I could write a book on what it was like to be in RACC's nursing program, there is so much I could say. I will try to condense it down to the most relevant. As for working on the weekends, I did this myself actually. I did it part time though. I waitressed, as it was the only job I could get with hours that were flexible enough. Especially, toward the end, you will be at clinicals for an 8 hour shift 3 days a week. Plus lectures, plus exams, plus papers to write, plus extra work to prepare for clinicals, and on and on. The downside to working nites/weekends is that is your study time. You will be burning the candle at both ends, but where there is a will there is a way. We needed the money so I had no choice.
After the fist semester, you will be qualified to sit for the cna exam. You can go on the PA government website under education, and it will give you the procedure. Basically, PA will let you waive the cna courses and sit for the exam if you have completed a the first semester of an ADN program.
As for the nursing program, it has been changed since I graduated. Our class was the one that had out first year in 3 terms, and the second year in 2 semesters. We were the transition class when RACC transitioned to semesters from terms. Our instructors told us that after us, the program would be heavily revised. I am not sure what that entails. I imagine that our first semester will be lectures on history of nursing, basic nursing math, and fundamentals. The skills you learn will be basics - bed baths, changing beds, bedpans, ambulation, taking blood pressures. Some skills you have to perform one-on-one with an instructor and are graded pass/fail. If you fail, you have to repeat it, and they only let you do this once. I failed at taking blood pressures the first time and I was so upset!! I laugh about it now though because I have become an expert with practice!
Clinical time starts off slow and ratchets up in time and difficulty as you go. You will be in a clinical group of 8-10 students and one of the instructors will be your clinical instructors. You will be in uniform, and it must be impeccable. They are very strict with this. The first clinicals will be just one day a week, from like 8AM till about 1-2 PM and they will be at a long term care facility, like Phoebe Berks. You will have one patient the whole time. This is when you get to practice your skills, and learn to read a chart. You will have lots of prep to do , especially when you start to give meds. You will only give oral meds at first.
The next clinical will be at a hospital, on med-surg, and you will have one day of clinical, and one patient per week. As time goes on throughout the nursing program, you will have more clinical days, in increasingly acute areas (critical care by the end), and will have more patients (4-5 per day by the end). You will also get some "special" clinical experiences thown in, like OR, ER (possibly), pediatrician's office, NICU, and others. These are one-day experiences. There is a lot of at home work to do to prepare for clinicals. In the beginning, you have to go in to the facility the night before and look up your patient. You have to know a lot about the patient, their conditions, meds, treatments, etc. Later in the program, you will no longer have to go the night before. You are expected to hit the ground running.
You will have a pre- and post- conference each clinical day (to start). Eventually, preconferences are eliminated, you will just have postconference. These are little informal get togethers with your clinical group and clinical instructor somewhere at the facility, but off the unit, usually in a conference room. Some are actually like a mini-lecture, most are just debriefing sessions relating to clinical experiences.
I hope this helps to answer some questions. If I cn think of any other relevant info, I will let you know!