Drexel University ACE Program 2016-2017 - Review

I thought I would share my experiences with the Drexel ACE program in Philadelphia, PA. Applying for Drexel was relatively easy (and free!). And I only mean to say that it was easy because I have a strong science and medical background and I had most of the pre-requisites for this program from my first bachelor's. Students School Programs Article


Drexel University ACE Program 2016-2017 - Review

They have strict GPA requirements to be accepted and they do accept all previous bachelor's degrees. My graduating class had bio/chem, psychology, english, art/film BFA's, sociology backgrounds. They do not discriminate against your first degree. Having some type of experience in the medical field is a great leg-up to being accepted. They look at your GPA from your last 60 credit hours including your prerequisites. Remember to add breaks between semesters

A lot of what I am about to list off is not going to be presented in the most organized pattern. But you just got accepted into Drexel so you had better get ready for disorganization!

1. Expect Changes To Program

Drexel constantly changes their program and tweaks it based upon student evaluations. They genuinely listen to what the student's have to say and make accommodations around the evaluations. Be sure you complete your student evaluations!!

2. No graduating class is like the last.

They are constantly change the curriculum. So if what I'm about to describe is not what you've experienced or are planning to experience, please bear-in-mind that this post is based off of my experiences. And no two experiences are alike.

3. General Housekeeping

If you're going to contact your instructor/professor make sure to keep your correspondence PROFESSIONAL. I can count on more than 10 embarrassing occasions where students were absolutely rude to their instructor, mostly out of anger for not getting their way, and it was completely unprofessional. Don't be a jerk when you're not getting what you want that will only benefit you. Don't be so one-sided! Accept where you are wrong and learn from it. Don't dwell and don't bring other people into your mess. You're going to encounter a lot of negative personalities. It is your responsibility to not feed into their negative behavior, rise above it, and be a leader. This program wants you to be a leader, not a follower.

4. The Struggle is Real.

There are going to be a lot of struggles in this program. You are going to struggle. Whether is it from the course material, how you dislike your clinical site, the incredible financial strain of having to pay $13K every three months for this program, having conflicts with your instructors, being a parent, or being in a relationship/marriage. I am aware of a few instances where the partner or spouse did not fully support the Drexel ACE student and their academic and personal life suffered. Surround yourself with a great support system and positive influences. You are going to lose this year of your life. But it's only a year. You'll have several more in the future. DON'T WASTE THIS TIME PLEASING OTHERS. BE SELFISH! YOU HAVE TO! The closer you are to graduating the more you will have to focus on school and less on 'fun' stuff. I know of a lot of people who partied the first and second quarter, but they were destroyed around the 3rd quarter (their grades dropped, they got really behind, some dropped out). Don't party too much, if you notice you drink or party too much they have counseling services and AA/NA meetings you can go to. Do not go into this profession if you currently struggle with drugs or alcohol. Focus on getting yourself right before deciding to try and help others.

6. Drugs: Don't do 'em.

7. Drexel's school year functions in quarters.

Three months per quarter.. School goes by quick. During week 6 you (may) have midterms and you may or may not have clinical during this week. We were only able to choose in one of our quarters when to not have one clinical. We chose to have clinicals up until week 9. Week 10 is the last week for clinical. There are no clinicals during week 11. I highly recommend you DO have clinical during midterms (week 6) because if you don't then you will have clinical during week 10, and week 11 is finals.** You need week 10 off from clinical to study**.

8. Clinical

I know this has changed but my first quarter (Q1) I had one clinical. Q2- two clinicals: Psych & Med/Surg (critical care). Q3- Three clinicals: Med/Surg(critical care)II, Pediatrics, Maternity. Q4- Med/Surg (Critical Care 2 on an intensive care unit!! So fun!!), Community Health, and Geriatrics. If you miss any clinical you have to make it up. Make up clinical cost you $200, out of pocket not attached to your tuition, and begin week 7. You must pay before you start the makeup clinical or you don't get to go and you won't pass that class. They are on Sunday's and are from 8:30 am -2 pm. While they are a huge pain to go to, they were sometimes more helpful and informative than going to clinical. I would not recommend anyone go to make up clinical because it's a $200 extra expense that you were not expecting to pay. I got hit with the flu and had to make up 2 clinical. You do the math. I was told that some people used a dr's note to get out of having to pay for clinical, but I never saw any evidence of this. You still had to go to clinical make up even if you were able to get the fee waive. Drexel is really stringent with clinical, and rightfully so. I know of several people who tried to get out clinical because of someone's wedding, a death in the family, or surgery (necessary surgery not for anything aesthetic). I can tell you that Drexel will not allow you to miss any clinical for whatever reason. Don't even try to find wiggle room in this situation. Because there is none. Drexel has no sympathy for you.


