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How hard is A&P really?

I am pre-nursing. I will be applying in a couple of months. I have microbiology, chemistry, A&P I and II and Statistics left to go. I have a 4.0 average so far, but it's getting harder to keep. Next semester I am taking A&P I, chem and a math class (the one prior to statistics). I know...taking the 2 sciences in one semester is going to be brutal...already accepted that. I have been an EMT for almost 6 years, so I have a little bit of a background. I am also a certified EMS instructor, so it even goes a little it further.

My question is how hard is A&P exactly? I get so many mixed answers. Some say it's just killer, but others say with my background that I won't have a problem at all. I drive 2 hours one way to school every day, so 4 hours of driving a day total, and I work two part time jobs, as well as doing the EMT thing when I can and have 5 kids. Yeah, I know...but I make it work somehow! I know that micro is going to be challenging for me, because I actually hate science. I am not as worried (I hope) about chemistry, but just from what everyone says, I am a little frightened about A&P. Can anyone who has taken it give me an idea how hard it is? Especially anyone who had a medical background prior to taking it? I am amazing at memorization, which a lot of people say it's all about. So, if it's really about that, then maybe I don't have to be worried so much. Thanks in advance for all the help!

I think that you should do great in A&P! It is memorization, but APPLICATION is key. I am currently in my first semester of nursing school and that's what I have learned. You can "memorize" all you want, but if you don't know how or WHY something works the way it does; your going no where. You sound like you have a good foundation and pretty determined I'm sure your going to do great if you keep working like you have been! I even took pharmacology, micro, and patho all at once and got 2 As and a B in them before nursing school! It can be done :) good luck to you!

Hi Crazy

Fellow Paramedic here. I've learned that, unlike EMS courses, healthcare courses should not be rushed. It takes time to sink in and to apply that knowledge takes more time.

Have you ever noticed how EMS students can learn something very fast, excel at it for a few weeks and then be puzzled by it a few months later? I believe it's due to rouge memorization. A very bad way to learn in this field.

I suggest you lighten your load. Get the terms "Hard" and "Difficult" out of your vocabulary. Replace it with "Challenging" You'll be more inspired to find a way to complete that challenge.

Don't forget you have a lab component in addition to the lecture material. I found I had to stay after class and come in during open lab to make sure I knew the material up,down,forward,backwards and sideways. It's not hard, it just requires time to do so. Time is like money, you don't have much of it so you need to know how to spend it wisely. You might want to work as an EMT but do you NEED to do it to complete your RN? You NEED to complete your A & P to complete your degree.

You have a slight advantage with being an EMT; and if you have a good memory you will be set to receive A's not only for A&P, but also chem and statistics as well.

In my opinion, the lab tests/practicals are all about memorization. The class exams are all about application. I find you need to have good reading comprehension along with the memorization. Your course load doesn’t seem too bad if you make sure you have plenty of time to study. I took Micro and A&P I over a short summer semester and made an A in both while working full time with two little ones. So, it’s very doable. :yes:

windsurfer8, BSN

Specializes in Psych/Military Nursing.

I would say it does not matter how "hard" it is. It is required to become a nurse. You want to be a nurse you must do it and do well. Train your mind to welcome challenge instead of fearing it. It is what it is. You can do it, but you will have to work for it. How bad do you want to be a nurse? Study..and if you have a bad test..that is when you look inside yourself. You either learn from mistakes or let them defeat you. I welcome mistakes because it teaches me how to do it correctly. Good luck.

I think the degree of difficulty in any class depends on the teacher as well. I have some things to remember in A&P, but we have practical questions as well. My instructor makes us think.


Specializes in Critical Care; Recovery.

I found A&P to be relatively simple. It is mainly memorizing facts, which I'm good at. The information learned will be vital to understanding patho and how drugs work in the body. Make sure you really pay attention and keep your A&P textbook, you'll likely need it again in thee future.


Specializes in LTC.

I love A&P. It is definitely my favorite thing to study. I'm sure that makes a difference, but I find A&P to be very easy :)

I went to a public university for my AnP course and it was a challenge. Made a C in AnP 1 and a B in AnP 2 and still managed to get into nursing school.

I enjoyed Micro more and aced the course.

Study hard and take good notes. Good luck

Sent from my iPhone using allnurses

I think it is different for everybody. Where I live, we take anatomy and physio separately. What makes anatomy tough is the sheer amount of memorization needed to pass the class. I had to commit MANY hours studying, so that is what made the class tough. For me, Physio is far more difficult because it is physio. Whereas anatomy was factual learning, physio is both factual and conceptual. On top of that, I have a professor that turns his multiple choice and written test(s) into riddles. He is TOUGH and has moved us passed memorization to really thinking critically through what we have learned. As much as he drives me crazy, I absolutely am so grateful that he has helped me be a better student. Anyway, I received an A in anatomy, and I have a high B in physio. I would say both are tough, but doable is you are willing to commit! Good luck!

I thought A&P and chemistry were tough but doable, for me micro and stats were the worst, ugh shoot me.

It definitely won't be easy but you can do it! It is about knowing the material and not just memorizing, read and study hard! Use your time wisely and organize yourself very well.

Best of luck!

When I took a&p I didn't think it was too difficult. I took it during summer semester over the course of a month so it was accelerated and I was working. I think the hardest part was memorizing all of the names for the lab practical. The class is definitely doable though!

akulahawkRN, ADN, RN, EMT-P

Specializes in Emergency Department.

