Is Nursing School Hard? 8 Things You Should Know

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Is nursing school hard? Yes, nursing school is demanding. and will push you academically; however, this is done with a clear purpose: to prepare you for the rigors of nursing. While certain aspects of nursing school are challenging, such as its fast pace and complicated subjects, it is worth it.

nursing students studying with tablet

Why is nursing school hard? Nurses have challenging careers. They save lives and handle a great deal of responsibility to provide skilled, dignified, and compassionate patient care. Nursing school is designed to prepare students to meet the profession’s demands. So, while earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is difficult, it’s an attainable goal — and it can be done in as few as 16 to 18 months.

At Felician University, we are well-versed in helping students overcome a rigorous nursing curriculum and graduate as practice-ready nurses. The Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program at Felician offers four start dates a year — three for the 16-month hybrid option and one for the 18-month on-ground option. The ABSN program is the ideal choice for those with a prior non-nursing bachelor’s degree or at least 60 college credits who want to make a career change to nursing.

In an accelerated nursing program, the challenging nature of nursing school only intensifies. However, with dedication and hard work, our students can and do succeed. We’re going to explore the question, “How hard is nursing school?” from beginning to end, so you know exactly what to expect as you begin the worthwhile path to becoming a nurse.

1. Nursing School Topics are Hard

First of all, nursing education is hard. The curriculum in a hybrid or on-ground accelerated BSN program like Felician’s consists of four semesters of education through rigorous courses and in-person labs and clinical rotations. Nursing school requires students to learn:

  • Physiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Patient assessment and care
  • Nursing research
  • Health ethics
  • Public health and more

These concepts are far from easy. One of the primary reasons why nursing school is so hard is simply because it requires time and effort to master these challenging topics. Nurses have a lot of responsibility, so it’s important that they have a strong foundation of healthcare knowledge.

Felician nursing student sitting at desk studying

2. Fast-Paced Schedule

The beauty and the challenge of an accelerated program is the length. Accelerated nursing programs allow you to earn your BSN significantly faster than you would in a traditional program. In the 16-month hybrid and 18-month on-ground accelerated nursing programs at Felician University, students can earn their BSN in less time than a traditional four-year bachelor’s degree program.

Traditional nursing school has students spend two years taking nursing-intensive courses. The great thing about accelerated BSN programs is students can leverage their prior bachelor’s degree or 60 college credits to complete a BSN in less time.

However, with the shorter time comes a faster pace. That means accelerated programs move quickly. You’ll need to learn how to optimize your time and study efficiently so you can stay ahead on the material.

It’s normal for students to feel overwhelmed at first as they get used to the rigor and demands of learning so quickly. Just remember to stick to your study schedule and ask questions early. Nursing school is cumulative, so it’s important to stay ahead.

3. It Takes a Lot of Dedication

One aspect of what makes nursing school so hard is the mental fortitude it takes to remain committed and disciplined. When you embark on nursing school, you’re beginning a rewarding path full of potential, but you’ll need to put in work to achieve your goals.

While it’s challenging to remain focused and dedicated to a study plan every day, the great thing about accelerated nursing programs like ours at Felician is you can finish in as few as 16 to 18 months. This means the time demands are short-lived, and before you know it, you’ll be ready to jump into a meaningful nursing career.

Felician ABSN student smiling and holding laptop

4. You’ll Need to Juggle Academic Responsibilities

One of the reasons why nursing school is hard is that nursing students need to manage multiple academic responsibilities at the same time. As a nursing student, you’ll not only need to do well on exams, but you’ll also need to develop hands-on skills, communication skills, and bedside nursing skills.

You’ll have a busy schedule consisting of either online or on campus courses, nursing skills and simulation labs, and clinicals. Each course type builds off the other, ultimately preparing you to confidently enter clinical rotations. Managing these varied school commitments can be a challenge, but once you settle into a routine, it will become easier.

woman sitting on couch with laptop

Are you considering in enrolling in a hybrid ABSN with online learning? Read this guide to online nursing education to prepare for online coursework.

5. You’ll Have Limited Personal Time

The personal sacrifices involved in nursing school are a big part of why nursing school is so hard. During an ABSN program, you can expect to commit more than 40 hours a week to classes and studying, which likely will require evening and weekend study sessions. This means you’ll likely have little time for personal activities.

While it’s important to maintain a balance between the time you spend studying and your personal life, nursing school needs to be number one. You’ll need to put nursing school before social activities, which can be challenging for nursing students. However, by making school a priority, you’ll be investing in your future career.

