What to Expect in Nursing School

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Learning what to expect in nursing school can help you prepare for success. For example, you’ll take courses in nursing concepts, develop nursing skills in labs, and complete clinical rotations at nearby hospitals. Is nursing school hard? It can be challenging, but becoming a nurse is well worth the effort.

nursing students in classroom

Once you’ve made the decision to go back to school and switch careers to nursing, you’ll need to do your due diligence. Learning what to expect in nursing school will be helpful, and doing a little research should answer most of your questions, like “Is nursing school hard?” and “What nursing school tips might help me?”

You’ll get those answers here, and you can also rely on your dedicated admissions counselor at Concordia University Texas for more information. At Concordia Texas, you could earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree in as few as 16 months thanks to our Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) track. There is no prior healthcare experience or nursing education required, although you will need to meet other admissions requirements.

Accelerated nursing school is an adjustment, but Concordia Texas is here to guide you through that transition. Below is an exploration of what to expect in nursing school.

Is Nursing School Hard?

ABSN students working together in simulation lab

It’s true that nursing school can be a challenge, but graduation is achievable. Remember if you’re accepted into the ABSN track, it means you already have the foundational knowledge and skills necessary for success. However, you should be prepared to work hard and commit to long hours during your time in the ABSN track. Here’s a look at some of the challenges:

  • Rapid pace – To graduate in as few as 16 months, you’ll need to keep up with a quick pace.
  • Complex topics – Nursing requires knowledge in scientific areas like pharmacology, pathophysiology and anatomy, and also requires hands-on nursing skills. The good news is you won’t be thrown into the deep end right away. You’ll gradually build up your knowledge and skills so you are equipped to tackle topics of increasing difficulty.
  • Time management – It’s important to treat an ABSN track like a full-time job. Expect to work 40+-hour weeks during the track.

At Concordia Texas, you’ll benefit from highly dedicated faculty members who will do everything possible to support your success.

When times get tough, it can be helpful to remind yourself of why you want to become a nurse. Nursing can be a highly rewarding career, as it offers the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of others. You’ll be able to wake up each morning knowing you’re going to help patients and family members get through their own tough times.

What to Expect in Nursing School: Top 5 Things to Know

Yes, nursing school can be challenging, but one way to mitigate the challenges is to prepare for the experience. Here’s a look at the top five things you should know about nursing school.

1. You’ll Go Through Orientation First

It’s normal to feel a bit like a fish out of water when you find yourself in a new setting. That’s why we offer a comprehensive orientation at Concordia Texas. During the first week, you’ll get settled and meet your instructors and other students in your cohort. You’ll get comfortable with the schedule, curriculum, and classes, and you’ll answer any lingering questions. You’ll also begin your online coursework during the first week.

2. You’ll Take Nursing Theory Courses Online

At Concordia Texas, we are proud of how effective our online nursing theory coursework is at educating our nursing students. The online modules not only include lectures, but they also use other forms of interactive learning, including:

  • Case studies and practice questions
  • Lifelike animations
  • Simulation activities
nursing students looking at laptop

To ensure the integrity of our exams, they take place in-person at our ABSN learning site. Testing onsite also helps ensure you have someone immediately available to help you if you need technical assistance.

3. You’ll Practice in Skills and Simulation Labs

Simulation labs are the in-person application of what you are learning in your courses. You may learn about how to measure blood pressure or start an IV line in your online coursework, but in the labs, you’ll practice doing these tasks.

Skills and simulation labs allow you to gain confidence in a safe space while also forming closer bonds with your instructors and peers. Our experienced instructors will be with you every step of the way as you practice.

CTX nursing student working with a simulation manikin

Curious to learn more? Check out this blog on skills and simulation labs in nursing education.

4. Clinical Rotations Allow You to Gain Experience

Clinical rotations allow you to put what you are learning to use. You’ll start clinicals during your first semester of the ABSN track at Concordia Texas, after settling in and working through the coursework to prepare.

During each clinical, you’ll be placed in a hospital, where you’ll practice delivering direct patient care. You’ll be paired individually with a preceptor, who is a professional nurse there to guide you through clinical nursing. You’ll start off by shadowing your preceptor, and as you learn more, you’ll gain more responsibility in caring for patients.

Step into the shoes of an RN - people walking in a hospital hallway

Wondering about the benefits of clinicals and what they teach you? Learn more about why clinical nursing experience is important.

5. NCLEX Prep Should Begin Right Away

Earning your nursing degree is a major achievement toward becoming a registered nurse (RN), but it’s not the only one. Before you can work as an RN, you’ll need to pass the national licensure exam — the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Although you won’t take the exam until after graduation, it’s wise to begin studying for it during your first semester. Those 16 months will go by faster than you’d think, and you’ll thank yourself later for starting NCLEX prep right away.

In addition to studying coursework, you can prepare for the NCLEX by taking practice tests, answering sample NCLEX questions each day and using various prep resources (e.g. video tutorials) available online.

students sitting at desks in classroom

Kick off your NCLEX prep with these top 9 NCLEX tips.

Nursing School Tips for Success

Now that we’ve covered what to expect in nursing school, it’s time to dive into some nursing school tips for success.

Balance is important. You should spend enough time studying, but don’t study all day every day. You want to do well academically, but not at the expense of your health. With that in mind, here are some ways to approach a healthy nursing student lifestyle:

  • Stick to your schedule. Plan your daily schedule, including time for personal wellness, and then hold to it.
  • Get outside every day. Fresh air and sunshine is a great way to relieve stress and elevate your mood. Go for a walk or run outside to maintain your physical and emotional health.
  • Eat well. Nourish your body and mind with nutritious meals as often as you can. If possible, enlist the help of your family to prepare meals for you.
  • Get enough sleep. Sleep is crucial for all aspects of health, as well as for learning retention. Stay mentally sharp by sticking to a set sleep schedule.
  • Use spaced repetition. Along with getting enough sleep, using spaced repetition as a study method can help you improve learning retention. For example, create a set of index cards with nursing concepts written on them to use as study aids. Review the cards at spaced intervals throughout your time in nursing school.
CTX ABSN student in purple scrubs

Getting through the transition to nursing school is easier when you know what to expect and when you follow these nursing school tips. Just remember: commit to school, but balance it with life.

Pursue Your Nursing Degree at Concordia University Texas

The ABSN track at Concordia Texas is an ideal way to earn your BSN in as few as 16 months and graduate ready to take on a nursing career.

We offer three start dates each year — in January, May, and August — which means you’ll be able to start your education sooner. If you have a prior non-nursing bachelor’s degree or 60 college credits at an accredited institution, then you may be eligible for acceptance into the accelerated nursing track.

If you’d like to learn more about how getting a BSN at Concordia Texas can transform your life and career, reach out to our admissions counselors today.