLY GETTING THE
CERTIFICATION DOES NOT SUFFICE FOR HEALTHCARE EXPERIENCE; actual post-certification hands-on experience is
important. Also note that NACs typically work with a primarily geriatric population and may have limited exposure to RN’s. If
you do work as a NAC, you may want to consider supplementing this experience with some other healthcare experience,
volunteer or paid and/or seeing if you could shadow an RN where you are working as a NAC.
HOSPITALS: Many applicants find volunteer and paid positions at hospitals. Often the place to inquire about opportunities is
a hospital’s volunteer department. Be proactive: as a volunteer you may be asked to start out in a limited hands-on capacity,
such as a volunteer escort, before you can volunteer in a more relevant capacity elsewhere in a facility. What follows is a list
of the sort of positions previous applicants have had in hospitals.
Hospitals Intensive Burn Care Unit: patient care, transport, restock
supplies, cleaning, filing, training new volunteers
Children’s Hospital: interacting with patients and Naval corpsman—military hospital—ICU and Emergency:
families; comforting patients during minor procedures medical care; health promotion; laboratory, pharm and
Critical Care Unit/Telemetry: assists RN with patient Post-operative/Surgery Recovery: comfort care, walk
care patients, make beds, set up medical equipment, patient
Nursing Assistant Certified—Med/Surg floor VA Medical Center: taking vitals, assisting RN, shadowing RN
Emergency Department: Liaison between staff and
patients, between patients and their families, assist Other Settings
staff as needed, restock supplies, visit with patients Think about settings other than hospitals where nurses work.
and families to provide comfort Here are some examples of settings where previous BSN
applicants have volunteered
Pediatric ICU: volunteer and shadow nurses Camp for campers with terminal or chronic medical
conditions: 24 hours care, meds, monitoring diets,
Hospital Assistant-Transplant unit: patient care, vitals Cancer Institute/Education Center: provided cancer
record intake and output, answer call lights. Prior to information for families
this volunteer: stock supplies, sort mail, put together Clinic: shadowed a nurse practitioner
kits and dialysis cart
Medical Assistant—Emergency department: Doula care: provided for free to low income women
prepared exam rooms, wound dressing and irrigation, Guatemala: assistant to a Mayan midwife
blood draws, assist RNs and MDs with procedures.
Burn and pediatric ICU: assist medical/nursing staff in Peru: volunteer intern: weighed and measured babies,
direct patient care. children, adults. Took vital signs and patient histories.
Worked with Red Cross providing annual exams for women
in local prison
Hospital Patient Care Technician—Pulmonary Same Day Medical Unit/Urgent Care clinic volunteer
Medicine and Thoracic Surgery: Helping patients with
Activities Daily Living (ADL) School Nurse Office: volunteered weekly helping out school
Hospital Assistant—Trauma and Orthopedics UW Healthcare Alternative Spring Break (UW students can
apply): Spent time with a practitioner in a rural health care
ICU: assessing patients with RN’s, including physical setting, this one predominantly Spanish speaking
exams, review meds, cardiac rhythms. Observe RN’s
Keep in Mind
• There are many options for getting quality health care experience.
• Although the applicants who had the experience above in hospitals and other settings were all admitted, these experiences
were either not the only health care experience they had had, or it is was, it was very extensive and the applicant got across
their experience and its relevance to their application to the BSN program across.
• An experience may not be inherently good or bad; it may depend entirely on your engagement in it and how you write about