Why is Accelerated Nursing School So Hard? 5 Things to Expect

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Why is nursing school so hard to enter and pass? Some reasons nursing school is hard include the accelerated speed, diverse expectations, long days, challenging curriculum, and minimal personal time. Learn how you can overcome these challenges through our effective tips like optimizing studying and making connections with the material.

Woman sitting at desk working on laptop

Before you start nursing school, it’s common to wonder, why is nursing school so hard, and how hard is it? From the application and acceptance process to nursing school itself to the NCLEX, there are many challenges you’ll need to overcome on the journey to earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.

Nursing school is a challenge by anyone’s standards, but it is an attainable and worthwhile goal for those who are committed to becoming a nurse. At Averett University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program, we love helping students overcome the rigors of nursing school and realize their career potential as a nurse.

Before jumping into an accelerated nursing program like the ABSN at Averett, it’s a good idea to know what to expect. Let’s walk through some of the main challenges nursing students face and help you answer the question, is an accelerated nursing program hard?

1. Accelerated Programs are… Accelerated

This may seem obvious, but one of the main challenges with an accelerated nursing school program is the pace. ABSN programs cover the same nursing educational content as a traditional nursing program that lasts the final two years of a four-year degree. However, the content fits into a shorter timeframe. For example, Averett’s ABSN program is four semesters, totaling 16 months.

Averett nursing student listening to another nursing student's breathing

When you begin accelerated nursing school, expect to start at a run. You will need to learn quickly, and this can take some adjusting. There isn’t time to waste with an accelerated nursing program, which is an advantage, because you can earn your degree sooner, but it does require determination and commitment.

2. You Will Be Pulled in Many Directions

Another key challenge of nursing school is the need to balance three discrete learning environments. Nursing school does not consist of repeatedly sitting through class all day and then taking tests. Nursing students at Averett ABSN have online classes they need to study and take tests for as well as clinical rotations and simulation labs to balance.

With nursing school, expect that you will be pushed to grow as a nurse in many areas. While this is challenging, it also means you’ll never be bored. Because of the layered learning approach, you will be able to absorb the content comprehensively.

Online Classes

Online courses consist of interactive learning materials that take you through our curriculum. The classes are rigorous and fast-paced, but they do allow for flexibility because you can study at the time and place you work best. You will need to study for exams that you’ll take throughout these courses. The online courses take up a significant portion of students’ time, but they form the foundational knowledge base that you take into your nursing practice.

Simulation Labs

Simulation labs consist of hands-on learning for nursing techniques and procedures. Students prepare for the simulation sessions before attending, and then they work with faculty to practice and assess various patient care skills. These labs require a different kind of learning than that used for online courses, but the content itself will often overlap and connect.

Clinical Rotations

The last piece of the ABSN puzzle is clinicals, which are the practical application of nursing school. Many students love their rotations, as they allow them to see nursing in action and practice their skills with real patients.

Male nurse in blue scrubs taking the pulse of a pediatric patient

However, clinicals can be overwhelming at first. Students have much still to learn. The sheer volume of what they don’t understand about patient care and the health care environment is a challenge. As you progress in nursing school, your skills will develop, and clinicals may even become your favorite aspect of nursing school.

3. The Days Will Be Long

One of the toughest parts of nursing school is the time requirement. With all the studying and in-person sessions, your days will be busy and full. There won’t be much excess time in your day for social activities and relaxing.

Some students underestimate the time commitment of nursing school, expecting they’ll be able to work while in school. We recommend students not work while in the program, as they generally need to dedicate 40+ hours a week every week to studies.

4. Nursing School Challenges Your Brain

Why is nursing school so hard mentally? Being a nurse means having people’s lives in your care. This is a great responsibility and honor. Therefore, the material that you will learn in your courses is challenging. You need to learn a lot of information to be an educated, competent nurse.

nursing student sitting in class

Therefore, the content itself poses a challenge for nursing students. However, the rigor of the courses is doable, and the prerequisite courses set you up to have a solid scientific foundation of understanding.

At Averett ABSN, our instructors and faculty are experienced at helping students navigate the curriculum, and we are truly invested in the success of our students. That means we’ll work with you one-on-one to help you succeed with the material.

5. You’ll Need to Put Other Things on Hold

As you can see, nursing school is demanding. That means you’ll need to prioritize studies over the other aspects of your normal life that you enjoy. Going out with friends for dinner will become a rare treat, and you’ll spend many weekends studying instead of relaxing.

This commitment itself is a challenging part of nursing school. You will need to reserve most of your time for your studies, and this is hard. We understand that. But sometimes to achieve great things, you need to sacrifice and work hard. Nursing school is no exception.

3 Tips if You’re Finding Nursing School Too Hard

Now we’ve thoroughly answered the question, why is nursing school so hard? If nursing school is such a challenge, how do so many students overcome the challenges and succeed? They put in the work. Earning your BSN is attainable if you invest the time and energy it takes to learn the material.

When you get started with nursing school, give yourself time to adjust, and have grace with yourself if you don’t catch on right away. Our three tips for how to overcome some of the challenges of nursing school will help you make the most of your experience.

1. Learn How to Study Well

Become a master of your brain. Figure out methods and techniques for studying that help you absorb what you’re learning thoroughly and efficiently. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Use study techniques tailored to your learning style.
  • Make sure to study actively rather than passively.
  • Study with flashcards using spaced repetition to help long-term memory.
  • Study in an environment conducive to learning.
  • Create a schedule for your studying.

2. Connect the Content

When you are in nursing school, make connections between what you’re learning in various settings. Bridging the gap between what you learn in class, in simulation lab, and in clinic will help solidify your education.

nursing student sitting at desk with textbooks

For example, if you’re learning about respiration and breathing in your online coursework, apply that to what you see in clinicals. Ask your preceptor what they’re monitoring with O2 saturation and what the lung sounds should sound like when examining a patient. Remember to always bring the learning back to treating patients.

By finding these connections between the textbook and real world, you’ll be able to appreciate the relevance of your coursework.

3. Strive for Balance

While we understand that nursing school demands a lot of time and effort, it’s also important to have a balanced student life. It’s important that you take time for your own health and wellbeing whenever you can.

Prioritize the people and activities that are most important to you, and put those into your schedule. Remember that you still need to live, and doing the things you enjoy can help motivate and sustain you during your studies.

Are You Ready to Propel Your Nursing Career?

With your bachelor’s degree in nursing, you’ll have such a rewarding career ahead of you. At Averett University, we believe in the power of nursing to transform lives, and we love teaching our students how to be the next generation of nurses.

With our ABSN program, students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or at least 60 college credits are eligible to apply. Our 16-month accelerated program is a hybrid model that uses online coursework, simulations and clinical experiences to educate tomorrow’s nurses.

If you want to learn more about earning a BSN degree at Averett, reach out to our admissions team today.