Student advice on surviving nursing school

Today, a group of people in the Upper Division and Accelerated programs at Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College began their first term as nursing students. If you are one of these students, you may have already heard from orientation (and from word of mouth) that it can be a tough and scary journey.

Our guest blogger today is Heidi Fontaine, who is finishing the Upper Division BSN program this December.  In addition to being a student, she has been a peer leader, a peer tutor and a peer mentor who has helped students with their coursework. Heidi agrees that nursing school is scary at the beginning, but also says that learning to manage your time and knowing to ask for help goes a long way. She shares with us some insights on how to stay on track during nursing school.

What’s it like to be an Upper Division student?
I am going into my 4th term in the Upper Division program and so far the experience has been great. Looking back at the previous terms,  my first term was the scariest with the new setting and expectations, second term was interesting getting hands on clinical experience, and now having finished my third term I can say confidently that everything is finally clicking and I know now that I want to be a nurse. The courses are becoming more demanding; however I think I have improved my time management skills and make sure that I make free time so I can keep my sanity. This past term I have learned so much and have had great clinical experiences.  I am definitely looking forward to taking the remaining courses along with their clinicals, and hopefully will continue to have successful clinical experiences!

What is your favorite class?
It is hard to say what my favorite class has been so far but my top two would be Pathophysiology with Dr. Jack Pennington and Adult Health I. Dr. Pennington kept students’ attention with his witty personality and interesting stories while we learned about all of the disease processes. Adult Health I built on our Patho class and Intro to Adult Health, and everything started to make sense. The clinical experience that I had with Adult Health I was also a big reason why I enjoyed the class so much. It also helped that I was on a cardiac unit and two of the exams for the course are over cardiac! I am looking forward to Pediatrics and Adult Health II this term, so maybe I will have a new favorite class!

How would you advise incoming students as they begin their nursing program?
My word of advice for incoming students is to not be afraid to ask for help. The college offers so many outlets to help out students into the transition of nursing school. The peer leader sessions were a huge help and a great way to study for both Pathophysiology and Pharmacology. Also I wish I had utilized my peer mentor earlier, it would have helped me not feel so overwhelmed knowing that they were in my shoes just a semester prior.

There are various academic support options here at the college as well as social and personal support. I was not aware my first term that there were counseling services available; this would have been very helpful as the first month of school I was incredibly overwhelmed and scared! The point is just because you need help, does not make you any less of a student or person. Transitioning into this program can be challenging, but fortunately our college offers many assistance programs to make it as smooth as possible!

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