Final Countdown to My Nursing Degree

final-countdown-to-my-nursing-degreeToday’s post is from Direct Entry-Hybrid nursing student Amy Morrisette. Take a look at her thoughts on the program and her advice.

It’s here! It’s the final semester, the final count down, the final days before the biggest final, the NCLEX! The journey to the fourth semester is something that you should be proud of. I know it wasn’t easy. I was there! Can you taste the freedom yet? Has the thought of being about to say “yes” when friends and family ask if you can make plans with them become a distant dream? Well my friends, it’s close!

The fourth semester is no time to get senioritis though. Although it is very different from the other semesters and you should be proud of yourself for earning the right to begin practicum, it’s still hard work. The practicum experience is wonderful. It’s the time that you are able to practice all of the skills that you have learned! All of the endless late nights studying are truly about to pay off! During practicum you will be paired with a nurse, and together, the two of you will work with the patients. As you gain more experience in the practicum setting, you will be expected to actually take on your own patient assignment while the nurse supervises you. It is amazing and you will be so proud of yourself for all of the things that you will be able to do to make a difference in the patients’ lives.

Many of you are probably wondering where you will get placed, how many hours you will need to complete, what your shifts will be, etc. The hours requirement is 140. The shifts you work will be the shifts that your nurse works, and while you can ask for a specialty, you are not guaranteed to get it. Honestly, I am learning quickly that being on a med/surg unit vs. a specialty floor is really helping me to solidify everything that we have learned. My scheduled shifts are 11 am-11:30 pm because that is what my nurse works. Be prepared to have late nights and early mornings. Look at this experience as a place to show off everything you have learned!

Practicum is not just about being at the hospital. There is also an NCLEX preparation component called ATI, journal entries due after each 24 hours of practicum that you complete, and a paper due at the end. You can do this. You just got through three semesters of living on coffee and dreaming about proper sterile technique. I guess I should stop now. I’m starting to relive the sleepless nights. OK, Amy, shake it off. Back on topic now: Remember your first clinical? Show of hands. How many of you were afraid the first time you took a patient’s vital signs? I can’t “see” you, but I bet 90 percent of your hands just went up. Do you look back and laugh about that now? You should! You have come so far and you are about to experience the best semester!

You will also have a community clinical last semester. I was at an elementary school and it was really fun and a great way to see what nursing care is outside of the hospital setting. The kids depend on the school nurse not only to fix their boo-boos, but to be their emotional sounding boards as well. Soak in everything you can during this experience. You may be surprised at how much goes into being a school nurse. I know I was, and I have a very large amount of respect for them. Not everyone will work at a school during this time, but everyone will have the opportunity to get a lot out of their community clinical. Remember, you get what you put into it. Show up prepared, realize this is your learning experience and it’s going to be hard but fun! Don’t be afraid to ask questions and soak up as much knowledge as you can from your preceptors – they are the ones that are actually out there with the careers that we are working toward. You will make mistakes. Own up to them and learn from them, don’t beat yourself up, and hey, maybe even say “yes” once in a while to those forgotten friends and family that you probably haven’t seen much since you started the program!

Cheers and best of luck!

-Amy (44 days until pinning as of July 1, not that I’m counting down or anything)

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  1. Educational Background:

    Bachelor's Degree

    Master's Degree

    Associate's Degree

    60+ College Credits

    35-59 College Credits

    0-34 College Credits

    HS/GED

    RNs with ADN/BSN/MSN

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