9. Myth's and Rumors

There are going to be a lot of myths and rumors in this program; "Well I heard that this was this way", "I heard this" and "I heard that". Well, you probably heard wrong. The best thing you can do is go to the source of this rumor because these lies will give you such anxiety.


What a bear. More than 1/3 of your cohort will fail on the first attempt. There is a second attempt but it would really behoove you to pass on the first attempt. I did not pass on the firs attempt and it's been awful having to wait the 14 business days for my ATT number. There's a lot of information in what I just wrote. Let me break it down..

Your exit exam will be on the same week as your finals. Our exit was on the last day of finals week (makes sense). The exit exam is 180 questions and you're given 3 hours to complete it. . There are 30 questions within the exam that do not affect your grade. But you don't know which ones they are. You have to get 111 questions out of 150 correct. You need a 74% to pass the exit exam. I knew of one person who got a 73.7% and still failed the exit. The rules are clear: 74% or you fail.


Drexel is going to change things on you without notice. Or they're going to assume you already know. This is going to be extremely frustrating as it happens to you. Don't let it get you down because if you piss and moan to the higher-up's you will be ignored. I can't think of anything they changed on the fly that put me in harms way or negatively impacted me. A lot of what was changed just turned out to be really frustrating and disappointing. I don't remember the specifics, but I still have the lingering feelings of anger and disappointment.

12. CastleBranch

One year after you submit your vaccinations and safety trainings online, CastleBranch will contact you. This was never discussed at Drexel, but CastleBranch will start to send you a 90, 60, and 30 day notice of when your TB test, your Flu shot, and your safety trainings expired are need to be renewed. The safety trainings were the most annoying part because you had to redo all 10 trainings. It was annoying to have to complete this in Q4 on top of everything else that was happening. No one from Drexel directly emailed us about it until after people started to complain. But if you fail to get your TB test or Flu shot, and you still have clinical, you will be sent home because you are putting other people at risk. And you'll have to make up that clinical. Who wants to make up a clinical week 10? (No one) Be aware of this.

13. Clinical Rotation Site

My first day at Drexel was at my Clinical rotation site. When I went to orientation I was told that, "Drexel is trying to set up a program where the students are sent to a clinical site which is close to their given address on DrexelOne..". This was not the case with our cohort. Plans fell through and students had to drive more than an hour/hour and a half to their clinical sites. A bonus is that you don't have class when you have clinical. A downside is that you are more than likely getting stuck in traffic on your way to or from clinical. Clinical hours were 6:30am(or 7am) - 2pm, or 2pm-8:30pm. Times varied from instructor to instructor but you were expected to be at your clinical site for 6 hours, based upon the state mandate for clinical hours. Most of the instructors were very democratic when asking if you wanted to come in earlier 6:15/6:30 or at 7am, and when you wanted to take your 30 minute break period. The instructors treated your clinical rotation just as an employer would. If you showed up late from break you were going to get a verbal warning followed by a write-up, and then dismal. Write-up's were serious offenses and could kick you out of your clinical site. I only know of one example where a student was kicked out of their clinical site and it was because they were told, on multiple occasions, to adhere to contact precautions. They failed to do so and were removed from the clinical site for the safety and protection of the patients and the staff. You really need to be aware of what you are about to walk in to. More often than not you will be assigned a patient who has MRSA, or C.Diff, or other highly infectious diseases. You will not be assigned to anyone with TB, because we are not given the N-95 mask (too expensive to give to all students and hospitals don't recognize you as an employees).

14. Nurse Assistant Role

When you go to these clinical sites you are more-or-less expected to be a nurses assistant. On a few occasions we were treated like CNA's, even by the CNA's. Some clinical sites are better than others. Drexel uses a variety of hospitals as their clinical sites and you are better able to gain an understand as to how certain employers work over others. Our clinical group was treated poorly at one clinical site. I had fairly enjoyable experiences at most every other clinical site.

15. Administering Medication

The closer you are to graduating the more you'll be able to administer medications. But you will need to pass the med-math test in quarter 1. You are not allowed to administer meds until you pass the med math test. If you fail the first time you can take it a second time, but will not be allowed to administer meds and it's fairly shameful to have to explain to your instructor you weren't able to do demential dialysis. Pay attention, do all the pre-tests, and ATI work. Pass on the first attempt!

