Over the course of the 16-month accelerated nursing program, students will experience 750 clinical hours. That’s actual, physical time in the lab, hospital and a few other clinical settings. Along with those hours, there are time commitments for the online course work, exams, care plans and other paperwork, and commuting time. Some semesters only have one course with a clinical portion. Other semesters have two. There may be times that students have to travel to the site up to three times in one week for exams and also have a clinical day to fit in.
Because each student’s circumstances are different and each semester’s course load varies, there is no formula for knowing or even being able to plan for a set routine based on those who have been through it before. Some people have families. Some people work. Some people drive from quite a distance. Every student’s experience in this program is unique, and they each make it work for within their own circumstances.
So what can you expect? Well, for every one credit hour in which you are enrolled, anticipate at least two to three hours outside of class studying. So in first semester, there are a total of 12 to 18 credit hours, depending on your corequisite course needs. That equals 24 to 36 hours per week of class/study time.
When you look at the whole week, you have a total of 168 hours. So just for class and homework/study time, you’re down to somewhere around 144 hours. Now you also have to subtract time for exams (approximately two hours per week), lab/clinical time (can be anywhere from 12 to 20 hours per week) and commuting time to and from the site and the hospital. On average, this leaves about 128 hours. People who are employed 40 hours a week also have 128 hours left. These hours are often filled with personal time for things such as sleep, meals, family commitments and time for socializing.
Now, looking at the whole picture, you can see that the accelerated nature of this program is basically equivalent to a full-time job. As I’ve often mentioned before, students get out of this program what they put into it. Going into it with the mentality that it is a full-time job will help people with their time management, which is the biggest struggle I see with students.
While there is no “one size fits all” schedule or routine, each student can use the averages above to implement a successful plan to manage his or her time. And of course I have resources available and am always happy to help keep students on track to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Once you get into your “groove,” it’s smooth sailing through 16 months.
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