Friday, September 12, 2014

What's nursing school really like?

I get asked this question a lot!

It's very different that anything I have done before on so many levels.

This is my junior year, so Lord willing, I will be graduating in May of 2016. I long for that day.

Here's the low down of what the nitty gritty for me looks like.

Monday morning, I am up at 5:45, ready to shower and get the morning going. I get the kids up, get breakfast going, and thank the good Lord that I packed lunches, signed papers, and set out school clothes the night before.

By 7:15 we are out the door, headed to drop one kid off at Polk, then the other kid off at Clute. I return home to grab all my work, a quick bit of food for lunch, a coffee or water, and I am back out the door, headed to school.

On Mondays and Wednesdays we have Skills 1 and 2 and Simulation Lab. All day. Our professor lectures, we grade papers, we work on chapter assignments, and we break for lunch. The afternoon is for lab...bathing patients, practicing our skills, making beds, talking to mannekins, feeling overwhelmed.

You see, Skills and Sim are deceptively difficult. Each week we are to read the chapters in the book ahead of class. We have hour long videos to watch that include post video quizzes we must get a 90 or better on and turn in proof of completion...each week. We must read chapters in the ATI Fundamentals book and copy and answer the end of chapter questions in a notebook that we turn in each week. She gives us Alternate Format questions for each chapter that are to prepare us for NCLEX. We have Prep U online quizzes for each chapter that must be completed each week. This week, we are learning 4 chapters, which averages out to be around 40-50 online quizzes. We have check offs where she watches us complete a skill and checks off on a flow chart if we pass or not. And then...we can study for the weekly exams.

So that is on Mondays and Wednesdays.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays we have Dosage, Pharmacology, and Health Assessment...all day. We begin with dosage, that we teach ourselves. We were given a book and each week we are to complete two chapters. Each chapter has several section practice tests that must be completed, end of chapter proficiency tests, and there are two quizzes each week. There are 8 tests and we have about 8 or 9 weeks to complete the course. Every semester before clinicals we have to take a dosage test to show competence and we must get 100%. Three strikes, and you are out!

Next is the lovely Pharm. Pharm...I have a love-hate relationship with Pharm. Ok so here's the low down on Pharm....

We have a book and a study guide. Each week we work on about 5 chapters. We are to have read and outlined each chapter prior to coming to lecture. She lectures over the chapter. Each week, the corresponding chapters are due from the study guides. They are graded based on completion. There are med cards that used to be a requirement but are now just considered a suggestion that need to be filled out for the drugs that include class, action, uses, contraindications, precautions, interactions, things to monitor, assessments, etc. We have an ATI book for Pharm as well that we are to read the corresponding chapters and complete the end of chapter questions. Those are to prepare us for the proctored exam at the end of the semester that is in addition to the final. We have weekly Prep U online quizzes to complete for this class, as well as weekly class quizzes for brand and generic drugs, and weekly exams. Oh, we have to watch videos for this class as well.

After lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays is Health Assessment. We have a book and a study guide for this class. We averaging 2-4 chapters a week, we are to have read and outlined these chapters prior to lecture, we have to complete the study guide chapters, we are to watch the online videos and take those quizzes, we have weekly class quizzes, and almost weekly exams.

Wednesdays we have Dosage and Health Assessment SI class at 5pm, which is a supplement to assist us.

Thursdays we have Pharm SI at 4pm.

We are off on Fridays. God bless it. By the time I get home each night, cook dinner for the kids, pull out all their work and help them with their homework, get the bedtime routines going, and have the boys in bed between 8:30 and 9pm, I drag myself into my closet office to get started on all the work. My limit is midnight. Whatever is not completed by midnight, is not completed. I throw myself into bed around 12:30 am and am up and at em again the next morning at 5:45am to start these shenanigans again.

It's not overwhelmingly hard, but the amount of work is overwhelming. When you are at school all day learning and taking notes, and then have to come home and get all the reading, study guides, outlines, quizzes, questions, notebooks etc completed...well, you really have to be super organized. The subject matter is serious. It's difficult. You cannot study the night before.

But my grades so far are good. We had three tests this week and three quizzes. I made 100 on all my quizzes. I made a 96 on my skills exam, an 86 on the pharm exam (that was later changed to 100 because many of the test questions got thrown out), and a 78 on the health assessment exam. Now the 78 was the highest grade in the class. Myself and a classmate each made a 78, and that was the highest. I am sure I will do better on the next exam because now I know what she is looking for and how she tests.

I don't have to have all A's...but I want them. I'm not going to freak out over B's....but 74.9 is failing. And by failing, you are out of nursing school. So I barely made it with that 78. Yes, it is the average at the end...but everyone wants a little wiggle room.

So, I have next to no time for anything else. I got a pedicure today since next week we are practicing pedal pulses on each other, and the whole time I was taking online quizzes on my phone and reading my pharm book. I spend entire weekends trying to catch up and even get ahead. This week I really have to get ahead because I am in my friend's wedding next Saturday, so school work and studying will not be an option for me.

Oh long rambling post, but it is just really hard to get across how draining and time consuming it really is to be in nursing school. But it is so worth it!

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