*What do you feel are some of the strengths and weaknesses of the program?
I think the professors and instructors generally as a whole (there's always a few exceptions) are wonderful. They have varied backgrounds/experience and are leaders in the field of pioneering a new way of educating nurses. We get to do a lot of interactive learning. Plus, the instructor for pathophys & pharmacology (the 2 hardest classes which you take for two terms each) is, some say, the best teacher ever.
There are a lot of other great things: teachers are very understanding that this program is rigorous and while there are strict deadlines and expectations of students, they are very helpful and accommodating: i.e. if you are sick and need a new deadline, if you live far away and need a clinical placement near there, if we have an exam in one class, the other deadlines are staggered...
As far as weaknesses, it is hard for me to compare because I don't know a lot of people in other programs. I think whoever said that clinical placements are somewhat limited might be accurate--but I bet that's the case for all Portland nursing schools. I have LOVED all my clinical placements. There are a few instructors who get under your skin, but I expected that, too. And another weakness that I think you could generalize to ALL accelerated programs is that you get taught the hands-on skills ONCE and may or may not have a chance to use them while you're in school. I.e. I have learned at the simulation how to insert a catheter, but I haven't actually gotten to do it yet.
*What "side benefits" come with being a student at OHSU? (ex: access to fitness center, type of student insurance, accesses or privileges you wouldn't get if you attended another school).
Aetna student insurance which you can opt out of if you have another coverage. It is good as far as I know. For ALL primary care needs, the student health center is well equipped, though. When I banged up my knee, I went there for wound care. Female annual exams--free. When I had a sore throat, free rapid strep test. Free dental floss, condoms, urinalysis. Any blood work costs a small fee, but they get the lowest fees for health care and they bill insurance.
Fitness center is March Wellness. It is beautiful. Four-lane 25yd pool with a hot tub and a therapy pool, plus tons of cardio equipment and weightlifting equipment plus amazing classes and free 2.5-hr parking. That is free to you. $60 for spouse.
Ride the streetcar for free and of course the aerial tram for free...
The BSN program is the only undergraduate program at OHSU, so that makes an interesting student dynamic. There aren't really any sports teams to root for or lots of random clubs. But, there is an active student presence and LOTS of opportunities to get involved with research, ski trips, student council, cover the uninsured week, you name it (healthcare-related). There are a lot of electives you can take through the Global Health center (and even though you're in the Acc Bacc program, you can take advantage of those!)
*What advice would you give someone just entering the program?
Don't sign up for too much stuff, but get involved. Meet people and make relationships with professors and classmates--don't be a loner. Get involved with at least one thing at the school. Attend as many of the amazing lectures as possible. Move within 1 bus ride, a do-able bike ride, or even walking distance from the school if you can. If you don't have a car, that is okay but your clinical placements will be somewhat more limited. Don't obsess about buying every single book and uniform and piece of equipment. Wait and see what you need and what you think you'll use.
*How does clinical site selection work?
You will have 5 terms, each that is 10 weeks long. Each term, you will take 1 nursing theory class. Clinicals correspond with those. You also have to take other classes in addition to the theory class (pathophys 2 terms, pharm 2 terms, epidemiology, nursing leadership 2 terms)
Term 1=Health Promotion (clinical is at the simulation center 1 day per week for 8 hours + a few community activities like health fairs)
Term 2=Chronic Illnesses (clinical is a random hospital placement, focus is on chronic illnesses. 1 day per week for 7 hours)
Term 3/4=Acute Illnesses OR Population Health (the class is divided in two)
For Acute, you rank your choices between: Cardiology, Peds, Oncology, Mother/Baby; then you will have TWO of those choices for five weeks each. You go 3 days a week, about 25 hours a week.
For Populations, you have a LOT of choices; most people get their first or second choice. You go 2 days a week, about 15 hours a week.
Term 5=Integrated Practicum (or "IP") For this, we just got the email yesterday to mark our top 6 choices. You can choose from about 75 placements and there are only 64 students so I was impressed by the choices. This is a 10-week, 40 hour/week clinical in which you basically work your preceptor's schedule and eventually take over his/her job. There is every floor imaginable in many different hospitals plus many community placements as well! I am going to choose Emergency Dept, Critical Care, or ICU.
*and finally, everyone's favorite question, what is a typical classroom/clinical day like?
A typical clinical day. You wear dark green scrubs
. You get up at 5 or 6am and make your way to your clinical site. You get your patient assignment (or you might have gotten it the night before) and you look up your patient. You get report from night shift about your patient and then you take care of your patient for the day. Sometimes you might have two patients. It's awesome and you learn a lot. Your clinical instructor is there to help you.
The population care clinicals are out in the community. During that term you might be at a refugee housing, alcohol rehab center, elementary school, etc..... I am in Hospice. We dress business casual and we do patient visits and charting. I love it.
A typical classroom day. You wear whatever. You go to class. You get a break every hour. We have lots of potlucks and sit outside on the grassy knoll when it's nice weather for lunch. There are lectures, guest speakers, LOTS of power points but also interactive group discussions, student presentations. You try to make it into the computer lab at some point to print out the articles/assignments you need for the next week. Everyone gets coffee at the "Nurse's Station", the cafe in the nursing school.
Simulation is also part of nursing school. There is a room with myriad patient scenarios. They hire live actors whenever possible. You get the patient's chart and you go into the room, which has a one way mirror and cameras so the rest of your small group is observing you and the instructors are behind the glass directing the scene. There are also just a lot of fake patients at the sim center that you practice wound care, lifting, head-to-toe assessment, etc. Plus you practice on each other a lot at first--brushing each other's teeth, washing each other's feet, taking blood glucose...
:-) I really love it. Of course there are people in the program who love to complain about everything. It's not all roses and rainbows.