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Made it through Block 1 PN @ Gateway, my experiences..

Arizona   (5,500 Views 19 Comments)
by rzyzzy rzyzzy (Member)

4,808 Visitors; 259 Posts

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When I found out I got into the Fast-Track PN program at Gateway, posts on this forum gave me an idea of what to expect, and it really helped ease some of the fear and anticipation that comes with starting something completely new. In that interest, I thought I'd post some of my experiences to help those that enter the program in the future.

First and foremost - scheduling - I can't help you there! My program was over both summer semesters, and classes were sometimes evenings, sometimes mornings, and sometimes both in the same week. Your mileage can and will vary, they'll still be writing the schedules the day before your class starts, and you'll get whatever they have available.

Clinicals for block 1 are long-term care. Ours were 12-hour days, and your clinical experiences will vary greatly based on who your clinical instructor is. Some instructors require care-plans every week, and some only require a couple per semester - don't worry too much about care plans, or buy a bunch of care-plan manuals before class starts, because every instructor is looking for something different, and they have to tell you what that is.

For clinicals - you need to begin developing that "backbone" and resist the temptation to take shortcuts. In my facility, staff often ignored the requirements for gowning & gloving in c-diff & MRSA rooms, gave insulin in the halls, never checked armbands, and sometimes asked us to do things we weren't allowed to do or hadn't been signed off on yet. I'm not knocking the facility - I heard from other students it happened everywhere, just expect to get called out if you break the rules and your instructor pops onto your floor and catches you. Better to avoid the drama.

You'll get to do some injections, glucose testing, lots and lots of vital signs, dressing changes, passing meds, small-volume nebulizers, eye-drops, etc. You'll be taught how to do foley caths and feeding tubes, but you may never do one on a real person, depending on the facility you draw.

You'll have a couple of "practicums" where you'll demonstrate in front of an instructor the proper procedure to place a foley, a NG tube and a physical assessment. You'll also have a "med pass" and a dressing change practicum in the facility with your clinical instructor. You can fail a practicum once, and many do - it isn't the end of the world - you'll get another chance to do a perfect one.

You'll likely have a couple of "simulations" - which are in the lab, sometimes with a robo-dummy, sometimes just the regular mannequins. You'll be assigned to a group and given a role (you might be a charge nurse, primary nurse or a NA). These were actually fun in my class - remember the basics (keep the room safe and identify your patient!)

Grading... :)

My instructor had 9 quizzes and a final. The quizzes were deceptively easy, compared to the final. You could pass, and even do fairly well on the quizzes just by listening well during the lectures and skimming the book. The final was a different story - many of my classmates (including myself) dropped a full grade on the final, several failed the class because of it, and several more got through by only one or two points. Doing all of the reading, and spending even just an hour a week working on the nclex practice questions made a huge difference for me. Lots of those nclex questions ended up on the final.

The moral of the story is - don't count on bringing yourself up at the end of the class - you can't do enough "cramming" at the end to make a difference.

My group started with 30 students - we lost one before the first quiz, and two more dropped because they missed two clinicals. We ended up losing six more on the final, bringing the "casualty" total to almost 30%. :eek: I'm not sure if that's "normal" , but it is what it is...

If the questions on the final were just slightly different, that number might have jumped or fallen by 10%+. The point being - it is do-able, but not everyone will pass. My Block 2 class has several students repeating who missed the mark by only a couple of points.

My advice to students starting the program in the future would be to not "give up" a single point by not studying - you may need that point later in the semester. Don't worry about the class - it can be done, even without a medical background - but also don't get complacent - make the time to study and review at the beginning of the semester so you won't have to "white-knuckle" the final.

Good Luck!

Edited by rzyzzy

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micajoieLAc works as a Acupuncturist.

1,954 Visitors; 72 Posts

you obviously had the day program. The quizzes in the night program are insane, they don't reflect the material lectured in class nor do they reflect the reading material. One of our instructors is prepared for class, effectively lectures on the material and refers to where it is in the book as well. Our other instructor is a different story entirely.

The class feels more like a horrible hazing ritual rather than college level course work. She is all over the map with lecture, jumping from Ergonomics to the GI system to the importance of Nursing communication. The lecture material doesn't come close to the reading, Yes I did do all the reading BEFORE class and I still couldn't follow the lecture. After the first day one of the students dropped citing that particular instructor as the reason. I should have clued in at that point. Had I understood it would be like this I would have waited the full two years for a full RN program.

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4,808 Visitors; 259 Posts

Had I understood it would be like this I would have waited the full two years for a full RN program.

I don't think there's any way to avoid getting at least one psycho instructor in any of the programs - many of the same characters teach in the pn program and the rn program.

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micajoieLAc works as a Acupuncturist.

