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What was your first year of nursing school like?


Hello all!

After stalking the post office for the last week my ACCEPTANCE letter finally came! :yeah:I start a 24 month ADN program January 2012. Sheesh, I was shaking as I was reading it. As with most schools, the program is extremely tough to get into around here. They take 60 a year into the program and 35% of the schools 3600 full time students are majoring in nursing (per a recent news article).

Soo, I wanted to get a little info from some others as to what I can expect the first year (particularly the first quarter). I realize most schools are a little different but I would still like to hear. Did you have clinicals the first quarter?

Its a little bittersweet since I was getting my IUD removed 7/2 so the hubby and I could plan for kiddo #2. I think a slight change of plans is in order!

iPink, BSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care, Postpartum. Has 7 years experience.

Congrats! I know your excited and you should be. Getting accepted is not easy and you've proven you're up for the challenge to pursue your dream.

I'm in my 2/4 semesters of my BSN program. Many days and nights studying, skills lab and clinical. When you get your book list, I would start reading.

ro2878, ADN, BSN

Specializes in school nursing; pediatrics. Has 9 years experience.

Congrats to you!

I just finished Block (semester) 3 of an ADN program (already have a Bachelors and went back to get my RN at age 45).

Not to scare you, but get ready for a life change! I would read the comments on here about how hard nursing school is and thought "how hard can it be?" Well, it is hard! There is a lot of info to learn in a very short amount of time. If you are a dedicated student you can do it! If others can do it, you can too!

We had clinicals starting the second month of school. Our first rotation was in a long-term care facility, which included a lot of CNA type work (not being demeaning to CNAs- but it is a lot of bed making, helping patients dress and eat, etc.). You will get to give meds to patients after you pass a med skills check off at school. As you progress through school, you will learn new skills and use them (under the supervision of your clinical instructor and an RN that you shadow for the day.) At my school, the clinical rotations change with each block. We have 4 blocks and we have gone through Block 1 long-term care at a facility, Block 2 med surg at a hospital, Block 3 peds/L&D/med surg at a hospital. Block 4 for us will include psysch and then critical care. To give you an idea of how some of your skills progress, you will start out giving oral meds in Block 1 and by Block 3 you will be administering IV meds.

At our school, the hospitals and days of clinical and lectures change each block. You do get to request first and second choices for which hospital you want to go to. Clinical days are enjoyable but can be tiring since you start at 6:30 and can be there for 12 hrs. Of course, hours will depend on your school. You also have to pick patients the day before, review their charts, and write the "dreaded care plans." Care plans are very time consuming and you may be up late into the night (especially when you first start out) doing them. You will definitely grow to hate care plans!

Hope this info helps. Best of luck to you!!

JROregon, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Infusion. Has 5 years experience.

We spent the first 5 weeks working on patient assessment, actually on each other. This gets old pretty quickly. I think week 5 or 6 we began working in the hospital. We would go in the afternoon or evening before clinicals, pick a patient (and then 2 patients), write up a patient prep that covered the pathophysiology of the patient's condition(s), medical treatment, clinical manifestations, labs and the meaning of each lab value that was off, our plans for focused assessments, and then 7 nursing diagnoses for each patient. We would do lots of CNA type work, assessments, give meds (like in the 2nd term) and any other skills learned in the skills lab...... oh yeah, skills lab - we would learn the skill, practice it and then sign up for a time to demonstrate it with an instructor. Then there were the tests every other week. Pharmacology was a class all on its own. Then there were papers to write for both classes.

Keep that IUD in place and keep on truckin' Congratulations !!!


Has 3 years experience.

The only way I can describe nursing school is as a roller coaster. This past year has taken everything out of me-- physically, emotionally, PSYCHOLOGICALLY (lol). But it is so worth it. You will look back at the end of each semester and see how far you've come and how much you have to be proud of yourself for. You may feel like you're completely losing it some days, but it gets better and if you have supportive people in your life it is an amazing experience. Take the good with the bad, let the little things roll off your back, and keep the big picture in mind :) You'll be studying meds, learning SO much about assessments and documentation and basic clinical skills, and also spending time in clinical. Good luck!

ro2878, ADN, BSN

Specializes in school nursing; pediatrics. Has 9 years experience.

