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Advice Request for Starting an ABSN Program

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by nursecyndii nursecyndii (New) New Pre-Student

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Hello everyone! I was just recently accepted into an 17 month ABSN program that will be starting in August. I have been looking for as much information as possible on ABSN programs to prepare myself, but  I was wondering if anyone who has been through one has any recommendations or advice? What did you find helpful to avoid burnout during the program? What were some helpful resources that you used (including apps etc.)? I was also wondering, generally is an hour long commute with an ABSN program doable or would it be a bad idea? Any thoughts or recommendations would be greatly appreciated! Thank you. 

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It's hard to kick the desire to want to make straight A's for some people, but it's helpful to avoid burnout to know that "C's make degrees". Your grades won't have any bearing on getting your nursing license and a job. So do your best but don't sacrifice yourself or family more than you need to in order to just pass. 

If you don't live alone or if you have obligations to anyone else, make a plan with them of how to handle your study time. You will be in class a lot and also need plenty of quiet study time. Figure out when the required family time will be so it won't lead to arguments when you have to take your study time. Some people say allow at least 1 hour of study time for every hour of class time, but that depends on the person. If you're bad about taking personal relaxing time, also make a plan when you can at least take a little time each week for yourself...cheap massage (student massage clinics) or hammock with a book or whatever pampers you.

I did not use apps, just google searches. Plenty of youtube videos. Websites recommended by the school. Practice ATI questions. Reading the textbooks. VERY good podcasts. 

I would not do an hour long commute, but everybody can handle different things. If you feel you can handle it, it would not be wasted time if you use it to study by listening to pharmacology or other podcasts. You could also record lectures or record yourself reading stuff you really need to memorize, then listen to it during the commute.

Good luck! Since you asked advice for starting the program, you probably know darn well you want to be a nurse. If so, that is wonderful and the world needs good nurses! So please don't take this as discouragement what I'm about to say, but rather take it as reality-check allowing you to enter the profession with eyes wide open. It will most likely be the hardest schooling you've ever experienced; it will most likely be the hardest job you've ever had; you'll hopefully love it, or you might regret it. I recommend reading this thread about people regretting becoming a nurse: regret becoming nurse, as well as the thread about the nurse charged with homicide for mistake. I think reading these threads (and plenty more related topics if you want more) can help you enter the profession with realistic expectations of what you will do after the very hard work of earning your nursing degree. There is a high turn-over rate of new nurses. If you get yourself geared up for nursing bootcamp, be brave, be determined, and understand what your first jobs will be like, then you could indeed end up where you want to be.

I have no idea who you are, what you expect, and where you want to be, but I wish you all the best in realizing your dreams. Remember to take care of yourself and figure out all your best stress-relieving strategies!


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An hour long commute blows chunks.  My commute is 58.9 miles one way.  I can make it the first 50 miles in 60 minutes.  Those last 9 miles take me anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours.  Then when I get parked, it takes me 20 minutes to walk to campus (because that's as close as we get).  So I lose at least 3 hours a day due to commuting.  Yes, I listen to textbooks while driving.  I listen to podcasts and I listen to youtube.  Sometimes I just have to listen to nothing. 

Before you commit to driving - drive there when the majority of your classes will be.  Drive everyday you will have class for at least a week and make sure that school is in because school buses suck when you can't pass them and are stuck behind them stopping every 100 feet for 30 minutes.  Also take into account what time you are coming home - because return traffic doesn't always start at 5 - sometimes it starts at 2 and lasts until after 8.

Class at 7am or before - I can leave 2 hours early.  After 7 - I have to leave 3 hours early.  If I am not into downtown by 6:30am - it adds an extra hour.  

Leaving the city - if I am out of the city by 2pm - it takes 1.5 hours to get home.  If I don't get out until 2:30 or later - its anywhere from 2-3 hours to get home.  I tried staying to study one night - I stayed until 7pm.  It still took me an hour to get out of town because guess what... I'm in the hospital district and shift change happens between 6:30 and 7:00.  So rush hour is more like rush afternoon/evening.  

You just can't make this decision based on 1 day unless your decision is you are just going to do it no matter what.  If your decision is you are going to just do it, my recommendation is leave at the same time everyday and study or go to the gym before class.  Today was an early day for me and a corvette ran into a logging truck (texting and driving).  The road was closed and I almost missed class.

Now for helpful things....

Do NCLEX questions everyday - even if you don't understand anything you are reading.  Read the question and read the rationale and it will help you start making sense of the questions and the way they think.  Hint:  if ABC (airway, breathing, circulation) or Assessment is a choice - its probably the answer.

NRSNG.com - its so helpful.

If your school does ATI - Cathy Parkes (youtube)

Flashcard Hero

Somewhere on here there is a dosage calc paper - find it and start learning that. We only have 5 weeks to go through our entire dosage calc book - its super fast and luckily I have a good grip on it but that document will help a ton.  

Learn abbreviations and common medical terms.

If you are a paper person, buy an inkjet that you can purchase refillable cartridges for.  It can be messy, but once you know how to refill them, it is SO much cheaper to just buy ink, and you aren't caught not being able to print because you don't have a magenta refill on hand.

