What is nursing school really like?

  1. Hi! I am currently a teacher, but i have applied to an accelerated 2nd degree program. I am really nervous/curious about what nursing school is really like. I have a few questions, and was wondering if anyone could help.

    1. I have read a few stories on here about it being so stressful and impossible that many students are on anti depressants. Is this normally the case?

    2. When I was in college for education, none of my classes prepared me for actually "teaching in the classroom" (ie how to make lesson plans, manage behaviors, set up a gradebook etc -- yeah the basic stuff!!) It was like a shock that first year on my own because I felt like my education was all based on school theory and research. Is this what I can expect in nursing school - like not much actual experience being a nurse and the skills involved in everyday care? Will I be shocked when I get in a real world job situation?

    If either of these are the case, what can I do to better prepare myself mentally/ emotionally/physically for the demands that will be placed on me in the next few years??

    thanks~
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  2. 15 Comments

  3. by   Curious1alwys
    Well, you are a teacher so you probably already know stress....I'll answer your questions:

    1. YES. But there are ways to deal with the stress and anxiety without going on antidepressants.

    2. If you are in an ADN program, you will get the skills. You will know how to do your job, you are with nurses who are doing it, so how can you not learn?? You get adequate training. Sometimes you don't get as much practice in clinicals because situation just don't come up, but seek them out! BSN programs have a reputation for being more like your teaching degree, heavy on theory not so much on skills, but ADN is exactly the opposite. They are boot camps for floor nurses...I am not out of school yet but I can say with 99.9% certainty that no matter how you prepare or how many skills you are taught in school you will still be in absolute shock and terror after you graduate. Just expect it. LOL.

    You know what? you deal with the stress when you get there. I asked all these questions too before school started but being in NS is kinda like having a baby.....you never know how demanding it is going to be until you do it. And no matter how you try to prepare, there is no way to really prepare other than doing it.

    You will get by. Don't be scared!
  4. by   sddlnscp
    Hi there and first and foremost, wait until you're there to experience it, don't let other people scare you away from it.

    1. I am currently a first-year ADN student in my 8th month of classes and yes, it is stressful. It is not anti-depressant stressful for me though. I have a full-time job, a 4 year old and a 20 month old as well as a hubby on top of nursing school and I am surviving. Nursing school is like no other schooling I have ever been through, it is very different in a way I can't quite explain. There is so much to do and it is crammed into a very small time-frame, but it is all very important and (to me at least) so extermely interesting that it is worth the stress. There will be times you will feel overwhelmed and times you want to cry, but there is also such a sense of pride with every thing that you accomplish that it makes you strive to do each and everything thing with as much heart and will as you possibly can. The teachers make it hard for a reason, people's lives are in our hands and we have to take it seriously, it should be hard. Don't let that scare you away, instead look at it as a good thing that they are properly preparing you for the world of nursing. The instructors aren't there to fail you, they are there to make a competent, caring and compassionate nurse out of you.

    2. You will be as prepared as you can possibly be once you are finished with nursing school. I am in an ADN program and we have a ton of theory/lecture, but we also have labs where we practice actual procedures on incredibly life-like dummies and then we have to do huge amounts of clinicals at local nursing homes & hospitals where we provide patient care. In each class, the amount of care that we can give is greater because we have learned more. You will have tons of hands-on experience once you have completed nursing school that gives you a solid foundation for what you will learn as a nurse throughout your career. When you are hired into a specialty, most places do an orientation for a set amount of time where they teach you skills specific to your specialty area whereas nursing school gives you an overall basis of the entire nursing profession from gerontology to pediatrics and everything in-between. You are not going to be a 100% adequate nurse when you graduate, but you are going to have so many more skills and so much more knowledge than when you started that you won't believe it. They teach you skills, documentation, nurse-speak, hands-on, etc., it is truly incredible. As with any schooling, the more you put into it, the more you will get out of it, but you already know that since you teach. It's not like you go through 2 years of nursing school and don't know anything, don't let anybody give you that idea, it's just that there is so much to learn every day that any new nurse feels inadequate until he/she has had a chance to adapt to the world of nursing. Nursing is such an ever-changing field that we will always be learning new things and we will never be completely comfortable, but that is part of the appeal for me.

