What is Nursing School Like? Learn From Utica University

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Utica ABSN student standing in blue scrubs smiling

Ask the question, “What is nursing school like?” to working nurses and they will likely tell it to you straight — it’s tough. You’ll learn quickly during your first semester that it requires you to work hard and study even harder, leaving you little time for much else.

While it can get intense, the whole experience can seem much more manageable if you know what to expect in nursing school. The Utica College Accelerated B.S. in Nursing program compresses the traditional nursing school experience into 16 months using a blended curriculum model. That means you’ll complete the didactic portion online, skills and simulation labs virtually, then at our ABSN program site, and begin your clinical rotations at area hospitals starting your first semester.

If you think that sounds like a lot to do in a short time frame, you’re right — it is. But with hard work and dedication, it is possible to succeed. It also becomes much more manageable when you hear what nursing school is like from others who’ve been there before. That’s why, in addition to telling you what to expect in nursing school, we’ve also asked Utica ABSN alumni to share their advice on how to survive each semester of nursing school.

What nursing school is like at Utica

When researching which program is the best fit for you, you may first want to know how long is nursing school. While it varies from program to program, Utica College’s ABSN program takes place over 16 months and is comprised of four semesters. It is made up of three key components: online coursework, hands-on labs, and clinical rotations. Each plays an important role in your nursing education.

Online Coursework

In the online coursework portion of the Utica ABSN program, you will learn essential nursing theory concepts, from clinical research to leadership. You will do so through myriad instructional methods, ranging from assigned textbook readings and written assignments to interactive case studies, audio-visual lessons and discussion forums with fellow students and instructors.

Utica ABSN student using laptop

Hands-on Labs

Our skills and simulation labs take place at one of our Utica ABSN program sites in either Albany, New York or Syracuse, New York. During this component of your accelerated nursing education, you’ll work alongside highly experienced lab instructors — virtually for the first 10 weeks of each semester, then via an in-person lab immersion for the remainder of each semester at one of our program sites — to practice key nursing skills. In skills labs, you’ll learn everything from proper hand washing and bed change protocols to how to conduct nursing assessments. For practicing nursing skills like intubations and injections, you’ll use medical manikins.

Simulation labs take place at the program site location in which you’re enrolled. They are designed to hone your critical-thinking skills in a realistic hospital-like setting without putting anyone at risk. In simulation labs, you will interact with medical manikins that can display a variety of behaviors and symptoms. These experiences also offer you the opportunity to encounter medical situations you might not during your clinical rotations.

Utica accelerated nursing students working with sim manikin

Clinical Rotations

Finally, clinical rotations allow you to apply nursing theory to the practice setting, where you will observe patient care in a variety of healthcare settings and learn the ins and outs of delivering patient care, all under the guidance of experienced clinical instructors. Clinical rotations take place the last six weeks of each semester.

What to Expect in Nursing School

This video explains more about what nursing school is like in the Utica ABSN program.

How hard is nursing school?

If you’ve done any amount of research into nursing school, you likely have heard that nursing school is not easy — that’s as it should be. After all, nurses need to be able to apply critical thinking skills quickly in high-pressure situations.

What makes nursing school so difficult? Especially in an accelerated nursing program such as Utica ABSN, nursing school is a major time commitment. Many have even likened the experience to holding a full-time job, simply for the fact that you’ll need to spend that much time studying and participating in labs and clinical rotations to expect to succeed.

Nursing school also requires a different way of retaining and applying information. In addition to memorizing and synthesizing course material, you must also master critical hands-on skills and hone your ability to think analytically and often under pressure — weighing all you know about medicine with everything you can uncover about a patient’s condition.

While many will tell you that nursing school is hard, it’s not to say that succeeding is impossible. As you’ll read about below, you’ll have plenty of resources to help you make it through, including supportive instructors and fellow classmates.

Before you begin nursing school

One of the great things about the Utica ABSN program is that it allows you to complete your nursing theory coursework from anywhere thanks to our intuitive e-Learning platform. To set yourself up for meeting the challenge of nursing school, before you begin it’d be a good idea to identify the best learning environment for you and your situation. Some can focus in their living room or kitchen; others need a dedicated space, such as an office. Wherever you learn best, now is the time to situate yourself so it’s not something you have to think about the first week of nursing school (as you’ll read about below, you’ll see you’ll jump right in starting Day 1 of our program).

Now is also a good time to stock up on any study supplies you will need, such as notebooks and binders, and double-check that your desktop computer or laptop meets the system requirements of our online coursework.

Utica nursing student studying

Luckily, you’ll always have someone in your corner to help you through the entire process. Your admissions representative will stay in touch with you regularly until you begin to make sure you have everything you need to succeed.

Ready to accelerate in nursing?

Now that you have learned about what to expect in nursing school as a Utica ABSN student each semester, take the next step to start planning your accelerated nursing school journey. Fill out the form to have an admissions representative reach out to you.

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