The First Semester of Nursing School Explained

The First Semester of Nursing School ExplainedIf you’re considering our 16-month ABSN program in Cincinnati, Ohio, we thought you could use a heads up on what to expect from the first semester of nursing school. You’ll especially want to see what current students and recent graduates of the program have to say about our accelerated path to nursing.

As a student in our ABSN program, your first semester of nursing school will comprise online nursing coursework, hands-on nursing labs, and practicum experiences that are broken up into two eight-week terms. Overall, semester one sets the foundation for your nursing education, providing the knowledge and skills necessary for a smooth transition into forthcoming terms.

 First Semester: Course Sequence
TermCourse # – NameCredits
1NURS 100 – Survey of Professional Nursing2
1NURS 200 – Nursing Therapeutics I3
1NURS 201 – Nursing Therapeutics I – Practicum2
2NURS 110 – Health, Culture, and Diversity3
2NURS 202 – Nursing Therapeutics II3
2NURS 203 – Nursing Therapeutics II – Practicum2

Online Nursing Coursework

A lot of people think that learning online is easier or of lesser quality than learning in the classroom — neither of which is true. It’s a course delivery option that involves a significant amount of independent study, requiring you to have good self-discipline and time management skills to be successful.

“Don’t come in thinking [the program] is going to be easy because [part of] it is online,” advises Sarah Bobbe, Xavier ABSN student. “I have to work harder because of the online component, but it’s worth it for me. This program allowed me to start [nursing school] the fastest and be done the fastest.”

While instructor deadlines still apply, online learning allows you to learn at your own pace and attend “class” at any time of the day or night. Delivered through Canvas, a popular learning management system, each of our online nursing courses feature a series of modules.

Within each module, you’re required to complete a list of activities, which could be anything from watching a video to completing a simulated case study. There’s also a live video conference feature within Canvas that allows instructors to schedule times to discuss complex concepts with students.

While ABSN program graduate Lauren Larrick will tell you that online learning was challenging for her to get used to, it ended up being really beneficial for her. “I chose the Xavier ABSN program because I really liked the online aspect,” she said. “I struggle with sitting in a classroom, so being able to take breaks, learn on my own time, and spend in-depth time on the material really helped with my learning.”

Greg Smith, Xavier ABSN Student

I [completed] my ABSN prerequisites online, which really helped me. By the time I started the program, I was familiar with Canvas and how the online platform works.

If you’re unfamiliar with online learning, it’s a good idea to complete your ABSN prerequisite courses online through Xavier and get acquainted with the course delivery system. While some ABSN programs require as many as 15 prerequisites, we only have four: anatomy and physiology I and II, microbiology, and statistics.

Nursing Skills Labs

Our state-of-the-art nursing skills lab, which features hospital equipment, medical supplies, clinical task trainers, and full-body manikins, provides a safe, contextual learning environment for developing basic nursing skills such as head-to-toe assessments, nasogastric tube insertion, and wound care — the types of skills that every nurse must have no matter the area of practice.

“[Skills labs] start out very basic and then progressively get more advanced,” Sarah noted. “In our first skills lab, we learned proper hand washing and sterilization techniques.” Among the more challenging nursing skills that you’ll learn during the first semester of nursing school is tracheotomy care.

Greg explains that he was able to take the skills he learned during his first semester labs and apply them in the real world. “During clinicals, I got to manage a patient who had a feeding tube as well as change the dressings of a patient who had burns.”

Xavier ABSN student in sim lab

As an accelerated nursing student, you can expect to participate in nursing labs up to three days a week.

Nursing Simulation Labs

With the help of a computerized medical manikin, our nursing simulation lab takes your nursing competency to the next level. Getting you as close as possible to real-life clinical situations, these labs help develop your clinical judgment and problem-solving skills, essentially preparing you to think on your feet and act on instinct while working in the profession.

While we don’t grade you on your simulation experiences, we do record them so that you and faculty can debrief on your clinical performance. “Simulation is really focused on learning,” says Lauren. “We talk about [the experience] with our professors in terms of what we could’ve done better or things we did great.”

Our simulation manikin lets you actively engage in patient assessment and treatment without the fear of putting an individual’s safety at risk. Under faculty control, the manikin can ask questions and replicate bodily responses to procedures, such as intubation and catheterization.

Another benefit of our simulation exercises is that they allow you to be placed in patient care situations that you might not be exposed to during clinicals.

Clinical Practicum  

Unlike a lot of nursing programs, we start you on your clinical practicum (a.k.a. clinical rotations) during the first semester. Like nursing labs, your clinical practicum starts out simple, but then we gradually place you in more complex scenarios within hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and nursing homes, etc.

While we can’t guarantee where your clinical practicum will take place, many of our students gain real-world experience in top health care facilities, such as Mercy Health, TriHealth, and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Lauren explains that during your first set of clinical rotations, you’re taking vitals and performing head-to-toe assessments. From there, you progress into skills such as starting an IV line, and by the fourth and final semester, you’re caring for patients as a whole.

“When you go into clinical, you’re typically assigned to a patient that has a condition that’s similar to whatever you’re learning about at the moment,” says Lauren. “If you’re learning about the heart, the goal is to give you a patient with an atrial fibrillation or some kind of heart defect. [Xavier] really tries to help supplement your learning that way.”

Marie Leist-Smith, Regional Director of Nursing, Mercy Health

Xavier nurses are unique because they are taught to be empowered at the bedside to provide the best possible patient care.

Support System

Whether you’re in your first or last semester of nursing school, our ABSN faculty and staff will be there to support you every step of the way. For example, as an accelerated nursing student, you’ll have access to an academic success coach whose job is to enhance your overall nursing school experience.

Bottom Line

The nursing education you’ll receive as a Xavier ABSN student is second to none. In fact, local health care facilities seek out our students. “Before I even graduated from the ABSN program, I was offered a job with Mercy,” said Lauren.

Ready to get started on your first semester of nursing school at Xavier University? Contact our admission team today!

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