Malikah’s Mind – University Life – Nursing 101!

Hey everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

Recently, I’ve been getting many questions about university life and especially about nursing! As I am almost done my final year of nursing school, yay yay yay, I feel like I can finally give some sort of advice about it. I am planning on doing a blogpost about my university experience while living at home and all the fun that commuting entails, but I wanted to do this one first. Just keep in mind, I am answering these FAQ according to my experience and the university that I attend, so this may not be applicable to all nursing programs!

So grab a cup of tea or coffee and find a comfy spot and let’s get started! If there is anything I do not end up addressing in this post, feel free to message me on IG (@hijabiheroes) or even email me (malikah@hijabiheroes.com)!

What is the nursing program like?!
The nursing program is a busy and intensive four-year program. Apart from first year, you have clinical shifts in the hospital (any hospital, assigned to you) as well as a variety of small-group classes and lectures. The small-group classes adopt a problem-based learning approach and it is more of a self-mediated teaching, so to speak. The program heavily integrates nursing values, so basically, you never forget for one second that you’re in the nursing program!

Should I go into nursing?!
Okay, this is a question I get a lot, and definitely is a very personal question that has to be looked at differently! It is a lot of work and the nursing program is VERY immersive. If you are using the program to go into medicine, it may not work out very well for you to be completely honest. If you are not the type of person who wants to work in the hospital, it will be tough. You do have to be compassionate and caring and willing to take care of people in their most vulnerable of times. And it’s not easy, especially when you have to do all of that, put your own judgments to the side, and doing things that you may not be comfortable with.

What does the distribution of classes look like?! (By year and topic)
This is a brief breakdown/overview of what my four years looked like, it may not be the same, but gives you a general idea. For example, how many science classes you have compared to other classes. My program required me to take 6 elective courses throughout the 4 years, so you can add those in where there is space or in the summer.

First year:
Clinical – Lab – learning skills and assessments – FULL YEAR (both terms)
Problem-based learning – smaller group – FULL YEAR (both terms)
Anatomy and Physiology – lecture  – FULL YEAR (both terms)
Community placement (this one is a bit more complicated) – FULL YEAR (both terms)
Biochemistry – lecture
2 Psychology courses – 1 in each term
1 elective course
= 6 courses per term

Second year
:
Clinical – 8 hour hospital shift  – FULL YEAR (both terms)
Problem-based learning – smaller group – FULL YEAR (both terms)
Pathophysiology – lecture – FULL YEAR (both terms)
Community placement (this one is a bit more complicated) – FULL YEAR (both terms)
Social determinants of health – lecture
Statistics – lecture
Elective course (if you choose)
= 5/6 courses per term

Third year:
Clinical – 12 hour hospital shift  – FULL YEAR (both terms)
Problem-based learning – smaller group – FULL YEAR (both terms)
Pathophysiology – online lecture – FULL YEAR (both terms)
Community Placement – 8 hours a week – 1 term
Nutrition and Metabolism – lecture
Nursing Research
Elective course (if you choose)
= 5 courses per term

Fourth year:
Clinical – 12 hour hospital shifts (at minimum 2x a week first term, 3x a week second term)  – FULL YEAR (both terms)
Problem-based learning – smaller group – FULL YEAR (both terms)
= 2 courses per term

How do you manage clinicals, class, and all the other work?!
As any university program, it is a big shift from secondary school. You now have clinicals, classes to attend, with those classes come tutorials, and of course, any extra curricular involvements! And nursing is a BIG supporter of group projects, so meeting up to work on presentations is very likely. It can definitely be difficult to juggle everything together. You have 5/6 courses a term, have to finish your electives, and have to attend tutorials on top of your lectures or do more self-study in the form of modules in addition to the weekly content. TIME MANAGEMENT IS KEY. If that wasn’t obvious already!
Once you get the hang of it, I mean, well you never really get the hang of it, but you develop a routine that works for you. For example, if I had class on Monday’s from 8:30-12:30, and then didn’t have a lecture again until 2:30, my two hour break would consist of praying, eating, and writing notes or listening to a module. Of course, when you add a social life to all of that, the iceberg does tend to tip, but you can definitely figure it out!
I had a job from second year til today and I was still keeping up with my blog! Along with attending the mosque and participating in other activities outside of school. So it is very possible, but will be overwhelming in the beginning!
Just take it one piece at a time 🙂 And you probably won’t get much sleep….. LOL

What are clinicals like?!
Okay, I’m going to be 100% real. In the beginning, aka all of second year, you basically do a lot of work that may not feel like ‘real nursing’. You don’t really know a lot and you’re just learning your skills, so it’s obviously not going to be easy. When you’re a younger student, you miss all of the stuff that REALLY goes on to keep the unit running, because you’re so focused on your one or two patients to see the big picture. I only can recognize and appreciate this now being in fourth year and having a lot more responsibilities. I am discussing things with members of the interprofessional team and planning care for my patients. This is something you do not really get involved with earlier on. As well as all of the admin work or ‘behind-the-scenes’ things. However, you do get exposed to a lot of new learning experiences and will get to do some things you would never imagine!
My biggest tip about clinical is to go in with confidence, even if you are the most nervous person ever, and really be up to trying out new skills and getting outside of your comfort zone. I learned to do both and it really helped me in second and third year. Even if you do not really want to do something, perhaps because you’re scared or you don’t feel super comfortable at first, no one will EVER leave you hanging or make you do it all on your own. You will have guidance, from your teacher and the nurses, and you will honestly impress yourself. Sometimes, I’m almost shaking because I’m so scared to do something new, yet I keep a cool face. My teachers would even tell me during my evaluations that I’m always so calm and I laugh at how untrue that could be! It really does make a difference, especially to the patient. They’re also super nervous and if you show that you’re ready to tackle anything, they’ll empower that spirit too!

One final note: Just like in everything in life and in every school program you’ll come across (but highkey especially nursing), don’t get caught up with comparing yourself to others! You will come across many keeners who study 24/7 in the library! Hey, if it works for them, good for them! But that doesn’t mean you have to do the same thing. Everyone is different and different things work for different people! You’ll find your study routine and habits and what will help you become successful.

I hope this helped and gave you a little bit of insight into what a nursing program looks like! Nursing is a tough yet rewarding career and you learn a lot about yourself and others throughout your experiences.

Like I mentioned previously, if you have any other questions, feel free to shoot me a DM or an email and I’d love to chat about this!

Speak to you soon,

Malikah

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