I don't mind answering your question (and I honestly can't believe that was all written well over a year ago!)... If you don't mind me wondering, why do you ask? Anyways, here it is!
I am currently in the upper division nursing program at ASU as planned. I completed and submitted my application for the summer 2011 start date and selected the Mayo Clinic Hospital campus as my first choice. After talking with some other pre-nursing friends prior to submitting my application, my advancement score seemed to be very good in comparison to friends or other applicants they knew of, so luckily, I was confident I would AT LEAST get into the program at the Downtown campus, if not at the Mayo Clinic Hospital campus, so it made waiting for the decision letter much easier.
Sure enough, I found out at the end of March I had been accepted into the program at the Mayo Clinic Hospital campus. I finished up my Spring Semester with all As and one B+ (I was taking 18 credits, including Organic Chemistry and General Biology in addition to the required nursing classes, so it was intense!) and started my first semester of the upper division nursing program in mid-May, about a week or two after the spring 2011 semester ended.
It was definitely a whirlwind getting started. The program started off slow (we worked on "therapeutic communication" for like... 3 weeks or something ridiculously insane like that), but eventually became very crazy, as nursing school is known for. I quickly got to know the 19 other students on the Mayo Campus and of course, we bonded very quickly. We all know each other extremely well (although we lost a classmate during the fall semester and gained a new one in the spring) and can practically introduce each other each semester when our new clinical faculty first meet us and make us go through basic introduction for two hours at the start of our orientation. Being in such a small class definitely has its benefits, but also has its downfalls. As for the pitfalls of being in a class of 20 at Mayo...
Let's just say... you CAN NOT get away with skipping a lecture. As soon as it starts, EVERYBODY knows EXACTLY who's missing! Teachers notice too. Prior to entering the upper division program, I probably skipped about 40% of all my lectures - I have ADHD and really struggle to focus in a lecture, so I typically teach myself the material when I prepare for the test, the lecture doesn't do much for me. So that's been a rough adjustment for me. I've been in class more than I have at any time in my life.
Also, while I LOVE all 19 of my other classmates, if your personality doesn't mesh well with someone, it can suck because you see them nearly everyday all day and there are plenty of group projects to get done in which you don't always get to pick who you work with. And among the 20 of us, we are a very diverse bunch... nearly half of my classmates are second degree students, we have a few mothers in our group, started off with 4 male students but now have 3, the majority of our class is in their late 20s, 30s, and a couple in their 40s, and only 5 of us would be considered the "typical" type college student (meaning we went to college immediately following high school graduation at 18 and began the upper division program at 20 years old - and fun fact
, we had 3 21st birthdays this month... 1 was yesterday, 1 is today, mine will be next month, and the baby of the group turns 21 in June). So with that kind of diversity we have a TON of different learning styles... some of my classmates like to get things done very early as soon as they're assigned while others (like me) wait until the last minute to complete assignments and projects (with the ADHD, I work best when under a time constraint, or "pressure" so to speak). So when it comes to group projects, if you have multiple learning styles in one group - it can sometime create havoc and cause a lot of frustration between group members... all of which, remember, you will see everyday and be in the same class for 16 months.
It was also a really sad experience to lose a classmate. We're such a close-knit group that we were all upset by his departure. He ended up catching the bug that seemed to be passed around our class (I got it right before him actually) and he ended up getting REALLY sick from it during our Psychiatric clinical rotation (getting sick typically happens frequently in nursing school, especially during the first few semesters... I mean, you ARE constantly around people who are sick, so it makes sense)..Our clinical faculty specifically directed us NOT to attend clinical if we were ill so that we would not infect our patients (I personally missed 1 clinical day and went another day while still slightly ill). But because he was so sick, he ended up missing 2 clinical days and a test or two (which he had been allowed to make up due to the circumstances), but unfortunately made it impossible for him to pass the clinical rotation according to our faculty. So it was sad to see him go half way through the semester. At the start of the spring semester, we got a new addition to our class. She was definitely brave coming into our group half way through the program... I give her credit! I think it would be intimidating. But we all welcomed her with open arms - we're a friendly, goofy bunch, and we're very glad to have her!
As for the negatives of the Mayo Clinic campus in particular... well, we're in the SAME EXACT ROOM for every single lecture in every single class. It can get a little monotonous. Plus, most the time, we all sit in the same exact spot (I've been in the same location since our orientation day prior to the start of the program). The lab and simulation lab are also attached to the classroom, so like I said... we're always in the same place - for 16 months. I personally like variety, so this has been an adjustment for me. The majority of our faculty are also nurses at the Mayo Clinic and work as "adjunct" faculty for ASU, so we sometimes have teachers for multiple classes (for example, 2 of our teachers this semester also taught during our first semester). So depending on how well you liked that particular teacher and your relationship with them, this can be good or bad. But like I said, I like variety Now for the BENEFITS of the Mayo program...
Like I said, we are a close-knit group! We have a FB group page in which we constantly ask questions of each other and post reminders about assignments or coordinate group projects and such. I honestly love the relationship I have with my classmates. I've developed a few really good friends in the process. And whenever you have a problem or need help in a class, any of the 19 in our group would be more than happy to help if they can! Also, we've had our fair share of experiences and inside jokes. Makes for a good time, even during the most stressful times of nursing school.
