First Semester of Nursing School

  1. I was wondering what the first semester of nursing school is like. I know that it varies from school to school but overall what do you learn/do? In clinicals what are you learning? How to take a temp, blood pressure, give a bath, what else? I am just curious to what I should be looking forward to. I ask because some people make it seem so hard and from what I have been told it is a lot of CNA work(I am not diising the CNA's) and CNA's get certified in 6 weeks so a whole semester of it shouldn't be to hard- or did somebody lie to me?
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  2. 12 Comments

  3. by   Truly_Blessed
    I don't know. I am starting nursing school in August. I have been really curious about that also. I am wondering what it is like in some of the first clinicals. Do you get to shadow a nurse at first? Observe only? Hopefully some replies can give all of us new students a clue
  4. by   tdg_rn
    I'll bite...
    I think a lot of colleges will start their students off with the basics and gradually move deeper and deeper into things. I couldn't speak on every school, but I'd go along with the CNA-type functions for at least a portion of first semester. We did vitals, baths, and bed-making as part of patient care during just about every clinical. Only thing was that every clinical a little more got added to what we were responsible for in the way of documentation and assessment.
    There is a great deal of nursing content - all of the 'basics' of nursing - covered at the same time. This generally includes history, nursing process and physical assessment (which could be a class all by its lonesome).
    I don't know if I would classify it as hard as much as I would DIFFERENT but DON'T go in expecting a CNA course.

    Terence
  5. by   Boe
    In clinicals we take vitals temp. heart rate, blood pressure, pain level, check level of consciousness, mental status, check pupils, motor strength, mouth, gums, skin, edema, all pulses, breath sounds, resp. rate, intake & output.

    give meds. oral, IM, SQ. hang (some) IV, insert/remove foley catheters, check blood glucose, change sheets, bathe patient. We were alone with our patient on day 1, if we needed something we informed our instructor. our nurses literally stayed out of the room unless the patient needed something we could not do (and then they only came in if we notified them).

    I was really nervous the first time, but by the second week I felt better about it.

    I'm sure there is more, but this is most of the clinical part.
  6. by   wonderbee
    I can tell you what my first semester was like. We focused on assessment and learning how to communicate with and get comfortable working with patients. Of course there are the vital signs. The bath is about assessment. You see how a PEG tube works and what a surgical incision should and shouldn't look like. We learned how to take and give report. Toward the end we were passing meds, giving injections and even though we learned how to do foleys in the lab, I don't think anyone in our clinical group actually had the opportunity present itself to insert one. We learned how to read charts and what to look for. Our homework was to work up careplans on our patients and give a synopsis of their labs and meds. Very time consuming stuff. I spent as much time preparing careplans as I did in the hospital.

    Then there's the lecture or theory. We had four hours of fundamentals a week and a wellness component where we had to take classes about our own state of health. The wellness thing was pretty much a near total waste of time. We also had a six week well elder assignment where we met with and tracked the health of an elder of our choice. This required writing weekly papers with specific objectives. There were lots of papers and bi-weekly tests.

    There was pharmacology, a first semester nursing course. A lot of memorization. Also a skills lab component. This is the lab part where we practice the skills on manequins

    No one is pulling your leg. Nursing school is tough from start to finish. Studying for tests with poorly written questions and four correct answers to choose from coincides with deadlines for completed care plans and don't forget those papers in APA format so enjoy your summer.
  7. by   LeesieBug
    "Therapeutic communication" was how we spent our first two clinical days..UGH! Three hours straight of therapeutically communicating with the same person is darn near unbearable, especially when that person is 85 years old and stuck on the same couple subjects!

