The NCLEX is, by everything I've heard, brutal. There's no nice way to put that.
That being said, everything those above me have said about the PN program is true, plus some. Our program, we DO learn nursing diagnoses and care plans - we're just starting care plans now, actually. I have my first due next wednesday. I'll have one night to do it, which isn't too hard, but it does mean I have to know what I'm doing beforehand.
Something else that should be noted - it's not like you have six months of schooling and then five months of clinicals. You have four weeks to learn everything you need to know for clinicals, and if you're not ready, you don't go to clinicals.
There are so many ways you can fail in the PN program, so be careful and be sure you're ready for the commitment. You can fail academically, which in our program means getting lower than a 78 test average. The tests are like nothing you've ever taken before, I promise. The test average, except for the math test, has always been sixties to low seventies. You can fail at an evaluation for a skill three times - if you do that, you're out. You can have too many absences. In our program, your third absence, that's it, you're done. You can prove you're unsafe to be around patients, or get a 1 in any category of your clinical evaluation. You can break the myriad rules set for clinicals.
And, of course, you can quit. We haven't lost anyone involuntarily yet, I don't think, but of 36 people, we now have less than 30, as far as I know. This is our first semester, not even halfway into it. It's hard on people. Our first night at the hospital - the day before yesterday, a few people were crying.
If you can handle this, read on....
You'll also find things in nursing school you see nowhere else. Our clinical groups are like families - we know eachother's children, their marriages and divorces and history, if any one of us needs something, six people volunteer without even thinking about it. If one of us is happy, we all share the joy. We spend time together, care about eachother.
The feeling when a patient looks at you and smiles and says thank you is like nothing else. It alone makes it worth everything. Knowing you're making a difference, just by coming to school. Meeting all these people, these exciting, fascinating people, these stories that are heartbreaking or beautiful or both. I've never in my life been as busy or as happy as I am now, in nursing school.