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What to Expect While in Nursing School?

“Congratulations! You’ve made it to Nursing School!”

Now what?

After enduring the admission process in going through a nursing program, you’ve finally made it and are now ready to embark the journey of a student nurse.

But surely, there are more questions in your mind right now that will make you second guess if indeed this is the right decision for you to take. In these series of articles, you will have a bird’s eye view on what to expect in nursing school and learn some tricks of the trade that can help you survive nursing.

nursing school

Pre-requisites in Nursing School

Whether you are entering a License Practical Nurse (LPN), Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs, it is required that you must possess the adequate physical and mental capacities in going through nursing school. You may have heard that nursing school is not just a walk in the park, and indeed, there is a trace of truth into this notion.

The ursing curriculum contains courses in anatomy, physiology, chemistry, microbiology, Pathophysiology, and pharmacology and it will need more of your time and effort in studying and burning of midnight oils.

It is required that every student should put extra time in understanding the nursing courses in order to practice and deliver excellent nursing care to their patients. Remember that the nursing profession is no longer a do-as-you’re-told-job.

Therefore, it is important that you have to develop certain level of independence, possess critical thinking skills, leadership and managerial skills, and decision-making skills.

The Nursing Curriculum: Academics and Clinical

All nursing colleges and universities across the country follow a standard ursing curriculum indicated by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. This organization of nursing deans and faculty nationwide is responsible of developing and modifying the curriculum as needed to prepare student nurses to meet the challenges of the present health care situation.

The nursing curriculum is divided into academics and clinicals. The academics focus on the theoretical aspects and will prepare you in your clinicals later on. Most of the courses during the academic preparation are conducted in college or university campuses – classroom, lecture halls, and simulation laboratories.

The nursing faculty will provide lecture-discussions on the different nursing courses using several teaching strategies. The activities in the simulation laboratories will allow you to perform nursing procedures on mannequins before you can be given the chance to perform them on a real patient.

At times, you will be required to conduct a reporting or class discussion, accomplish a project, write a term paper or case report, and read more books pertaining to the nursing courses.

Evaluation of knowledge is done through the usual paper-and-pencil-test. But lately, several colleges and universities are incorporating computerized testing as preparation of the student to take the NCLEX later on.

If you have successfully passed all your academics, you will now move on to the clinicals. The clinical is the most common term used to describe that the nursing student is now ready to be placed on hospitals, clinics, and other health institutions as specified in the nursing curriculum. You will be handling real patients with real medical conditions.

Your knowledge on Pathophysiology, nursing care management, and ethico-moral and legal aspects will now be put into practice. Remember, this is still part of your nursing education; therefore you will still be evaluated by the clinical instructor or preceptor that supervises you.

Also known as Related Learning Experiences (RLE), the clinicals will require the student nurse to accomplish certain number of hours to spend in the area where he/she is assigned. Just like a regular nurse, you will be assigned in the different wards like Medical-Surgical, Podia, Surgical, OB, Geriatric, Psychiatric, Orthopaedic, etc.

Likewise, you will get the chance to be placed in special areas like Emergency Department, Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Operating Room/Delivery Room (OR/DR), Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), etc.

The clinicals will give you a chance to perform like a regular nurse. You will conduct nursing interviews, examine patients, give medications, implement nursing activities like wound dressing, catheterization, assisting the physician in medical interventions, health teaching, documentation of patient care and make referrals.

It is not purely technical work that you will be doing during the clinicals. The clinical instructor will still require you to accomplish some written reports like patient case study and journal writing on the experiences you had during the clinicals.

There would also be some time on patient case discussions within your group and one-on-one meeting with the clinical instructor where in you will be monitored in terms of comprehension and problem-solving issues.

Three “P’s” in Studying Nursing

My three P’s in finishing a degree in Nursing are: patience, persevere, and procrastination.

Patience. One quality that I would strongly recommend if you are planning to pursue an education in nursing is patience. Preparation in becoming a nurse is a gruelling process – physically and financially.

Although the BSN program will only take 4 years to finish, it still seems that you are serving a perpetual life sentence in studying the entire nursing curriculum. In addition, you will be facing a lot of personalities coming from all walks of life and sometimes, student nurses get the worst treatment not only from patients but also from doctors and staff nurses. If you do not possess such characteristic, then nursing is not for you.

Persevere. Hard work is very important for every student nurse. If you have children, inform your family that you will need their help, now that you’ve decided to take up nursing. It is sometimes difficult to multi-tasks between child-care and domestic issues and college life.

Any emotional baggages you may bring into your student life can affect the course of your education. Learn the art of time management. It can do wonders to your student life.

Pro-active. Human as we are, we are sometimes afflicted with procrastination, which, by the way, can be another “P” to include in this section. Try to avoid this habit. This is not accepted in nursing education. Four-years of nursing education are even not enough to cover and study everything there is about medical science.

Even registered nurses still need continuing education to update their knowledge and skills in nursing practice. Therefore, there is no room for a lazy bum in nursing. Student nurse should be assertive, pro-active, and motivated to finish the course.