So true!!

Intense....its the best way to describe it....no make that emotional....no make that amazing....than again a little scary....than again a lot of work. It's actually all of these things and more.

I have a four year degree and went back to nursing school part time till clinicals started, just this past September. I was so use to being an expert in my field of work for the past 17 years. The first semester was most CNA type of work...geriatrics and rehab facilities. There was a lot of complete care and changing bed linens as well as taking vitals and med administration. The first semester was not mentally challenging with regards to the test but was with getting use to being in a medical facility for clinical.

Switching it up second semester was unbelievable difficult with regards to the test but amazing clinical experiences. I had labor and delivery, medical-surgical and pediatrics. I have grown much more comfortable in the clinical setting but the tests taking really challenged me and my ego (not an expert in this field at all). I questioned why I was doing this to myself a lot this semester after every test and than I would go to clinical and come home and tell my husband..."This is exactly why I have returned to school for an RN".

I have two semesters left (hopefully) I will graduate in December. It is no joke how difficult it is. Many of my classmates did not make it through this last semester. It is known as the toughest of the four clinical semester for my schools nursing program. It is often the make or break you semester. Classmates can be challenging....instructors are definitely challenging...and you may even find yourself to be your own worst enemy. However, when I am at that clinical site and I am helping my patients get better...feel more comfortable...or just listening to their concerns I know I have choosen the right field for me.

Good luck and congrats!

I got the cockiness beat right out of me. It's been a very, very humbling experience. Nursing school reminds me of a roller coaster with variable speeds and heights. It's interesting.

Agree it has been probably the most humbling experience I have ever had....very good point.

First semester curriculum is very easy, its learning how to pick the right answer, and how to deal with so much information all at once thats tricky! Clinicals are very easy, you mostly just practice your new assessment skills, generally on geriatrics patients. Congrats, and good luck!

Congrats, I am finishing up my first year of a BSN program and it is CRAZY. Nothing can prepare you for it. It will change you in ways you can't anticipate. This has felt like the longest year of my life so much has happened and we have accomplished so much. We are always so busy and sleep becomes a stranger. You will push yourself until you think you can't do anymore, and then wake up the next day and do it again. There are times when I have cried and wondered if I can do this. But now that the first year is almost over, I am so proud of everything we have gone through and that I have survived. I am exhausted, but I can tell I am now a leader. One thing you have to have is a positive attitude -- you are a nursing student, yes you can study for two tests, write three internship essays, go to class, work weekends, finish that assignment, and start a careplan all in one week! You are amazing, and you wouldn't have made it into the program if they didn't believe in you. Remember this is only for a short time. Good luck!!

I agree with most of the people on here. It's an emotional rollercoaster and it beat the everything out of me too. But it's what I want to do and there are days that are horrible that I try to remember why I want to even be a nurse:banghead: and then there days that are so awesome where you succeed at something that you never even thought you had in you and it all makes sense again. :yelclap: Anyways, I'm about to finish my first year in a BSN program. They started us off really slowly. So slowly, in fact, that we were pretty confused. Especially since people were always telling us how hard it was. Crazy enough, I remember being a little disappointed about that. But then in our second quarter clinical started and it hit us full blast. Looking back on my first quarter though, I realize they were really just trying to prepare us for clinicals. We learned pathophysiology and ADLs (Activities of Daily Living) like changing beds and taking vitals. Our theory class seemed to be a lot of common sense broken down into really confusing question formats. 2nd quarter we had pharmacology, a health assessment class, theory, and clinicals. Now our odd class out is nursing history. Anyways, I remember a year ago wanting to know how to prepare myself and rolling my eyes at all the people who said to do relaxing things. But truthfully, nursing school is something you need to take one day at a time. But if you absolutely must do something, I'd say get a head start on the reading. :eek:

Wow,.... just finished my first year and I am wiped out. What a wild ride. It goes fast but not while you are in the thick of it. Don't spoil the fun of having a baby with nursing school. You will miss out! Plenty of time for babies later, although your hubby will sort of wish for the baby option in a few short months. Prepare your house, friends and family to expect nothing out of you except a nose in the books and a sore neck at times. You will re-emerge into society 2 years later. (I at least hope I will.) Congrats- seems to take off fast once you get that letter, vaccinations, ordering books, background check, hold on to the reins but loosely!


