My Awful Nursing School Experience and What I Did With It

Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe

Now let me be frank: Nursing was NOT something I always dreamed about, and I do not come from a long line of nurses. But I did decide to go to nursing school after long deliberation while looking at what would be best for me at that time. This decision to go back to school was after receiving a Bachelor's of Art degree from a California University. Over the course of 1 1/2 years, I completed my nursing pre-reqs - with a 4.0 gpa. I felt my chances of getting into a nursing program was extremely high, considering the number of applicants. I applied to two nursing programs in the Southern California area. Ultimately, I was accepted to both programs.

Now I had to make a choice. Which school do I choose to spend the next two grueling years of my life at? I had nothing to base my decision on. I was not familiar with either program, and unfortunately, I did not have any friends whom attended either nursing school. In the end, I chose the nursing program that was a little closer to where I lived - that's solely what I based my decision on.

After finishing all the pre-reqs, applying to a program, nervously waiting for a response, trying to figure out how to juggle work around school, how am I going to pay my bills/rent while in school?, taking entrance exams, taking the TEAS exam, taking care of all the health requirements, taking out student loans, buying books, uniforms, medical equipment, and trying to maintain a relationship - I was finally ready to start nursing school.

Nursing School Is No Joke -

The school that I was attending had a 75% pass rate, meaning, if you did not obtain at least a 75% in your nursing courses, you failed out of nursing school. Okay, fine, I wasn't too worried about that considering how well I did in all my science classes. The nursing program I attended consisted of 4 semesters, Fall, Spring, Fall, Spring. However, those semesters were broken up into two. 8 weeks for a
set of courses, then the final. Then another 8 weeks of courses, and the final. If you failed any class in the 8 week time frame, you were out of the nursing program. Not to mention, with the beginning of each 8 week stint, we had a dosage/calculations exam. These tests were extremely nerve racking because in order to pass the exam, you had to get a 90%, and you had two tries to do so, or you could not come back into the nursing program. We dreaded those exams.

So over those 8 weeks we had an exam (1 every week and a half) - doesn't sound too bad, right? Wrong. This is where I, and many other students struggled. Within those 12 days, we had to learn the content of 6-8 chapters of nursing criteria for the exam. Can we say €Too much info, too little time?€ Not to mention, clinicals on top of that (two 10 hr days at a hospital), 3 care plans a week for clinicals, two other nursing courses I was taking concurrently, Sim-Lab, procedural check-offs, trying to work, and oh ya, maintaining a relationship.

Let me just say, I was NOT a 4.0 gpa student in nursing school. I was barely squeaking by, which was frustrating, nerve racking, and stressful. I worked my ass off to get into this program and I felt like I was holding on by a thread to stay in. I was definitely sleep deprived - running on caffeine, adrenaline, and the support from my fellow nursing school friends. My friends and I just wanted to learn, be the best student nurses possible, do well in our courses, and feel confident in the education we were receiving.

Where My Nursing School Fell Short

I NEVER expected nursing school to be easy. I knew that it was going to be a challenge and I was up for that challenge. And here is where I believe the nursing school I chose fell short.

 Student Per Teacher Ratio - During 2nd semester, ALL of the students were in 1 class room for lecture. 70 students to 1 teacher! We simply did not have time to ask questions if we did not understand something. This was a major problem.

 Failure Rate - The failure (attrition) rate during my 2nd semester class was 33%. We lost roughly 23 students after 8 weeks. It was very sad to come into the class room with 1/3 of your classmates gone. I just want to add that these were very bright and dedicated students that excelled in clinical rotation - thus, I want to reiterate how important student per teacher ratio is when it comes to lecture in nursing school.

 Work Load - Like I mentioned before, the work load per week is overwhelming. And like I also said, I did not expect it to be easy. But instead of truly grasping the concepts of those chapters, we were truly, just cramming.

 Teacher Dedication - Now this goes hand in hand with Work Load. The teachers during lecture did not take the time to make sure we really understood the material. There was a certain amount of information they had to teach us in a limited amount of time. Often, we had to stay late in the class room so they could rush through the rest of the material. There was no surprise that many students were struggling and the weekly test results proved this. However, these teaches kept pushing forward and ultimately, after 8 weeks, we lost 1/3 of the class. There was no discussion after our class €downsized€ on how we could better our learning experience. There was no dedication from these teachers on how to improve our test scores. They just moved on to the next chapters. As a nursing student, I was very frustrated that no one in administration saw this as a problem. This was not the kind of learning environment I signed up for.

Side note: I just want to state that I did have one amazing clinical instructor - she made us feel at ease in the hospital and took the time to help each one of us with our patients, she rocked! (student per teacher ration in clinicals was 10/1 - NOT ONE person failed clinicals).

A Change of Plans

2nd semester of nursing school was coming to an end when my husband had some news for me. He told me that his company was relocating out of state. This was a surprise. I had a mix of emotions - first, panic. I was almost half-way done with nursing school! Was I really going to just leave all my hard work behind?! On the other hand, I truly disliked the school I chose for myself and I couldn't wait to be done with this program. Was this my way out of a bad desicion?? Should I get an apartment for the next year to finish nursing school, with my husband being in another state? Do I rent a room somewhere? What if I don't pass a class and I am committed to a lease somewhere? All of these "what if's" kept running through my mind but after long deliberation, I decided to leave this aweful program behind me and move with my husband.

To make a long story short, I did research nursing programs in the town I was relocating to. I wanted to start back up where I left off after we moved. I was determined to get my R.N. license. All of the schools I contacted (except one) said I could NOT transfer my nursing credits and that I would have to start over in their nursing program. Why do I have to start from the beginning when I have proof of classes that I've taken and passed?! Why will they allow your pre-reqs to be transferable but not nursing credits?! I've realized nursing schools are very particular about their own curriculum, classes, and clinicals. I was coming from an NLN accredited program - but it didn't matter, which royaly pissed me off.

The one program that said they would take my nursing credits, ended up screwing me over too. Once I moved, I made an appointment to go speak with the admissions director (whom I talked to by phone prior to moving). Now, this was not an NLN accredited program, but it was the only school that said I could come into the program as an existing nursing student. It was also more expensive then the program I left behind in California. But I didn't care, I just wanted to get my nursing degree. When I met with the admissions director I brought in all the pertinent paperwork from my first year of nur
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