16. Everything you do at your clinical site is highly monitored.

Do not sit around and be useless. Get up and do something; change a bed, check why the bed alarm went off, be useful. The more activities you involve yourself with, the fast time will go by and the more you will gain from this experience. If you plan to stay in the Philadelphia area you can use your clinical site as a working interview. I know of a few people that started working at Penn and HUP immediately after passing their boards. It is possible.

17. Record all lectures.

It really helps to record your instructor because you will be able to pick up on important info during lecture that will be on your exams. Also, it is at the instructors discretion as to whether or not they want to host a review. When/If they want to host a review, go to it and ask questions. Recording their lecture helped me understand the information better.

18. Buy Books; Return Books

I bought all the books in Q1, but I later returned ALL the books from Q1. You do not need to buy any books but you can if you'd like to. If you don't, there are always books circulating around the internet and from previous cohorts. It's really wise to make friends with people who have these resources. Ask around if anyone has an e-copy of an e-book. I never used any text books for our in-class exams. Geriatrics, as a class, is an absolute joke. She referenced the textbook a lot, but there's a huge grey area as to how helpful that was. I did have to use references for written assignments, but Drexel's online library is a great resource. And it's included in your tuition so use it up!

19. Your online classes are GPA boosters.

While some online classes over others are a waste of your time they will boost your GPA. So, they aren't completely useless.

20. Board Exams

After you pass your exit Drexel will send your transcripts to whatever state board. I'm not sure if they immediately send it to other states, but I am taking my boards in PA, so I can only speak based upon my experience. After you finish and pass your exit (about 5- 7 days after) Drexel sends it directly the PA's state board of nursing. It takes *14 business days* from the time they send it and when the state board receives it, to get your ATT code to sit and take the boards. That means if you take the exit on the 8th of the month, do not include weekends or state/federal holidays. Then count 5-7 days after the 8th and add 14 business days to this. You're looking at receiving your code about 2-3 weeks after you pass your exit. Trying to find a Pearson Testing center within the Philadelphia area is tough. I'm currently still waiting to take mine due to the limited appointments available. Some people had to wait three weeks after receiving their ATT code to find an appointment. During this time you can study. If you're able to, try and take the boards ASAP. Because all that information you just crammed in your head over the past year will leave your brain making the NCLEX more difficult. Also an example of one of those fun rumors: "I've heard that the NCLEX only looks at the last 60 questions.."- Wrong. NCLEX uses 60 questions (let's say out of the first 75 questions) to gauge your level of competency. You can get a few wrong just as long as you are above the 'imaginary line of competency'. There are 15 questions within the first 75 questions that the NCLEX does not grad and are just being tested to determine if they can be used on future NCLEX exams. This is similar to your exit exam in that there are 30 questions that do not affect your overall grade.

21. Maintain 76.5% Grade or Better

Once you're accepted to Drexel's ACE program, you need to maintain an overall grade of 76.5% (= C-) in each class or you will fail that class. In our cohort three students had a 4.0 GPA. It is possible to graduate with a 4.0 GPA. And I know they still had free time to hang out and be normal people during this program.

22. Check Lab:

You will have check out for Lab Skills (in Q2 & Q4), Lab Assessment, Medication Check out. Practice, practice, practice!! Use the NACSS lab!! Practice! No more advice needed. They prepare you very well to pass checkout. The rest is on you. I can say that I rarely used a full assessment on any patient I was assigned to. You're more than likely to do a focused assessment (one or two body systems, etc.. ) I never did an physical assessment in my Psych rotation. We used a lot of our talk/listen skills. Remember you are a guest in their house! Be polite.

23. Drexel's Center City campus is gross, outdated, and dingy.

You're not going to this school for Center City's aesthetics. You're attending to advance your degree. Try not to dwell on how gross everything is. The Three Parkway building is nice and where you'll be for most of your lectures. And it's also far away from the New College Building. Their University City campus is nice and also where their gym is located. It's an easy bus ride over there from Center City, or bike ride. Philadelphia is fairly bike friendly. Wear a helmet!

24. Personal Pet Peeve..

You're going to meet a few people who worked as CNA's, or nursing assistants. The individuals who were EMT's were much more level headed and didn't need to make light of their past experience. However, people who constantly talked about their past CNA experience are the absolute worst to be around. Not always, but nine times out of 10 these individuals always made you aware that they know more than you because they worked in a doctors office, or a hospital. These people were impossible to have conversations with because they constantly make sure you know that they know more than you. Fun fact, they don't. The conversation was always cyclical around them and their mega-intelligence. We are entering a nursing program where are going to be nurses. We are going to be decision makers, caretakers, advocates for our patients. These people who were nurses/dr's aids are great resources on how not to act; snobby. We are all equals in this program and will be treated as such until someone decides to say they know more than someone else and fail to explain how. Avoid these people. Or like attracts like.. whatever, we all need friends.

