Your First Semester of Nursing School as an ABSN Student

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Congratulations! You have successfully completed your prerequisite classes and now you are on your way to becoming an official accelerated nursing student. While it is an exciting time, it can also be very nerve-racking. It is a big step toward a new career, so there are still a lot of unknowns about what to expect during your first semester of nursing school at Utica College. But you can stop worrying, because everything you need to know is right here.


Here are the courses you will need to complete during your first semester of nursing school at Utica College:

First Semester Courses:

  • NUR 311: Socialization to Professional Nursing (online coursework)
  • NUR 321: Foundations for Nursing Care (includes labs and clinical hours)
  • NUR 326: Health Assessment (includes labs)
  • NUR 332: Pathophysiology (online coursework)
  • NUR 346: Care of Populations and Communities (includes clinical hours)

Online Coursework

Kristin, current ABSN student
Meet Kristin, current ABSN student

Online learning is a whole new educational world for many nursing students. If you haven’t taken any classes online, you may be surprised at how it works and how interactive online learning can be.

Many ABSN students say the best part of the online coursework is being able to complete it on your own time. For instance, Kristin, a nursing student at Utica College’s ABSN site in St. Petersburg, gave birth to a baby days before the first semester began. She says having the flexibility online learning provides was necessary in order to pursue her nursing dream AND raise her new family member.

Another reason Utica College’s ABSN students love online coursework is because they can replay any portions of the lesson that were difficult to understand. You can’t do that in a traditional classroom setting.

For a glimpse into exactly what Utica College’s ABSN online learning platform looks like, you can watch a demo.

Skills/Simulation Labs

Along with online classes, Utica College’s ABSN students participate in clinical skills practice at a simulation lab. Hands-on lab hours are meant to reinforce what you’re learning in your online classes. You’ll learn such skills as:

  • Performing physical exams
  • Changing sterile dressings
  • Administering medication
  • Correct usage of medical equipment and supplies (i.e. IVs and catheters)

These labs also prepare students before they can work with “real” patients in clinicals. High-tech manikin patients are used so nursing students can learn the foundations so they are prepared for clinical rotations.

“Practicing on a manikin gives you a foundation that you can go off of when you start dealing with a real patient,” David, a current ABSN student, says. “You get an idea of the process and the procedure behind it.”


Utica ABSN student, David
Meet David, current ABSN student

Clinical Rotations in the First Semester

At many nursing schools, students don’t get to experience in-hospital clinical rotations until their last semester.  But through Utica College’s Accelerated Bachelors of Science in nursing program, or ABSN, you get that real-patient experience during the first semester so you are able to get comfortable with real-world situations over your 16-month nursing school experience. That is a huge benefit that sets Utica College’s ABSN program apart from other nursing schools.

Chandni, a Utica College ABSN student, says having the unique in-hospital experience from the beginning helped her nerves of dealing with patients.

“During first semester you do your basic nursing - like how to do bed baths, how to make a bed and how to speak to patients,” she says. “Thank goodness we did that first semester, because if I walked in later in the program not knowing how to speak to a patient, then I would be in trouble.”

One of the first clinical experiences you will have is in Med-Surg, where students learn the fundamentals of nursing in a hospital environment.

“Med-Surg is good - it gives you a good idea of what it’s like to be like on a normal nursing floor,” says Denise, a Utica College ABSN student. “You’re following a nurse, and you’re figuring it out. You’re seeing how they make these decisions, how they use time management, how they talk to patients, how they explain things to patients, so that we are really prepared when we get to that next step.”

Utica ABSN student, Denise
“It’s better to practice nursing skills on a simulated manikin than a real patient.” —Denise W., ABSN student

Tips for Surviving your First Semester

Now that you have an idea of what to expect during your first semester of nursing school, here are some tips that will help you along the way.

  1. Stick to a healthy routine. Try your best to manage your schedule with a calendar so you can block off times to study. Online learning takes self-discipline. This will keep you in line and on target. But also make sure you give yourself some time off so you don’t get burned out. You need to stay healthy and take care of yourself so you can put in your best work.
  2. Don’t use up your enthusiasm on day one. Easier said than done. But try to be in the moment and control emotions. Remind yourself why you chose to become a nurse and refer back to it as the semester progresses. ABSN programs are rigorous, so sometimes you need to remind yourself what drove you to do this in the first place.
  3. Expect the unexpected. While you may know what courses you will experience during your first semester, it’s important to remember you can’t always plan the results. Remember to give yourself a break.
  4. Be yourself. Everyone’s experience is different and everyone’s interpretation of those experiences is unique. Remember this is your nursing school journey; only you can decide what you want to get out of it.

There are also many other resources with great advice from former nursing students who know exactly how you feel and have great advice so you can get through you first semester successfully.

Feeling more prepared about what to expect in your first semester of nursing school? Then you are to ready to begin your first semester at Utica College’s ABSN program. Contact us today to find out about the accelerated BSN program in Syracuse or St. Petersburg.

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