Normally, I wouldn't post a thread like this. However, I believe that I need to put this information out there so that future students know what I did not before entering a graduate entry program, such as the one at University of Illinois- Chicago.
Despite the high ranking both in Illinois and the U.S. overall, this program does not offer any advantages. Currently, students spend 15 months in an intense pre-licensure portion of the program. You are encouraged to not work, despite having to spend ~$50K on this portion alone. When you are done, you can sit for the NCLEX and earn an RN. This is not, however, a BSN or a MSN. Despite having an existing BS or BA, students are considered to be in the exact same pool as associates program graduates. The only real difference is that you spent 3 times a much as the students from your local community college.
The nursing world is moving toward BSN or higher. This is simply a fact. To have magnet status, a hospital has to employ at least 80% bachelors or masters prepared students. As a result, many urban hospitals are only looking at candidates with BSNs or MSNs.
It should also be noted that in a city such as Chicago, it is currently taking at least 6 months to find an entry level nursing job. This includes BSN students. Thus, it is even harder for mere RNs.
You may be told that students are encouraged to finish the first 15 months of this program and then work full time while completing the degree part time. Once you are in the program this will change. The dean and other administrators will deny ever pushing working as an RN. They believe that the nursing world is working toward APN/NP/CNS going straight through school without obtaining significant RN experience. They will ignore anyone who mentions that no one can get hired in hospital as an acute care NP without any acute care experience, or how anyone is suppose to finance 4 years of full time schooling without any promise of a well paying job as an outcome.
Aside from all of this, the staff is extremely unorganized. The lab portion of the program is a complete mess. Students are made to feel stupid on a weekly basis as well. Outcomes of testing depends almost entirely on who you are assigned to that week.
If I hadn't already dumped thousands of dollars (in 2 months) into this program, and if I had already taken the pre-requisites, I would be dropping out immediately and applying to an accelerated BSN or generalist MSN program.
The class if full of amazing individuals, and not every professor is a complete ass, but this hardly makes up for the rest of the program. Struggling through would be a lot more tolerable if there was a promise of a job at the end of the tunnel. No one had ever presented it to me like this before I applied, so I hope that this will be helpful to others in making their decisions.
This program may still work for some of you, which is fine. If anyone who reads this has any questions, please feel free to let me know and I will do my best to answer them.
Feb 21, '13
I really want to thank you for taking the time to post this. With that said though, I do have some questions.
On the website, it does clearly state that you will not be receiving a BSN. Were you unclear about this before enrolling in the program? I am aware of the fact that we only receive the RN license and the potential of not being able to find employment with just that alone. I think that is a risk that comes with many of these programs, but seeing as how most schools don't offer a BSN but only an MSN, I don't see a conceivable way around it... I did contemplate just getting my ABSN but since that is not my end goal, it just seems more efficient and less costly for me to go to a direct entry school. Of course it's all a matter of preference and what you believe is best for you. But I don't believe that UIC misleads applicants about their RN licensure. You're not in the program to become a nurse, you're in the program to become an advanced practice nurse which is a big difference between yourself and a community college graduate (or it will be in 2-3 years).
Most of these schools emphasize not working during the accelerated portion. I would not expect to work unless I was somehow lucky to get a non stressful part time hustle or job. The working part time thing was another issue I have heard echoed. Since you're only 2 months in, I am assuming that you haven't started looking for a job? Have you spoken with students who are further in the program about this? My own personal hope was to relocate outside of Chicago to another UI campus since I know UIC is big on distance learning and that it is possible to take classes at other campuses (then again, I could be wrong so if I am please let me know). But that is a valid concern of mine but once again I'm unsure how to resolve this since that seems to be the big elephant in the room with many of these programs.
In regards to staff/professors/lab, I think that's out of every students control and something that you won't learn about until you're in the program, whether it UIC or any other schools. I attended Cal for undergrad and had far more bad or mediocre professors than good. But then the good professors were really good.
So I guess besides the other questions I asked, what would you suggest to potential students such as myself? Save more money if you're admitted? Don't come if you're admitted?
Last edit by sittenfeld on Feb 21, '13
: Reason: Formatting