When I do pay attention in class, having only 20 students in every class makes lectures very nice! Classes tend to be more interactive than ones I've taken in the past. You're not intimidated to ask questions and the lecture can be catered more particularly to your and the classes needs. I find that lectures are more like a big group discussion than you're typical 200 person lecture that you find yourself in the first few years of college. Most of our teachers goof around with us a lot and are able to laugh with us when we get silly. I've definitely never had as close of a relationship with my faculty in this program as I've had in any other class in my college experience.
We do as many of our clinical rotations at the Mayo Clinic Hospital as possible. And in comparison to many other facilities in the area, Mayo is an EXTREMELY nice hospital and I've noticed a big difference in the nursing care. For the most part (always with the exception of a nurse or two), the nurses I've worked with at Mayo during my clinical experiences have provided AMAZING nursing care (instead of care that teaches you what NOT to do) and have been very receptive to nursing students. In addition, all the medical professionals have been EXTREMELY nice and open to teaching, doctors included. For example, during my Adult Health rotation and my assigned day in the OR, the surgeon actually invited me to stand up close during a CABG (coronary artery bypass graft - an open heart procedure in which the patient is put on bypass) and actually took the time to talk with me and explain the procedure to me during the 4-5 hour surgery. In my second surgery of the day, the second surgeon was just as nice, jokingly asking me if I wanted to see a "lettuce" procedure next. Overall, my clinical experiences at Mayo have been extremely beneficial. Not to say I haven't gained great experiences at other facilities (I definitely have!). But the consistency of the quality of nurses and the facility itself was never as consistent as the Mayo Clinic.
Now having only been in the Mayo program, I can't say exactly how it compares to the program at the downtown campus. But I've definitely enjoyed nursing school at the Mayo campus so far (minus the typical ASU lack of organization). I'm over half way through and will be graduating in August! We just finished up our OB clinical rotation and are now just getting into Pediatrics while continuing our Community Health rotation throughout the whole spring semester. We'll continue into our last semester this summer and do our Complex Care and Immersion rotations, finishing up mid-August!
As for me, so far I've done well grade-wise. With nursing school requiring a 93% or higher to receive an A, I've received 1 B each semester so far (both of which were 91-92%). Hoping to change that streak this semester! So far, looking good - but I'm actually currently studying for my first Pediatric exam (which is why I'm writing this at 2:00am!). It's been tough, not gonna lie. Nursing school is a challenge no matter where you go. I've had my fair share of rough days and days where I didn't want to keep going. I've definitely had several nights filled with tears and stress and MANY all-nighters studying for exams or "competency testing".
But so far, it's all been worth it. It feels good to be able to apply what you've ACTUALLY learned in theory courses to clinical situations in comparison to information you quickly forget in typical lecture courses during the first few years of college. Clinical is typically extremely rewarding and it always feels good to successfully perform a new skill you've learned in lab, especially when you nail it on your first try (aka my first IV start!). The hands-on aspect of nursing school is definitely why I chose this major. I've absolutely HATED some of the rotations (most of which I expected) and have absolutely LOVED some of the others (some that I didn't expect to like at all). I'll give you the basic layout of our upper division program at ASU (Junior and Senior years following the Freshman and Sophomore years in which you have to complete the upper division prerequisites) and the associated clinical rotations, so you get the idea because some schools refer to the upper division semesters differently. For example some use "block 1", "block 2", etc while we refer to them as Junior 1, Junior 2, Senior 1, and Senior 2. In addition, we typically have each semester split into two parts in which we complete different clinical rotations each half, so I'll just refer to each as Rotation 1 or Rotation 2.
