Advice from Last Year Nursing Student - page 2

Hi,. Maybe I should call this "things that I wish other people told me". Anyway, I will be done with school in Dec. I am doing an evening ASN program since I work full-time plus. I have found... Read More

  1. by   Megsd
    When I started college, I HATED chemistry. Still do, really. Managed to scrape by with a low B and purged all chemistry from my head. I had to take organic chem for my program but honestly I haven't encountered any of that in nursing school so far except possibly being familiar with chemical prefixes and suffixes.

    Honestly, most of the chemistry I have encountered so far in nursing school (in med-surg, high acuity, pathophysiology, mostly) is:

    acid/base balance - know relationship between pH, carbon dioxide and bicarbonate

    electrolytes - know which ones are positive/negative, which ones live inside or outside cells, know relationships between sodium and potassium, sodium and water

    hypertonic/hypotonic/isotonic - know which is which. Many IV fluids you give are for the purpose of moving fluids into a space or pulling fluids from a space, so you need to know why certain fluids work like they do

    colloid/osmotic pressure (this might be more physiology) - big proteins pull water toward them


    As far as math, drug calculations are a lot of ratios, proportions, multiplying and dividing. You can also solve calculation questions with dimensional analysis, which is a skill you do learn in chemistry. Most of the math skills I actually learned in high school algebra and totally forgot about. I bought a "Math for Nurses" book which had reviews on those skills, and after doing some practice problems, the math came back to me.
  2. by   Sheri257
    Quote from Megsd
    Honestly, most of the chemistry I have encountered so far in nursing school (in med-surg, high acuity, pathophysiology, mostly) is:

    acid/base balance - know relationship between pH, carbon dioxide and bicarbonate

    electrolytes - know which ones are positive/negative, which ones live inside or outside cells, know relationships between sodium and potassium, sodium and water

    hypertonic/hypotonic/isotonic - know which is which. Many IV fluids you give are for the purpose of moving fluids into a space or pulling fluids from a space, so you need to know why certain fluids work like they do

    colloid/osmotic pressure (this might be more physiology) - big proteins pull water toward them
    Funny ... other than what you just mentioned ... I don't think chemistry helped with nursing school at all. Besides, a lot of this was covered in physio as well.

    And, the nursing school textbooks cover a lot of this stuff also. While I did well in chemistry I certainly wouldn't recommend taking more courses for it.

    As for Math ... get the ProCalc nursing math program or whatever program your nursing school recommends. You don't need to take more courses for that either.

    :typing
  3. by   Sheri257
    Quote from DesertRain
    But, if I have learned 1 thing in my studies so far, it would be to take everything as my own personal experience. To listen to advice given but to only put it in a mental filing cabinet for future use...should I need it. Because listening and believing everything and everyone has gotten me sidetracked a few times.
    Yeah ... use your own judgement. Because I definitely would not say that chemistry is critical to nursing school.

    :typing
  4. by   november17
    I personally kept all my books from pre-reqs and I have not referred back to them at all. I've found google a good a source as any, especially if you know what you are looking for. I wish I would have sold the books a long time ago when I still could have gotten some money for them. Now they just sit on a shelf and collect dust.

    Math isn't that big of a deal. Nursing math at worst is like pre-algebra. I actually tested out of all the math pre-reqs though, and I've never had a problem with it. Considering there are only a certain amount of formulas and conversions you need to memorize to answer almost any question r/t meds/IV flows/etc.

    And I have to agree with Megsd, that's all I've encountered as far as chemistry as well. Just some basic concepts with only select different types of elements (eg. Calcium, Potassium, Sodium, Iron, Carbon, Hydrogen...etc).
    Last edit by november17 on Mar 5, '07
  5. by   Cosper123
    I have to agree with DesertRain 100%

    Really the thing to keep in mind about the nursing program is that yes it varies and yes you have to take everyone's advice in that perspective.

    Also, let me tell you now that it's not as bad as everyone says it is. Don't get me wrong here, it's BAD....but there will always be someone worse off than you. Like the person who has to carry a full time job, or the person that has the children, or the person who carries a full time job, is a single parent, and lives paycheck to paycheck with mounting debt. And guess what, there's someone worse off than them, too

    This is why the nursing experience is so personalized and why you get so many perspectives, in addition to the various programs being slightly different here and there.

    I would like to reiterate however, that pharmocology and medical terminology would be of great benifit to anyone who can afford to take them and has the time. Don't get me wrong, as soon as you get those pre-reqs out of the way apply to any and all colleges you are willing to drive/move to. But if you don't get in the first round and have an extra semester to burn....at least take the medical terminology class. It really helps with both test day and during clinical time.

    HOWEVER, you really do have everything that you need. And believe it or not, the Nursing Instructors WANT you to pass, and they will do everything in reason to faciliate that. Does that mean they will hold your hand, give you extra credit, suppliment your grade with papers/labs/(insert crutch here)? Nope, not at all, so don't get used to that bar that appears to be getting lower and lower in the pre-reqs....But they really will give you all of the tools that you need to get through this.

    So don't stress about the math or the Chem or any other such thing. Being up on these would be nice, but you really can get through without them.

    The MAIN thing to keep in mind is this is going to take a lot of effort on your part regardless of how you prepare. You, your family, and your friends will all have to make major sacrafices for this. I received a message on my answering machine half way through the first semester from a buddy that went like this - "Where the #### have you been? Are you even alive? Did your wife kill you and bury you in the back yard or something? If you don't get back to me in 24 hours I'm calling your mother and the police!"