Personally I use a combination of a paper planner I made myself and iStudiezPro - don't buy a planner until you have laid eyes on your syllabus and you know what will work for you.  I can see a whole week at a time for assignments due, then I use a pull out planner for detailed assignments due and also iStudiezPro for detailed assignments due.  I'm not as digital as I would like this semester but its partially because they don't release all our assignments at the beginning of the semester.  I get the majority of my work assigned on Sunday for the coming week and its easier to write that down so I can see all my readings/powerpoints at once.  iStudiezPro works really well for actual assignments, projects and tests, but I haven't figured out how to make it functional for reading yet.

On this thought - every one of my classes is color coded and matches what I have setup in iStudiezPro.  I even taped an appropriately colored piece of paper on my textbook for quick identification.  I have both pencils and pens in said colors and use them to be able to quickly ID assignments and what-not by color.

Figure out your hair issues.  If its short great.  If its not - figure out how you can get and keep it up without causing issues.  Mine is super long and loves to fall out of just about everything.  Luckily I have a clinical instructor who will let me take it down, put it up again and keep going (there are some that won't and will ding you for "hair issues" in clinical that day).

Most of all - sleep and relax because when you start school - those days are done.  If you are not a morning person - work on your schedule to become one.

Go to the eye doctor and make sure your vision is up to par and if not - fix it.

Things I bought and have not used...

Notebooks, binders, 100,000 notecards (I use some - but mostly I use flashcard hero), at least 4 planners I thought I would like, a bag with wheels (I walk too far and needed a backpack), tons of crap for my "clinical" bag (side note - I don't take anything anymore - I use a pen, my stethoscope and have a small notepad in my pants pocket and a $20).  Coincidentally I am a digital person.  I don't print much and most everything is on my iPad.  I use real textbooks but everything else is on my iPad - including all my notes and my clinical paperwork.

Sorry for the book.

Edit ** None of this feels like a burden to me because this is what I want to do.  Everything in life has a cost/benefit.  Its up to you to decide if the cost of your sacrifices for 17 months is worth the benefits that being a nurse will provide the rest of your life 🙂  I wish you the best.

Edited by hurricanekat

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147 Posts; 967 Profile Views

Hi again, I'm surfin' this awesome forum of posts from heroes and just read this thread about one nurse's perspective on her career choice that I also recommend to you to read (click for link).

Again, this is NOT to discourage you from your career choice, but rather to help you go into it with eyes wide open, i.e. knowing the reality of Nursing Jobs. Here's a quote from the thread I linked, which I understand and agree with (though I have mixed feelings on regret and currently in my life, I am grateful I became a nurse):


If you actually care about other people and it eats at your soul to make a choice between leaving someone in their own feces for an hour or go to the side of an unresponsive patient, then nursing isn't for you.

In many if not most nursing jobs, this is a sad example (and there are much more tragic examples) of the priority calls we have to make due to understaffing. Start preparing now by developing a "tough skin". A nurse is only one person and can only be in one place at a time. Start learning how to speak up, how to be assertive, how to stick up for yourself and for your patients, how to say no to authority, how to protect your nursing license, how to brush it off when patients' family gets mad at you when you have to prioritize another patient's urgent needs over their loved one's, how to not take things personally, how to keep caring despite all pressures to not care, how to cope, how to hang in there, how to stay positive and keep putting one foot forward, or how to know when to do something different instead. Nursing school will partially prepare you for a minimum of these things, but really your first job at a hospital will make or break you. 

Again, all of this to say, good luck and go in with eyes wide open.

Edited by mtnNurse.
had to add quote because quote is so good

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Time management and managing your expectations are definitely major portions of preventing burnout I think. You have to make sure you are giving yourself enough time to review modules and information, study, and do the assignments while also scheduling some time to yourself. If you are someone who is very Type A, you also have to let go a bit. You aren't necessarily going to make all A's. It's possible to, and I think it's possible to do it without burning out as well, but it can depend on your professor, you, and the class. It's a good thing to strive for A's, but I think it also needs to be okay if you don't make A's.

I have about an hour commute, and it's been fine so far. Not fun certainly, but manageable. I try to listen to videos on the way there, which I think is probably the best way to use that time, but I honestly more often listen to music, especially in the morning. I'm not someone who likes to wake up early, and living so far out means I get to wake up even earlier than other people, esp when we meet at 6:30 for clinical.

For resources, Youtube is my best friend at this point. I tend to watch videos from RegisteredNurseRN, Osmosis, Armando Hasudungan, and some random channels made by doctors. An NCLEX Review book is also invaluable. It's a good way to read shortened info and have some practice questions. I also like the Davis' Success book for that reason. The more practice questions, the better I think. Otherwise, a good program to take notes is helpful, if you are someone who takes electronic notes. I personally use Microsoft OneNote after hearing about it from someone else, and I really like having all my notes in one place and embedding videos in them that I can rewatch. Quizlet is great for online flashcards. SkillStat is good for learning to identify EKGs quickly. Some of my fellow students really love Epocrates (phone app) for drug info, but I personally barely use it myself.

Edited by EmDash

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