    Don't let the schooling aspect scare you away, if your heart is set on nursing and it is truly something you want to do for the love of caring for people, then you will find a way to get through it, regardless of your obstacles. Take a deep breath, take the schooling day-by-day and relax and enjoy it. It is hard and it is like nothing else, but it is also incredibly enjoyable when your heart is in it.

    Ok, enough ramblings from me now. Best of luck to you! Let me know if you have any more questions.
  5. by   moonischasingme1
    Quote from thrashej
    Well, you are a teacher so you probably already know stress....I'll answer your questions:

    1. YES. But there are ways to deal with the stress and anxiety without going on antidepressants.

    2. If you are in an ADN program, you will get the skills. You will know how to do your job, you are with nurses who are doing it, so how can you not learn?? You get adequate training. Sometimes you don't get as much practice in clinicals because situation just don't come up, but seek them out! BSN programs have a reputation for being more like your teaching degree, heavy on theory not so much on skills, but ADN is exactly the opposite. They are boot camps for floor nurses...I am not out of school yet but I can say with 99.9% certainty that no matter how you prepare or how many skills you are taught in school you will still be in absolute shock and terror after you graduate. Just expect it. LOL.

    You know what? you deal with the stress when you get there. I asked all these questions too before school started but being in NS is kinda like having a baby.....you never know how demanding it is going to be until you do it. And no matter how you try to prepare, there is no way to really prepare other than doing it.

    You will get by. Don't be scared!

    I don't know where you heard this stuff about BSN students not having to focus on skills as much. That is complete crap. I am in a BSN program right now and we focus a lot on skills in lab and in clinicals 2 days a week. It is definitely bootcamp style.
  6. by   sddlnscp
    To be honest, I wouldn't worry about a difference in clinical time between an ADN or a BSN. The state mandates a certain amount of clinical time that is required prior to you becoming a nurse (either LPN or RN). As long as your school is accredited and recognized by the BON (board of nursing), it should comply with those rules. You will get the required minimum amount of clinical hours and hands-on experience either way, so don't let that throw you. Many people choose one route or the other based on their needs and future employment plans, but they both have to provide a minimum amount of training.
  7. by   Daytonite
    First of all, good luck. I hope you are accepted into the nursing program!

    Isn't any job stressful? You need to consider nursing school the same as any job. Where did you hear that a lot of nursing students were on anti-depressants? That sounds very odd to me. That sure wasn't the case when I was in school. And, most nurses I've worked with over my career would walk around dragging a painful body part or finding another way to deal with their stress than head for the medicine cabinet. My experience has been that most nurses have to be threatened by the doctors to take any medication. It comes from seeing all the side effects that occur when people are on multiple medications.

    Yes, you are basically learning theory in nursing school because you need to know that. It will always come back to you when you need to make decisions about things. However, what you will find is that most schools just don't provide students with enough clinical time to get experience or mastery of many hands on nursing skills. Employers of new grads know this and many of them make allowances for it.

    We were all shocked to some degree when we got into the real world job situation. In my case, I had to deal with a director of nursing who lied to a couple of us about the wages we would be paid in order to entice us to come to work for their hospital. Imagine moving 100 miles, starting a brand new job as a new graduate RN and finding out two weeks into the job that your wage was being cut by a sizeable amount! What would you do? That was more of a problem than anything that was going on at the new job.

    You are going to find that every healthcare facility has it rules and policies of how it wants thing done in addition to following good standards of care. Part of an employees initial orientation is being informed of those rules and policies. Nursing school doesn't teach you about those. Every facility has different charting forms it will require you to use. They will have different protocols you will have to follow under certain circumstances. There is no way nursing school can know what all the variations of these can be.

