C’s (do not) get nursing degrees

Students and professors comment on nursing program’s structure



Nursing majors are often perceived as some of the busiest and most stressed college students. All students experience stress, but it appears that nurses are the ones usually expected to be locked in their rooms studying all day. Because of the heavy workload and program expectations, some nursing students have voiced fears about failing.

Although these students understand the need for a high standard because nursing deals directly with human lives, they think adjustments to the program would help ease the stress and create a better learning environment.

“The change we want to see is to let the professors know that we have other [general education courses] that need taken care of, and it’s not just nursing classes that we have to do,” a junior nursing student said.

Most nursing courses include a test immediately after summer and winter semester breaks. This requires them to spend extra time over break studying.

“We get less time with our families, and it would be a lot less stressful [if the test was pushed back],” another junior nursing student said.

“We have other responsibilities, like our jobs, and it is sometimes hard to focus just on classes,” a junior nursing student said.

One reason for the additional stress nursing students experience comes from the grade requirements. Students are required to earn a 77% or higher to pass a class or a test. Furthermore, students said the Hesi standardized test composes a large part of the final grade. Passing or failing this single test influences a student’s overall grade by 3%.

“There are people who we started out with sophomore year doing clinicals [with], and by now, we have lost quite a few. It’s unfortunate and kind of sad,” a junior nursing major said.

Although The Aviso cannot report the exact number of students who are no longer in the program, each student quoted in this article could identify several students who have left the program this academic year.

In addition to the Hesi, nursing students are required to take a series of medication and math tests. These tests require grades above the 77% pass rate.

A junior community and public health and former nursing major said that an 85% is necessary to pass the test, well above average scores in most other classes. Failing this test means a student is marked “unsafe” in the program.

“I’m not a good test taker, so the fact that I got an ‘unsafe’ that early in the semester from a test isn’t a clear indication of my ability as a nurse,” a junior community and public health major, said.

“I know that the nursing program wants the best out of the best and the professors are wanting you to succeed, you just have to put a lot of work into it,” Kristen Norcia, sophomore nursing major said.

In addition to the extra work and high standards, nursing theory courses are often only two credit hours, which, according to Norcia, course work does not reflect.

“I really like the nursing department; I really love the professors. I think they really care about our success and they want us to learn,” Aubri Ressler, sophomore nursing major, said. “I think they want to make sure that we know our stuff so that when we go out into the field, we will be the best nurses and we won’t harm someone.”

“It’s a hard program, but it’s going to be hard wherever you go,” a junior community and public health major said.

Nursing professors said they understand that the program is hard, but they said it produces high-quality nurses.

Debra Lee, associate professor and dean of nursing, and interim dean of education and human development, said, “We have responsibilities to our students. Big ones. I’m here to help you become the best nurse you can be”.

Lee said she understands what students face.

“If you’re here, you should be here,” Lee said.

Lee said she takes into account what it takes to get into college and respects that. She also saidshe cares about what happens beyond gradation.

Lee said that their professional goal is to offer guidance and compassion. She also said that that guidance does not always look like compassion, but it comes from a place of love.

“Let us help you get there,” Lee said.

Lee also said that these are the people that will be taking care of future patients, which is no small task. However, she also said that losing students bothers the faculty. She said they take that home with them, questioning if they did all that they could for their students.

“One student is a concern. One is more than I can take. I care about the students,” Lee said. “We love you. We want you to succeed. If you’re uncertain, just ask. It’ll be worth it.”

Beth Rettew, director of nursing, said she also respects and appreciates her students.

“Every student has a different story… our graduates are very well thought of,” Rettew said.

Rettew said the course schedule looks different for nurses than most students, and that may create more stress.

“[Nursing students] have six or eight hours of class plus eleven hours of clinical, whereas other students might have 12 hours of class,” Rettew said. “They have a lot of learning to do.”

Kendra Hartman is a staff writer for The Aviso

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