    Basically, you're not going to be able to spend much time with your friends or family. If you have even a part-time job on top of that, forget it. You might as well write all your friends and extended family and tell them you will see them in a couple of years. You still get holidays and extended breaks and such...atm I am yearning for Summer vacation. But make no mistake, I don't refer to that as "Summer vacation", I refer to it as "Recovery". Come the weekends, I don't want to go to the bar, I just want to sleep in a bit before starting my marathon reading session.

    Be sure to not only prepare your family for this, but remind them often how much you appreciate their support.

    And please, keep in mind that it's not all that bad...and not impossible. You can do it...but if anything in this post made you think that you can't handle it, then please don't waste your time, the instructors time, or let the 400 or so other people who wanted your seat down.

    Be prepared, and give them hell. It is so worth it.
  6. by   shippoRN
    Quote from Cosper123

    I received a message on my answering machine half way through the first semester from a buddy that went like this - "Where the #### have you been? Are you even alive? Did your wife kill you and bury you in the back yard or something? If you don't get back to me in 24 hours I'm calling your mother and the police!"

    :roll :roll :roll lol rofl!!!!
  7. by   Megsd
    Quote from lizz
    Funny ... other than what you just mentioned ... I don't think chemistry helped with nursing school at all. Besides, a lot of this was covered in physio as well.

    And, the nursing school textbooks cover a lot of this stuff also. While I did well in chemistry I certainly wouldn't recommend taking more courses for it.

    As for Math ... get the ProCalc nursing math program or whatever program your nursing school recommends. You don't need to take more courses for that either.

    :typing
    Yeah, that's my impression so far too. And really, I don't remember most of what I listed from chemistry -- I've pieced it together from my nursing books. I've found A&P to be a bigger aspect of nursing school than math and chemistry.
  8. by   Multicollinearity
    Maybe the OP's nursing instructors have a bit of an unusual focus or amplification regarding chemistry.
  9. by   carolinapooh
    Quote from multicollinarity
    Maybe the OP's nursing instructors have a bit of an unusual focus or amplification regarding chemistry.

    Which would sort of strike me as weird since we're all using pretty much the same textbooks. It could be that the OP found pharmacology and/or fluids and electrolytes challenging, and considers school to be heavily chem based as a result. Perfectly understandable. I've had two years of chem, which includes a year of organic, and it wasn't until my first Adult Health exam that iso/hypo/hypertonic FINALLY made sense to me (and I got all A's in chemistry in college!).

    My advice would be for anyone contemplating nursing school to be ready. The way you think is going to be challenged. The way you view situations is going to change. Self expectations and expectations of others are going to shift. What your family can expect from you is going to change. Go with it, learn from it, and embrace it.

    But I would say this: you can do this. I'm doing it. There's a whole board of us who are doing it or who have done it. It's possible, and if you want it, you'll do it.
    Last edit by carolinapooh on Mar 6, '07
  10. by   marilynmom
    I'm in my 2nd semester and the chem we use is mainly acid/base balance, carbon dioxide and bicarbonate, electrolytes, hypertonic/hypotonic/isotonic and colloid/osmotic pressure like someone else mentioned. That is pretty much it. Now some people really do struggle with that, but not everyone does. It's not the end all be of all nursing school. My school did require Chem 1 and I also took Chem 2 and BioChem (that was just my own personal interest) and I think it helped but there was also a lot of other stuff in that class that I have since forgotten and we never use in the nursing program. PLEASE don't get scared away because of some chemistry. It might be a struggle at first for some, but your going to be around it, hearing other nurses talking about ("what is his bicarb level?"), hearing Drs talking about it, your going to learn it....

    Dosage Calc is NOT HARD, it just isn't. Yes, you have to be good at it, we have to pass dosage calc tests every semester in order to progress but hardly anyone fails them. After awhile they are plain easy because you do them so much. It is just hard at first because you have to memorize all those conversions (how many tsp in a ml, how many grains in a whatever type of thing). After you get all that down, it's not hard at all. It is important and they know that so you get dosage calc problems on every test you take, etc. After awhile it just gets easy. It is mainly basic math or pre-algebra.
    ***************

    I think nursing school is a blast! I love every day of it and it is so fascinating and you meet so many new people. I have 2 kids that I homeschool, I work as a nurse tech, my husband works full time and is also a student and I make As and a couple Bs in nursing school. You guys are going to do fine!

    If you want my advice, yes keep all your science pre-req books (anatomy, micro, etc). They are great references. Do well in your pre-reqs because I do think they are important (you need a good foundation for nursing school). Mainly you need good study habits! I do not think the material in nursing school is hard but the amount of material can get overwhelming...but I certianly am not studying all day long, maybe a couple hours a day. After awhile you learn what to focus on (nursing interventions, nursing interventions, nursing interventions! If you know your pathophys everything else makes sense), you get used to the tests, if you can make it through the first semester you are on your way!
  11. by   GottaGetIn
    Thanks guys! I am getting inspired again. These uplifting posts make me happy!
  12. by   carolinapooh
    I want to chime in on "keep your books". Most of them will be worthless if you try to sell them back anyway, and I do like having several different ways of having something explained for me - I've looked up stuff in my Micro book that I just didn't get from my Patho book, and since the Patho book is Master's level and the Micro book is intro level, it is explained SOOOOOOO much simpler. I also use my A&P book all the time. It's a different perspective. Plus, by the time you start getting into your nursing school courses, you might find there's stuff you've forgotten. How nice to have a reference you're familiar with.

    So I too recommend keeping your books!
  13. by   smilesalot
    i think this is the first post that i read here that actually made me or pursuade me more that i am on the best decision of my life..that is to go back to school and take nursing....some if not most posts here are about bickering (BSN vs ADN), very discouraging posts...so thank you for starting this thread..

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