Accelerated Nursing

What to Expect in the First Semester of Nursing School

The first semester of nursing school is when you’ll complete online coursework to build your knowledge of nursing theory. You’ll also experience skills and simulation labs that will help you build the skills you need to treat real patients in clinical placements.

Two UST ABSN students working in lab

If you’ve successfully completed your prerequisite courses and are taking the next step of enrolling in our nursing classes, it’s probably sinking in that you are now an official nursing student. While you are likely very excited, it’s OK if you feel a little bit nervous, too.

Enrolling in the University of St. Thomas Houston Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program is a big step toward a new career, so you may be wondering what exactly to expect during your first semester of nursing school at the University of St. Thomas. Lucky for you, in this blog we’ll cover everything you need to know about what nursing school is like.

First Semester Nursing Courses:

In your first semester as an ABSN student at University of St. Thomas, the courses you will need to complete include:

  • NURS 2370: Pathopharmacology I (online coursework)
  • NURS 2371: Pathopharmacology II (online coursework)
  • NURS 2372: Health Assessment (online coursework and in-person lab)
  • NURS 3270: Clinical Inquiry/ESP (online coursework)
  • NURS 4670: Foundations of Holistic Nursing Practice (online coursework, in-person lab and in-person clinical)
  • NURS 3371: The Art and Science of Holistic Nursing (online coursework)

Online Coursework

Online learning is a brand-new experience for many nursing students. If you haven’t taken any classes online, don’t worry — our intuitive e-learning platform is user-friendly. In fact, you might be surprised at how interactive online learning can be.

Students studying outside on laptops

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One big perk of online coursework is the ability to complete it on your own schedule. Within the confines of the deadlines set forth by your instructors, you’ll be able to complete your work when and where it’s convenient for you (although all exams are administered at the learning center/site).

University of St. Thomas nursing student using computer

Another reason ABSN@UST students love online coursework is because of the ability to replay sections of the lessons that may be trickier to grasp. As a new nursing student, you may want to slow things down or revisit them in ways you wouldn’t be able to in an in-person class. With online coursework, the control is in your hands.

Skills and Simulation Labs

In addition to online classes, ABSN@UST students put what they’ve learned into action during skills and simulation labs. Hands-on lab hours are meant to reinforce what you’re learning in your online classes. You’ll learn skills such as:

  • Carrying out physical exams.
  • Changing sterile dressings.
  • Giving medication.
  • Using medical equipment and supplies (i.e. IVs and catheters).

A key benefit to the lab experience is that it allows students to get comfortable before they work with live patients during the clinical portion of the program. The labs also implement high-tech, reactive manikins that mirror how a patient would respond or present symptoms, readying our students for their clinical rotations.

Clinical Rotations in the First Semester

Many nursing schools do not allow students to participate in hands-on clinical rotations until later on in their nursing curriculum. However, in the UST Accelerated BSN program, you get in-person patient experience in your Foundations of Holistic Nursing Practice course during the first semester. This allows you to become acquainted with real-world situations throughout your 12-month nursing school experience. Our early clinical exposure is a significant advantage that distinguishes the UST nursing program from others.

University of St. Thomas ABSN students working in hospital

What is Nursing School Like?

Now that you have an idea of what to expect during your first semester of nursing school, let’s hear from some of our current students about what the curriculum is like.

Savannah Conte, a University of St. Thomas ABSN student in her first semester says: “It’s super fast, super rigorous. It’s a lot of fun. The staff here is really nice. I’ve been given every possible resource that I need to be successful in the program. It’s really rewarding at the end of the day. I feel accomplished. It’s always a positive thing to feel good about myself and the program that I’m in.”

Is Nursing School Hard? - woman sitting working on laptop

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Michael Kramer, also a current ABSN@UST student echoed an emphasis on the rigorous nature of the program: “It was very strenuous at first. After all, it is an accelerated BSN. A degree that would normally take two years, we are condensing it into one. It was very strenuous and very grueling, as far as the workload goes. However, the support from the staff and the teachers helps, and they really want to see you thrive. With it being that hard, it flew by. It was worth it. It’s tough work, but you’re here for a reason, so you’re going to do it.”

How to Succeed in the First Semester

Based on our students’ responses, here are a few tips for being successful in your first semester of nursing school:

1. Create a Routine, and Stick to It

Buy a calendar or planner so you can block off times to study and keep track of important deadlines and exams. Online learning takes self-discipline, so being sure you’re organized and on-track is key.

2. Remember the End Goal

When things feel hard, remind yourself why you chose to become a nurse. ABSN programs are indeed rigorous, so sometimes you need to remind yourself that the work and stress you may face is well-worth becoming a confident nurse ready to provide life-changing care.

3. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help

As our students mentioned, the staff and faculty as the University of St. Thomas are ready and willing to offer support, answer questions or direct you to the helpful resources you need. In fact, you will have access to a Success Coach who works with students before starting classes, and during the program to provide academic, professional and personal support, as well as ensuring you have access to relevant resources. Don’t forget that you’ll be learning alongside a cohort of peers who understand what you’re going through.

With all of this in mind, now you just need to get started on the path to get through you first semester successfully.

Make a Bold Call for Your Future

If you’re ready to kick off your journey toward becoming a nurse, the first step is a conversation with our admissions advisors, who will help you determine a pathway to your goal of becoming a nurse.

ABSN student in lab

The admissions advisors at ABSN@UST are here to answer any questions you may have about our 12-month second-degree ABSN program. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you start your nursing journey.

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