Nursing school: what to expect in your first year

August 4, 2015

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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You may be nervous, excited and apprehensive all rolled into one. If you are about to start nursing school, it is common to feel all of the above. Depending on your situation, you may have recently left your familiar world of high school for something completely different. Add into the mix, meeting new people and living away from home for the first time and starting nursing school can be a bit stressful. But knowing what to expect takes some of the fear out of the equation.

Orientation gets the ball rolling

Most nursing schools will have you attend an orientation before classes start. During orientation, you will likely get a packet containing a lot of information including your student handbook. In your handbook you may find info on classes, supplies needed, dress code and other rules. Don’t expect to remember everything the first day. Take the packet home and review it when you can.

Nursing school orientation is also a good time to meet other students. You are probably not the only one who could use a buddy. If needed, make the first move and introduce yourself to some of your classmates.

Classes, labs and clinical rotations

The curriculum in your first year may vary depending on whether you are in a two-year or four-year program. It may also depend on whether you were required to complete prerequisites, such as math, English and biology prior to admission.

In general, during your first year of nursing school you need to get the basics down. Most programs require students to take general education classes beyond prerequisites, such as courses in humanities, psychology and communications.

Additional courses your first year may include science classes, such as anatomy and microbiology. Some of your science classes will likely include accompanying labs. You probably had classes with labs in high school, so you know what to expect. Most programs also include basic introductory nursing classes in their first year curriculum, which provides you with the foundation you need.

Your first year also usually includes working with patients. Schools may vary on how they structure clinical rotations. For instance, if you are in a two-year program, you may start clinical rotations as early as your first semester.

During clinical rotations as a first year nursing student, you may focus on learning how to do a thorough assessment. You will also learn how to measure vital signs and assist patients with bathing and eating.

Feeling overwhelmed at first is normal

Your first year of nursing school is a bit of an adjustment. Don’t be surprised if you feel overwhelmed with all the information you need to learn. Try to take it one day at a time.

Things will get easier if you get involved in activities on campus, make new friends and stay organized right from the start. It’s also helpful to have the right attitude. Realizing you will get the hang of things as time goes on will help you get through your first year. Ask questions, learn from your mistakes and try to enjoy the process.