Is the first semester really the hardest? - page 2

I'm nearing the end of a very rough first semester mentally, emotionally and physically drained (literally sick with pneumonia from trying to push myself when I got bronchitis). I've lost 20+ pounds... Read More

  1. by   smatrang001
    My instructor is a drill sgt instructor. At first, I was really irritated with certain things she did and she always put pressure on us. She definitely didn't hold our hand, if we had a problem with something, she'd just ask us, "well, what are you gonna do about it?" it was hard at first because I felt like I didn't get any guidance what so ever. But as the semester went on and the more I complained to my husband (who is in the military) about it, I learned that she was only prepping us for the real world. My husband told me that he thinks she's doing a great job, despite my bitterness towards the way she was. He told me that, he, too, does that to his soldiers, he wants to teach them to find their own solutions. He said he doesn't feel that he's not guiding them because basic training and regular training has already gave them all the information they need, he wanted them to apply it with no help from him so they can develop critical thinking skills. He found the best results was to let them figure it out on their own and slowly they start to figure it out. Of course he wouldn't let them drown though. Further into the semester, I'm understanding the method to my instructors madness. She would tell different clinical groups different things or tell one group one thing an forget to tell the other group. Well, it forced us al to rely on each other and work together and instead of running to her for every small problem, we'd find our own solution first, mostly just because we didn't want to ask her and get that "look". LOL. But she's just preparing us because when you DO go into the real working world, nobody is going to hold your hand, and they all will expect you to know what to do and take initiative without asking someone for information every other minute. Good luck, and hang in there!
  2. by   Sand_Dollar
    I am in the 4th semester of a 5 semester BSN program and I WISH the first semester was the hardest. It's mostly a culture change in the first semester. Everything is new from labs to assessment to even your classmates. In my school the workload gets heavier as you go along.

    I can't remember the first semester assignments, but I know they weren't anywhere near the volume of the ones I have in this semester. This semester I am taking psych, public health & foundations which entail: 2 solo presentations, 2 group presentations, 16 quizzes, 4 exams, 2-15+ page solo papers, 2-15+ page group papers, 1 online FEMA class, 3 group assignments, 12 journal entries and 2 small papers

    I don't want to scare you, but you have to put it into perspective. In the beginning your school knows you are just getting the hang of things from clinicals to nursing diagnosis. Towards the end, as in my case, they expect us to be well on our way to being professional nurses. You are given more because you can handle more (or so I keep telling myself!) Your number one skill will be organization - and my biggest piece of advice is NEVER, EVER fall behind.

    Good luck! Nursing school is a witch, but when you are done you can look back and say I did that!!
  3. by   purplegal
    I'm sorry to say that once you move on, you'll probably miss 1st semester!
    I, too, felt very stressed and overwhelmed during the first semester. It's to be expected--it's our first time doing this type of work. Don't worry about doing primarily CNA and med work; you just need to get used to hospital care.
    They will add more skills, and you will use your brain in time.

    I am a second semester student, and when I reflect back on my first semester, I think "That wasn't so bad after all..."
    There is much more brain work in 2nd semester. I love it when I come up with the answers on my own, at times, but other times, I miss having someone directing me. At least then I could be confident I was doing the right thing.

    And as for the teacher yelling at you, don't take it personally. It's happened to every nursing student I know. You get used to it in time, especially when you remember when they are doing it is on behalf of the patient.
  4. by   LiLev
    Hang in there; if your program is like mine you will never have that same instructor for clinicals again so it HAS to get better
  5. by   mariebailey
    My 1st semester was my worst. If you lost 20lbs in a semester and had pneumonia, maybe your body needs a semester to recover/rest. You can only take so much. Have you considered taking a "leave of absence" for a semester? Do you have to work while in school? Good luck.
  6. by   Racer15
    As others have said, first semester is challenging because nursing school is like nothing you've ever done before. That first semester gets you adjusted to new words, new ways of thinking, and new ways of taking exams. In hindsight, it was my easiest semester. Content gets more difficult as you go along, my third semester was my hardest. You get used to it though, hang in there!
  7. by   PedRN86
    I think first semester can be the hardest for many students. Is the content the trickiest? No it definitely gets more in depth.

    But you're having to adjust your life to being a full time student and balance all the pressures outside of school. I think it's a lot tougher for a student such as yourself with a husband, children, and a job. Presumably you've been out of school for a few years so it's an adjustment getting back into it.

    You had the drive to get into school and I think you have what it takes to get through it, too. Be open with your professors about your home-school-work-pneumonia situation, do your best, give lots of time on assignments. Remind your family things are going to be different for a few years while you're in school. You'll find your way through all the chaos.

