What Is Nursing School Like?

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What is nursing school like? It’s challenging, but knowing what to expect in nursing school can help you prepare. You’ll learn nursing concepts in your classes, and you’ll acquire nursing skills in your skills and simulation labs. You’ll also complete clinical rotations to gain experience.

nurses standing in simulation lab next to manikin

What is nursing school like and how hard is nursing school? Nursing school is intensive, particularly if you choose an accelerated program, such as the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program at Marian University. However, you may find it a little more manageable when you take advantage of student support resources and turn to your instructors for extra guidance when needed. The other members of your nursing cohort may also provide support and solidarity.

The Marian University ABSN program compresses the traditional nursing school experience into 16 months using a blended curriculum model. It comprises online nursing theory courses, skills and simulation labs at one of our ABSN program site in Indianapolis, Nashville, or Oklahoma City, and clinical rotations within either Ascension St. Vincent, Ascension Saint Thomas Health or top healthcare facilities in Oklahoma City. Here, you can learn what to expect in nursing school and get some helpful nursing school tips.

Faith-Based Education: Caring for the Whole Patient

The accelerated BSN program at Marian University is a faith-based program that frames industry theory and fundamentals within a Christian worldview. This holistic approach to nursing education teaches you to care for the whole patient – mind, body and spirit. This helps you truly understand the importance and impact of not only becoming a nurse, but also serving your community.

Three Locations for Greater Convenience

As a nonprofit, faith-based school, Marian University focuses on providing the best education and learning environment to help you achieve your career goals. The accelerated nursing program’s online coursework offers you added convenience, especially compared to other ABSN programs that only offer courses in a classroom.

Although Marian University offers online courses, you aren’t expected to figure it all out on your own. You can communicate with instructors and other students anytime through an online platform called Canvas. Online courses, however, are just the tip of the iceberg.

Marian University’s accelerated BSN program has sites in Indianapolis, Indiana, Nashville, Tennessee, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where students are required to take hands-on simulation labs under academic instruction.

In addition to skills labs, students also gain first-hand hospital experience during clinical rotations. Once students complete the skills labs, they learn to interact with actual patients during clinical rotations at top healthcare facilities local to their program site.

smiling nursing student crossing arms

Students enrolled in Marian University’s ABSN program in Indianapolis complete their simulation labs at our program site and clinicals within the Ascension St. Vincent network, while students in Nashville complete their clinical rotations at Ascension Saint Thomas. Students enrolled in the OKC program complete clinical rotations in diverse settings at top healthcare facilities in the greater Oklahoma City metropolitan area, including Mercy Hospital.

What Is Nursing School Like? A Look at the Curriculum

It’s always helpful to know what to expect in nursing school before you open your laptop for that first class. Whether you’re attending a traditional four-year BSN program or an ABSN program, you can expect nursing school to involve a blend of classroom instruction and hands-on, experiential learning activities. If you’ve chosen to attend Marian University, our ABSN program provides a hybrid approach for flexibility and convenience. You’ll take online coursework and complete in-person labs and clinical rotations.

Online Learning

As a Marian University ABSN student, you’ll complete online courses focused on nursing fundamentals and theories via our online learning platform. It features modules with assigned activities such as reading assignments, audio lectures, interactive and simulated activities, online discussions, chat opportunities and more.

Many students tell us they love the flexibility the online learning component of our ABSN program grants them. But it’s also important to note you must still meet specified deadlines and take scheduled proctored exams at our ABSN program site.

Nursing Skills Labs

While our online learning platform adds flexibility to when and where you complete nursing theory coursework, nursing skills labs require you to come to our program site at least three to four days a week.

Here, you’ll apply the knowledge that you learned in your online courses in a safe, contextual learning environment. Alongside clinical instructors and classmates, you’ll hone certain basic skills ranging from head-to-toe assessments to nasogastric tube insertion on realistic medical manikins.


Nursing Simulation Labs

Once you have the basics down, you’ll participate in mock clinical simulations at the ABSN program site in either Indianapolis, Nashville, or Oklahoma City. At these sites, you’ll develop your clinical judgment and problem-solving skills while getting as close as possible to real clinical situations without the fear of putting an individual’s safety at risk.

Working alongside classmates, you’ll “treat” computerized manikins that can ask questions and replicate bodily responses to procedures, such as blood administration, newborn assessments, and code situations. You’ll then debrief with faculty and classmates.

Our faculty members design these mock emergency scenarios to improve your critical thinking skills for when you interact with actual patients.

Clinical Rotations

In tandem with your online nursing theory courses and lab experiences, you’ll complete more than 700 hours of clinical rotations within Ascension Saint Thomas in Nashville, Ascension St. Vincent in Indianapolis, or at a top healthcare facility in Oklahoma City. Unlike many nursing programs, you’ll start this critical part of your nursing education during your first semester.

Don’t worry—you won’t start with advanced clinical patient cases on your first day. Early on, clinicals cover the basics, such as patient safety and physical assessment. As you advance through the ABSN curriculum, so do the rotations. The primary purpose of clinical rotations is to give you first-hand experience of how nursing skills and knowledge apply in actual patient-care situations.

The required leadership and management course that matches students with leaders within Ascension St. Vincent, Ascension Saint Thomas Health, or at a top healthcare facility in Oklahoma City during the fourth semester also gives ABSN students a fresh perspective on nursing that goes beyond the bedside. Many students in our program say this course specifically and clinical rotations, in general, make great networking opportunities. Some even compare them to a 16-month job interview.

How Hard Is Nursing School?

nurse checking patient

Now that you know what to expect in nursing school, you’re probably wondering, “Just how hard is nursing school?” Every student will have a different experience with it, of course. You may find certain classes and labs more difficult and others less so. There’s no question that nursing school will be challenging, but it’s also definitely doable.

Remember that the admission committee at Marian University screens every applicant carefully. If you’ve been accepted to the program, it means you are already academically prepared to meet the challenges of earning a nursing degree. Plus, you’ll have access to student support resources and guidance from your instructors to help you along the way.

Nursing School Tips to Support Your Success

While earning your nursing degree can be challenging, these nursing school tips may support your success:

  • Create a detailed schedule for each day, including weekends, and keep track of the amount of time you spend on tasks.
  • Designate time slots for studying each day. It’s more effective to study in frequent, shorter bursts than longer, infrequent sessions.
  • Ask loved ones for help with routine tasks like errands and childcare.
  • Prioritize sleep; your brain needs it.
  • Do your best to eat healthy meals and exercise regularly, even if you can only exercise for short periods of time.
  • Begin studying for the NCLEX-RN as early as your first semester. Taking practice tests is a good way to prepare.
Marian University students sitting at desks studying

Ready to get started on your nursing degree? Check out this blog on how to prepare for nursing school.

Fast-Track Your Career Path at Marian University

Now that you know a little bit more about what nursing school is like, are you ready to put the wheels in motion to become a nurse? Marian University strives to graduate practice-ready nurses who are committed to making a positive difference in the lives of their patients. Reach out to our admission team today to discuss enrollment in our ABSN program.

You’ll be assigned to a dedicated admission advisor, who will help you determine if our program could be a good fit for you. Your admission advisor will work closely with you to help you meet the admission requirements and guide you along the process of applying. Take the first step and contact us today.