Between studying for exams, preparing for labs and participating in clinical rotations, the typical nursing school schedule isn’t for the indifferent or undetermined. Nursing school is hard work; sometimes you’ll feel like everything you do is nursing related!
Add in the fact that the Utica College 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 these Utica ABSN students at our Miramar, Florida, program site location can attest, even though the rigorous program moves quickly and requires a lot of dedication, it’s manageable — and worth it.
They share their experiences and advice for persevering through the Utica ABSN program below.
What to Expect During the Utica ABSN Program
Getting through nursing school can be much easier if you know what to expect. 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 rave about the flexibility the online 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 participate in class.
But that doesn’t mean your professors will expect any less of you. You’ll still have to finish assignments, quizzes and exams by the deadlines they set. That makes maintaining a regular study schedule that much more important, says Wisdom, ABSN Class of 2019.
“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,” he says.
Skills and simulation labs take place at our program site
As a Utica ABSN student, you’ll complete 225 lab hours. 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 risk-free environment.
At first, Catalina, ABSN Class of 2019, didn’t know what to expect from this portion of her typical nursing school schedule. 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 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, clinicals 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.
“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 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, 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.
“You may have time to do extra-curricular activities if you manage your time well, but if you’re a habitual procrastinator — forget about it,” Wisdom says. “I do online food delivery sometimes, but I know that a full-time job can’t be my priority right now.”
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.
“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.”
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.
Are you ready to pursue your passion and become a nurse? Contact a Utica ABSN admission representative today to learn how you can get started.