    Best of luck.
  8. by   Sadala
    I think Fundamentals tends to be a difficult class for a lot of folks - in many ways. If you're great academically, sometimes you get hung up on the skills (lab and clinicals) portion. Conversely, some of the best students I've seen in lab/clinicals are failing (or have failed) the academic portion of fundamentals. I think it can be difficult for a new student to marry both the fundamental theory with nursing care plans and physical actions. (I speak for myself here as well).

    We also have pharm the 1st semester, and a smaller, but not insignificant portion of students seem to have real difficulty with the dosage cal portion. I think we have lost at least a quarter of the students this first semester due to either performance issues in one or both of those two classes, or due to other situations they are experiencing outside of the program (such as illness or family problems). There doesn't seem to be much (or any) latitude for personal difficulties that may come up. I injured myself at work and I was so busy and stressed (and had so many projects due) that I literally did not have time to go to the doctor. Every moment I am home, I am either sleeping, studying, or working on projects. Other than that, I'm at work or at school. I eat when I remember to do so. I have also lost a good bit of weight this semester. The nursing school diet... ha!

    For me, it has also been disorienting that we use the same labs for all of our classes. There have been times when I have been confused about what is due for whom, when - especially during checkoffs. Heck, I'm still trying to find my way around the building at times!

    Just from these boards, and other sources, I've gotten the idea that L&D (or mother and baby) and med-surge are also very challenging classes for students.

    And its true that different instructors teach different techniques, and you don't usually get checked off by the instructor who taught you. I try to ask several instructors to show me the procedure, and then I use the most conservative example for check-offs.

    Anyway, you're definitely not alone.
    Last edit by Sadala on Nov 11, '12 : Reason: add comment
  9. by   Sadala
    Quote from smatrang001
    My instructor is a drill sgt instructor. At first, I was really irritated with certain things she did and she always put pressure on us. She definitely didn't hold our hand, if we had a problem with something, she'd just ask us, "well, what are you gonna do about it?" it was hard at first because I felt like I didn't get any guidance what so ever. But as the semester went on and the more I complained to my husband (who is in the military) about it, I learned that she was only prepping us for the real world.
    Just as an FYI, we have several individuals in our program who are ex-military, and I have to say that it seems as though they've had an easier time adjusting. They don't seem to take the criticism we frequently receive personally. Many of them have told me they are used to that because it happened all the time in the military. They learned then to just let it roll off of their backs. So I'm trying to learn from them. I think developing a thicker skin may be a necessary component to finishing the program.
  10. by   HM-8404
    I am a non-traditional single parent student, with a home schooled child. Your best friend is organization. Do what is due next first. On Sunday don't worry about Thursday's check off if you have a test Tue. This first semester has been easy for me so far. Perhaps this is due to nursing school being my top priority right now, plus at my age I don't have a Plan B. Failure is not an option.

    There are many in my program that are struggling to hang on. Listening to them talk it is not hard to figure out why. Some who are CNA's walked in feeling they were owed a nursing degree. Some just want the title nurse. A few feel their social life, boyfriend, is more important. Some just can't get the hang of the NCLEX style questions.

    As far as an instructor yelling at me. HA!! That would not happen but once, unless I am about to injure someone. Then the word STOP better be the only thing yelled at me. I am prior military and boot camp was long ago. I will be treated with the same courtesy and respect I give my instructors. Usually people will only bully and yell at those that are weak and will take it.
  11. by   lalopop86
    No, it's not the hardest. For me the hardest part of it was the shock of how different it is from any other class I'd taken before. Unfortunately, the material and expectations/responsibility only gets tougher. You do get used to the "culture" of nursing school and get used to revolving your whole life around it though.
  12. by   Nolalees24
    I am currently in my second semester. It is harder as the levels go on. It's harder for me just because there is sooooo much paperwork envolved with my clinical. First semester seemed hard because of the culture shock. Everything was so new and we needed to get all of our skills checked off....tiring yes....worth it....yes!! Right now, I am in your boat. Fiance is hating me because clinicals are taking up so much of our "us time" he has threatened to leave...even though we discussed all of the stresses of clinicals before I huh...and my son is acting out (he is 3) ....i feel like a bad mom....even though im not....joys of clinicals....i wouldnt change it though...i am not giving up on a wonderful future for me and my son....if the guy is in the picture....i guess we will see....sigh....hope you can find solace in knowing that others are struggling with you. All the best!!!
  13. by   OB-nurse2013
    Speaking as a senior BSN student, in my opinion-NOOOOOO...I mean its a lil hard getting used to a new way of thinking, new rules, and new to be treated very differently then you may have been treated previously in school but otherwise no... I think so far each semester has gottem harder. The one thing that I do feel gets easier is that everythign builds off the each other so I do think I can get away with studying less and still scoring well on exams Senioritis is real too lol and makes your senior year hard hahahaha