How Hard is Nursing School?

How hard is nursing school?

Whether earning an undergraduate degree in accounting, teaching, or urban planning, every college major presents its students with a unique set of challenges. But the area of study that requires students to really throw down the gauntlet is nursing, especially when it’s taught at an accelerated pace. But just how hard is nursing school, really?

Much like an athlete preparing for a major sports competition, the only way you can come out of nursing school a champion is by rising to the challenge, being disciplined and focused, and training hard to reach your goal. Here are five tips to help you cross the nursing school finish line.

1. Consider the Competition

The challenges of nursing school start even before you get accepted into a program. Due to a lack of enrollment capacity and the cost and complexity of educating a nurse, schools are turning down or wait-listing qualified students in droves, creating a competitive situation where even the best applicants risk rejection.

It takes drive to succeed in an ABSN program

You’ll find that student competition is slightly less fierce when you apply to an accelerated nursing program with multiple start dates a year. Take, for example, our accredited 16-month ABSN program for second-degree students (individuals who already have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree).

With campus locations near Boston and in Charlotte, our ABSN program has three start dates per year (January, May, and September), allowing for more total spots for qualified students. Not to mention, our online accelerated nursing coursework enables us to accommodate a greater number of students without costly additions to classroom space.

2. Take Training Seriously

Not much different than the intent of athletic training sessions, ABSN prerequisites set the foundation for professional nursing study, while also being key to your nursing career preparedness. At Northeastern, we require our prospective ABSN students to earn a grade of “C” or better in the following courses:

Microbiology + Lab4
Human Anatomy & Physiology I + Lab4
Human Anatomy & Physiology II + Lab4
Introduction to Chemistry + Lab4
Statistics  (inferential stats and hypothesis testing)3
Social/Behavioral Science (any 100-level course or above)3
Developmental Psychology (lifespan)3

More times than not, microbiology, human anatomy, human physiology, and chemistry prove to be the most challenging for prospective ABSN students, especially for those who don’t come from a science background. Generally speaking, if you’re able to excel in the anatomy and physiology prerequisites, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to handle the rigors of our accelerated nursing program.

3. Adapt to the Situation

Successful accelerated nursing students, like athletes, need to be able to adapt to new information quickly. Given the fast-paced nature of our ABSN program, you need to consider how you best learn and retain information, and then adapt accordingly.

It takes focus to succeed in an ABSN program.

Do you comprehend information better when it’s demonstrated, spoken, written, or practiced? Perhaps it’s a combination of these delivery methods. You’ll find that knowing the answer to this question will come in handy when trying to develop efficient study habits that boost your learning capacity.

Types of learning styles:

  • Visual learners best absorb information through diagrams, graphs, pictures, and videos.
  • Aural learners best absorb information through lectures and group discussions.
  • Read/write learners best absorb information through lists, handouts, notes, and textbooks.
  • Kinesthetic learners best absorb information through hands-on practice or trial and error.

Not exactly sure how you best learn? Consider taking the VARK, a questionnaire that recommends study strategies based on your learning style(s).

4. Practice Time Management

While athletes train for hours every day, accelerated nursing students must study anywhere from 40 to 60 hours a week to keep pace with the compressed curriculum.

Therefore, if you’re going to survive nursing school, you need to have good time management skills because you’ll be juggling a fast-paced sequence of online nursing coursework, hands-on nursing skills labs, and in-person clinical rotations.

Being proactive during your 16 months in the program is key because cramming, which may have worked well for you in the past, is a surefire way to fail out of nursing school.

Not to mention, good time management skills will come in handy for you when working in the nursing profession. Imagine if you had to care for 40 patients during a 12-hour shift. Would you be able to prioritize your time so that every person received the best possible care for their needs?

5. Earn the Title

While accelerated nursing study may feel like a race to the finish, the endgame is for you to pass the NCLEX exam so that you can add RN next to your name and legally practice the profession. It’s the academic equivalent of earning a gold medal or being asked to play on an all-star team.

Vastly different from any test you’ve taken before, the NCLEX features complex multiple-choice questions where every answer is correct, and your job is to identify the most correct one. These questions serve to evaluate how well you can analyze and apply your nursing knowledge when making a patient care decision. Therefore, it’s not the type of exam you start studying for a few weeks in advance.

To feel confident when sitting for the NCLEX, it’s important to develop test-taking strategies that allow you to break down these questions to get to the correct answer. While our faculty can help you create a strategy, we also recommend getting an NCLEX review book that’s loaded with practice questions.

No Pain, No Gain

It takes dedication to succeed in an ABSN program

Going to nursing school is one of the most challenging education paths available. It has to be because people trust nurses with their lives. So while in the throes of nursing school, just remember it’s a journey that will be well worth it in the end.

After all, nurses are in high demand all over the country, which means high job security and good pay for those entering the profession. It’s also a rewarding, highly flexible occupation that enables you to work in various capacities and deliver patient care in all types of settings, including airplanes, cruise ships, hospitals, military bases, private practices, schools, and urgent care clinics.

No description can fully communicate how hard nursing school can be. Therefore, we recommend reaching out to our highly supportive admissions team who can share the ins and outs of our 16-month ABSN program with you.


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    RNs with ADN/BSN/MSN

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