Onward and Upward
Terry Clarke, student nurse here. I am in an accelerated nurse practitioner program at UMASS Worcester. We just finished our year-long RN BSN equivalency. I've been feeling like a hand-stamped 18-year-old at a bar, able to join the conversations but not order a beer. As my NCLEX draws nigh, I finally feel competent to write about this experience.
No matter how you prepare, the transition is going to be messy. Nearly half of our students used the student counseling or tutoring services provided. I was one of them. There were tears after classes and during clinicals. Entire lectures were spent in silence. After an 8-hour day, we could not take another minute of monotone recitation of pharmacology.
There are some things you can do to make this year easier.
1. Get some patient time: Volunteering or working as a CNA helps offset the culture shock a nursing student experiences in the first clinical. It's easier to get used to poop and skin ulcers when you don't have the added pressure of giving meds and assessing. Get out there and meet some sick people.
2. Get in the student mindset: Smart enough to breeze through an undergraduate degree without studying? Only had to read your notes twice to get a low "A" on your AP final? Welcome to your disadvantage. Learning to be a nurse all at once while learning how to keep a study schedule hurts. Figure out how to study. Stick to it whether you are crushing the exams or not.
3. Adjust your expectations: I am an older student with a 15-year career under my belt. I'm not sure that 38 can be heard by generation 25, but I will try. In contrast to everything you have ever been taught, an "A" is the same as a "B." I can pull up some studies that show scholarships are not given based on 4.0 averages alone. Want a recipe for heartbreak? Attach your self-worth to a grade assigned by teachers of differing skill levels and teaching styles. Here's the cycle I see: Student gets poor grade, student blames test, teacher becomes frustrated, opportunities for mentoring in teacher-precepted clinical are lost. Take a "C" gracefully, and understand that your teachers are as imperfect as you. If there is a real problem with a teacher, the grades and evaluations will show it.
That's it for the hard stuff. Here's some common-sense, rapid-fire stuff to send you on your way. Get your lap top fixed and compatible, don't skimp on textbooks for your first semester, learn how to use a comma properly, set yourself apart in class by asking intelligent questions, iron your scrubs, turn off your darn phone, and be kind to your classmates but don't make out with them. Good luck.