Quote from texasnurse2010
Brand new to this board and hoping for some advice on the traditional BSN program at Univ. of Arkansas Fayetteville. I'm applying to Uof A. Fayetteville for Fall, 2011 traditional BSN and don't know anything about the program except the information on the school's website. It would be wonderful to hear an honest assessment from someone in (or who has graduated from) the program. I guess this is probably the biggest decision I've had to make in my life and, in some ways, I feel clueless about how to assess the pros and cons of the program. I would appreciate (beyond words!) anyone who has attended the traditional BSN program offering their opinions about the school, the community, the clinicals, the faculty, the lifestyle or anything you think would help a 20 year old wannabe BSN/RN to make a better decision. . Thank you and, when it's my turn, I promise I'll "Pass It Forward".
I'm currently in the program and would be happy to answer any questions you have. Here's my overall take on my experience so far.
There are a number of good things about the program, and a lot of things that aren't. However, what I've learned is that some of the things that drive me nuts about the program are the same things you'll find at any nursing school, so keep that in mind with what I write below.
First for you is getting admitted. As I'm sure you already know, it's very competive (as with any school). Minimum GPA ranges from 3.4 to 3.8 depending on the semester. That may change some, however, as they've changed the way they calculate GPA, which may hurt or help you. Before, every class you ever took was calculated in the GPA, now only the prerequisite courses are. Get the best grades you possibly can, focusing mostly on the prereqs. The admission comittee admits purely on GPA off a "blind" list, though you get .1 in bonus if you already have a degree (I assume you don't at 20).
NWA has great medical facilities, and the clinical facilities I have in been have been very good. They currently use Washington Regional, Northwest (Springdale and Bentonville) and Mercy as your main locations. They plan to double the size of the program in 2012, and I hear that Gravette (not good) and Siloam Springs (OK) hospitals may be brought in too. The UA is opening a whole new building dedicated to health sciences in 2012 to accomodate their doubling in size, which is cool. The plans look awesome. As a side note, if your GPA is not quite where it needs to be, your chances of getting in will increase significantly when they double their size as twice the number of seats will be available (about 180 per year vs. 90 now).
The quality of your clinicals is based almost exclusively on the preceptor you happen to get on any particular day. The school does fine getting you into good facilities, but what you learn depends on 1) you and 2) your preceptor.
There are some excellent faculty members and some that are, well, not so much. That's typical for any nursing school. The school has a new director as of a couple of years ago, and all the changes she has made seem positive. The latest faculty members brought in seem to be very good. NCLEX pass rates were low for several years, but have recently been in the 90's.
As for curriculum, assignments and testing. Curriculum is similar to any nursing school in that nationally recognized publishers are used (mostly Mosby, some Lippincott). Assignments are mostly pure busy work and eat up all of your time - again, that's true at any nursing school, but it does vary by instructor. Testing here drives me nuts. It's all designed to supposedly mimic the NCLEX, which is fine, but the quality of the questions leave something to be desired and they pull them from various sources. Many are poorly written and vague. You'll hear ad nauseam that the questions are supposed test "critical thinking" using various scenarios, like the NCLEX does. However, all of the true NCLEX questions I've seen are written much more clearly. Furthermore, it's not unusual to see several questions on any given test asking things that have not been covered in class or the in assigned reading. Finally, many of the instructors believe in a "bell curve" approach to testing, believing that most test scores should be a B or C with a few A's, D's and F's. If a particular test yields too many A's, they'll make the next test harder. On the other hand, if a test yield's too many F's, D's and C's, they'll curve it up. I won't go into how ridiculous that approach is, but considering how all those in the program had 3.4+ GPA's coming in, I'm not sure why they feel that these students should start getting C's and D's all of the sudden - and the faculty will actually work to make it happen. Imagine taking incredibly simply material and making it insanely difficult - that'll give you an idea of how some of the classes are (e.g. the Health Promotion class). I have a high GPA still, so it is doable, just be ready. From what I understand, though, a lot of nursing programs are like this.
First semester is a nightmare. You will feel like you are way behind (and you are) in your first week. Just trying to figure out where to be when, what is due when, and how to conquer the insane amount of reading and work you are assigned terrifies many new students. Then you learn that you have to average 70% on exams to pass the class (other work excluded from the average) and that you have med calculation exams each semester that you have to get 100% on (in three tries). However, no one in my class has dropped out over grades and very few students (out of 45) have gotten held back a semster due to grades. Everyone has passed the math calc tests (they're not that hard).
So there you go. Hope that helps.