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tolerating mediocrity is a form of condoning it. It's too bad a school with such a great reputation allows this type of behavior.

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4,808 Visitors; 259 Posts

tolerating mediocrity is a form of condoning it. It's too bad a school with such a great reputation allows this type of behavior.

I'm not sure how you "fix" something like that - there really isn't any money in the community-college system - so you end up with a few people who really love teaching (and take a pay-cut to do it), a few who can't hack "the real world" of nursing and duck into it because they lack the social skills to play nice with others, and a few who do it as a supplement to their "real" jobs.

The experience level amongst instructors varies widely - you have those that started out as "diploma nurses" forty years ago, and a few who are so new they still have "inspected by #41" stickers on them from MSN school.

The private college system doesn't have an answer - many think nothing of charging 5X the money for a certificate that might get you a license, but that will guarantee you'll have to start over completely if you want to move up the food chain and get a bsn/msn/np.

I learned a valuable lesson while working for what at the time was the world's largest automaker many years ago...

Sometimes, you have to just keep your head down and your mouth shut while those with self-destructive/anti-social/psychotic personalities control your life. At least in nursing school, they only get that control for a few days/months - and not years like they do in the real world. :smokin:

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1,477 Visitors; 59 Posts

I am interested in possibly becoming a nursing instructor. I have never thought about being surrounded by people that "failed" at bedside. I just love to teach. Hmmmm, good points.

Anna

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Touching Souls Changing Lives

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2,714 Visitors; 140 Posts

Thanks for this post and all the insightful information. I am applying in October. I hope I can get in in January with no wait! I am going to ASU right now and I have learned that some instructors are just difficult to deal with. But it's all a "game" you learn to play the game to get the grade. But I am sure this is different from nursing instructors! Hopefully I will get a normal one! :) But even with crazy instructors, I'd love to begin already! :)

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4,576 Visitors; 282 Posts

I just have to make a comment. I graduated from the program in May and am now in block III of the RN program at CGCC. I absolutely LOVED the program. I had the teacher that is being mentioned in block I. Yes, she is difficult and has exceptionally high expectations and seems to be all over the place in lecture, etc. HOWEVER, she is an awesome teacher and I learned so much from her. There is a method to her madness. Now, to be honest, I didn't appreciate her fully until block II, as without her I would not have been as prepared for the many different situations we were in. I had her for theory for the first few months and yes, there were days I would be so overwhelmed I was physically exhausted. There were days I would drive home crying. She was tough. But she was also willing to listen and help you understand the material. She came back for a lecture at the end of our block I semester to go over what her portion of the final would be. I can say that the difference from the beginning of the semester to the end was like night and day. She gave us same info, but it made more sense. She didn't change lecture style or anything. But we had learned so much and had so many different things going on, it all came together. There is a method to her madness. If you just be a little bit more patient, I promise you it does get better. I KNOW it is hard and frustrating right now, trust me I know. I never thought I would get through that first semester. But I survived and so will you. Plus, you only have for lab days, and those are about up right? I have 2 friends in your class :), so I get all the scoop. Just hang in there, it does get better. You can certainly PM me if you have any specific questions, which I would be happy to answer. I had the same 2 teachers you have now, plus 2 others over the course of the program.

Good luck, hang in there!

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4,808 Visitors; 259 Posts

Pedi - I guess you were responding to Mica? I wouldn't say that my lead instructor was "all over the place" - she was one of the best college instructors I've ever had, (and this isn't my first time in college, so I've seen a few!). That said, if someone told me they got a bad instructor, I'd be inclined to believe them - every nursing class has a half-dozen other instructors attached (for labs and clinicals) , and luck of the draw applies there.

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2,714 Visitors; 140 Posts

You know I have a question for those in the program or were in the program. Did they add more entrance dates? I thought only 2 groups happened a year, a class in the fall, and a class in the spring, morning and evening classes. Now I hear they added a summer program as well as an afternoon program? Are there really that many class options?

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4,808 Visitors; 259 Posts

You know I have a question for those in the program or were in the program. Did they add more entrance dates? I thought only 2 groups happened a year, a class in the fall, and a class in the spring, morning and evening classes. Now I hear they added a summer program as well as an afternoon program? Are there really that many class options?

They make more if they can - my group was a summer group thrown together @ the last minute.

Last year they created a block 3 for nurses on the advanced placement wait list, then you have your bilingual nurses, your banner "fellows" nurses...

I've heard there's a group of bearded nurses somewhere in the mccd system, but I haven't spotted them yet...

The bottom line is, there's alot of groups that don't appear in the catalog, but somehow get created.

Edited by rzyzzy

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6,827 Visitors; 614 Posts

Has anyone in any of these programs addressed the current situation in our local economy with new nurses not being able to find jobs? When I say addressed, I mean with instructors?

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