Elective eases nursing school transition

“Introduction to Professional Nursing” teaches students about profession, nursing education demands

Photo: BSN students in labBy Erica Techo
The transition from pre-nursing coursework to nursing school is an exciting time for students, but it also can present challenges. To help make the transition as smooth as possible, the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing is offering a new elective for pre-nursing students called “Introduction to Professional Nursing.”

“We talk about what nursing is all about. It complements our other pre-nursing elective, First Year Experience, which discusses how to study and prepare for nursing school,” said Instructor Connie Hogewood, MSN, RN. “In this new course we address student concerns we have heard regarding what some consider the ‘shock factor’ that happens when they start nursing school.”

This “shock factor” includes the transition to new and different study habits, balancing clinicals and coursework, and understanding nursing ethics and professionalism. Faculty used feedback from current and previous traditional bachelor of science in nursing students to help create the elective.

“Nursing school can sometimes require approaching class in a way a student has never tried before, and understanding that before entering nursing school helps students be more prepared on day one. In addition to how to balance all of the elements of nursing school—simulation and skills, clinicals and didactic courses—we are teaching students to take the information they learn, analyze a situation and make decisions using that information,” Hogewood said. “That can feel different from previous coursework, where facts and figures could be memorized and then recited for a test.”

Introduction to Professional Nursing is offered in the spring and the summer semesters as a three-hour course. It is available to all pre-nursing students.

“This gives students the opportunity to get a head start in laying a foundation for success in nursing school and to better understand the expectations of our faculty, as well as what they can expect to encounter as professional nurses,” said Associate Dean for Undergraduate and Prelicensure Education and Associate Professor Gwendolyn Childs, PhD, RN, FAAN. “Entering nursing school is an exciting time, and we hope this gives students a chance to ask questions, meet faculty and staff, and gain confidence for their next step in their nursing education.”

The course constantly evolves, incorporating up-to-date information, including an introduction to the new licensure exam coming out in 2021. The ultimate goal is to give students a head start on nursing school and understand the nursing profession in a more holistic way.

“My hope is this introduces students to what nursing is really about, and that includes understanding that it involves more than going in and taking vital signs and talking to patients. Nursing is about assessing and evaluating a patient’s condition, and then utilizing critical thinking skills to determine what needs to be done,” Hogewood said. “I’m excited to introduce students to so many aspects of nursing school before they even get here. That way, they can be as excited as I am about them coming.”

Last modified on September 30, 2021

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