6. It Requires You to Understand, Not Memorize

Is nursing school hard to study for? Students often find nursing school poses new challenges compared to their prior college courses, because of the depth of understanding required for nursing students.

Nursing school is less about memorizing facts and more about synthesizing concepts. For example, instead of memorizing the term “renal failure,” you’ll need to understand how the kidneys work and their influence on the rest of the body.

Expanding your study habits to include other methods is one of the versatile nursing school tips. When studying, try other activities, such as watching a lecture plus supplemental videos, drawing flowcharts, answering practice questions, writing an outline, and making flashcards. Some nursing school topics are complicated, and by expanding your study methods, you can discover productive ways to deepen your knowledge.

Understanding the content in nursing is hard but necessary work. That’s because nurses need to understand why they’re giving a patient a certain medication, what warning symptoms to look for, and how to best care for the health needs of the patient.

Felician nursing student working with sim manikin in lab

7. Clinicals Stretch You Outside Your Comfort Zone

Clinical rotations pose a new type of challenge for nursing students. As you adjust to the fast-paced clinical environment, you may feel overwhelmed at how much you still have to learn. As you enter a new clinical setting, it’s normal to feel uncomfortable until you become familiar with your surroundings. Just remember, you’re not alone. You will learn alongside other students under the careful guidance of a professional nurse.

Also remember that in order to learn, you’ll need to stretch and get outside your comfort zone. That’s how you’ll become prepared for challenging nursing scenarios. Get used to being in the learning zone. Though clinical rotations may feel challenging at first, students often come to enjoy their clinicals more than any other part of nursing school.

8. You’ll Need to Prepare for the NCLEX

After graduating from the ABSN program, you’ll need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). This exam is challenging because it takes a significant amount of dedicated study time.

The NCLEX is unlike any test you’ve taken before, and it’s not something you can start studying for a few weeks ahead of test day. Instead of focusing on recognizing facts, the exam requires you to think through a problem or situation. It is comprised of complex multiple-choice questions, in which several of the answer choices are correct, requiring you to choose the one that is most correct based on the scenario.

Felician University reinforces NCLEX-type content throughout the ABSN curriculum, and urges students to study for the NCLEX throughout nursing school. Students often begin studying during the last semester, then invest a month or two into full-time studying after graduation.

While studying for the NCLEX adds another level of challenge on top of an already rigorous curriculum, it benefits you in the long run.

woman at desk with computer looking at notebook

You can pass the NCLEX the first time with the right preparation. Read more to learn study tips that will help you pass the NCLEX.

Why Nursing School is Worth It

Is nursing school worth it? Despite its challenges, nursing school is absolutely worth it. Earning a BSN sets you up for more opportunities upon graduation and in your career, as well as provides you with a sound nursing foundation.

BSN-educated nurses are in high demand and sought after by employers. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, Magnet hospitals require all nurse managers and leaders to hold a BSN degree or higher. Additionally, the Veteran’s Administration now recognizes a BSN as the minimum preparation for nurses to qualify for a promotion beyond entry-level.

This push for BSN-prepared nurses is due to the education’s quality and comprehensive scope. A BSN exposes students to a wide variety of nursing aspects and the cultural, political, economic, and social issues that affect patients in healthcare.

A BSN also prepares you to pursue career advancement opportunities. After earning your BSN, you can pursue a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) to qualify for leadership and specialized nursing roles.

By earning a BSN, you provide yourself with a strong and in-demand nursing foundation, setting you up for future career advancement opportunities. While there are other tracks you can pursue to become a registered nurse, a BSN will give your career a significant boost from the start.

Ready to Get Through Nursing School Successfully?

Felician nursing student standing by wall with backpack

Is nursing school hard? Yes. Is it worth it? Definitely yes. If you’re ready to take steps toward your future, the full-time ABSN program at Felician University builds on your non-nursing college education, making it possible to accelerate your path into the nursing profession.

Our 16-month Hybrid ABSN program in Parsippany, New Jersey, spans four 16-week semesters. It offers three start dates a year in January, May, and August. The program comprises online fundamental coursework, hands-on nursing labs, and in-person clinical rotations in diverse practice settings.

Felician also offers an 18-month On-Ground ABSN program in Rutherford, New Jersey, which has one start date a year in May. The on-ground program offers face-to-face fundamental coursework rather than online courses.

If you have at least 60 non-nursing college credits and a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, you may be eligible for admission at Felician. While nursing school is a challenge, our faculty and staff will be there to help guide you from day one through graduation.

Set your accelerated nursing education in motion at Felician University. Reach out to our admissions team today to get started on your future in nursing.