What is Nursing School Like?

Each blog post is dated and contains accurate information as of that date. Certain information may have changed since the blog post publication date. If you would like to confirm the current accuracy of blog information, please visit our ABSN program overview page or contact us at (866) 892-6747.

Ever wondered what a typical nursing student’s schedule is like? Learn what nursing school is like, how rigorous the courses are, how much you should spend studying, and how long the program is. Hear from students about their experiences at Utica University’s ABSN program.

two Utica nursing students working in lab

Between studying for exams, preparing for labs and participating in clinical rotations, the typical nursing school schedule isn’t for the indifferent or undetermined. Add in the fact that the Utica University Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program compresses a traditional nursing curriculum into 16 months and you’ll likely have to work and study even harder to succeed.

But as Utica ABSN students can attest, even though the rigorous program moves quickly and requires a lot of dedication, it’s manageable — and worth it. If you are committed to succeeding within the program you will need to put in daily work to study and complete assignments, but you will also have plenty of flexibility within the framework of an accelerated nursing program. Now let’s explore a bit more about what nursing school is like and what to expect in nursing school.

What to Expect During the Utica ABSN Program

Getting through nursing school can be much easier if you know what to expect. There will definitely be long hours and plenty of work, both alone and with fellow cohort members, as you progress through Utica’s 16-month ABSN curriculum. Here are some things to keep in mind as you consider what your typical nursing school schedule will involve as a Utica ABSN student.

You have flexibility with online learning, but still must meet deadlines

Students often enjoy the flexibility that the online-based learning component of our curriculum affords them. Since you don’t need to be at a specific place at a specific time, you can choose when and where you engage with material (provided you can meet deadlines). That makes maintaining a regular study schedule that much more important, says Wisdom, a Utica ABSN graduate.

With my other undergrad degree, you had time to put off coursework, but not with this program. You have to stay on top of things.

Wisdom, Utica ABSN graduate

Skills and Simulation Labs Take Place at our Program Site

As a Utica ABSN student, you’ll complete 225 lab hours with clinical skills and nursing simulation labs. During this time, you’ll “treat” medical manikins in a variety of mock clinical scenarios using real hospital equipment at our ABSN program site. We design these simulated situations not only for you to practice key nursing skills, but also to get a taste of what a real-life clinical experience will be like in a safe environment.

Utica ABSN student examining simulation manikin

At first, Catalina, ABSN Class of 2019, didn’t know what to expect in nursing school from this portion of the curriculum. But she and her classmates were impressed once they experienced the cutting-edge simulation technology in our on-site labs, she says.

“We saw all the manikins and how well-built they are. You can insert injections and catheters into them. Some actually have vitals so you can listen to lung sounds, for example,” she says. “It’s way more than I expected; it gave me a very realistic view of what a patient care scenario should be in real life.”

Clinical Rotations Start Your First Semester

Unlike traditional B.S. in Nursing programs where your first clinical rotations start halfway through the curriculum, clinical placements begin the first semester in the Utica ABSN program. But don’t worry — we won’t throw you in the deep end on your first day of clinical rotations. As you progress through the program, so will your level of clinical practice.

As Catalina puts it, your first-semester clinical rotations focus on fundamentals, such as assessing patients, observing vital signs, and helping with basic needs. Then with each subsequent semester, your clinical responsibilities increase and build upon what you learned in the last.

Utica nursing students in skills lab

“Second semester, for example, we’re interested in performing skills, such as putting in a urinary catheter or assisting with labor and delivery during our obstetrics rotation,” she says.

What You Should Know Before Enrolling

To succeed in accelerated nursing school, some of our ABSN students say you have to go beyond the level of dedication and effort you applied to your previous field of study. They answer the question “What is nursing school like?” and share more of what you should know about the Utica ABSN program below.

You’ll Have to Make Some Sacrifices

Because our 16-month ABSN program follows a full-time, fast-paced format that requires a lot of time and energy, many students compare it to holding a full-time job. In addition to the time spent in labs at our program site, you can expect to complete 588 hours of clinical practice, which equates to approximately three to four days per week.

Also, when considering what nursing school is like, add in the fact that you’ll still need to study and stay on top of your online coursework — Wisdom estimates he studies for five uninterrupted hours each day — and you’ll likely have to cut back in other areas of your life. That may mean missing time with friends and family or scaling back on work hours to succeed in nursing school.

How Long the Utica ABSN Program Takes

The ABSN program at Utica University is 16 months long – as opposed to a traditional 36 months or more. There are three start dates a year – January, May, and August – to help you avoid a waitlist and get into the program more quickly.

The program includes a blended online and onsite curriculum that builds on your already existing college credit to allow for faster graduation. There is also an early admission option included through our Prerequisite Priority Program (PREP), which grants you admission into Utica’s nursing school if you complete your prerequisites with Utica University.

Utica nursing student with medical equipment

How Rigorous the Program Is

By now, you have an idea of the rigors and requirements for enrolling in a nursing program. Nursing schools hold students to a high standard. You need to be prepared to study hard and learn quickly during Utica’s ABSN program.

How much time a week should you be studying? Typically, you should plan to spend double the number of hours studying as you do in a class. For example, if you have a three-hour Clinical Research class, you should expect to spend six hours studying that material.

You’ll Have Support Along the Way

While they had to cut back on social activities to study more, Utica ABSN students say they immediately knew they weren’t going through the program alone.

Wisdom says he knows he can always count on instructors and staff for help in any way during nursing school — whether that’s with understanding a tough concept or balancing other portions of his life with his typical nursing school schedule.

“In some other programs, I’ve heard instructors are distant and it’s hard to get help. Here they give us instant feedback and help us out a lot,” Wisdom says.

They’re always here for you.

Wisdom, Utica ABSN graduate

Catalina says that sense of camaraderie carries over into her interactions with her classmates.
“Meeting my cohort for the first time was great because I got to see who I’m going to partner with for 16 months and find out where I fit in with the group,” she says.

You’ll Be Amazed by How Much You Learn

Wisdom says he appreciates how the hybrid nature of our three-part ABSN program ties nursing theory concepts and clinical experiences together. “Nursing school is what I expected in that I learned a lot, but also not what I expected in terms of how everything you learn comes together,” he says. “It’s a unique experience.”

The program also surpasses Catalina’s expectations of what a typical nursing school schedule should be like. “Every day you feel like you’ve learned a ton; you feel well educated and that you’ll be ready to go on to become a great nurse,” she says.

UticaABSN has a supportive learning environment

Start Your Nursing Education Journey Today

With so much to learn and such a flexible career awaiting in the nursing field, hopefully you are interested in starting your journey toward a BSN degree after reading more about what nursing school is like. Utica University’s ABSN program can help you earn your degree sooner, as you start to make a difference and enter an exciting new career. Contact us today to match with a Utica admissions representative and take the next steps toward submitting your application.

The Ultimate Nursing School Admissions Checklist

Ready for nursing school but stressed about applying? We recommend downloading our free admissions checklist to learn the important ins and outs of applying to accelerated nursing school.

The ultimate nursing school admissions checklist