    How do you prepare? Just hunker down and learn what nursing school is teaching you--basic nursing principles. You need to know them for the NCLEX. When you are in your clinicals, watch what the staff nurses are doing and ask these same questions. Ask nurses who are willing to answer how they got through their new grad period. We all went through it. I don't want to disappoint you, but it generally takes a couple of years of working in an acute hospital before you begin to feel on top of your game. This is serious work and it takes a lot of seasoning and experience. Now, that's not to say that every day is going to be a hair-raiser! It just means that for a few years you are going to be working on developing your organization and prioritizing skills as well as mastering the technical skills you need to know.

    As an example, I really stunk at IVs. We learned how to do them in nursing school, but never got any practice with them. You can't here in California as a student nurse. After a year of struggling with trying to be successful at starting them--and failing miserably--I took the LVN IV therapy course at the urging of one of the hospital supervisors. I felt humiliated as an RN not being able to start a crummy IV. I learned so much in that course and began taking every opportunity to start IVs. Within 6 months--yes, it took 6 months--I finally began to show progress. Within a year, this same supervisor was calling me to start IVs on difficult-to-stick patients. I went on in later years to work on IV teams. Some of this requires some self-actualization on your part, you see.

    A similar thing happened when I was working on a stepdown unit years later and came into contact with a lot of patients who had chest tubes. Uh-oh. Don't you know there was a nasty doc who would come around and torture new nurses he'd never seen before with this question: "What are you going to do if the chest tube falls out?", or "How can you tell if the chest tube is working?" For a couple of months I agonized that I would run into him. That was my own doing. Finally, I hauled my carcass over to one of the best heath science libraries in the country, which happened to be in the city where I was living, and spent a couple of hours researching and copying articles on how to care for chest tubes. Should I have learned this in school? Yes. And, I did. But, it had been so long ago. By the time I was done, there wasn't much I didn't know about chest tubes and how to take care of complications with them. I was never confronted by this doctor, unfortunately, but I really wanted him to come at me because I was ready for him.

    Who knows what awaits you in the working world of nursing? Each of us has unique experiences. You take with you into the working world the principles you learned in nursing school, your own wits and intelligence as well as your common sense. And, think about this. How many thousands and thousands have gone before you and done this? Don't you think maybe you can handle it too? Get the idea of anti-depressants off your mind, however. Get some good comedy tapes to listen to! There is a publications called the Journal of Nursing Jocularity that had some really funny nursing cartoons and articles in it. Helped relieve the stress as well as let nurses know that other nurses do understand the kind of aggravations we go through.

    Good luck! Welcome to nursing!
  8. by   ann945n
    To answer question number 1 I find school to be not so hard as other say. I study and get good grades but its about the same for me as the prereqs were difficulty wise. I think this all comes down to what you are better at study wise. The only kicker for me is clinicals, nothing worse then waking up that early and being there getting pushed around a bit, but its TOTALLY doable.
  9. by   alsolwish
    Thank you all for your help and support!! I am feeling better about all of it now... I will definetly be using your suggestions and advice. Good luck to everyone!!
  10. by   AuntieRN
    For me....
    Nursing school was awesome the first 3 semesters...the fourth was ummm...stressful but managable...the last one was shear h***....
    But on the flip side...it was the best time of my life. I loved nursing school...don't get me wrong...there were times when I just wanted to throw in the towel....but I didn't and now I am glad I did not....other then...3 weeks after I graduated my relationship of 7 years feel apart...guess it was falling apart while I was in school and just did not realize it...but my advice to you is....do not listen to others...form your own opinions...what is awful for one person is a piece of cake for others.....good luck to you...enjoy...and try to remember....school is not the only thing in your life...every once in awhile you have to take a break and do something fun and relaxing...
  11. by   marilynmom
    Quote from thrashej

