Typically, nursing students have a full week of classes and clinical Monday through Friday. I remember having the moment I woke up to the moment I went to sleep scheduled out. However, every school is different and you should look into your schools’ program details as well as every persons personal life is different.
I went to a four year, accredited university. I was also placed into a cohort with 7 other nursing students and we did everything together. You probably will have a variety of different courses, commitments, and schedules, but I am going to try to show you what school looked like for me in a typical week during the first semester of school.
My Monday started early with a skills lab from 8am until noon. We would learn things like how to clean a trachea, give a bed bath and spike a bag of normal saline. We had med math quizzes and skill check offs as well as weekly assignments to turn in that went through the reading assignments we had been given (usually about 3-5 chapters and an article). We would take our lunch with our laptops in the common hall by the café in our nursing school building in which most of our classes were held.
We would then go to our next class, Essentials of Professional Nursing from 1pm-3p. This class involved us researching and writing about the laws governing nursing as well as preparing us for taking the NCLEX, obtaining our license and prepping for job applications and interviews.
Afterwards? Library time. Where my cohort would get a study room, order food, and teach each other the chapters we were assigned for our Art and Science of Nursing class that we would have tomorrow. Each of us would go through the notes we made and had sent out the night before. Me: chapters 22 and 23, the other girls 24-38 split evenly. Because we all know (except maybe our professors), that there is NO POSSIBLE way to read all 5,000 pages they assigned for ONE of our many classes. Just no.possible.way.
Finally, I would go home, shower and sleep.
I would wake up Tuesday and head to the gym for some walking on the treadmill and flashcards, hit the shower and head to school for my 9am till 11am class, the Art and Science of Nursing. In this class, we learned nursing fundamentals such as pressure ulcers and the Bristol Stool Scale. It would be off to the library for lunch and studying for health assessment with my cohort. At 1pm we would learn about health assessments in our Health Assessment course until 3pm.
I know this will not come as a shock to you, but we would then… Go to the library… And study flash cards, notes and books until we cried. We would then go home and go to sleep.
Wednesday would be the earliest day where we would go to clinical at 7 flipping AM in the morning and perform any task that the tech didn’t want to do (i.e. bed baths, toileting, vital signs and linen changes). Then writing impossible care plans because we would have no idea what was going on with the patient and digging through charting is still foreign. I would then go home and shower, a long very hot shower because you know I had a c-diff patient who had a blow out that day and you never feel like you can get that smell off your skin. I don’t know why particularly, but clinical always took it out of me. I usually took the rest of the day to lay in bed and recover, while reading, doing assignments, or sleeping.
Thursday would be a short school day where I would go to Lecture from 9 am till 11 am for Art and Science of Nursing again. I would finish my day at the library writing up my clinical paper work, reading my assignments for the following week and preparing notes and flashcards to give to my cohort. Thursday evenings we had our student nurses’ association weekly meeting, where I was the treasurer and we would plan events or giveaways. Afterwards I would go home and shut my brain off and watch TV.
The weekend started for me on Friday although I worked from 5pm-11pm at the Pediatric ER as a tech, I would sleep in. It was my one ‘me’ morning that I could just stay in bed. After lunch, I would go to the gym and do the treadmill while flipping through flashcards or listening to my recorded lectures. Then I would shower, get ready and go to work, where my coworkers constantly called me overhead to learn about certain things, it was exciting and another way I learned so much. After work, I would go home and pack my bag for the library the next day.
I would leave on Saturday at around 11 am and head to the library where I would write papers, read chapters, and make flashcards. At 4 pm I would head to work for another 5-11 shift. The reality of it was that if I was all caught up at work, I would try to discuss my schoolwork with my co-workers because they could often help me get concepts I wasn’t getting in the classroom or explain things to me that would give me the AHA moment.
But then my favorite day of the week came. Sunday. I loved Sunday. It was the day that I didn’t have to leave the house. Yes, I would occasionally, but mostly, I did yoga, laundry, watched TV and prep cooked my meals for the week. My kitchen opened right into the living room where the TV was on a swivel that I would point directly at me. The laundry machines where right next to stove (I lived in a small apartment) and I would cook, clean, and binge on Netflix all while still in my pajamas. Sunday night, I would compose an email to my group with all the notes I prepared, and send them off. I would then pack my bag for school and the bustle would start all over again.
Each person experiencing nursing school is different. They all have different paths they take with different life factors. Some people work, some have children, some live on campus, it all depends. And that is the beauty of it, there isn’t such a thing as a traditional nursing student. Balancing school and life is tough, some of the girls in my cohort could have more time to have a life than I did. But I had to study more because I learn differently than they do.
I can tell you this, you will be busy, and you will need to schedule your times out, but don’t be discouraged! You can do this!