School as a “Returning Learner”

As I have mentioned before, I am returning to school in pursuit of a career as a NICU nurse. Currently, I am taking Anatomy & Physiology I, which consists of a lab and a lecture. Having already been to college once (for a Bachelor’s degree in English Education), and being slightly older than the average first-time college student, I am classified as a “returning learner” for student purposes. Among other things, my background means that I do not qualify for FAFSA (free student financial aid), but it does mean that I have already experienced college, which I am beginning to see is a huge advantage.

This semester has been an interesting ride so far. From new online programs for coursework that didn’t work, to only using an online version of the book (until I bought the paper version last weekend), to my professors not knowing how to use the online coursework site, it was a rough start. I am already a very Type A person, and I prefer my schedule to be organized and itemized as much as possible. Knowing that this is the first “make or break” class of any medical program, I began preparing before the semester even began. I took a one week prep course that covered what you should know going into Anatomy & Physiology. I took notes and printed them out as a reference, sticking them in the back of that binder I use for class. When the textbook listing came out for this class, it included some study aids. After determining that I would actually use them, I purchased them–a huge set of flashcards and a coloring book (more on this in another post). I have heard from several people, some of whom are now nurses, that Anatomy & Physiology is a divergence point in the coursework of becoming a nurse. I was taking no chances.

The first lecture class was similar to most of the others I have taken. The professor lectures off a PowerPoint and posts the slides for the students to print and take notes from. Neither of the two students on either side of me had printed them. Instead, they were frantically scribbling down every single word on each slide, unable to focus on what the lecture was covering because they were trying to transcribe slides that they already had access to. Every so often, they would glance at me with a “what are you DOING?” look in their eyes. I was taking occasional notes to clarify or expand on a topic, perhaps highlighting something. I actually sat in a different seat at the next class because they were making me feel anxious with their frantic scribbling.

The most recent class was similarly notable. The professor couldn’t go two slides without someone asking if this would be on the test, or if we had to know this for the quiz. I gave up trying to hide my irritation after about the fourth time someone asked the same question. During the break, a few students were complaining to the professor that this was too much to learn, that they couldn’t memorize the book, that they didn’t know where to start, that they needed a study guide. When she finally lost patience, her reply was that this is an upper-level class for people who want to go into the medical field. We need to know ALL OF IT.

My lab class has different students, but similar attitudes. When our professor said that spelling would count on the lab tests, there was an audible reaction from most of the class. Her reply was that, as nurses, spelling something wrong can have huge repercussions, even cause an error that costs someone their life.

 

I think my favorite quote related to the mindset of going to nursing school is that we should be trying to become the nurses we would want to have if we were patients. I can tell that some of the students have this mindset, and are determined to learn as much as they can. These tend to be the older students, maybe the “returning learners.” The rest seem to want the answers for the tests handed to them. If it isn’t going to be on the test, they don’t want to hear about it, don’t want to learn about it. I figure that this class is the basis of every other class I’m going to have in nursing school, and I want to be prepared.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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