    First semester, hmmm..... We did pretty much what everyone else has said. Communication, bed baths, vitals, transfers, I&O, range of motion, dressing changes, medical asepsis, sterile technique, etc....and lots of very, very, incredibly boring theory stuff.
  8. by   studentnurse74
    Quote from RNKittyKat
    No one is pulling your leg. Nursing school is tough from start to finish. Studying for tests with poorly written questions and four correct answers to choose from coincides with deadlines for completed care plans and don't forget those papers in APA format so enjoy your summer.
    Whoa...I'm running the other direction now.......... Is there anything you suggest to prepare for this madness?
  9. by   thumper23
    Quote from studentnurse74
    Whoa...I'm running the other direction now.......... Is there anything you suggest to prepare for this madness?
    In my program the amount of reading they gave us was enormous. When I was reading every last word that was all I was doing. I progressed to skiming and noticing bold faced terms. If it's possible to know what your reading assigments are in advance before you start the program(we had to buy a syllubus before we started with our "life" for the entire semster), reading ahead of time would certainly help. The first week I was so overwelmed, I wish I had done it.If I can survive, so can you!

    Michelle
  10. by   Catma63
    In my first semester of nursing school, lecture consisted of Nursing Fundamentals. We started off learning about the founding nurses...Nightingale, etc. Learned about theorists, Maslow, Erikson, Gordon. By mid-semester we were into basic care....trach care, feeding tubes, dressing changes, etc.
    In lab, we started with blood pressure readings, listening to heart and lung sounds, giving meds (M&Ms and Skittles! haha), dressing changes, foley insertion, ng tube insertions, injections, etc.
    Clinicals started out with mitering beds....boyyy, did THAT one give me a fit at first....then taking vital signs. Did baths, oral care, simple stuff, dressing changes, etc.
    It seemed the second semester gave us more use of skills, IV boluses, the foleys and ng tube...AND ng tube feedings.....fingersticks, etc.
  11. by   wonderbee
    Quote from studentnurse74
    Whoa...I'm running the other direction now.......... Is there anything you suggest to prepare for this madness?
    Don't get behind. Stay focused on your goals. Don't waste time in "study groups" that spend more time whining and gossiping than studying. Prepare your family for your new limitations. Get organized and keep ONE master calendar. As Michelle said, skim your texts by looking out for the important stuff.

    First semester was work but it was also very rewarding. I walked away richer in friends, richer in employment and feeling like a nurse. You'll be ok if you just resign yourself to at least two years of temporary insanity and go with the flow.
  12. by   Smile!
    No one is pulling your leg. Nursing school is tough from start to finish. Studying for tests with poorly written questions and four correct answers to choose from coincides with deadlines for completed care plans and don't forget those papers in APA format so enjoy your summer.[/QUOTE]



    I can second that 'Whoa!' Did you work full time while you went to schoool?? That was my PLAN but, after reading some posts here, that doesn't really seem all that plausible...
    Last edit by Smile! on May 13, '04
  13. by   studentnurse74
    [/QUOTE] I can second that 'Whoa!' Did you work full time while you went to schoool?? That was my PLAN but, after reading some posts here, that doesn't really seem all that plausible...[/QUOTE]

    I'm just starting in the fall, but I plan on working at my job on Sundays only, and only when they need me. Everything I've been told is that if you don't HAVE to work, then don't. I believe it can be done, but is very difficult. I told my fin. aid counselor that I would be cutting back on the work hours, and she said they would take that into consideration when doing my loan.
  14. by   Tony35NYC
    What we got during our first semester was nothing at all like a CNA course. Sure, we got some of the basic stuff like hygiene, how to make a bed, etc., but from day one, they threw a ton of reading at us (man, were those chapters long) and even though we all thought we had studied the material, the very first exam was a BIG surprise. We had NCLEX questions from the very start, and because we were seeing these types of questions for the first time most of us didn't do very well on that first exam.

    One thing I learned during that first semester is to pay extra attention to the stuff that's highlighted in the boxes in the textbook. I used to always overlook those boxes while trying to get through the material, until I realized that many of the questions came straight from the boxes. The toughest part of it for me was fluids and electrolytes, and that was one of the chapters in the textbook that went on forever. The clinical was easy because we had plenty of time to practice the skills with the dummies in the lab.

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