How to Become a Nurse with a Biology Degree in 7 Steps

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woman in lab goggles working with lab testing equipment

There are many career paths you can take with a bachelor’s in biology. The catch, though, is that most high-paying biology-based careers require a master’s degree or higher. You might not have realized it when you were in school, but a Bachelor of Science in Biology degree makes you a prime candidate to become a nurse.

Can you become a nurse with a biology degree? Yes, you can. The process of how to become a nurse with a biology degree consists of seven steps. Through an accelerated nursing program, switching from biology to nursing becomes streamlined.

You can use your degree to become a nurse and enter the nursing profession in as few as 16 months. By becoming a nurse, you’ll be able to leverage your previous science education to make a difference in people’s lives.

In this post, we’ll discuss the seven-step process of how to become a registered nurse (RN) if you have a biology degree. At the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas, our Second-Degree Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) track helps students earn their BSN in as few as 16 months with our hybrid curriculum, meaning you can start your nursing career in less time than you would if you enrolled in a traditional nursing program.

Now let’s get into the details of the seven steps you can take to become a nurse with a biology degree.

1. Find a Nursing School that Aligns with Your Goals

The first step in transitioning from biology to nursing is to assess your career goals and timelines so you can find a nursing program that best suits you. If you have a biology education, a BSN degree program is ideal for your career prospects, salary and personal growth opportunities. Another consideration is timeline. Because you already have a bachelor’s degree in biology, accelerated BSN tracks like the 16-month track at UIW in San Antonio are an efficient option for finishing your degree sooner.

UIW ABSN student in red scrubs using stethoscope on manikin

You also may want to consider relocating for nursing school, as this opens you up to have enriching experiences in bustling healthcare hubs. You also may be able to save time by getting into a school with multiple start dates each year, like that of the University of the Incarnate Word, which has start dates in January, May and August.

2. Determine Program Eligibility

Once you’ve found a nursing program that fits your criteria, the next step is to see if you’re the right fit for that school. Each school has unique admission criteria, GPA requirements, prerequisites and application processes, not to mention philosophy and values. Invest some time into the process of researching the program to ensure you meet the requirements.

If you have any questions about the requirements for admission to the ABSN track at UIW, reach out to an admissions counselor. They’ll review your education and background to ensure you’re a good candidate for the ABSN track.

3. Create a Plan to Finish Prerequisites

Because an accelerated nursing curriculum focuses exclusively on nursing concepts, applicants must first take any outstanding prerequisite courses in order to enroll. One of the many advantages of becoming a nurse with a biology degree is that you likely have many or all of the nursing prerequisites completed already.

This is because students who hold previous degrees in the sciences, such as biology, are more likely to have already taken the prerequisite courses in their prior studies compared to applicants with degrees in the liberal arts. This means you may be able to start an ABSN track sooner.

If you have questions about creating a timeline for taking your prerequisites before starting the accelerated nursing track at UIW, contact an admissions counselor to help you form a plan.

Nursing students studying together with textbooks

4. Apply for the ABSN Track

You’ve talked with an admissions counselor and made a timeline for your start date, and all your prerequisites are done or nearly done, so what’s next? The application for nursing school is the final piece of the admissions process. At most schools, including UIW, the application process consists of an online application that you’ll submit.

Schools have certain document requirements, too, such as transcripts or pre-licensure forms, and these differ for each school. Therefore, ensure you submit all the required pieces of the application, as schools won’t consider those with an incomplete application.

5. Start Nursing School

Once the application is submitted and you hear back the good news of acceptance, the next step is getting started with nursing school. At UIW’s ABSN track, we have a hybrid curriculum that combines online coursework, hands-on skills and simulation labs at our state-of-the-art ABSN learning site, and clinical rotations at top healthcare providers.

Even though the accelerated nursing track is 16 months, you can trust that the ABSN track provides a comprehensive nursing education that will prepare you for the real world.

Online Courses

The first piece of the ABSN curriculum at UIW is online nursing coursework. In online courses, you’ll work through engaging online modules with lectures, texts, practice questions and other tools so you can learn no matter your preferred learning style.

Online courses accommodate your preferences with location and time of day for studying. You could study at 6 a.m. at a coffee shop or 10 p.m. at home. These courses set up the foundation for your nursing education.

Simulation and Skills Labs

The next piece of the curriculum is skill development through hands-on labs. These interactive sessions with your classmates and instructors take place each week. You’ll practice interactive nursing skills like patient interventions, assessments and interviewing.

You’ll also become comfortable with numerous nursing techniques and technical skills, such as inserting and maintaining IV catheters, inserting genitourinary catheters and nasogastric tubes and applying dressings. At UIW, you’ll get to work with high-fidelity manikins to help you practice your patient care skills in a safe environment.

2 UIW students working together in a clinical setting on a manikin

Clinical Placements

The clinical rotations at UIW are vital to a well-rounded nursing education. These experiences help you gain real-world nursing exposure and practice what you’re learning within the healthcare environment. You’ll work alongside professional nurse preceptors, who will guide you and gradually help you gain more responsibility as you progress in your training.

6. Graduate, Pass the NCLEX and Get Licensed

Upon graduating from nursing school, you’ll be well positioned to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) — the licensure examination all nurses must pass in order to practice.

Most students begin studying for the NCLEX during their final semester of nursing school. Then after graduating, they spend 1–2 months of dedicated time studying for the exam. This is because the NCLEX is a challenging, comprehensive nursing exam that requires students to know the best answer even when a question has multiple possible right answers. Some nursing schools, like UIW, work hard to prepare students from day one of nursing school so they can take the NCLEX with confidence.

After passing the NCLEX, the final step is getting licensed in your state. This process varies by state, so visit the Board of Nursing website for your state. Once you are licensed, you can practice as a registered nurse.

7. Start Your Nursing Career

After licensure, you’ve finally reached your goal. You can now enter into the rewarding, in-demand field of nursing. Bear in mind that many students don’t wait until they get licensed to apply for jobs. You can apply for jobs during school and can get hired contingent upon you graduating and passing the NCLEX. Start by applying for jobs at healthcare facilities where you’ve had clinical rotations, as you already have connections there that may help you land a job.

University of the Incarnate Word ABSN student in black scrubs in clinical setting

Wherever you begin your first job out of a nursing school’s accelerated track, you’re starting a career that makes all the hard work you’ve put in worthwhile. Find a position that brings you joy and satisfaction each day working with patients who you love connecting with and helping through their health journeys.

Are You Driven to Make a Difference?

Are you looking to make a difference with your biology degree by switching from biology to nursing? At UIW, our ABSN track is built for students just like you, and we are here to help you use your skills to become a leader in the nursing profession. With our hybrid accelerated BSN track, you can get a nursing education that sets you up for a rewarding nursing career.

If you’re ready to put your biology degree to use to become a nurse, the University of the Incarnate Word can help. Reach out to our admissions counselors to find out if our 16-month Accelerated BSN track is right for you.