    2. If you are in an ADN program, you will get the skills. You will know how to do your job, you are with nurses who are doing it, so how can you not learn?? You get adequate training. Sometimes you don't get as much practice in clinicals because situation just don't come up, but seek them out! BSN programs have a reputation for being more like your teaching degree, heavy on theory not so much on skills, but ADN is exactly the opposite. They are boot camps for floor nurses...
    You don't know what your talking about. Us BSN students are always "with the nurses who are doing it" as well... where else do you think we do clinicals, at the flea market? LOL

    So your saying your ADN program is weak on theory? That isn't anything to brag about.
    Last edit by marilynmom on Jan 23, '07
  12. by   marilynmom
    Quote from alsolwish

    1. I have read a few stories on here about it being so stressful and impossible that many students are on anti depressants. Is this normally the case?

    2. When I was in college for education, none of my classes prepared me for actually "teaching in the classroom"

    thanks~
    1) I am in nursing school and am not on antidepressants, most of my good friends in nursing school are not on antidepressants, those that are came into the program on them---basically what I'm saying is nursing school isn't going to "cause" you to go on antidepressants. What makes nursing school stressful is the amount of work that you have to do and learn in a short amount of time. The material itself is not hard, just the amount of it. I'm 33 years old, married, and we have two daughters ages 5 and 8. I have plently of time for family and friends and myself. I workout most days of the week, me and my husband (who is also a full time student and worker) have a wonderful relationship.

    2) I have yet to meet a nurse (BSN or ADN) that thought going from school to the real work was easy, it's not. I work as a nurse tech and I get close to 24 hours a week in clinical (BSN program) and I know I'm still going to be in for a shock. School can never prepare you for the real world for any job as you know from being a teacher. But you can do it!! Don't let it scare you. You will learn a LOT of skills in nursing school, you will be so surprised at what you will learn and do and see. I LOVE it.

    I work at a great hospital and most of the nurses that I have talked with say they learn something new everyday. Healthcare is a field that is always changing and your always learning. You will also learn and focus more on your skills after you graduate depending on the area you work in...if you do Peds for instance you will get to know everything about your field, OB same thing, ICU totally different things to learn, etc.
    Last edit by marilynmom on Jan 23, '07
  13. by   allthingsbright
    Please let's not turn this into an ADN vs BSN bashing session. We are all going to be RN's! And we need to respect each other and the work it is taking us to get there. Peace!

    As for what nursing school is like, it is hard work but very rewarding. Look up some nursing student blogs on the web (like at blogger) and read about some real life expeiences. May I suggest http://mediblogopathy.blogspot.com/

    They have a listing of student nurse and nurse blogs. Great reading!
  14. by   shoegalRN
    I am currently in nursing school (first semester, just started 01/17/07) and thus far, it doesn't seem too bad. I've read the fourms on this site prior to starting tmy BSN program and I was scared out of my mind! The only thing that I am currently struggling with is time management. I'm 32 years old, have a 10 year old son and I'm used to working AND going to school. Now, I'm just going to school and I have all this free time and I'm not used to it. I've managed to put myself on a schedule and is now somewhat getting into a routine. There is a lot of reading, and I'm caught up thus far. I'm already 2 weeks ahead in my Patho class. I am currently in Assessment and I make sure I do all the assigned reading and have my lab write up's completed a week in advance.

    My program is at a hospital in my area and I interact with other nursing students who are on their last semester and they all seem ok. Also, our school has an accerelated BSN program and I have a friend that is currently in this program doing very well. I also talk with Graduate Nurses and they all seem to be ok.

    I think you just have to determine for yourself. Like you, I listened to everyone under the sun regarding nursing school and it freaked me out. Thus far, it's been ok. I know it will eventually get harder and I'm very well prepared for that.

    Good luck to you!

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