How to Prepare for Nursing School as an ABSN Student

Summary:
To be a successful student in our 16-month Accelerated BSN program, you need to know how to plan for nursing school. From making sure you’re a good fit for the profession, to finding ways to fund your education, to knowing what to expect from the accelerated learning experience, there’s a lot for you to consider—but you’re not alone. The ABSN team at Xavier University will see you through it all.

Passion + Planning + Perseverance = Success

If you’re thinking about transitioning into nursing via an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program, there’s a lot for you to consider. After all, it’s not an occupation you want to enter into lightly. You need to make sure you’re a good fit for the profession and that you have the time and energy to commit to your education. This post can help you decide and show you how to prepare for nursing school.

Research the Nursing Profession

Nursing is one of the best careers available today. It’s a high-demand, fast-growing profession that’s rife with reward and opportunity. To be happy and successful in nursing, however, you need to make sure you’re choosing this occupation for the right reasons, with the most important being a genuine interest in helping people.

But there’s a lot more to being a good nurse than having compassion for others. A solid understanding of math and science is vital in the profession as is critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Not to mention, every time a nurse puts on scrubs, he/she is choosing selflessness over self-preservation. After all, several job hazards come with being a nurse, including needle sticks, germ exposure, and bodily fluid contact.

Nursing can also take a physical and emotional toll on those who practice it, from chronic back pain caused by lifting patients to moments of intense grief following the death of a patient.

When you think about it, nursing is more of a calling than a career because you need a certain type of strength and selflessness to care for others without fail. According to Lauren, a 2018 Xavier ABSN program graduate, you have to love what you’re doing to be a great nurse. “You need to be truly invested in the well-being of your patients.”

So before you do anything else, be sure to research the nursing profession and talk to those working in the field. If you feel you have what it takes to be a nurse, then the next step is to understand what’s involved with choosing a nursing school and being a student in an accelerated nursing program.

Let's find out if you have it was it takes to be a nurse.

If you’re wondering: Do I have what it takes to be a nurse? You’ll find your answer in this post.

Choose a Quality Nursing School

When it comes to choosing a nursing school, you want to make sure its accelerated nursing program maintains national accreditation status and is in good standing with its respective state board of nursing.

An accredited nursing program is one that’s been vetted by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). These autonomous agencies serve to validate the quality and integrity of nursing programs and ensure that schools are graduating nurses who can provide evidence-based care, lead change, and transform healthcare.

While every state board of nursing is responsible for the health, safety, and welfare of its population, not every state follows the same protocol when it comes to graduates applying for nurse licensure. So make sure the program you apply to has the approval of the state in which it resides.

Take note, however, that while accreditation and approval typically go hand in hand, there are some nursing schools out there that have state approval but not national accreditation.

If you’re thinking about applying to our 16-month ABSN program, you’ll find it’s an accredited baccalaureate degree program that has the approval of the Ohio Board of Nursing.

While choosing a quality nursing program is key, there are several other items you must consider when making a selection, such as enrollment capacity, admission requirements, and tuition costs. After all, you need to apply to a nursing school you can get into as well as afford.

Factor in Enrollment Capacity

It takes a lot of resources to run a successful nursing program, from faculty to classroom space to clinical placements. Unfortunately, most schools don’t have enough of these resources to keep up with student demand, which makes for an extremely competitive scenario.

You can increase your chances of getting into nursing school if you apply to a program that has multiple start dates a year, large cohort sizes, and strong clinical partnerships within the community. If you’re considering our 16-month ABSN program, you’ll be pleased to know we meet these criteria.

Xavier is the only university in Ohio to have an ABSN program with three enrollment locations and three start dates a year. You can choose to apply to our program location in either Cincinnati, Cleveland, or Columbus and begin your nursing education in January, May, or August.

Meet the ABSN Admission Requirements

Most ABSN programs are second-degree options, which means you need a non-nursing bachelor’s degree to apply. These programs build on your existing college education to make the accelerated transition into nursing possible. It’s also common for programs to have a series of ABSN prerequisites that applicants must satisfy before starting nursing school.

To be eligible for the Xavier ABSN program, you need to have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree and a minimum cumulative 2.7 GPA, as well as complete four prerequisite courses within our specified requirements.

You can complete these ABSN prerequisites, which focus on anatomy, physiology, microbiology, and statistics, online through our university.

Find Ways to Pay for Nursing School

No matter where you go, nursing school is a big expense that requires serious financial planning. You have to consider the cost of tuition as well as the fees that come with being a nursing student, from books to liability insurance.

So before you apply to nursing school, you need to make sure you have the means to pay for it. While ABSN students don’t qualify for federal, state, or university grants, it’s possible to qualify for a federal direct loan, private loan, or third-party scholarship.

