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First Semester Student - is this normal?

Posted

Hello everyone -

Please tell me this will get better.

I have never ever been so frustrated in my entire life. I am a first semester nursing student. I am SO FRUSTRATED with this program I want to scream. I don't know why they are teaching students in their 5th week all the intricacies of fluid and electrolyte imbalance, but I am not wrapping my brain around this material, and I guess I need a pep talk. There are so many discrepancies between text books, they don't actually walk through any of the skills, we just read the book and then watch videos.

In the next 4 weeks, I have 4 different tests, which would be fine, if there was any consistency between what was being lectured on, and what we were reading. I also have a scenario involving an entire head-to-toe assessment and medication passing. Remember, this is 1st semester, week 7 starts on Monday. And they haven't gone through the basics of what is expected in a head-to-toe yet, just handed us a rubric, turned us lose for 45 minutes in lab to practice with each other and didn't walk around and give any direction. I have no idea if what I am doing is right or wrong.

Am I being a wuss? Is this normal? I just wish we had some kind of instruction and consistency between the instructors, and some actual hands on time before we get thrown into a huge scenario worth like half our grade. Sigh. I need a pep talk!

Edited by tnbutterfly

itsmejuli

Specializes in Home Care.

Did you take your concerns to your instructors?

Twice.

I have emailed back and forth with her, called her, and attempted to sign up with the tutor, who seems to be completely booked and isn't even getting back to me.

She just keeps telling me that I need to study as much as I can. I study for 4-5 hours minimum a day outside of class. And I have other classes. My good friend is taking the class with me and she is getting fabulous grades (I have since asked her to stop telling me her grades -- it's not helping me). But, most everyone else I have talked to is doing as bad (or worse) as I am.

I don't know if it has to do with this being this instructors first term teaching first semester students, or if I should accept that this is going to be an uphill battle for me. I wish we got more than 1.5 hours of clinical every week. I need to DO something and practice it hands on and see it in action for it to click.

I am so distressed, I don't know what to do.

TerpGal02, ASN

Specializes in Psych. Has 6 years experience.

Sounds a little disorganized. I did Fundamentals last semester and we spent labs 5-7 (we had alternating weekends of lab and clinical after the first 4 weeks which would have been labs 1-4) on assessment, so we started cracking on it pretty much right away. I agree that not getting that practice time is rough. Do you have any handouts or paperwork about what your school expects in an assessment? If not, I highly suggest you go on youtube and look up "head to toe assessments" Lots of great videos there. Find people to practice on. Friends, family members, whatever. Physical assessments are one of those skills that you just have to repeat over and over to get comfortable with. Heck, I'm in my 3rd semester and am just NOW starting to get really comfortable doing it on the floor.

And re the F&E stuff. Yeah, that is a VERY challenging topic to learn. That was our last lecture in clinical and our first this semester in med/surg 1. Luckily we have some computer software available in our nursing computer lab that was VERY helpful when it came to reviewing fluid and electolytes.

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development. Has 10 years experience.

I cannot comment on the rigors of your semester. Nursing school is tough, pretty much anywhere you go. Some schools are more supportive than others during the process.

Edited by tnbutterfly

Sometimes nursing school can seem more like a teach-yourself program... the coursework just breaks down various content... 1 week - 4 dozen GI issues (3 hr useless lecture; cover 250 pages on your own; then be tested with a mere 25wacky "NCLEX-style" questions that barely touch on any of the material covered) and trach tube care (show you once, leave you to flounder with each other and then mark you off for minute, inconsequential differences in technique - like the one you reviewed from the school lab's video library).

They warned us we needed to know EVERYTHING in the syllabus but didn't teach much of anything. It felt like they crammed everything onto to syllabus as their own 'CYA'. No student can complaing "we never covered that!" ... because in the thousands of pages text assigned, just about everything was touched upon, though maybe just a few words, once as an aside.

It actually discouraged me from attempting to get a deep understanding of things like fluid/electrolyte because that would take me hours of study to get and there'd be maybe 2 test questions on it; meanwhile, that would be study time taken away from covering all of the assigned reading, re-writing care plans (since instructors were rarely clear on exactly what they wanted), etc.

I found school pretty frustrating, too!

Sometimes nursing school can seem more like a teach-yourself program... the coursework just breaks down various content... 1 week - 4 dozen GI issues (3 hr useless lecture; cover 250 pages on your own; then be tested with a mere 25wacky "NCLEX-style" questions that barely touch on any of the material covered) and trach tube care (show you once, leave you to flounder with each other and then mark you off for minute, inconsequential differences in technique - like the one you reviewed from the school lab's video library).

They warned us we needed to know EVERYTHING in the syllabus but didn't teach much of anything. It felt like they crammed everything onto to syllabus as their own 'CYA'. No student can complaing "we never covered that!" ... because in the thousands of pages text assigned, just about everything was touched upon, though maybe just a few words, once as an aside.

I found school pretty frustrating, too!

I cannot begin to tell you how much I love this post. This is EXACTLY what it feels like. The lecture feels so totally useless, because essentially my instructor is just reading all of the headings in the chapter, and not really covering anything else. :mad:

I know it will get better. Are there are good study guides that can be bought for fundamentals?

