One of my favorite things about Hope College is that each major and discipline instills a culture among the students. Nursing is no exception, especially at Hope. Being one of the most competitive 4 year nursing programs in the state, the major itself demands a lot from its students, whether that is homework, studying, clinical, and having a social life. Wait, social life? Nurses don’t have that, nursing is what we talk about in our social lives! I joke, I joke. Anyway, it’s crazy for me to believe that I am ALMOST done with this crazy program. I remember my freshman year looking at my four year plan and my jaw just dropping because there were so many classes to be taken. Now, I only have a few left! Weirdly enough, its bittersweet, but I’m beyond ready to get out. So, I want to share what the nursing program was like for me. There’s still this and next semester, but I feel as if I have to wisdom to share.
Like the majority of freshmen, I wasn’t set on what I wanted to study, but I knew I wanted to study science. So, I took biology and general chemistry like many students who want to pursue the medical school track. Glad it happened sooner than later, but I figured out that those classes were not for me. Through much deliberation, I chose nursing and don’t regret the decision at all. Although there have been really tough times throughout these past 3 years, I know it’s all for a reason.
If you haven’t thought of quitting, your dreams have not been big enough.
Anyway, freshman year was focused on pre-requisite and general education classes. But, there was a twist: you had to pass with a certain grade in each class to keep your position into the nursing program. Now, this isn’t a big deal, but then, I was constantly on edge. The best part of freshman year was definitely getting my own scrubs, blood pressure cuff, and STETHOSCOPE. Watch out, I’m going to save the world.
Yeah, more pre-reqs and the nursing theory classes start. Ahh, all of the sudden, I feel like I’ve had the most homework in my entire life. At this point, I’m pretty sure I thought that life just got real. If there was one thing that was on my mind, it was the Hope College Nursing grading scale, where anything under a 74% was failing, but only in my nursing classes. Another awesome part of sophomore year was skills. YES SKILLS. Honestly, I felt like such a boss in the nursing lab practicing giving meds, doing catheters, giving shots, and doing IVs. I was on cloud 9 for sure, and no one could bring me down, except my grades in my other classes.
This graphic does a really great job of how a nursing student thinks when they get a grade on anything. I guess one stereotype about us is that we are perfectionists! But at this point in my nursing life, grades were all that mattered. I know that we (nursing majors) really focused on studying so we could do well! As much as this was my goal for myself, my first semester of sophomore year was my absolute WORST and thoughts of quitting were the norm during this time. I wasn’t doing well in some of my classes, and for me, this was hard because I’ve always been a great student. Was it me? Am I going crazy? Nonetheless, I pushed and pushed. I talked to my professors and friends. Without them, there is no way I would be where I am today. That semester of my college career was a blessing in disguise. Yes, my GPA and self-esteem plunged down, but the lessons I learned from this semester make me the student I am today.
This year was exciting. Yes yes, there were more nursing theory classes to take, BUT CLINICALS START JUNIOR YEAR! I’m pretty sure that when I figured out my first clinical, I posted a status saying I was #blessed, and if I mean that in a non-sarcastic way, I’m being pretty serious! Even though clinical started, there were a few inconvenient things that followed. Firstly, waking up at the crack of dawn, still not a big fan of that. Being up 5:00 AM to leave by 5:30 AM to get to the hospital was a real drag, and still is! There goes my sleep schedule. On top of not having enough sleep, the amounts of work and studying we have to do didn’t help. After long clinical days, all you want to do is sleep and nap, but you merely can’t because there is so much to do. Then, came the infamous clinical exams.This graphic really explains it all. But even though those are short-term inconveniences, the experience, learning, and exposure in the real setting is the best part about clinical. Some schools only do simulations; to be able to be exposed to real-life situations interacting with physicians, residents, interns, other nurses, and medical staff is something you can’t get at many schools!
All four options on nursing exams are correct, but via critical thinking, one answer is the priority and is the MOST correct. To this day, you’d think I should be used to it, but I still complain about nursing exams. Nursing majors complain and rant about, well, nursing. SURPRISE. As annoying as the work is, again, it’s all for a reason. See this picture? Even though we struggle together, nursing majors get along and we laugh.
Lastly, another drag with the start of clinical were ATI tests in each nursing discipline. The purpose of these standardized tests are to measure our knowledge on certain fields of nursing and determines how well we will do on our NCLEX board examinations. They are quite intimidating, but there are good reasons behind it as annoying they are.
This is where I am presently. It’s crazy to think that the hardest part of nursing school is practically over. All that’s left are those senior level classes to help us prepare for our boards this coming summer. Now, it’s time to start thinking about post-nursing school, like jobs or graduate school! In short, this is how my past 3 years have been with the nursing major. Obviously, this does not constitute my entire life at Hope. I have been and continue to be involved in many student organizations! But I hope you all enjoyed this post, because I enjoyed writing it!