Whew! The last several weeks have been crazy!!! I’m just finishing up my last few weeks of prerequisites (2 years of work and I’m actually almost done!) and have been super crazy busy! Keep checking up for new posts as I should be posting some new videos (yes! videos!) this next week.
I think its safe to say that I cannot function well when I’m stressed. Sure, I can smile, I can laugh, I can (technically) operate with only 4 hours of sleep. But I can’t do things the way I want to, with the intention and effort that I like to (110%). So I’ve had to trim the fat this week, which is sad. Saying no to things, even for just a little bit, is not something I excel at. I like to say yes and make things happen. But today I had to say no. To things I love. And that made my heart a little bit sad.
But then I remembered that temporary sacrifice, for both my future and my sanity will be well worth it in the end.
So, for the next 9 weeks of the semester I have decided not only to practice saying no (I cringe at the thought), but to also take time to be stress free. I don’t know exactly what that looks like. But I know it will mean taking time to decompress, to relax, and to do things that make my heart happy (and don’t involve school!).
9 weeks left of the semester. 9 weeks to practice saying no. 9 weeks to prioritize. 9 weeks to dance in the flowers. 9 weeks to find joy in the little things. 9 weeks to make a difference. 9 weeks to laugh. 9 weeks of hard core school. It’s almost over, but I am not going to finish the last half of the semester with the same amount of stress as I did the first half. Over the next 9 weeks I hope to be a calmer, more collected, more rested (4 hours of sleep is never fun. Ever.) version of myself.
So fellow nursing students, I challenge you to close the textbook, even if its just for a bit, and have some fun. I am.
I am an intern at a pediatric cardiologist’s office. On clinical days I get to run ECGs (electrocardiogram) on tiny patients.
Running ECGs is relatively simple. I stick eight electrodes onto little bodies and hook them up to a machine. I type in birthdays, names, ages, and genders. I push a button. I wait. Children are told to be still, to not be nervous. Parents hold their breath as the pink sheet of paper slides out the machine. Zig zaggy lines travel up and down sheet in imposing black ink.
Is the treatment working? Is their baby’s heart getting stronger? Is the medicine that leaves their child bruised and tired doing its job?
I can’t answer any of those questions.
Thursday, when I was repeating this process for the umpteenth time that day, a sweet little girl looked up at me while I quickly read the unconfirmed analysis at the top of the page, “Is my heart all better?”
Mom straightened and look hopeful. I couldn’t answer that question. I am not educated enough to even guess.
My throat caught, “Hmm…I don’t know. The doctor will tell you when you go into consult.”
The little girl slumped against the crinkly paper on the exam table. I didn’t like my answer. The families that come through our office are often scared and confused, I couldn’t just spit out some unfeeling clinical jargon when a little girl asks me if her heart was better. The words seemed wrong.
I ripped the sheet out of the machine and leaned in next to her, holding the report above our heads, “I can’t tell you if your heart is better, that’s not my job. But, do you know what this machine does?”
“No…” Little girl shook her head, big, brown eyes peering up at me.
I pointed to the squiggly lines, “This machine measures all the magic inside your heart. And I can tell you that your heart is super full of magic!”
Her face erupted into a smile, “That’s all my magic?!?”
“Yes, and you are one magical little girl!” I glanced over at her mom. For just a minute, the anxiety on the woman’s face was pushed back and joy was at the forefront.
I am so glad I stopped to say those words to that little girl. Sure, I had a million and one other things I could have done with the forty-five seconds that I spent measuring the magic. I had to file the chart, reset the ECG, clean the room, take the patient to consult, bring in the next patient from echo, give the charts to doctor, shadow the consult, take vitals, and run another ECG. But I let all those things wait. They weren’t going anywhere. This little girl needed just a moment to feel the magic, instead of worrying about her heart. I took a moment to think about my patient’s heart, not the physical heart that we spend so much of our time worrying about in that office, but the nonphysical heart of a scared little girl.
I learned something very special on Thursday. I learned that magic is not only held inside ECG machines and tiny patients, but maybe there’s a little bit of magic in me as well. When I walk into that room, I can either perpetuate the patient’s fears and anxieties by being cold, clinical, and calculating, or, I can brighten their day, calm their worries, and remind my tiny patients just how special they are.
Pre-nursing is a funny time, technically (at most schools) your major will be undeclared, but you will be following a very regimented schedule between now and nursing school. Planning your prerequisite schedule is a daunting task, however, it is not as difficult as it seems. In fact, it can be broken down into 5 easy steps:
- Determine your ideal type of program
- Get familiar with the requirements for several schools
- Check articulation agreements
- Decide what classes to take
- Plan your schedule
So, let’s get started!
Step #1: Determine your ideal type of program
So, the first thing you need to do is decide whether you would like to go for an ADN (3 year associates degree), BSN (4-5 year Bachelor’s degree), or an accelerated Bachelor’s (ABSN) or Master’s program (CNP, CNA or CNS). I’m going to outline each type of program briefly here, however, please check with your state’s Board of Nursing website for more detailed information.
Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN)
- Where? community or vocational college
- How long? 2 years of clinical program + 1-2 years of prerequisites
- How many pre-reqs? 4-5
- Special requirements? None
Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN)
- Where? 4 year university
- How long? 2-3 years of clinical program + 2 years of pre-requisites
- How many pre-reqs? Usually between 45-60 units
- Special requirements? None
Accelerated Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) or Entry-Level Master’s program (CNP, CNA or CNS)
- Where? 4 year university
- How long? 18 months- 2 years of clinical program
- How many pre-reqs? Depends on the program
- Special requirements? Must already hold a Bachelor’s degree
Choosing a program all depends on your goals. Carefully choose the right program for you and do LOTS of research before you determine the best fit for you.
For me, I am pursuing a BSN, but taking my pre-requisites at a community college. This is a pretty common route for pre-nursing students, so I’m going to use this plan as my example for this post (please note the steps and processes are pretty much the same for all program types).
Step # 2 Get familiar with the requirements for several schools
Research is key to this step. Get familiar with different program websites. Head over to your state’s BON website and check out what programs are offered in your state.
This will give you a comprehensive list of programs in your state and links to each program website. The BON site is your friend, spend a lot of time with it.
So find a program and head over to their website (I chose SFSU because they’re my first choice for programs) and check the admissions requirements.
From here I went to the undergraduate nursing page and then selected the “BSN Fact Sheet” (Most schools have some sort of page that outlines their admissions requirements). READ THIS OVER AND OVER FOR EVERY PROGRAM YOU ARE INTERESTED IN!!!
Then I searched the page for the prerequisite classes
Step # 3 Check articulation agreements
Now I’m going to head over to Assist.org (this matches classes for state funded schools in California, different states have similar websites) and match up my classes to determine what I should take at my community college.
Do this for every school you plan on applying to.
Step #4 Decide what classes to take
I suggest picking schools that generally have the same prerequisite classes so that you don’t spend too much time taking additional classes. You may also want to consider taking some additional courses that might enhance your application (i.e. some schools are more likely to choose applicants who have a CNA license, so you might want to take that course if your school offers it).
Step # 5 Plan your schedule
For most schools the pre-reqs are as follows
- Anatomy & Physiology 1 (4 units)
- Anatomy & Physiology 2 (5 units)
- Intro to Chemistry (4 units)
- Microbiology (5 units)
- Statistics (4 units)
- General Psychology (3 units)
- Developmental Psychology (3 units)
- Nutrition (3 units)
- Critical Thinking (3 units)
- English 1 (4 units)
- English 2 (3 units)
Warning: This is NOT a list for all schools!! Please do steps 1-4 for YOUR PROGRAM! DO NOT follow this schedule it is merely an example.
Anatomy & Physiology 1
Intro to Chemistry
Anatomy & Physiology 2
Semester # 3
I’ve always thought that pre-nursing and nursing school should come with a warning label. So here it is.
Warning: All persons pursuing a nursing education will go slightly insane over the next 4-5 years (yes, it really does take that long). (Pre-)Nursing students may exhibit many, if not all, of the following adverse effects during their program:
- General anxiety over tests of all kinds (TEAS V, WST, lecture exams, lab exams, clinical tests, skills tests, NCLEX, etc.).
- Endless hours of studying in coffee shops, labs, libraries, and living rooms (Please encourage the student to move often, as acute pain in the posterior regions of the body is distracting on test day ).
- General anxiety over applications and deadlines
- Spontaneous discussion of certain bodily functions, injuries, trauma, bacterial/fungal/yeast infections and/or microbes, and (but not limited to) all things gross and uncomfortable during social gatherings.
- General exhaustion, but persistent inability to sleep due to the volume of course work due the next day.
- Expanded, but socially incomprehensible, vocabulary (the student will be able to use phagocytize and catecholamine in a sentence).
- The student’s wardrobe will shrink to consist only of scrubs and yoga pants. Basic hygiene and other such tasks may be left for another day.
- Student will consume inappropriate amounts of coffee/tea beverages during long study sessions (i.e. “I’ll have a trenta green iced tea with two pumps classic, easy on the ice.”). A Note to Family: If the barista know’s the student by both name and their favorite drink please burn his/her Starbucks card.
General anxiety and disfunction will be persistent. However, the student may also exhibit some of these symptoms (this is not a comprehensive list)
- The student fall in love with a random scientific subject (i.e. molecular cell biology)
- The student may decide to specialize in flight nursing (or some other type of nursing that is not understood by a majority of the population). Worry not, this “specialty” will change no less than fifty times between now and graduation.
- The student will worry about being a “cliche” nursing student if they think they want to work in NICU, Labor and Delivery, or Pediatrics (95% of the student nurse population wants to work in one of these specialties).
- The student’s school binder will become insanely organized and color coded, however his/her car will be a disgusting mess.
- The student will fill out applications multiple times.
- The student will feel dejected about his/her chances of getting into nursing school.
- The student will fall in love with his/her major and future job. He/she will get excited over things like scrubs, stethoscopes, and blood pressure cuffs. The student will be generally ecstatic about the prospect of helping people by performing basic medical procedures.
Overall, the student will spend 4-5 years being certifiably insane (but will love every minute of it). In the end, they will not only have survived their major, but they will begin the journey of loving one of the hardest jobs ever.