Specializes in Nephrology, Oncology. Has 4 years experience.

I quickly learned I had to be flexible with my schedule - and so did my family! My time management skills grew about ten fold. And I'm pretty sure my hand hates me from all the notes I took in just the first semester (A 3-inch binder filled to the brim!).

And I also had to learn how to reel in my jealousy over my college room mate getting to have more than five or six hours of sleep a night. Freaking psychology major...but I love her. Luckily we turned out to be best of friends. And she sleeps like a rock so waking up for my 5AM clinicals doesn't bother her. :lol2:

My first year was about 180 degrees from what I thought it'd be.

There were no nazi clinical instructors. We weren't pimped out. It was fine. Only when I gave a med did I ever have one in the room with me. Nursing school hasn't been cognitively difficult. That might be a slap in the face for some as it is in opposition with what many people say about nursing school, but for me it isn't all that challenging. For me, the more detailed the better so this past semester was astoundingly more pleasing. Because I'd always heard it was so hard I thought it would be a bit more detail oriented than it was, but I didn't find that to be the case. It's perhaps too generalist.

Because I don't know exactly what I'm going to do when I finish nursing school I sometimes regret going, but as a whole I'm satisfied with the process and am positive about it all. There aren't a lot of departments (maybe 3) that I'd ever consider working in.

Timing worked in my favor, plus it was a brand new program so for me admissions was based literally off of a chance phone call. All I had to then was get a TB test, fill out the form, and do the criminal background check and drug test which of course is handsdown easy for me to pass.

Last fall wasn't bad. It started off insanely boring. In pharm we did med math for about a month which I didn't anticipate spending that long on. Finally, we tested over that and lost an 8th of the class. Once we got into drugs it wasn't bad. I liked it then. The math wasn't hard. The routine of it just got annoying. The fundamentals course was largely a communications and sociology class so that was disappointing. Toward the end of the semester it got better when we finally covered physiological-oriented chapters. We had a geriatrics class which was a snooze fest for everybody. It should've been offered online and only online. Health assessment was too rushed. It offered the opportunity to teach a lot, but I think it was offered too early in the program. For all the new kids with no healthcare experience they were trying to assess for signs of diseases they knew nothing about. Didn't work too well. Many thought they'd wash out because of that class. No one did. The course should've been designed to at least become competent with all of the instructed assessment techniques, but it didn't work like that. Collectively, I didn't like the fall semester. Made 2 A's (assessment and pharm.) and 2 B's. I credit the 2 B's for not wanting to read the book (geriatrics) and not studying for the communications and sociology tests which is what I think fundamentals was largely about.

The spring came, and it was better. Made all A's this spring. Had patho which I loved. Could've taught it. Wish I had. Most people nearly failed it. I'll reiterate here; know you're physiology. It's the basis of it all. I love physio. Research methods was agonizing. I have a dusty bachelor's degree from days of yore, and I never had anything as dull as research methods. It was worse than the geriatrics class which to that point had the most boring class I'd ever had. The brutal research paper. I'd written dozens of papers and have spent the last several years writing reports and position papers. Writing isn't an issue, but the class was. Psychiatric nursing was cool. Amazingly the students in class that had psych problems had difficulties with the class. I'd figure with experience they'd have done well, lol. I liked it a lot. We didn't have rotations in there though which was good and bad. I wanted to observe some psych settings, but I didn't/don't really want to function as a basic nurse in one. Finally the med-surg class although we had a different name of it. Because we'd already had pharm and assessment and had patho as a corequisite we focused exclusively on interventions. I learned a lot about the digestive, renal, and endocrine systems that I didn't already know. The cardiology and pulmonology I had down from a previous life. I liked it although the book was stupid large. It should've had two volumes. It was big yet the font was small so it wasn't really that readable. Imagine snuggling up with a cinder block. We had a couple of group projects that semester. I don't like group projects in school. They're different in the workplace, and school projects don't prepare you at all for work projects. The teachers try to appeal to different learning styles though so you just sit and take it.