So here's the break down and a description of each rotation: JUNIOR 1 (semester 5 or "block 1") Rotation 1 - Introduction to Nursing - Preschool (health education project) and Well Elder (wellness plan) experiences, "communication rotation" Rotation 2 - Long-Term Care Nursing - Care of patients requiring prolonged nursing care, typically of the older adult, such as in nursing homes. JUNIOR 2 (semester 6 or "block 2") Rotation 1 - Psychiatric & Mental Health Nursing - Care of patients with a mental illness or psychiatric disorder, rotation divided into 2 unique parts Part A - In-Patient Facility - Care of patients requiring hospitalization and acute care for a new or previously diagnosed mental illness Part b - Community Facility - Care of patients in a community setting requiring immediate stabilization or continuity of care for illness Rotation 2 - Adult Health Nursing - Care of adult patients with a variety of medical conditions and treatments in an in-patient facility
SENIOR 1 (semester 7 or "block 3")
Semester-Long Rotation - Community Health Nursing
- Care of patients in need of varying nursing care in a community setting, rotation divided into 2 parts
Part A - School Nursing (my personal clinical placement, varied for classmates) - Care of elementary school students in need of nursing care while at school Part B - Correction Health Nursing (my personal clinical placement, varied for classmates) - Care of inmates in county jails in need of nursing care or medical attention Rotation 1 - Child-Bearing, Family, & Obstetrical Nursing - Care of female patients of child-bearing age during pregnancy, labor, and care of their newborn infants Rotation 2 - Pediatric Nursing - Care of patients (0-17yrs.) with a variety of medical conditions and treatments in an in-patient facility SENIOR 2 (semester 8 or "block 4") Rotation 1 - Complex Care Nursing - Care of patients in an emergency, requiring intensive care, or specialty care in an in-patient facility Rotation 2 - Leadership & Management Nursing ("Clinical Immersion") - Care of patients in the department of the student's choice (depending on availability)
Right now, we are at the end of our Senior 1 semester. Thus far, here's how I've personally felt about the rotations. Introduction to Nursing:
Pointless course when having already worked with people in situations where "therapeutic communication was needed" Long-Tern Care Nursing:
Not for me! The conditions of the majority of the facilities is poor an the nurse-to-patient ratio is often overwhelming. Do not particularly like the type of nursing care required for the patients and don't particularly like working with the older population. Psychiatric & Mental Health Nursing:
HATED THIS ROTATION. Definitely will not be a psych nurse! The nurses at these facilities were (for the most part) NOT interested in teaching and I was told by one nurse in an in-patient unit, "I'm not going to have you shadow me or talk you through my job because students never like this rotation anyway and you always have assignments to do, so go ahead and just interact with the patients however you'd like". In the community setting, the nurses were more friendly, but seemed to lack any sort of patience with the patients and seemed to use sedatives as a solution to all problems. By far the most stressful and exhausting rotation. Even with shorter days, I was always the most exhausted following these clinical rotations. Adult Health Nursing:
Overall, really enjoyed this rotation. Was able to perform MANY of my skills (not all) and learned the most about the technical aspect of nursing care during this rotation. I enjoyed this age group better and there was always a large variety of ages, medical conditions, and type of nursing care needed. Found this rotation to be very engaging and beneficial to learning. Community Health Nursing:
While the majority of my experiences have not been negative, the resources available to these nurses are pitiful and the conditions in which nursing care is provided is limited. I would not want to pursue a life-long career in this type of nursing, but have definitely enjoyed this rotation. Both school nursing and correctional health nursing have been extremely interesting and something I would consider doing perhaps toward the end of my working years as a way to settle down before retirement. But not for me as a permanent job. Child-Bearing, Family, & Obstetrical Nursing
Prior to beginning the rotation, I had assumed I would not like it. I wasn't into pregnant woman, the families, and was TERRIFIED by the idea of having to work with BRAND NEW, INFANT BABIES with mom and dad watching me intently. I was surprised to find that I absolutley LOVED this rotation! Surprisingly, I found myself most intersted in the care of the newborns, especially of those in the NICU! I absolutley LOVED my days in the NICU. I also enjoyed being the "baby nurse" for the mothers who were laboring. While I did not seem to like this as much, I did enjoy the nursing aspect of labor and delivery, although sometimes it was very frustrating and a tense environment due to the anxiety from the family, anticipation of the newborn, the possible complications that arise during labor, and a woman who is in EXTREMELY intense pain and is frankly... just a pain in the butt because she's in so much pain she can't communicate. My favorite aspect was the delivery of the baby, 2nd stage of labor, and the time immediately following the delievery of the baby, due to the overwhelming happiness of mom, dad, and family. Although, the couplet care aspect of OB nursing was definitely NOT for me. Too monotonous and no excitement involved at all. Pediatric Nursing:
We've only had 2 clinical days so far and they've gone well. I'm not a huge fan of working with SICK children (I love kids, I worked at an after school program for 3 years), so the sick ones just get to me with all the whining, their lack of understanding of why they need medical attention, and their resistance to ALL nursing care. Although, I ABSOLUTELY ADORE working with the infants and babies, particularly under the age of 12 months. They are by far my favorite age group to work with, just like how I enjoyed working in the NICU.
And the rest are still to come!
To summarize the novel I basically just wrote, nursing school is tough and there's a lot to learn. But I've learned the most from the time I've spent in the hospital actually performing the NURSING role. It beats having a schedule filled with boring lectures and labs with lab reports. But, what comes with almost any nursing program are the EXCRUCIATING care plans in exchange for lab reports or worksheets, "concept maps" that are more difficult to try and format in a word document than they actually are to do, and the simulation labs that are always awkward and nerve-wracking because you're being watched and critiqued while talking to a mannequin
But I wouldn't change this experience for the world! I am very happy with my decision to apply to the nursing program and my choice of the Mayo Clinic Hospital campus!
While I probably went into more detail than you were wanting, let me know if you have any other questions or would like any other information on my experience so far in nursing school! Like I mentioned before, I'm curious as to why you were interested in my story! I'm not sure if you're a pre-nursing or nursing student, but I hope the experience goes as well for you as it has for me! Anyways, I hope my story was at least kind of what you were looking for! Time to get back to studying... look forward to hearing from you and would love to hear about your experience if you are a pre-nursing student or a nursing student yourself and if you have ANY questions at all, I'd be more than happy to answer them