What am I in for??

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Ok... so I'm not officially admitted to nursing school (have to take Micro before applying) but I'm looking into what school will entail. All the information I'm finding is that nursing school is horrible and it is freaking me out.

I should say that I have a really strong desire to complete an ADN program. I want to eventually finish a BSN too. I do have two small kids and currently stay at home with them. I was never an A student but when I apply myself I do well in anything I try.

I will be taking a CNA course this summer and although I realize that this course may not be anything like an RN program I hope that it will give me some idea on how theory and clinicals go in the ADN program??

My question (s):

What happens in nursing school? What are things that you must concentrate on? Medication calculations? Anatomy?

How do clinicals work? Are you assigned a patient to care for? Do you observe mostly?

I'm sorry if my questions have obvious answers. I'm one of those people that likes to know exactly what is coming and being prepared for it!

Thank you for any answers and advice!


447 Posts

Specializes in Alzheimers and geriatric patients.

I'm applying monday so I can't answer your question but just wanted to let you know I've been wondering the same thing! Good LUck to you!


3 Posts

Good luck when you apply. I wish I was applying on Monday as well. ;). I'm really anxious to get going....


446 Posts

Specializes in ER, ICU, Medsurg.

I think its interesting that so far no one has answered your questions yet. Just proves they are really tough questions to answer. When I started nursing school I was in the same boat as you, its almost like a "secret club" that you don't get a handbook for until you are officially accepted. It's wierd. Anyway, I will do my best to answer your question but once you are in the program you will see that NS is a unique experience.

NS is a different kind of learning. You are taught to critically think. There is a little memorization (lab values etc.,) but mostly its understanding and learning disease processes and what and how they are going to react in your patient. You are taught what to look for and what a sign or symptom may mean. You are taught to prioritize. Hmmmm.......you learn that there may be more than 1 right answer but only one is the BEST answer. You are taught A LOT of information in a very short period of time.

Every school is different as far as the specific classes. My school just has a 10 credit "nursing program" class. We have lecture 2x a week and those lectures are then broken down into units i.e. ob/gyn, peds, cardiac etc. we then get one grade for all 10 credits at the end of the semester. Other schools have it broken down into specific classes i.e. med surg, peds, fundamentals etc.,. You then have a seperate grade at the end of the semester for each class. i can't tell you much more about those types since mine isn't like that.

As far as clinicals, schools all run theirs differently as well. We have clinicals on the other 2 days we don't have lecture and we are off on Fridays but have occasionally conferences or ATI testing on Fridays. When we go to clinicals we are there as a group on the floor and then we are assigned one or two of us to a single nurse. Depending on that nurse we do everything from med passes to IV's to foley's, other nurses only feel comfortable having us watch.

As you can see, there is no one set of specifics that anyone can answer for you. Everything is very school specific. I can offer this tho as far as clinicals are concerned: if something needs to be done....volunteer!! be the first to say you will do it and preferably anticipate the need before it is asked. That is the best way to be assured you will gain as much experience as you can.

Good Luck to you and I wish I could be of more help.....soon you will have that secret handbook and be floundering around trying to answer these questions for the ones that come after you.



3 Posts

Those are perfect answers! I really appreciate that you took the time to answer so thoroughly. I felt completly in the dark but now have some idea on how everything might work. Thank you!!

Do-over, ASN, RN

1,085 Posts

Specializes in CICU.

In our case at clinical: we are assigned our patient(s) and then are expected to do total care for him/her/them. It was intimidating at first, but never horrible. I love clinicals and am really looking forward to the next rotation that starts in August.

Every school is different, but nursing school is NOT horrible. Stressful, hard, occassionally frustrating maybe =). It will be whatever you make of it. I am having the time of my life. Ignore the Negative Nellies - they are everywhere and will only bring you down.

Do-over, ASN, RN

1,085 Posts

Specializes in CICU.
I can offer this tho as far as clinicals are concerned: if something needs to be done....volunteer!!

Great advice.


