A Day in the Life of a Nursing Student: A Firsthand Account
My first day of college was one of the most intimidating experiences in my life. The 50,000 students with whom I shared the campus didn’t care at all whether I succeeded or failed. Each of us brought our own personal and academic goals to college, but for the first time in my life, my future was all on me.
I didn’t go to school to be a nurse which is exactly why I wanted to do this project. I research and write stories for the Rasmussen College School of Nursing blog. It didn’t take me long after I started my job to figure out that the best, most useful way to help potential students would be to try it out for myself.
This video is my experience of a day in the life of a nursing student at Rasmussen College. Of course it would be impossible to get a full understanding of what it is like to be a nursing student in a single day but you’d be surprised how much you can learn.
For someone who has never been to nursing school, the day-to-day environment can be a complete mystery. How much time is spent in lecture? Is the coursework difficult? How much hands-on training do you get and when does it start?
With my boss’ Google Glass in hand (or, on-face as is the case with those things), I recorded my experiences at the Mankato and Bloomington campuses to get the answers to all of those burning questions.
This video will help give you a first-hand view of what learning to be a nurse at Rasmussen College is really like.
In nursing school you learn, learn & learn some more
The first moment a nursing student is responsible for collecting a patient’s history or—gasp!—injecting them with a needle generally comes with great trepidation. But you don’t have to worry about being thrown in the deep end from day one.
Even as we were getting ready to inject syringes into the silicon bags that are often used at the beginning in place of real patients, it was daunting (although I must admit, really fun too). What if you slip and stick yourself? What if the bags are nothing like the real thing? Do you fail if your silicon bag bursts? When you are dealing with matters of health and safety, there is a lot on the line. But there is a lot of reward, too.
“My favorite part about being a nursing student is having the ability to help any person, at any time, any day,” says Mankato student Ashley Larson.
In nursing school, you are given the opportunity to “layer” your learning, which helps prepare you to help others. Students start with classroom-based lectures where they learn the academic fundamentals. When it comes to tasks like injections, students are given the opportunity to practice their skills in a laboratory on rubber bags, simulation dolls and even fellow classmates.
This was by far my favorite part. But despite my best efforts, the nursing instructors would not let me practice injections on my videographer, my boss or any of the students in the class … something about insurance liability.
By the time students reach clinical internships they are well-versed in the knowledge they need to be successful. Internships take place at hospitals and clinics and allow students to practice the skills they have developed in classes and labs in the real world.
All of these steps are designed to prepare students for the national licensure examination (NCLEX). It is the final step to go from student to nurse and can be a formidable obstacle at the end of the road. Don’t let it deter you! Beyond the classroom, there are a lot of great NCLEX resources out there to get students past the hump.
Support creates a foundation for success in nursing school
Another thing that surprised me was that nursing classes at Rasmussen College are very small, sometimes as few as 5-6 students. This is unlike anything I have ever experienced. Having grown up in a city of 90,000, even my elementary and middle school classes were larger than that. But the small class sizes don’t happen by accident. They are designed to provide an intimate and adaptable learning experience.
Students also go through their program as cohorts, learning together from their first class all the way until graduation. “Going through the nursing program in a small cohort is like finding your second family,” says Larson. She adds that by the time students graduate they are proud of their accomplishments but it’s also “bittersweet” to leave their friends.
This was one of the first things I noticed about the nursing classes I visited. There is a closeness among the students but also between them and the faculty as well.
The faculty have your back until the end
There is an old expression: “Those who cannot do, teach.” That really couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to the nursing faculty at Rasmussen College. Nursing faculty members are required to have experience in the field and often have a passion for nursing that runs deep. They go into teaching to pass on that passion to others.
Laura Rydholm, a faculty member at Mankato, was particularly gracious in letting me get my hands dirty. She is one of those people who has an infectious energy that radiates from her and fills any room she walks into. After successfully inserting my first syringe she declared, “You could be a nurse!” I’m no nursing student but I did appreciate Rydholm’s playful approach to letting an outsider into her classroom.
And as someone who has been known to faint at the sight of my own blood, those are five words I never thought I would hear. But in that moment of encouragement, I really believed her and saw that even I was capable of overcoming my fears.
But Rydholm isn’t an anomaly. It is like that with all of the instructors at Rasmussen. “I definitely have made some life-time friends along this journey through school, whether it be a professor or a fellow classmate, I know that they are all there for me,” says Michelle Romsdahl, another student at the Mankato campus.
Today is your day …
The message about the growing need for nurses is ringing loud and clear throughout the healthcare industry. Industry demand for registered nurses alone is expected to grow by 26 percent through 2020, according to O*Net.
Schools like Rasmussen College are hard at work to train new nurses to fill this demand.
Although one day isn’t enough to capture the full experience, I hope my “day in the life of a nursing student” helps give you an idea of what your education could be like.
The decision to go to school is not an easy one. It’s a huge investment that will affect you for years to come. When it comes to nursing, it’s a decision that will also have great impact on the lives of others. It’s not a decision to be taken lightly.
Rasmussen College has built a training program for nursing students that I can now say with confidence is truly excellent. To find out if the program is right for you, read more of our articles on the nursing blog and check out the School of Nursing home page for degree options.