  • Federal direct loans are low-interest loan options that are available through the U.S. Department of Education. You must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to know what type of loan you’re eligible to receive.
  • Private loans are credit-based loans that are available through various financial institutions. Be on the lookout for banks and credit unions that offer loans with low-interest rates and good terms.
  • Third-party scholarships are available to nursing students at the national and state levels. Consider the Nurse Education Assistance Loan Program (NEALP) created by the Ohio General Assembly in 1990 to assist in the state’s nursing shortage.

By choosing our ABSN program, you’re not just investing in a quality learning experience, you’re paying for a nursing education that will put you at the top of your game in as few as 16 months.

Sarah - Xavier ABSN program graduate

I found the price of the Xavier ABSN program a lot more reasonable than other nursing schools.
―Sarah, 2018 Xavier ABSN program graduate

3 Tips for Applying to Nursing School

Applying to nursing school doesn’t have to be complicated. While our admission team works hard to make the process as straightforward as possible, there are things you can do to increase your chances of getting into our ABSN program.

1. Apply with a sense of urgency.

We review student applications as they come in, so the earlier you submit your application, the better your chances of getting a spot in your preferred term.

2. Be upfront and honest with your admission counselor.

Your counselor’s job is to help make sure you submit the most competitive application possible.

3. Complete your ABSN prerequisites through our university.

In doing so, you can get acclimated to the online learning platform used by ABSN students. You also don’t have to worry about transferring credits.

What to Expect As an ABSN Student

If you’ve made it this far into the post, you’re probably wondering what it’s like being a student in our 16-month ABSN program. First and foremost, it’s important to understand that this is a fast-paced, rigorous learning path. It’s akin to working a full-time, high-pressure job.

Comprising 63 total credit hours, this four-semester program takes a blended approach to nursing education, combining online coursework with experiential learning opportunities.

Upon your completion of the program, you’ll be prepared to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN®) with confidence and enter the profession as a practice-ready nurse.

Aspects of an ABSN - online courses, nursing labs, clinicals, NCLEX-RN exam

Online Coursework

You’ll complete 21 online courses via our intuitive e-Learning system. This coursework sets the foundation for your nursing education by focusing on the fundamentals and theories of the profession.

While online coursework brings some learning flexibility to the rigors of nursing school, you’re still required to meet assignment deadlines. It’s also worth noting that being successful with online learning requires a lot more self-discipline than the traditional classroom experience.

Nursing Skills Labs

You’ll attend nursing skills labs at your ABSN Learning Center of enrollment. These labs focus on the safe, effective application of core clinical skills, such as nasogastric tube insertions, intramuscular injections, health assessments, IV placements, and wound care.

Featuring hospital equipment, full-body medical manikins, and task trainers, our nursing skills lab provides a realistic backdrop for you to practice basic psychomotor skills and procedures without the fear of putting patient safety at risk. It’s an environment where it’s okay to make and learn from your mistakes.

Xavier ABSN graduate Ayana using stethoscope

Before this program, I had never used a stethoscope and wore mine backward during the first week. So my time in skills lab has been invaluable.
Ayana, 2020 Xavier ABSN program graduate

Nursing Simulation Labs

You’ll participate in nursing simulation labs at your ABSN Learning Center of enrollment. These highly realistic learning activities develop your critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and clinical judgment across the continuum of patient care.

A human patient simulator or a real person carries out the patient role, depending on the learning objective. For instance, simulators serve as patients in complex, high-risk scenarios such as cardiac arrest.

Our labs have child and adult simulation manikins that can deliver realistic physiologic responses, such as pupil reaction, heart sounds, respiration, and urinary output. Controlled by faculty from an adjoining room, these simulation manikins can also be vocal if they don’t agree with your treatment approach.

Xavier ABSN graduate Diane using stethoscope

Being able to participate in quality nursing simulations was important to me. It allowed me to go into the clinical setting with more confidence.
―Diane, 2020 Xavier ABSN program graduate

Clinical Rotations

You’ll begin your clinical rotations during the first semester. These real-world experiences expose you to different patient populations in diverse practice settings, which include hospitals, mental health facilities, nursing homes, and outpatient clinics.

There’s a lot that goes into scheduling clinical placements, so we can’t make any guarantees as to where you’ll gain your practicum experience. You can, however, expect to be placed in a quality clinical setting that is conducive to learning and promotes professional development.

Our clinical partners include:

  • Bon Secours Mercy Health
  • Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
  • Cleveland Clinic
  • Nationwide Children’s Hospital
  • OhioHealth
  • The Christ Hospital Health Network
  • TriHealth

Clinicals are active learning environments where you and members of your cohort complete interventions a nurse would provide in any given situation—under the watchful eye of an instructor, of course. Our clinical groups typically have an 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio.