I know exactly how you feel!! I am a first year /first semester nursing student too and you described my class environment! I am sooo confused and feel as if I am muddling through on my own! I did not expect the class format to be like this at all as I, for some reason, expected a lot more demonstration (other than videos) and other simulations to help understand the care setting.

From a second year student, yeah thats pretty normal. You probably wont be able to digest everything that's thrown at you, so figure out what your instructors are looking for. Give up on the idea of right answers, they will write test questions that are flat out incorrect. Don't lose your cool. Ask the instructors what they think you should be focusing your studies on, and even what will be covered on the test.

Bottom line: Nursing school is a short ride on a broken roller coaster, hang on tight it'll be over before you know it.

momtojosh

Has 8 years experience.

study groups! form one...a godsend!

From a second year student, yeah thats pretty normal. You probably wont be able to digest everything that's thrown at you, so figure out what your instructors are looking for. Give up on the idea of right answers, they will write test questions that are flat out incorrect. Don't lose your cool. Ask the instructors what they think you should be focusing your studies on, and even what will be covered on the test.

Bottom line: Nursing school is a short ride on a broken roller coaster, hang on tight it'll be over before you know it.

Even when we ask flat out what's going to be on the test, it's not the same, LOL! Ah well. I will have to be happy with the grade I am getting and go from there.

One of the questions on the last test was so weird -

'You are walking down the street, and you see a close acquaintance that has lost 40 lbs. You feel:

1) Inspired to lose weight.

2) Uneducated in how to lose weight.

3) Depressed about losing weight.

4) (I don't remember, but it was something that was totally incorrect).'

***** What does that have to do with nursing? Even the proctor of the exam was like....'what does this have to do with anything?' when asked. Weird.

Hahahah thats a really bad one!!! I would answer A.... the instructors are making this stuff up with the intention of teaching us "Critical Thinking". Get Inside Their Heads, just don't get stuck there ;)

Hospice Nurse LPN, BSN, RN

Specializes in LTC, Psych, Hospice. Has 15 years experience.

Our teachers always remind us that nursing school is "self directed learning". They will touch on subject matter, but it's up to us to decide what is important. Just hang in there!

BluegrassRN

Has 14 years experience.

Your concern about F&E being introduced early in the program is completely without merit. Did you or did you not take biology and A&P? You should be prepared to understand more advanced physiological concepts at this point. If your program didn't require these classes prior to entry, then your complaint is valid. Otherwise, buck up, buttercup, and put your nose to the grindstone. Don't think "it's too early in the program and this is too hard". That's a self-fulfilling attitude. Rather, think to yourself "I can understand this. This is a concept I can understand, because I have prepared for this. I have the background and the knowledge to do this."

Your second concern, however, I think is extremely justified. There should have been some sort of demonstration (either a video or in person) and then someone available to help you out in lab, to give you some pointers and encouragement.

I seriously recommend you google "nursing physical assessment". Youtube has a dozens of videos on this, as well as any other nursing skill or procedure you want. When you find a helpful video, pay attention to who posted it--most of the time, that poster has a "channel" to which you can subscribe, and it will have more helpful videos on related subjects. I am a nurse with 10 years of experience, and I still check Youtube for videos of procedures that I don't do very often, or don't do at all but want to understand, to be able to better educate my patients or to be better able to provide post-procedure care.

Any assessment videos may not be exactly like what your school requires, but I'd bet they're really, really close. Frankly, if you are having problems with ANY concepts (like fluid and electrolytes), check for explanatory videos on youtube. Sometimes a video representation, or just an explanation from a different instructor/publishing company/drug company clicks with you and makes sense. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by what you find.

Edited by BluegrassRN

We are already doing fluid and electrolytes in my fundamentals but like other posters have stated, you should have had this in anatomy and physiology and even freshman biology for some of it.

The physical assessment was one of our first skills learned and checked off, we started clinicals on week 4 and were doing physical assessments on actual patients then. We did have a large amount of lecture time devoted to assessment and had it demonstrated by an instructor. We get critiqued on our weekly patient assessment forms so we know if we are doing them correctly.

They should have spent more time on that, it has been a huge basis for our fundamentals class.

I cannot begin to tell you how much I love this post. This is EXACTLY what it feels like. The lecture feels so totally useless, because essentially my instructor is just reading all of the headings in the chapter, and not really covering anything else. :mad:

I know it will get better. Are there are good study guides that can be bought for fundamentals?

Yep, that post summed it up for my nursing program as well...perfectly!

It will get better. They may not improve their instruction, but you will get more used to the DIY aspect of learning as time goes on. I truly hate my school, but as long as I get through it I will be satisfied. Your experience sounds pretty much like my first semester. I never knew - and still don't know - if my assessment technique is correct, but I passed the head to toe practical so I must have done it correctly then. I have debated not attending my own pinning ceremony just because I hate my program so much...I'd love to be able to tell my director how I feel as soon as I get my diploma in hand. I get straight A's but only because of my own determination to do so, not because of any skillful instruction. I swear sometimes the instructors do things on purpose to knock us down.

I am third semester now and we are just now really hitting fluids and electrolytes heavy, but we touched on it superficially in first semester. I strongly recommend "Fluids and Electrolytes Made Incredible Easy." It really does break it down into something much more easily comprehended.