25. Weaknesses

If you have any personal weaknesses, this program will identify it and highlight it. Example: I have a learning disability that I thought was 'cured' years ago. I discovered that learning disabilities live with you for your whole life and don't go away, but this doesn't mean you're not capable nor should it be an excuse that allows you to fail. After I identified it, it was too late for me to apply for extra test taking time through the office of students with disabilities so I struggled, but I passed. You can apply for it, I was just lazy and knew I could get through it. Point is, if you have a learning or reading disability this program will identify it. Drexel will accommodate any student's disability as they are extremely helpful in respect to any student with any physical or intellectual disability. I did not take the time and seek out help but I knew I could get through this program, I just needed more time to study which meant less time to hang out. Just because you have a learning disability doesn't mean you're destined to fail. You just have to study and take a lot of ATI questions to keep up!!

** Most importantly, do not compare yourself to anyone else. You are going to meet people who seem much more book smart, or have a better clinical background, but none of that directly affects you. In this program you are the only driving force behind your success. Keep a positive frame of mind. If you fail, dust yourself off and get back up. Take three deep, cleansing breaths before you start any exam. Know that you can do this!!**

All frustration aside, Drexel really is a great school to go to. They want you to succeed. If you succeed, they succeed. There is no need for them to fail you, because the only person that's failing here is you. Drexel makes sure you are a competent clinician to pass their program. They provide all necessary skills to prepare you for the field. The clinical sites were all great learning opportunities. All of our instructors were amazing and each brought with them their own personal experience which helped better explain one nursing speciality from another. While I am waiting to take my board exams I am already employed! I applied for a job in August and was hired two weeks later. I graduating from Drexel University's ACE program fully employed and prepared to take the board exams. Drexel really allows you to get your foot in the door and prepare you to be a nurse generalist. It's up to you where you would like to take it.

Thanks for reading I hope that helps. I won't be answering any questions directly. A lot of what I experienced with Drexel is that you are going to have to find out answers the hard way. And sometimes you're going to hear a lot of what you don't want to hear. They change things on you without proper notice so be flexible. Good luck!

More Info: Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions

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Specializes in Orthopedics.

I am in my third quarter of the Drexel ACE program and I agree with all of the above ? (except that CNAs think they are the s**t... I was a CNA and other than being a little more confident in a bed bath, I don't think I'm better than anyone else, haha, in some ways I think I'd have been better off without the experience - it got me set in my ways!)

Good luck to all starting the program! Stick to what the poster says above and you'll do great!


78 Posts

You pass on a lot of valuable info. I just cringe when I hear the cost and think of the debt people are getting into for this and the other accelerated programs!


4 Articles; 2,505 Posts

Specializes in New Critical care NP, Critical care, Med-surg, LTC.

I'm glad you found success in your program and much of your material seems valuable to others. I would caution you, however, throughout your career to avoid the sweeping generalizations such as the one made in your pet peeves section. While you may have been annoyed with the students that were CNAs before nursing school, your pet peeve is more of a highlight of an attitude that may get you into trouble in the future. There are certain things you just need to let go. If someone needs to feel a little more confident by sharing that they have past experience, how does that really affect you? I found during nursing school that I wished I had CNA experience because in many cases they were just more comfortable in the patients' personal space. They are often more efficient at some aspects of care, and those are valuable skills even at bedside nursing level. Try to find the learning experiences you can from everyone around you, even if it's learning what you don't want to do.

Specializes in Orthopedics.
Knotanoonurse said:
You pass on a lot of valuable info. I just cringe when I hear the cost and think of the debt people are getting into for this and the other accelerated programs!

Yes, the cost is super high and definitely a big stressor. To anyone reading that is considering Drexel or starting at Drexel - apply to ANY/ALL nursing scholarships that you can find. Even if you don't think you won't get it or you think your GPA isn't high enough. You'll never know when a small scholarship may help you out with a grand here or there. Every little bit counts. I applied to a ton of random scholarships first quarter and it was such a pain to do all those essays in the middle of classes, but I ultimately received one and it was completely worth the effort.


6 Posts

What an informative and honest story you have shared here! While there are so many mixed reviews about the school and the program out there, this is truly the most helpful and objective post I've seen yet! Thank you so much.


2 Posts

Per Drexel's ACE BSN student handbook: "All students may be assigned day and/or evening clinical rotations that may occur during the week and on the weekend over the course of the year".

Does it mean that it is mandatory that students attend clinical rotations on all 4 weekends in a month OR is it a combination of week days and only one weekend. Please share insights?

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