2,642 Posts

Just to give a different picture, my school's a bit different that what was described. We register for one to three class per term (we're given the registratrion numbers to register with each term). This term it was pathophysiology 2 (3 credits), pharmacology 2 (3 credits) and Acute Care 1 (6 credits). Patho & pharm are straight lecture classes, but Acute has two portions, a lecture and clinicals/lab/simulation lab. Acute Care is just one grade, but half comes from lecture exams, and half comes from the clinical/lab/simulation lab half. You need to pass both halves separately (ie if you get a 100 in lecture and a 60 in clinical....you still failed the course).

As far as clinicals, it really depends on the class. Obviously for our Acute Care class, we were in the hospital. We were broken into clinical groups of 9 students and each of us was responsible to go to the hospital the night before to pick a patient, and get all of their informatin (Dx, meds, vitals, IV's, tubes, etc) and research it for the next morning (so come in with a write up of their meds, the patho of the Dx, and three nursing diagnoses to create our plan of care for the day....if you don't have it, you could be sent home. But we've also done clinicals in long term care facilities, teaching kids in elementary schools, giving shots at flu clinics, spending a day in a wound clinic, many different things. So, it really depends on what the primary nursing class is that term. Some of our clinicals have been observational (we spent a day in surgery this term...I'm happy to say that it was observational only )....but most are very hands on. By our senior year, we're doing two terms of preceptorship in which we work, one-on-one, with an RN 3 days a week for their full shift.

As far as what to foccus on, there's a lot of information to learn quickly and as fast as you're learning the facts of it all....you're asked to start to put all those pieces together to think critically. So, that when your patient is short of breath, you can start to understand the pathology of what's happening and whether the problem is in their lungs or their heart.....just an example. So, really, in my opinion, you want to foccus on that big picture, on how things fit together and interact.

Hope this helped and Best of luck!


54 Posts

Hello! I was a CNA years ago when my kids were little. The classes I took were mostly hands-on care stuff & some medical abbreviations. I did that for 6 weeks then did my clinicals for 2 weeks at a nursing home.

I am now going to begin my pre-nursing classes in the fall. I have always wanted to be a nurse & now that my kids are older I have time. Heck by the time I'm done, my youngest will be done with his first year of college!:D

I guess better late than never.

9livesRN, BSN, RN

1,570 Posts

Specializes in SNU/SNF/MedSurg, SPCU Ortho/Neuro/Spine.

What happens in nursing school?

- too much!!! lol, check out the first day experience post, that has a track of what we have been through

What are things that you must concentrate on?

it is too broad, concentrate on not disconcentrating!

Medication calculations?

that is a plus, since you must pass the tests other wise you can be kicked out!


that wasn't a big deal on funds nor pharm, but become handy on med surge

How do clinicals work?

you do the work! lol

it is fun, you get to do whatever you have been checked off on, it starts on basic, bed making, talking, understanding the charts, bathing, then you go ambulate, intake and out put, vitals signs, assessments, med passing, hanging IV's, foleys and a whole lot more, but you start with the basic

Are you assigned a patient to care for?

yes, usually you have 1 to begin with, the you get more, you have to become familiar with a routine, and get the basics down packed! so you can move on to more "critical stuff" it goes along with what you are learning in class

Do you observe mostly?

not really, you always have things to do, and observe what you cant do yet !

you wont be bored!

I'm sorry if my questions have obvious answers. I'm one of those people that likes to know exactly what is coming and being prepared for it!

enjoy life now, prep some math, and then just fasten your seat belt coz you will be in for a ride of a life time!

9livesRN, BSN, RN

1,570 Posts

Specializes in SNU/SNF/MedSurg, SPCU Ortho/Neuro/Spine.

you will find that some schools will give you pharm on the first semester, and we think that they do that to "weed you out" but IMHO i think they do it to prepare you so you can understand better what is going to be on your future classes, and become familiar with the meds!

some other schools have 2 pharm classes instead of 1 big one!

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