September 1, 2007

I survived the first week

Technically, I’ve been a nursing student for 4 days (I'm not counting the first day which was all orientation and no nursing). I feel like I’ve been doing this for weeks, I'm so drained.

Class is very intense. It's 6 hours a day, but there's a half-hour for lunch and they're generous about breaks. Lecture days are just that: lecture, lecture and more lecture, covering 3 to 4 to 5 units’ worth of material. They move fast. They also make a copy of their notes available for download before class, but it's not a verbatim record of what they're going to day--it's just the outline of the PowerPoint slides they're showing. Still, it helps--I take notes on them because if I had to write all the slides down as well as their lecturing, I'd never keep up.

Lab days are more interactive: instead of just sitting there listening (and occasionally interjecting) as we do in lecture, labs let us do some of what we’re learning (some lab days also include lecture units though). Plus, we’re getting divided up into different groups for each assignment so we get to know our fellow classmates better. There’s already a few personality quirks of my classmates that have started to appear. This isn’t always bad, mind you--right now, they're more interesting than anything else.

The reading is never-ending: each unit covered is at least one chapter's worth, often more. Plus, it's the dry medical textbook variety of reading (i.e., a perfect sleep aid, as I found out last night when my half-hour rest turned into 9 hours). Reading the chapters before class does help immensely, so it's not an area I can cut out. At first, I tried to read every word but found myself unable to keep up after day 3. So I’m modifying my tactics to focus on the overview, boxes, charts and chapter questions, skimming the rest of the chapter, then going through the lecture notes and syllabus and reading up further on the specifics mentioned. I don’t know how effective this is going to be…I guess I will find out on Tuesday, when I take my first test.

Speaking of tests…I go to take the chapter or online tests, feel like I’ve done well and got a grasp on things…and I find out I didn’t and feel like an idiot all over again. It’s kind of disheartening. So is the fact that 80% is the minimum passing. I have to admit, I’m having a hard time with the fact that I might not get all As in this, even though it’s OK if I don’t as long as I pass. But I can’t seem to let myself go in that department, not just yet. I really don’t want to have to settle—I want the A. I’ve been studying nonstop since Thursday. I took the list of objectives they gave us in the syllabus, and typed up answers to all of them. I finished a few minutes ago—it’s printing right now. I’m just going to keep going over that and the boxes and charts in the book. What’s also making nursing school challenging is that it’s not solely memorization like A&P was. You need to do critical thinking here, and that's a blessing and a curse.

Some days (hell, some hours!) I feel like, “hey, this is doable! Other people have done it, why can’t I?” Then other days (hours), I see all the reading I have to do and exercises to complete and videos to watch and no break in it all, and I’m like “there’s no way I can do this!”

*sigh*

I've never been so appreciative of a weekend as am of this weekend. Yes, most of it will be me chained to my notes except for a brief outing tomorrow, but it's nice to have time NOT in a classroom being whacked on the head with coursework.

We’re supposed to watch these videos for lab—they finally tell us where they are located…on Thursday afternoon as we’re all about to leave for the weekend. Library hours are limited Friday, and they’re not open this weekend because of the holiday. But they have to be watched, test and life notwithstanding.

Fair enough. I’m a responsible adult, so I’ve got to make this work somehow. I’m going to arrive early on Tuesday and do it before the test (which is what I’m planning to do, because sitting there with my notes for the test isn’t going to do anything for me anyway) or during lunch (which will be near impossible as everyone’s going to be running to watch these videos). I can’t stay late, so those are the only two times I can do this. I am going to look online for videos as well, just in case Murphy’s Law makes arriving early to school impossible that day. It may not be the same video as the one in the library, but at least I would have seen something and not be entirely at a loss when it comes time to practice.

One thing they are stressing in nursing school is this: learning is OUR responsibility, not theirs. I mean, they’re not entirely coldhearted: they will help how they can, but only to a certain extent as they want us to learn and they have their own constraints to work within. But at the end of the day, we’re responsible for learning. Some people asked about review sessions for the test and if they could give us study guides, and they were told they’re adults, they don’t need it—we just need to know everything on there. Another was intimating that perhaps if we (the students) could watch this video in class on the break…she was told that watching it was the student’s responsibility and we had to work the details out.

Also fair enough.

One of the students in the class took it last year (he had to retake it) told us that next week, it starts getting more "fun." What "fun" is going to be, I don't know...but I have to admit, I can't say it's been dull so far. Overwhelming yes, but not dull.

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