Program Advice

How to Prepare Yourself for Nursing School

Summary: Ready to start your nursing career? You’ll first want to prepare yourself for nursing school and think through logistics like paying tuition, building a support system, and adopting new study habits. Felician University supports ABSN students’ with nursing school tips for your success, from studying smart to staying organized to being proactive.

Nursing student thought process - brain graphic

If you know you want to become a nurse, and you know you want to apply to our Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program—you definitely need to read this post. Why? Because it provides valuable insight on how to prepare yourself for nursing school. You’ll also get some tips on how to succeed in nursing school.

Consider Your Finances

Going back to school for nursing is an investment that requires financial planning. First, you need to figure out how you’re going to pay for nursing school. Then, you must consider how you’re going to pay your bills while in school. You’ll have to put yourself on a tight budget, stretching every dollar as far as you can.

Tuition

Unless you’re independently wealthy, you’ll have to finance your nursing education. And if that’s the case, you’ll have to pay for your education using a federal direct loan and/or a private education loan. You may also be able to offset your tuition costs by applying for and earning a third-party scholarship. When speaking with an admissions counselor, be sure to ask for our free financial aid guide.

Living Expenses

Our ABSN program is a full-time commitment, which is why most students choose not to work while in school. But if you must work, your employer needs to be flexible, and we recommend working as few hours as possible. Why? Because you need to devote a significant amount of time and energy to your studies to be successful. Also, you’ll be required to attend labs and clinicals on a strict schedule.

As you run the numbers, it helps to remember that a BSN comes with a good return on investment. Nursing is a high-demand occupation, and a BSN has become the preferred entry degree for professional practice. However, if the numbers just aren’t working, it might be worth applying to nursing school at a later date. You don’t want financial stress to prevent you from succeeding in nursing school.

School Supplies

While your admissions counselor will let you know what supplies to buy before school starts, you can expect to purchase items such as a blood pressure cuff, stethoscope, penlight, and dressing scissors. Because comfort is key when you’re a nursing student or a working nurse, we also recommend investing in a good pair of shoes and compression socks.

Uncover Your Learning Style

Even though it’s an accelerated learning path, we don’t expect you to enter our ABSN program with any prior nursing knowledge—just a solid grasp of math and science. After all, we designed the program for college-educated individuals who come from a non-nursing field of study.

We do, however, recommend that you start the program with an understanding of how you learn best. Why? Nursing school is very different from your previous undergraduate experience. You can no longer rely on the memorization of facts to see you through.

You must be able to synthesize concepts. In other words, you need to learn the course materials, understand how the information ties together, and then pull everything together within the scope of clinical practice. Not to mention, as a nursing student, you’ll take exams with multiple-choice questions where all of the answers are correct, but you need to choose the most correct one.

Nursing student on the computer

Now back to your learning style. Everyone absorbs and retains information differently, so think about how you’re able to connect the dots when presented with a complex concept. Let’s say you’re learning about the cardiovascular system. Would you understand the information better if you read it in a book or talked about it in a group discussion? Perhaps both?

When you know what type of learner you are—visual, aural, or kinesthetic—you can create efficient, effective study habits that will help set you up for success. For example, if you’re a visual learner, you might create notecards that use mnemonics to help you remember nursing terms. Also, we recommend taking the VARK questionnaire to get study suggestions that align with your learning style.

Study Tools

Nursing school is challenging, but there are study tools you can buy in advance to help ease some of the pressure. These tools include a planner for time management, an NCLEX study guide for test-taking strategy, and a drug handbook for up-to-date information.

Build Your Support System

When you’re in nursing school, “I can’t, I have to study” will become part of your everyday vocabulary. Words your friends and family may have never heard you speak before, which could leave them feeling slighted and you feeling stressed. But there’s a way to cut this undue emotional stress off at the pass.

Before you start school, talk to your loved ones and tell them what you’re up against. You may even want to recruit them to take items off your to-do list. If you have kids, you might ask your significant other to handle school drop-offs and pick-ups. Maybe you have a mom who likes to cook. Ask her to help you with grocery shopping and meal prep.

And don’t feel bad. Giving and receiving support is a basic human need, just listen to the song “Lean on Me.” If that’s not analytical enough for you, studies have shown that when people have a support system they can depend on, they have better skills for coping with stress.