I've taken A&P twice. The first time was quite a few years ago and I got mainly B's and C's in the classes. After I decided to get into nursing, I took A&P again to essentially refresh my knowledge in this area. I used the knowledge almost daily when I was working as an athlete trainer and touched on the material daily when I was working as an EMT and a paramedic. So I had a reasonably good working knowledge of A & P. The 2nd time that I took A & P, I ended up getting an A in the class which is quite astounding for me considering that I have usually been an average student.

Like the others have said, it's not so much that it is hard, it's that it is a significant challenge. The good news is that this course series is typically rote memory type learning. You are typically having to learn a fact or a series of facts and then be able to regurgitate it on an exam. Some of the best instructors and professors I have had will make you think about the application of what you are learning. This class provides you the foundational knowledge that will allow you to later take the next step, and that's applying your knowledge to the clinical situation.

Use this time to help focus your ability to learn material efficiently as you'll need that skill later. Since you have a 2 hour drive each way, you might want to consider recording lectures or record yourself reading certain material that you find especially challenging if you're not allowed to record lectures and review that material during your commute that way. If you're not already an auditory learner, your commute will probably strengthen your ability in this area.

Why are the facts in A & P essential? Because that background will help you. From my athletic training days... your athlete gets tackled from the side, at knee level, and you saw the hit. Using this background, you know or suspect the following: the hit placed a valgus force on the knee. You're expecting Medial Collateral Ligament, Medial Meniscus, and Anterior Cruciate Ligament damage. You're expecting some stretching of the joint capsule. You also consider the possibility of growth plate damage or fracture of the proximal tibia and fibula or distal femur. You consider injury potential to the medial side of the ankle because the foot was planted at the time of the hit. You know that tissue has been torn/disrupted, therefore there's going to be cellular contents spilled out, including a lot of Potassium. This means release of histamine and some prostaglandins will also be released. You know that blood vessels will have been ruptured so there will be bleeding. Blood is irritating to the tissues so more histamine and prostaglandin release. Why do I harp on those? Swelling and pain. This doesn't happen instantly, but it does happen quite fast and with more swelling, you get more pain. So what do you actually do (this is application level stuff) about all of this?

Well, in this though experiment, you're well educated... so you'll start evaluating the injury. You'll do some stress-testing of the likely injury sites and you'll do that very quickly because you know that swelling will soon affect the testing. As soon as you get the athlete away from the field of play, you put ice and compression on the injury because you know that ice decreases cellular demand (decreases O2 demand and production of prostaglandins and histamine) and the compression limits the space available for fluid to flow into. It also encourages clotting by stasis so there will be less blood in the area, further limiting pain & swelling. You're already planning a referral to an orthopedic surgeon because you suspect that surgical repair will be necessary. You place a TENS unit for pain control via gate theory. You're considering using mild E-Stim later to help encourage positively charged ions (remember the potassium?) to leave the area. You're already planning his rehab, potentially post-op rehab, and he hasn't even left the field yet.

Because you know the Anatomy and Physiology (and in this case, injury physiology) you are able to take actions that will ultimately shorten this athlete's recovery time and decrease the amount of time it will take to get him back to play.

While much of the above is "medical model" stuff, the purpose is to use something that's probably more familiar to people to show you the application end of foundational knowledge you learn along the way. I could take you through the nursing side of things, but that's probably something you wouldn't be familiar with because it's a very different way of thinking.

The other point is that I'm really just a mostly average student that found his way to learning efficiently and really got to understand A & P really well and was able to carry that knowledge through a couple different courses of study learning the application of that knowledge in those fields. Learning the foundational stuff sometimes even gets cemented for you when you do see the application of it.

Don't stress too much about learning this stuff. You'll eventually see how it all fits together at some point, and one of the best ways to learn this stuff is to literally read the material a few days before you go over it in class. Be in class every day. Participate actively in labs. Review the material a couple days after you got it in class. When you're about to take an exam on the stuff, just do some light review and you'll probably be ready for the exam without cramming for it and aside from a bit of work early on, it'll feel relatively easy.

You can do this!

I love these classes and medical foundation that is built through them. Enjoyable!

I just finished with my first a&p course on monday. let's just say like you, I was nervous going in. but mainly its memorization and learning the parts of the body, a&p is more in depth explaining on how things work. if you did well in chem (which i loved the equations and that fun stuff) you will do well. I found myself very interested in what was being taught, plus I had an awesome teacher who would do a review a week before the test. (I personally use rate my professor .Com before deciding on which teacher to take to see previous students reviews) i would then go home, make my flashcards and go over them 2-3 times a day until the exam. hope this helps and good luck!

Honestly, I loved it. My professor said he made the class purposely difficult because he knows this class is one of those classes people in nursing should excel in. (I don't know if I fully believe that he was doing that and not just being unclear). It's a lot of memorization, so make silly little tunes or mnemonics to remember things. I shared a visual way to remember cranial nerves to my classmates and they instantly got it. Make it diverse and switch it up... You'll be good.

I'm one of the crazy people who actually LOVED A&P I and II. I studied my butt off and got A's in both, and I really think that's the key. Don't be afraid to seek outside help for tutoring purposes. Also, I found a lot of fun A&P memorization games online that were SO helpful in studying. I had an excellent instructor and I highly recommend looking at reviews of potential instructors on ratemyprofessors.com before registering for a class. Good luck!!


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