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nurselyfe4115, BSN, MSN, RN 4,628 Views

Joined: Apr 18, '12; Posts: 26 (15% Liked) ; Likes: 37
Registered Nurse; from US
Specialty: 5 year(s) of experience in Cardiothoracic Intensive Care

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  • Jun 16

    As I finish my ACNP program (in literally days) I'm reflecting back in my journey. I realized that although I got want I needed and much more from grad school, the process to obtaining this degree was not what I expected so I wanted to give a little insight in what you may actually go through furthering you education. It's not to deter you from going, I just want to give you an honest idea of what you may go through so you can realize, you're not the only one.

    You Will Be Overwhelmed.

    I know you probably already anticipate this because hey, your going back to school and you haven't written a paper or taken a test in how many years? This is already expected but I didn't realize just how overwhelmed I would get until I actually got into it. Class, clinical, papers, family work...shall I go on? Having to manage it all at once was rough. I considered myself an organized person before grad school but it took me awhile to get everything organized out. My advice to you would be to first, don't panic, you will get everything done. Then, figure out a system that works for you and stick with it. For me, taking it one week/assignment at a time allowed me to focus on what was due and put all my effort into it. Towards that end I was able to focus on multiple items and even work ahead, but it took me awhile to figure out what my instructors wanted and what worked for me.

    You Write, A Lot.

    Going into grad school I knew that there would be writing but I just had no idea. The care plans in undergraduate nursing school are nothing compared to the progress notes, H&Ps, discussion boards, policy papers, synopses, and projects grad school has to offer. You feel like all you do is write. What I definitely realized was that the farther you take your education, the more you have to write and document. However this is for good reason. You're doing more, such as procedures, and therefore have more responsibility so you have to be able to provide proper and accurate documentation to cover yourself, should something go wrong.

    You Will Second-Guess Your Decision to go Back.

    Ok, so you didn't do well on a test, had a bad day in clinical, or just can't quite get a concept and you think, "why don't I just quit and stay a bedside nurse." While there is nothing wrong with staying a bedside nurse, it may not be what you want to do long-term. Everyone at some point in their program, no matter what kind of program, has had this thought come across their mind, possibly more than once. You want to go back to bedside nursing because you are good at it, its familiar and less stressful than what your doing, BUT, you wouldn't be doing grad school in the first place if that was truly what you would want to be doing, right? My advice to you would be to stick it out. You're a student, your going into depth about concepts you know, but only know the "surface" of. You're in unfamiliar environments assuming a role that you haven't done before, so you can't expect to feel confident at every point of your program. I will assure you that it gets better though, and by the end if your program you'll be glad that you continued.

    You Will Cry.

    Whether it be from sleep deprivation, stress, or the feeling of not knowing anything, there will be a time that you will break down and cry. Don't worry, you won't be the only one chances are, your classmates are too, they're just letting you know. Grad school is tough. You're put in situations where your supposed to learn, and you do, but you also feel like the least intelligent one in the room. If your doing inpatient, rounds can definitely make you feel this way. Don't take it personally, the attending doesn't hate you (usually), they're just trying to teach you how to do it they way they want it done. They do it to everybody, residents, fellows, interns...everybody. I will never forget, one tough attending told me that rounds were there to "teach and put hair on your chest." After surviving rounds in grad school, you feel like you've accomplished something and will be a better advanced practice nurse because of it

    You Will Learn A Lot.

    This one is pretty obvious but I don't think I realized just how much I needed to know to be a competent ACNP in the ICU. In my program we do a lot if simulation and I remember going home after the first day of the clinical year crying because I did so horrible telling my husband "they expect us to be doctors!" Don't get me wrong I knew my stuff (you need to, to get in) but I didn't know it to the depth that they are preparing us for. During simulation they would ask us what our differential diagnoses were, specific drugs used, doses, tests, why we were ordering a certain test, the contradictions for certain treatments or tests, gram positive vs. gram negative antibiotic coverage etc. They didn't expect us to know all of this at the beginning, but have prepared us to know it by now (the end). Remember, advanced practice nurses are there to offset the physician shortage and fill the gaps, so it would only make sense that we know just about the same depth of knowledge.

    You'll Make Life-Long Friendships.

    Going through a stressful time such as grad school allows you to bond and form life long friendships with those that are going through it with you. Your classmates know what you're going through; they're experiencing it too. Lean on each other, encourage each other, and help each other. Believe it or not, those friendships can have an impact on your success in your program. They allow you to push each other to become even better advanced practice nurses.

  • Mar 16

    I just got accepted to an ACNP program so I'm already trying to plan out possible career options when I graduate. I work in a cardiac icu and would love to get a job in acute care cardiology when I graduate, but I'm just curious if anyone could give me some insight into what they think I would be doing (I have an idea of what I would be doing, but I'm not sure), hours, compensation (in the midwest area), and job outlook. Thanks in advance!