How hard is nursing school? Many career changers ask this question when considering whether they should continue their education to become a nurse. While we can’t give a one-size-fits-all answer, we can tell you that many former Marian University ABSN students have compared our 16-month accelerated nursing program to holding a rigorous full-time job; if you don’t have a solid game plan in place to keep up, it becomes much more difficult to manage.
The good news is that you’ll be pursuing a noble career path caring for others, so the inevitable stress you’ll encounter as a nursing student will be well worth it. But also know that you won’t be going through any part of nursing school alone or empty-handed — the Marian University ABSN program has resources in place to help you thrive. Below we outline some of the top stressors you’ll come across in accelerated nursing school and how we support you throughout your nursing journey.
1. You may not be familiar with online coursework
From grasping specialized concepts to learning about nursing research and evidence-based practice, nursing school covers a lot in a semester. Add on to that the fact that you’re condensing 36 months’ worth of material into 16 months — and that you’re not in a classroom face-to-face with an instructor —and it can all start to feel overwhelming.
Resource to help you succeed: Our e-Learning platform
The beauty of our blended curriculum model is that when and where you study is up to you; however, it still requires you staying on track with the test schedule. It’s fast-paced for sure, but Canvas, the e-learning platform you’ll use throughout the ABSN program, has interactive resources designed to help you succeed.
For one, because you have access to course material 24/7, you can return to review any areas where you may need clarification as many times as it takes for you to understand. Plus, if you have trouble grasping a concept, the platform’s discussion forum feature also makes it easy to ping your classmates and instructors.
We also developed the interactive content to suit all kinds of learning styles. For example, if you learn best by doing, you can practice theoretical work through online simulations as you progress through each chapter. If you’re a visual or aural learner, many lessons feature videos and virtual lectures that you can pause and rewind as many times as you want.
2. Simulation labs will require you to think on your feet
Simulation labs will involve you performing triage in a mock emergency situation in front of your instructors and peers, pulling what you’ve learned from your nursing theory coursework and working as part of a team — all while remaining calm under pressure. Even though they’re simulated scenarios, they sometimes can feel just as high-pressure and emotionally charged as real life.
Resource to help you succeed: Faculty and instructors
Before you stress out too much about doing well in your simulation and skills labs, know this: we don’t throw you into the deep end of the pool on the first day. We sequence nursing simulations to follow a natural learning progression; as the ABSN curriculum advances, so do the scenarios.
But because we design the scenarios to emulate real-life nursing situations and we want you to feel prepared for whatever your nursing career may throw at you, they can often evoke any range of emotions, from stressed, concerned, or happy. That’s why we build in some decompression time during the post-scenario debriefing — it’s important for us to understand your emotional state and help you resolve any unsettled feelings.
“At first I worried I’d get there and not know how to change a bed or run an NG tube, but it’s not like that at all. You get practice,” says Amy Puckett, ABSN Class of 2017. “The skills labs are hands-on, plus the instructors are there with you. At first they walk you through the scenario but then it’s up to you to make sure you know how to apply the material.”
3. You’ll be helping to care for real patients during clinicals
Especially if you have no prior experience working in healthcare, your stomach does somersaults at the idea of introducing yourself to a patient and devising and carrying out their care plan. You’re nervous you won’t understand the flow and culture of the clinical environment, or worse, make a life-threatening mistake.
Resource to Help You Succeed: Clinical instructors
One of the great things about the Marian University ABSN program is that you start clinical rotations the first semester. As with your skills and simulation labs, we ease you into the clinical environment, so don’t worry — you won’t be delivering babies or assisting with a blood transfusion on your first shift. Instead, you’ll likely start by observing other nurses and getting the basics of interacting with patients, making beds, and charting.
As your education progresses, so do the clinical tasks. Besides, you won’t be going through your shift alone — you’ll have a clinical instructor to consult your entire shift. That was a huge reassurance to Amy Harmon, ABSN Class of 2016.
“The first clinical was overwhelming, but you have nurses who are working as your clinical instructors who are extremely supportive,” she says. “They want you to succeed and are always setting you up for success. They are never setting you up for failure.”
4. The busy nursing school schedule can get to be a grind
The constant studying, long weekend clinical shifts, missing out on valuable time with family and friends — the commitment to nothing but nursing school for 16 months sounds intimidating. No doubt nursing school is difficult, and you’re bound to have some bumps in the road. But it’s doable with the right resources, such as a student success coach who can help you work out any issues that may arise on your journey.
Resource to Help You Succeed: Success coach
Whether it’s a bad grade or the stress of spending less time with your friends or family that has you on edge, the success coach is there for you if you need to chat, vent or take a quick break from studying.
He or she is also a great sounding board and can help you brainstorm solutions to any issues you encounter in nursing school.
“Nursing school is extremely time consuming, and it will be stressful, but if you have the right support system behind you and you ask for help early, you can do this. Anyone can do this if they map out a plan and do it,” says Brittany Clapp, academic success coach.
5. You have to pass the NCLEX to become a licensed nurse
Administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), the NCLEX licensure exam tests the clinical skills of nursing students to determine if they have the skills and knowledge to deliver safe patient care at an entry level. Your ability to practice as a nurse hinges on passing this exam — no pressure!
Resource to Help You Succeed: Kaplan Test Prep
At Marian University, we want you to learn and demonstrate high-quality care, but we also understand the importance of your ability to convey this knowledge in a standardized way (you can’t practice as a nurse without passing the NCLEX, after all). That’s why we give our students access to Kaplan Test Prep. In fact, it’s a key part of our curriculum.
Throughout the nursing program, you can expect to take timed, proctored NCLEX-style tests, exposing you to the types of questions, format, and timing of the actual test. Post-graduation, you’ll return to take a four-day review course, which teaches strategies specific to analyzing and answering NCLEX-style questions.
“It’s hard to realize how much the program is helping you when you are going through it, because nursing school is very stressful,” says Laura Williamson, ABSN Class of 2015. “…But the whole time we were taking these Kaplan practice tests, they were preparing us for the big win.”
Great challenge, great reward
Accelerated nursing school is challenging, but always remember you’re working toward an amazing end goal — becoming a nurse. Besides, whenever completing nursing school starts to feel like an insurmountable task, remember we have resources in place to help you succeed.
Are you ready to begin your nursing journey? Reach to one of our admissions advisors by filling out this form — he or she will be touch with you soon to walk you through the process.