Relatable Resources

Unless they’ve previously walked in your shoes, no one can truly empathize with the struggles you face as a nursing student. So if you ever feel nervous or lack confidence, it helps to connect with others who’ve been there, done that. Talking with nursing students who are getting ready to graduate or working registered nurses can do wonders for your self-esteem. Plus, there are several nurses out there blogging and/or vlogging about their experiences before, during, and after nursing school.

Evaluate Your Habits

As an accelerated nursing student, your education should be at the top of your priority list. However, that’s not to say you should eat, sleep, and breathe nursing school―that would be counterproductive. You must take care of yourself. So before school starts, evaluate your good and bad habits.

If you have good sleep hygiene, you’ll want to keep that going in nursing school because exhaustion impacts your ability to study properly. If you have poor eating habits, you’ll want to seek healthier options to help stay motivated. Just be sure to adopt new habits well before you start nursing school. You don’t want to shock your system right before or after classes begin.

Current Vaccinations

Every nursing student needs to be up-to-date on their vaccinations. You need to be immunized before you can enter any clinical setting. Ask your admissions counselor about our vaccination requirements as soon as possible. Our ABSN clinicals start in semester two.

Treat Yourself

Heading into nursing school stressed out won’t do you any good. Before classes start, be sure to give yourself some credit. After all, getting into our ABSN program is no easy feat, and you should feel proud of yourself. To celebrate, go on vacation, plan fun family activities, catch up with friends, or do whatever makes you happy. Entering this next chapter of your life with a rested mind and body can do wonders. So show up to class with an open mind and be ready to learn.

What to Expect in Nursing School

Now that you know how to prepare for nursing school, you probably want to know what happens in nursing school. Because our ABSN program builds on your previous non-nursing college education, you can expect to dive right into professional nursing study on the first day of class.

Our full-time ABSN program is a rigorous learning path that combines fundamental coursework with hands-on nursing labs, and clinical rotations in diverse areas of nursing practice.

Fundamental Coursework

Often called the didactic part of nursing school, your ABSN coursework establishes the foundation of your education. These courses cover the fundamentals and theories of the nursing profession and set the stage for the hands-on skills you’ll develop during your nursing labs.

When it comes to your ABSN coursework, you can choose to complete it online or on our campus. If you’re interested in online learning, you must enroll in our 16-month Hybrid ABSN program in Parsippany, New Jersey. If you prefer being in the classroom, you must enroll in our 18-month On-Ground ABSN program in Rutherford, New Jersey.

Take note that our Hybrid ABSN program has three start dates a year—in January, May, and August—whereas our On-Ground ABSN program has only one in May.

nursing student studying at desk with textbooks and laptop
As a Felician ABSN student, you can choose to complete your fundamental coursework online or on campus.

Nursing Skills Labs

Your hands-on skills labs will take place at your ABSN enrollment location. Featuring task trainers and full-body medical manikins, our lab environment provides a realistic backdrop for you to practice basic psychomotor skills and procedures without the fear of putting patient safety at risk.

The core nursing skills you’ll develop in lab include:

  • Catheter Insertion
  • Hand-washing Techniques
  • Health Assessments
  • Intramuscular Injections
  • Nasogastric (NG) Tube Insertions
  • Wound Dressings

While in lab, it helps to remember that this is an environment where it’s perfectly okay to make and learn from your mistakes. In fact, our faculty and staff view mistakes as valuable learning opportunities.

Felician ABSN students working in skills lab
Our nursing lab provides a realistic backdrop for you to practice basic psychomotor skills and procedures without the fear of putting patient safety at risk.

Nursing Simulation Labs

Also taking place at your location of enrollment, nursing simulations are highly realistic learning exercises that develop your problem-solving skills, critical thinking, and clinical judgment across the continuum of patient care.

Our simulation labs feature adult and child patient simulators that can deliver realistic physiologic responses that include heart sounds, respiration, and pupil reactions. Simulators carry out the patient role in complex, high-risk scenarios, such as cardiac arrest and hemorrhaging. So yes, there will be blood, but it’ll be fake, of course. Our staff controls these manikins from an adjoining room and can make them vocal if they don’t agree with your clinical approach.

But as lifelike as our simulation manikins are, they’re unable to provide the same level of personal interaction as humans. You might say they’re socially awkward. That’s why we also use real people in our simulations, such as mental health interventions.

Clinical Rotations

Your clinical rotations will begin during your second semester in the program. While in nursing school, you can expect to log more than 860 clinical hours.

