What to Expect in Nursing School

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Success in nursing school starts with knowing what to expect. As an accelerated nursing student at CSP Global, you can expect to participate in an orientation then dive into online coursework, skills labs and clinical learning experiences, including rotations at healthcare facilities in St. Paul, MN, and Portland, OR.

two CSP nursing students sitting and studying

You’ve completed all of your nursing school prerequisites, submitted all of your paperwork and are finally ready to start nursing school. Now, the anxiety sets in. You ask yourself — Can I really do this? Will I be successful in nursing school?

The short answer is yes — it is possible to earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) in as few as 16 months after completing your prerequisites through CSP Global’s Accelerated BSN program. Below, you can learn what to expect in nursing school and how to prepare.

What to Buy for Nursing School

Certain items that you’ll need for nursing school are self-explanatory, such as a laptop, internet service, a quiet place to study, notebooks, a day planner or electronic calendar, pens, highlighters and index cards (study aids). You’ll also need textbooks, which you may be able to find used for a reduced price. Other items are specific to nursing school students and your nursing program will provide very specific guidance before you make any purchases, such as the following:

  • Face masks and hand sanitizer
  • Two pairs of scrubs (tops and bottoms)
  • Comfortable, supportive shoes (You’ll often be on your feet during clinicals.)
  • Stethoscope
  • Compression socks (Optional, but a good investment, as you’ll be sitting and standing for long periods of time.)

How Hard Is Nursing School?

When considering the question, “What is nursing school like?” one of the first issues that may come to mind is its academic rigor. No matter how studious you are and academically prepared you are, you should expect nursing school to challenge you. You’ll need to plan on a full schedule of classes, labs and clinicals, and you’ll need to spend much of your free time studying.

However, it’s beneficial for nursing school to be difficult, given the significant responsibility nurses have and the fact that their patients’ lives are often in their hands. By working hard through this accelerated program, you’ll be well-prepared to meet clinical challenges throughout your nursing career.

nursing students in skills lab

What to Expect in Nursing School During Your First Week

How does nursing school work, exactly? It can be helpful to know that your first semester of nursing school will require a bit of an adjustment. It’s a transitional period that may feel a little bit overwhelming at times, but once you get adjusted to your new environment and schedule, you’ll start to feel right at home, especially as you begin to make new friends and dive into your work.

Before you begin classes, you will attend an orientation. This is an introduction to the curriculum, your classmates and faculty. Then, you’ll begin attending classes. Use these tips during orientation and throughout your first week:

  • Write it down. Keep a notebook with you and take notes as needed. Write down reminders to yourself and try to stay organized.
  • Ask questions. Faculty and staff are here to support you. If something is not clear, just ask!
  • Build up your contacts. Nursing school is a team sport! Your peers can become lifetime friends because you will go through this experience of becoming a nurse together. Use orientation to get their contact information and to share any concerns or questions with your fellow students.

Beyond Week One: How Does Nursing School Work?

What is nursing school like after orientation? During your four semesters in your ABSN program at CSP Global, you will work through a blended learning format that consists of online coursework, skills laboratories, and clinical learning experiences.

You’ll complete nursing coursework online, with many opportunities to interact with your fellow classmates and faculty members. You’ll study the provided resources, complete learning activities and assignments and self-assessments.

As far as subject matter, your ABSN pre-requisite coursework consists of plenty of science classes, including anatomy, psychology, physiology and pathophysiology. Your ABSN nursing courses will include pathophysiology and pharmacology and you’ll learn important clinical skills, such as how to calculate medication dosages.

CSP nursing students standing in lab

Skills lab experiences at CSP Global will teach you how to perform fundamental nursing skills, such as complete a patient assessment, take the patient’s medical history, insert an IV line and check vital signs. You’ll practice your new nursing skills on a variety of l manikins and models. These take place at our ABSN learning sites in Portland, OR, and St. Paul, MN.

As a CSP Global ABSN student, you’ll also participate in clinical learning experiences. In simulation, you will use human patient simulator manikins to practice the skills you have learned in lab. Under supervision, you’ll also work directly with patients in a variety of environments both within healthcare systems and the community. While the length may vary, you may complete clinical learning experiences in the following content areas:

  • Adult Health
  • Mental Health
  • Behavioral Health
  • Obstetrics
  • Pediatrics
  • Intensive Care
  • Acute Care
  • Long-Term Care

Accelerated nursing students especially love clinical learning experiences is because it gives them an opportunity to explore various areas of nursing to find their fit. Clinical learning experiences help provide students an opportunity to identify what area of nursing they want to pursue following graduation and licensure.

Launch your career with an Accelerated Nursing program - two nurses working together

Explore in more detail about how accelerated nursing programs work in this post.

Tips for Succeeding in Nursing School

Now that you know what to expect in nursing school, it’s time to focus on your academic progress. Because nursing school is academically rigorous, it’s important to develop strong study habits and practice good time management. Try the following tips:

  • Study Habits: You know yourself best. By this point in your academic career, you likely already know which methods of studying (index cards, etc.) work best for you. Be willing to adapt your study habits to learn how to apply what your learning to specific care situations where your ability to make sound clinical decisions is key. Our advisors and faculty will help you adapt and grow to be successful. Study Plan: No matter which study method you use, you should have a study schedule. At the start of each semester, evaluate your schedule of classes, labs and clinicals and identify blocks of time that you can set aside for studying. Then, keep to your schedule as much as possible.
  • Time Management: Everyone has the same amount of time to work with each day. The difference between people who make more progress and those who make less progress is time management. Identify your problem areas that detract from your time management (e.g. noise-related distractions, social media, etc.) and develop a plan to address them.
  • Mindset: Soon, you’ll be ready to take the NCLEX-RN in preparation for becoming a registered nurse. Although you aren’t currently employed as a nurse, it can be helpful to think of nursing school as your full-time job. This may help motivate you and keep you on track with your studying.
  • Support Systems: Although it’s important to work in plenty of study time, it’s also essential to care for yourself — body, mind and spirit. Reach out to others for help when you feel overwhelmed and make time for friends. In some cases, you can multitask while socializing. For instance, invite a new friend out for a run around campus so you can enjoy both exercise and social stimulation.

These 7 nursing school tips can help you thrive in an accelerated nursing program.

Concordia St. Paul ABSN students working in sim lab

Why CSP Global?

CSP Global offers ABSN students a small school feel with big opportunities. CSP Global is a Christian community that encourages student and faculty interaction, individual attention and spiritual growth — all backed with an emphasis on service. Students who graduate from the nursing program learn to care for the whole patient — mind, body and spirit.

Nursing school is not supposed to be easy. Becoming a nurse is hard work, but so very worth it! But at CSP Global, you can expect to be well-prepared and to have plenty of resources to help you succeed, not just in becoming a nurse, but also in becoming a healthcare leader.

Take the first step toward your nursing future and contact an ABSN admissions advisor today.