What to Expect Your First Day of Nursing School

January 2, 2015

Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.

Click here for 2021 shadowing opportunities

Congratulations on heading to nursing school. Whether you chose a four-year or a two-year nursing program, it can be a challenge. There is a lot of information to learn including pharmacology, anatomy and clinical procedures. But before you get too involved in your studies, you have to get through your first day. Below is a bit of what you can expect on your first day of nursing school.    

There may be an orientation before actual classes start. Many nursing programs hold a mandatory orientation before classes start. If your school has an orientation, it may be a couple of weeks before the semester starts. At your orientation, you will find out what to expect during the course of the program. For example, you may learn when clinical rotations start and what type of uniform is required.

A lot of information may be thrown at you. Nursing school involves classroom lectures, laboratory work and clinical assignments at affiliated healthcare facilities. Because you may be told so much, you may not remember it all. Keep in mind, the first day is an overview of what is to come. More details on each segment of your program will most likely be provided.

Students gear up for observation in the surgery department You will meet your professors and classmates. Depending on how the first day of nursing school is structured, you may meet all of your professors or only some. But you will meet all of your classmates. Your teachers may tell you a bit about themselves, and each student may be expected to do the same.

You will likely get a schedule of what you will be doing throughout the program. On the first day of nursing school, you may get a syllabus for the classes you will take that semester and class requirements. You may also get information on when clinical rotations start, which hospitals are affiliated with the program and what to expect in lab. It can be a lot to remember, but it will be discussed again when the time comes.   

Expect a list of supplies you need. You may have already received a list of books you need, or you will get a list on the first day of class. You need textbooks for each class and laboratory workbooks. Study guides and reference books including a drug guide and a medical dictionary may also be on the list. In addition, you may need supplies, such as a blood pressure cuff, stethoscope and scissors.

You may or may not have any lectures on your first day. In some cases, the first day of nursing school may be dedicated to introductions, a review of syllabuses and information on procedures and policies. There may not be time for classroom lectures on the first day. In other instances, you may have attended an orientation where you already reviewed all of the above. If you had an orientation, you will probably start classroom lectures on your first day. 

Being nervous is perfectly normal. Starting something new, such as nursing school can be exciting, but you may also feel the nerves. Being a little anxious is normal, but try to keep perspective. Most students feel a little nervous when they start, but most get through the program.

Tips to Making Your First Day a Success

There are some things you can do to make your first day easier and improve your chances of doing well throughout your entire nursing program.

Take care of practical matters before school starts. You may have a chance to take care of certain things prior to the start of school. For instance, get your student identification card and obtain a parking pass if you will be driving to campus. Get all your financial aid issues taken care of and your tuition paid. The first day of school is busy enough without adding concerns about tuition to the mix.   

Bring a folder for important paperwork. In today’s world, we rely on technology, such as links to websites and emails. But some instructors still provide a paper syllabus and other information. Bring a folder or a binder to put everything in so it will be in one place for easy reference when you need it.

Make note of email addresses and phone numbers. Put all your teacher’s phone numbers and email addresses into your phone or write them down. You may not need any of the numbers for months, but at least you will know where to find them when you do.

Get a phone number of at least one classmate. Introduce yourself to a few classmates on the first day and ask for their phone number. It is nice to have a few classmates you can ask about assignments or other questions that may come up. 

Develop an organization system early. There is a great deal to learn in nursing school, and you don’t want to fall behind. Right from the start, develop a system for studying and organizing and tracking your assignments. Find a system that works well for you. Whether it involves dedicating certain nights of the week to studying or catching up on reading on the weekends, find what works best for you. Being organized will ease stress and help you stay on track throughout the program.

Use your professor’s preferred method of communication. On the first day of class, you teachers will likely tell you how they prefer to be contacted if you will miss class, have a question or want to schedule a meeting. Some professors prefer a text or email, while others would rather you call. Even if it is not your preferred method of communication, follow their direction. 

Have a realistic attitude. Nursing school is two to four year depending on your program. Don’t expect to learn everything the first few months. If some of the information seems confusing, it will come together in time. Try not to stress too much over every little thing. Study hard, put in the work, and you will most likely do fine.