Just finished my final this morning on my first semester! Finished with a high B! Background: ADN program (but I have a bachelors degree in other area so this was the only class I had to take) and used the Lippincott Fundamentals Book. Working 30 hours a week.
Here is how my semester went:
-Went to orientation and was super excited - it was a lot of information that didn't QUITE make sense at the time. We had all these online programs to connect to and online hospital orientations - but that went fairly smoothly.
-We had 2 lectures a week and one lab or clinical a week. Lectures were pretty much like every other college course and pretty on par with "101" level classes in the manner of teaching talking with a PP presentation up.
-The TEST on the other hand were a totally different story. You will encounter questions that will present the material you learned in real-life settings. And you can read and memorize all you want - you really have to get to the WHY's behind everything since some of the answers all seem to be the same. The called this critical thinking - I call it common sense. Don't over think the questions and don't make any assumptions. Just take the questions at face value. If one of the answers is something you have heard 10,000 times - that is most likely the answer. If one of the answers is primarily about safety and fits the situation - that is most likely the answer.
-Labs - since you have worked before with patients you should be fine. Our skills were Hand washing, Making a bed, Making an occupied bed, Using restraints, Bed Baths, NG tubes, Catheters, Enemas, Health Assessment, Medications (including shots!) and taking vital signs. We would start our morning with new skills and then afterwards we would get checked off on the skills we learned the week before. I would say people either had the hardest time with the catheters (maintaining a sterile field) or the health assessment (had to do it in a certain time period). I personally couldn't take a blood pressure to save my life.
-Clinicals - after 5 labs we ventured on to the hospital. We went in groups of 8 and they partnered us up. We had 4 days at the hospital from 6:30am to 2:00pm. First day was just orientation where we watched videos on hospital safety, looked around and took care of some HR issues. The next 3 we were assigned a patient and pretty much did whatever we could get our hands on. I took vital signs, did blood sugars, gave medications and stood around waiting for something to happen. It was kind of boring but other classmates who went to different hospitals had better experiences.
- we had to make a basic care plans for our patients. They are easier if you have an interesting patient or a talkative patient. We have barely started to scratch the surface with these so I don't have much more to say.
-Math - we had to score a 90 or above on a 10 question math test. The questions were basically: Dr orders 10mg of FeelGood Drug / On hand: 5mg/2ml. How much would you administer to patient? We lost one classmate to this. Next semester it will be IV flow rates.
-Other stuff - We had to take non-graded Kaplan test that I didn't think correlated with the class at all (I made 60's on all of them while making high B's and A's on the unit test). But all the nurses at the hospital we went to claimed Kaplan was the program they recommended for the NCLEX. So I guess there is a method behind the madness.
-Online computer documentation - they had us use this program that lets you practice on a computer program close to what hospitals use. From my very limited experience I saw the nurses charting more than anything - so if you have a chance to use a program like this - I would recommend using it.
Hopefully I painted a pretty good picture of what a first semester is like. Mine was fast and furious due to it being a summer semester but I never felt overwhelmed. I gained some weight (5lbs?), haven't watched TOO much TV but still watched my housewives, True Blood and the Olympics and could work 4 nights a week at a busy tourist trap restaurant as a server. My friend did it with a husband who works 60 hours a week and a 9 month old and worked at the same place 3 nights a week. She got a B also. I am looking forward to the fall semester where maybe there will be a little more breathing room and I can walk some of this weight off.