In your final semester, you’ll participate in a role transition experience. It’s an opportunity for you to gain concentrated clinical experience under the guidance of a preceptor. As you refine your skills and build rapport with patients, you’ll play an active role in their care.

Xavier ABSN graduate Lauren in skills lab

You can’t go into clinical as a student. You have to go in as a nurse.
―Lauren, 2018 Xavier ABSN program graduate

Academic Support

Our faculty and staff are passionate about what they do. They want to see you succeed in the program, and they make themselves readily available to support you when you need it.

You’ll also have access to an academic success coach while in the program. Serving as a bridge between admissions and academics, this individual helps champion your success in nursing school.

Xavier ABSN graduate Greg reading a book

The faculty want you to succeed. They’re not trying to set you up for failure—that wouldn’t be good for the program.
―Greg, 2018 Xavier ABSN program graduate

3 Ways to Get Ready for Nursing School

Now that you know what to expect from our accelerated nursing program, we’re assuming you want to know how to best prepare for your first day of class. Here are three to-do items we think you’ll find helpful.

1. Build a Support System

Because you’re about to embark on a rigorous, full-time education, your family needs to know how nursing school will alter your daily routine and shift the dynamics within your household. It also helps to talk with your close friends and explain to them what you’re up against as a nursing student. While you won’t be able to connect with them as often as before, make sure they know how much you appreciate them. And don’t be shy about asking others for help. Consider these tips for accelerated nursing students looking to build a support network.

2. Purchase a Planner

Being able to prioritize and manage your time wisely is critical to your nursing school success. So don’t skimp on purchasing a student planner, namely one that allows you to implement the time-blocking method. When you can visualize your tasks on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, you can get your nursing school routine down to a science, which prevents you from feeling overwhelmed.

3. Attend Orientation Day

Taking place a few days before classes start, we host an online orientation for students. It allows you to interact with other members in your cohort, ask questions about the first day, and get an overall lay of the land.

5 Tips for Nursing School Success

Xavier ABSN - Student studying on laptop

If you’re like most ABSN students, your first semester of nursing school will probably be the most stressful because there’s always that fear of the unknown. Even if you have an idea of what to expect, there’s still a good chance you’ll have the first-day jitters.

Once you get settled into a routine, however, the accelerated learning experience will start to feel less consuming. These five tips will help see you through nursing school:

1. Focus on Comprehension

Nursing school is more about synthesizing concepts than memorizing facts. So focus your efforts on learning the course material, understanding how the content ties together, and developing your critical thinking skills. For instance, memorizing the term “renal failure” and its associated complications doesn’t mean you understand what’s going on inside the body. You must know how the kidneys work and how they affect other parts of the human body.

2. Develop Efficient Study Habits

Everyone retains information differently so think about how you best learn and get creative. Do you better understand information when it’s demonstrated, spoken, written, or practiced? Knowing the answer can help you develop efficient study habits that boost your learning capacity.

If you’re an auditory learner, you can record yourself reading your notes out loud, and then replay these recordings as you drive in the car or go for a walk. If you’re a visual learner, you might develop notecards that feature nursing mnemonics to help you remember terms or concepts.

3. Practice Time Management

Accelerated nursing students can spend up to 60 hours a week on their education, which means you need to have good time management skills. This is where your planner is worth its weight in gold.

Xavier ABSN graduate Brianna standing in classroom

Nursing school is all about time management. There’s a lot of information being thrown at you really quickly, so you have to stay on top of your work.
―Brianna, 2018 Xavier ABSN program graduate

4. Join a Study Group

When you study with others, you can gauge if you’re learning a concept properly. And it doesn’t matter if you’re the weakest or strongest student in your cohort; everyone benefits from participating in a study group. Let’s say you’re the strongest student in the class. By helping those who are struggling, you’re able to reinforce your knowledge, which makes you an even stronger student.

5. Take Time for Self-Care

It’s easy to let your self-care fall by the wayside while in the throes of nursing school—but don’t. Regularly taking time away from your studies to relax and recharge is critical to your success. It helps to block out time in your student planner for self-care just as you would for exam preparation.

Self-care rituals can be as simple as meditating, going for a walk, or getting a massage. It’s also important to continue self-care while in the profession because you can’t keep giving to others if you don’t give to yourself first.

Ready to Set Your Education in Motion?

While this post gives you a good idea of how to prepare for nursing school, it’s important to speak with our admission team before you jump head-first into the ABSN enrollment process. This is the best way to determine whether our accelerated nursing program is a good fit for you and vice versa.

And when you’re ready to apply, you can choose to enroll for our ABSN program location in either Cincinnati, Cleveland, or Columbus, targeting a January, May, or August start date.

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