Taking on any kind of significant life-changing event is sure to elicit advice and tips from people around you, and nursing school is no different. However, surviving accelerated nursing school poses its own challenges. The problem with all the guidance and recommendations is that it can be overwhelming and have no apparent order. You can’t possibly act upon all the advice in the first weeks or even semester of your accelerated BSN degree, nor do you want to wait until the end of the program to apply these practices. Below is a timeline that follows each semester of the Marian University online Accelerated BSN program that shows you not only how surviving Marian’s accelerated nursing program is done, but when and to what degree.
General survival guidelines:
Let’s start with some advice that applies each and every semester.
- First, you aren’t earning your ABSN degree alone. The other nursing students you will be studying beside while earning your degree will serve as a great support system during your time in nursing school. Be sure to socialize with your classmates and build your nursing network early.
- Second, be organized. Accelerated nursing school covers a large amount of material in a shorter period of time than traditional four-year programs. The more organized you are, the better.
- Finally, don’t blow off small-credit-hour courses such as Dosage Calculations or Ethics. Even though they are worth less than other courses in terms of credit hours, they can really impact your grades. Even more importantly, these courses are critical to being a successful nurse. If stress is potential obstacle for you, read more about surviving Marian’s accelerated nursing program and stress.
- As mentioned before, you need to get organized. The first step in doing so is striking a balance between school, family, and work (if you are indeed working full or part time). Find a routine that works and try your best to stick to it.
- Start those good study habits now. During this time, get in the habit of taking advantage of the ABSN on-site resources, including the computer lab, student lounge, and lab simulation classroom and tools. Visit the site often, and feel free to talk to your academic advisor about any special needs you may have.
- Again, this is an important time to meet your fellow accelerating nursing students and begin relying on and trusting each other. Set up study groups or social outings after big exams to relax.
- Go ahead and visit the Marian University campus. You’re a part of the university, so why not experience it and feel more connected to your university?
- Surviving accelerated nursing school will depend largely your mental preparation. During the first semester, prepare yourself for patient interaction and having to learn different communication styles. You will be in an extended care facility during this first semester with many different types of people with various needs, so get ready!
- This next one you could actually begin in any semester, but we’ll mention it now. Be sure to register for the certified nurse’s aide (CNA) exam. Becoming a certified CNA can make you more eligible for tech jobs and it will make you more marketable upon graduation.
During your second semester, you will focus on becoming a nursing professional. As such, you will fine tune how to write a nursing care plan, how to properly administer medications, and injection techniques, among many other skills. A large part of this “professionalization” process will include organizing your day at the hospital you will be attending for clinicals and conducting yourself as a professional. A good idea is to act as if you’re on an interview the entire time while at the hospital. Still, don’t be too reserved or shy—be proactive and help. You’ll also learn when it’s best to step out of the way. Who knows, it could be your future place of employment.
Seek volunteer opportunities, as this will help you network and show off your proactive nature. Oftentimes, facilities or units that treat depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome, or domestic violence often need volunteers simply to talk to these patients.
During this semester you will be working with specialized nurses, such as pediatric or psychiatric/mental health nurses. Prepare yourself for these unique circumstances, and especially prepare for having to possibly experience the unhappy and more challenging moments of being a nurse.
The challenge while caring for patients in especially emotional times is not only simply being prepared as a nurse, but also to be able to provide support and help patients through these times. If you can use the communication skills learned earlier in the program, you will be a much more holistic nurse, able to survive and be ready for your next patient.
- Start networking. By this time you are getting closer to graduation, and you are already becoming a more polished nurse. If you haven’t already begun, this is the time to network at the hospital during critical care, and really shine on the floor. Nurses make a lot of things happen in a hospital; make sure everyone sees you can get things done.
- Show your leadership skills. In addition to showing off your floor skills, this is an opportunity to demonstrate your leadership skills. You will have leadership rotations and will actually be in hospital meetings and managing specific projects. During this time, show that you can problem solve, and try to make any project you’re working on meaningful and relevant to the hospital leaders. Once again, these people may be your future employers.
To ensure a strong finish to the program and begin your nursing career on a positive note, you will need to not only study for the NCLEX, but really prepare for it. This means you should mentally prepare for test taking. If you haven’t given it much thought, it’s a great time to truly understand what type of learner you are. Do you do well in study groups, do you prefer to study alone? Are you a visual or audial student? Develop an NCLEX study routine and stick to it. Take advantage of the tools Kaplan provides to help prepare for the exam.
There you have it. Learn and master the material, make the grades, and apply the above techniques and you will survive and succeed in accelerated nursing school and be on your way to becoming a great nurse, a dependable team member, and the voice of your patients.