Curious about how a typical accelerated nursing student spends her day? Our guest blogger shares her experience being a student in an accelerated nursing program with you.
I never understood those coffee makers with the timers that brew automatically so the coffee is ready when you wake up (Seriously, who can’t wait 10 minutes in the morning to brew coffee?) …and then I started nursing school. That is when I realized that coffee is the elixir that makes the magic of nursing school actually happen. The synovial fluid, if you will, of school. As soon as I had a semester under my belt my eyes were opened to the brilliance of having coffee at the ready the instant you awaken. And after a couple more semesters I resorted to putting the darn thing in my bedroom so I could reduce my non-coffee time to only 2 minutes, which is the time it took me to shut off the alarm, roll out of bed and grab my mug.
After a few sips I was typically awake enough to remember how exciting my day ahead promised to be, albeit busy. There actually needs to be a better word than “busy” to describe the life of an accelerated nursing student. Maybe a word that combines “busy” with “thrilling” and “fulfilling”. But “fulbusthril” doesn’t really work, so for now we will just say “busy” and we will both know what I mean.
The typical day of a nursing student in an accelerated program actually starts the night before. Being prepared is a huge part of school, and if you showed up to class or clinical and weren’t prepared, you missed out on a lot of valuable experiences. So the night prior I made a list of the things that needed to be done the next day, put all my books and laptop in their bags by the front door and packed my snacks (sidebar: always bring snacks in nursing school as there is often very little time for a formal lunch) so I wasn’t scrambling for it all while that first cup of coffee was going down.
On most days, with my second cup of coffee in a travel mug and my three bags of books, notes and computer in hand, I would head out the door for a day that often looked a little like this:
6:00 am: Wake up and drink coffee. Wait, we already established it’s really more like: Coffee, then wake up.
6:30 am: Leave the house and head to the hospital for clinical rotation, eating breakfast on the way
7:00 am- 11:00 am: Clinicals. Arrive on the unit and find the nurse who is assigned to the patient you have for your rotation. After introducing yourself, get report on your patient and discuss which tasks you will be responsible for that day. If you are nice to your nurse preceptor you will get the chance to do things like practice starting IVs, placing Foley catheters, changing wound dressings, inserting naso-gastric tubes or even delivering babies. This hands-on experience may seem daunting initially, but is beyond valuable in turning theoretical knowledge into something you can do easily. In fact, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) wrote a position paper to nursing schools emphasizing how critical this element is to nursing school.
11:00-11:30 am: Debrief with your nursing school peers about your experiences on rotation over lunch (aka a granola bar and an apple as you walk to your cars). And by debriefing, I clearly mean bragging about the NG tube you inserted on the first attempt.
11:45 am: Grab a coffee (yes, number 3) on the way to campus
12:00-3:00 pm: Attend class. In addition to the lecture portion of class, you will practice skills in the virtual simulation lab. Collaborate with peers to work through problems.
3:00 pm: Head back to the library to study with friends
4:45 pm: Get stuck on a tough concept. Call professor in a panic to see if she is available and can explain again exactly how the length-tension and force-velocity relationships in the cardiac muscle impact cardiovascular ejection fraction… and other complex cardiovascular subjects.
5:00 pm: Spend time one-on-one with professor, figuring out the one little element that had you stuck.
5:45 pm: Thank your professor profusely for staying after hours to ensure you really understood the concept. Run over to the deli and purchase a celebratory cookie for finally understanding the concept. Buy two more to take back to your friends who by now are surely withering away from mental exhaustion.
6:15-7:30 pm: Back to studying, after hugs from your friends for the cookies.
7:30 pm: Head back to the hospital to select a patient for tomorrow’s clinical rotation. Grab more coffee on the way (Yes, #4. Stop judging).
8:00-8:45pm: Hang out on the unit and gather information about your patient’s medical history so you are prepared for tomorrow and can impress your preceptor with your understanding of your patient’s fluid overload and electrolyte imbalance.
9:15 pm: Hurry home for a late dinner with your boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife/partner
10:30-11:30 pm: Pack your bags and snack, set the timer on the coffee maker and collapse into bed where you will reflect on your awesomeness this busy day as you fall asleep.
Are you excited about how hands-on an accelerated nursing program is? Take a look at how you can earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in as little as 16 months of full-time study.