All said, it's been educational. If I won the big lottery tomorrow I'd still go back and finish up the coming year and get the BSN. I don't think I'd ever work as a nurse, but I'd look forward to finishing.

To sum it up, I don't like nursing school, but I like what I've learned which is what it was all about when I got into it.

Edited by ImThatGuy

^^^ I agree. The material isn't hard its just that nursing school demands so much of ur time. U have to learn time management, itll kill u if u dont. They also ask the "nclex style questions" that for the most part can be memorized or studied for, just critically thought through. I took pharm health assessment, fundamentals, and clinicals and got a B, A, B, A, repectively.


Specializes in Neuro, Neuro ICU.

Someone already said it, but its truly a roller coaster. There are days where I think "wow, i really love this" and days where I almost cry and never want to go back. Sometimes, I get both of those feelings in the same day. I think if you go in with the right frame of mind you'll be fine. I got really freaked out because a bunch of 2nd year students were saying things like "oh my gosh, you are gonna wanna kill your self all the time" so I was completely dreading it, but really its totally doable. There are weeks that suck really bad, but then there are weeks that are a breeze. And in all actuality my first year flew by! Just take it day by day. Be prepared to work hard, find a routine, and you'll be fine :)

Agree with this post for the most part. The program isn't difficult per se, but these dingbat instructors throw a LOT of worthless busy work at you and they tend to test on a weekly basis too, so it eats up the time. Quite frankly, I think the nursing classes should have the option of being taken online (except for clinicals & labs). The lectures are usually a waste of time. You get more out of reading the book and studying on your own with whatever study method works best for you. Speaking of study methods, a lot of posters swear by study groups. I tried the groups a couple of times, but they only slowed me down. If you study best by yourself, bypass study groups. They're OK if you need a lot of explanation to understand concepts but if you understand everything, they'll just hinder you and eat valuable time.

Also agree there were no nazi instructors, BUT some were very strange. If you saw my other post, then you saw the bit about several older female instructors who were unable to control their hormones around 20-something males in the classes. The whole program, in general, smacked of being unprofessional relative to any other undergrad, graduate, or professional level program.

I was surprised to see all the sociology/psychology/cultural type emphasis in the program. I was anticipating straight science, so was a bit disappointed with what I considered to be "Holistic Nonsense." Was much happier with the pathophysiology type courses. BTW, hint to those of you who don't care for or see holistic practice as BS: go into the PA realm or medical school realm - much more scientific without all the hokey holistic emphasis you find in nursing.

Agree about writing papers and what not too. Total waste of time unless you're publishing in nationally recognized journals, which most nurses won't be doing. Nothing but more pointless busy work for most people - that time could be better spent going into more depth on the scientific aspect instead.

Bottom line is: these nursing programs need to be revamped.

I agree. There isn't enough science in the program. I liked pathophysiology and the pharmacology mechanisms of action, but it still wasn't what I thought was in depth enough. I want to know more. I figure I'll enroll in a master's/nurse practitioner degree after I graduate so I can take the advanced patho, pharm, and assessment courses. They're also dont online though so I'll be limited to what I can study myself. I frankly don't know what I'll be doing, or what I want to do, when I become a RN.

Nursing does seem to align itself with the social sciences which I think is strange and disappointing, and don't get me started on NANDA, NICs, and NOCs. Clinicals being weaved in through the semester is bizarre too. I'd think you could do more if you just waited until the ened and did two to three weeks of everyday hospital time. Cover all your material, and then go to clinicals that way you'll cover the majority of what you'll be dealing with. You'll also be able to practice more consistently. It's a lot easier to learn something and get better at it if you do it everyday for a few weeks as opposed to going once every week for 9-12 weeks.

I'm wanting to coast at this point in my life so medical school is out of the picture for me although I'd love to sit through the classes. I actually wanted to become a PA, but I'd have to go out of state which isn't happening either.