Your initial clinicals will cover behavioral health and medical-surgical care. Then, as you progress in the program, you’ll encounter other areas of clinical practice, including pediatrics, maternity care, and public health.

Whether you’re a student in our Hybrid or On-Ground ABSN program, you’ll complete your clinicals within the Atlantic Health System or at leading healthcare facilities across northern New Jersey. Keep in mind a lot goes into scheduling your clinicals, so we can’t guarantee placement in a specific facility.

Also as part of your clinical experience, you’ll participate in a clinical immersion during your fourth semester. You’ll work one-on-one with a preceptor in a concentrated area of practice, taking on the same 12-hour shifts as this registered nurse. At first, you’ll be taking on one or two patients. Then, you’ll gradually increase your patient load until you reach a full assignment. Take note that your preceptor reports back to your clinical instructor on your performance, so always put your best foot forward.

nurse walking in hospital hallway
As a Felician ABSN student, your clinical rotations start in the second semester.

How to Succeed in Nursing School

Is nursing school challenging? Yes. Will you need to retain lots of information? Yes. Will you study more than ever before? Yes. Can you do this? Yes.

By committing to your studies and staying focused, you can reach your goal of becoming a nurse. Think of yourself as an athlete preparing for a major sports competition. The only way you’re going to come out a champion is through hard work and dedication.

Remember, nursing school isn’t about memorizing facts; it’s about comprehension. Let’s say you’re learning about kidneys and renal failure. Memorizing the types of acute renal failure and their associated complications doesn’t mean you understand what’s going on inside the body. You need to know how kidneys function and how they influence other systems in the human body.

And last but not least, it’s important to seek help when you’re stuck on a concept. You don’t want to risk falling behind and not being able to get back on track. Our faculty and support staff want to see you succeed and are available to see you through the rigors of nursing school. Perhaps that’s why our ABSN student retention rate is greater than 95%.

Nursing School Tips

Nursing school, in and of itself, is tough. Now imagine completing your BSN at an accelerated pace. It’s definitely not a walk in the park. It’s more like running up a steep slope. The good news is there are things you can do to catch your breath. We’ve found the most effective students are those who apply these five nursing school tips:

1. Study Smart

As a nursing student, you’ll be studying a lot. And what you study is just as important as how you study, especially when you’re in an accelerated program. So be sure and identify ways you can make your study time more effective and efficient.

  • Develop strategies based on how you learn best.
  • Create and adhere to a consistent study routine.
  • Study at a time of day when you feel your best (10 a.m. or 10 p.m.)
  • Take advantage of external resources such as picmonic.
  • Form or join a study group with your classmates.

2. Stay Organized

Organization and time management are vital to nursing school success, so find tools that will help you stay motivated and on task.

  • Invest in a planner that allows you to use the time-blocking method.
  • Buy a binder to keep all of your notes and handouts in one place.

3. Schedule Breaks

Consider making a daily walk or weekly massage part of your routine—just don’t forget to add the activity to your planner. Taking time to do whatever makes you feel recharged and relaxed is critical to your success. Because when you fail to practice self-care, you put yourself at risk for burnout. You should look at self-care as being just as important as brushing your teeth daily.

4. Hands-on Practice

Felician nursing students in lab

Students participate in hands-on nursing labs at our ABSN site location. Labs are a safe place to practice and master the skills needed for clinicals. To help you hone your nursing skills, be sure to take advantage of open lab hours. Encourage classmates to join you so you can critique one another. Also, if you’re confident with your skills but become nervous in front of your instructor, consider roleplaying with a friend or classmate before a skills check-off.

5. Be Proactive

It’s important to make the most of your time in clinicals. Downtime is the perfect time for you to convey your eagerness to learn. Ask those around you if they need help. Just be ready and willing to take on any task―no matter how mundane. In doing so, you’re showing others that you’re a team player, which could lead to more exciting tasks in the future.

Being proactive and helpful during your clinical rotations goes a long way when it comes time to begin your job search—you’ll need references. Not to mention, making a good impression with employers doesn’t start with your job search; it starts during your clinical rotations.

Ready to Apply to Nursing School?

Now that you know how to prepare for and succeed in nursing school, it’s time to set your education in motion. Our 16-month Hybrid ABSN program in Parsippany and 18-month On-Ground ABSN program in Rutherford are currently enrolling students who meet the admissions requirements. You must have a minimum of 60 non-nursing college credits to be eligible. Speak with an admissions counselor today!

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