Saturday, September 12, 2015

Welcome to NYU! A review of the first semester

So I'm going to depart from my normal topics for my blog. As I reflect back on this year, there are a zillion things I want to write about but can't write about now; that will come later. As I think back to a year ago, I can't believe I was JUST starting the NYU nursing school journey; going into it there were so many questions  i didn't have the answers for and wish I did! So what I decided to do is do a COMPLETE review of the program thus far in order to hopefully ease some fears and answer some questiosn to anyone starting NYU's nursing program next week!
(excuse the typos, I was typing this from my iPad)

Going into first semester, there is really no way you can be prepared for the amount of work they are going to throw at you. Now first, I am writing this from the perspective of someone who really wants to get good grades, who actually goes to class (for the most part), and who works her butt off to get good grades, and also someone who has developed relationshihps with some professors (downsize to this prgoram is that there are a LOT of people in it, and it's hard for professors to know you). Now, you can pass this program (read: PASS, which is a 73% I believe) without putting nearlyy as much effort into it as I did, but that wasn't what I wanted, so I put 120% into it, and that's the perspective I'm writing from. So, about first semester ...

General Info/tips
First semester is 10000% the worst semester. It's the busiest schedule, the most amount of busy work, and kind of a weeding out process. The classes, IMO, are not as hard as some of the coming semesters but the workload is outrageous.

For us, we only had lectures all together -- our nursing classes used to be at the regular NYU campus and all 200+ of us were crammed into one lecture hall. So we all had the same professors; I can only speak to the experience I had with those professors, but all of the them are at least the same for one section, so they try to run the classes similarly.

You will have no life. Like, hardly. For me, I like to workout and stay active (weightlifting, soccer, etc). I had to majorly cut down my gym time; that was what I did in my free time (instead of going out partying etc). If you're a partier, that's fine and you'll have time to do that on the weekends -- if you do nothing else. I played soccer for a brooklyn soccer league, went to the gym once a week, and then did home workouts on my busy days. READ: I used to be in the gym 2 hours a day, 4 days a week and spent all my free time outside (I'm from the Northwest); I had to drop all of that because there was that much work to do! Just be mentally prepared that you will really have to alter your life and schedule that first semester.

The first week, write out all of the tests in your planner and major assignments (care plans, etc) for the entire semester. Don't do what I did whicih was write out EVERYTHING, even assignments, for the whole semester -- i had a panic attack, lol. Just do that every week and stay on top of your schedule to keep organized.

Find a little time to yourself each day. Despite the rigor of the program, it is a MUST to find something for youruself each day -- whether that's yoga, listening to music, going for a short walk, playing with your pets, etc. You will burn out if you don't do this!

And one of the most important things: DO NOT READ THE TEXTBOOKS!!!! REPEAT: DO NOT READ ALL OF THE ASSIGNED READINGS. You will want to blow your brains out and will be reading from sun up to sun down. There are a few classes where you want to skim readings buut please, for the love of god, don't read every page! i made that mistake the first two weeks of classes but I learned quickly (more on that later).

Now, about the specific classes.

I had Professor Slater for this class, and Professor Keating for HAP sim. This is one of the more straightforward classes. I did not crack open the book ONCE (i sadly bought a kindle version). Slater is extremely organized in his powerpoints and they are filled with information; as long as you study the powerpoints, you should be fine.

HAP sim was straightforward until the midterm/final return demonstration. This whole class is straightfoward information until these two things. The midterm demo is basically a focused head to toe assessment (you'll learn about that). You do not have to pass, but if you fail, you have to go to remediation. The final demo, howerver, you MUST pass OR YOU WILL FAIL THE CLASS. This was honestly one of the most stressful things of the semester; I had my final return demo the day after we got back from Thanksgiving breake and you better believe I was practicin on everyone the whole break! It's terrifying because they are extremely tough on passing you -- you literally have to get EVERYTHING correct on the rubric (which you'll have beforehand) in order to pass. It's brutal. My suggestion is to do your best to pass the midterm because it;ll give you confidence for the final.

This class has a lot of busy work; just get it done as early in the week as possible so you don't have to worry about it.

This is usually the class that people fail, if one was to fail the class. This class is by far the most amount of work; for me, it wasn't "hard" per se because I love anatomy and physiology and this is similar, and requires a lot of memorization and understanding of body processes. If you're good at memorizing then you'll be good; if not, not gonna lie you will have to work a lot harder.

The class is set up in a "reverse class" format: ie, you watch the lecture at home (called "modules") and then you do case studies in class to help reinforce the information. For me, the case studies didn't help at all -- I needed to memorize and learn everything by heart first and THEN do the case studies in order to test my knowledge. So I actually didn't pay that much attention in class (although I went to every single one).

The modules are your life line; take AS DETAILED NOTES as you can when you watch them; they are really long and take forever to do, but it's really the only way to pass/ace the class (my average was a 98 or something).

I only opened the book once, and it was to look something up I didn't quite understand; I've used it a few times since then for care plans, but you really dont need the book for this class.

TAKE NOTES TAKE NOTES TAKE NOTES during the modules and never skip a week or you will get too stressed trying to make them up! For me I liked to sit down and do them all in one sitting but it takes a while; do whatever works for you, but DO NOT put them off to right before the test.

Flashcards will be your life. Some people really hate flashcards, but patho is the perfect class for them. I made flashcards for every test and it's the only way I learned and memorized everything I needed to.

If Slater suggests to make a concept map in the module, do it; they aren't the way to study everything, but for diseases that are really simlar, it's a great way to distinguish things that set them a part (the various types of anemia for example, or the leukemias).

Slater changed the order of material from our semester, and your first test will honestly be harder because he saved some of the most confusing and challenging material for the last lecture for us but changed it because it makes more sense to have it at the beginning (fluid and electrolytes: be wary! This stuff is hard).

For patho, start studying two weeks in advance; it takes a lot to distinguish differences in diseases and I found that doing a bit of material 2 week before and the rest the the week of (or weekend before) was the best way for me. Don't save evertying til the last minute, like 3 days before -- this class covers an insane amount of material and it takes time to memorize everything. Exam blue prints are posted a week or two in advance -- be wary these are not study guides. THey just show the concentration of questions per section to hopefully help you focus on where to study. Sadly, you need to know everything. But the biggest piece of advice i have for this class is to focus on the differences between diseases vs the similarities -- that'll help you distingish betwen varying diseases of similar origin and characteristics.

Slater: so I think that Slater and Gilles are both teaching this class now. I had Slater for patho, and gilles for another class, so I will only speak about Slater in relation to patho.
I loved Slater; when I had him, he could come off and rude and condescending to students (which, if you read on, you will see), but he has changed SO MUCH since I had him first semester, and he's probably my favorite professor. He is straightforward in lecture, always to the point, and responds to emails pretty rapidly. I had him last semester, and have him again this semester and am so happy I do! He is a good man and a good professor, can't say enough good things about him.

This class is the one class that is difficult to "get" when you first start it. Essentially, this class begins to teach you the process on how to think like a nurse, analyze questions that are the beginnings of NCLEX style questions, and is what your clinical is based on.

I found this class hard to sum up; it's difficult to study for -- a lot is common sense. It is the foundation of A&E 2 which is the toughest second semester course.

For me, I read over my notes, and skimmed the chapters in the book to study for exams. But realy a lot of it is common sense (or should be); I studied, but not in an organized way. It definitely helps to skim the book prior to exams.

For this class ,and all other AE classes, I would suggest getting or downloading "MedSurg success." I did not use it for this class, but IT IS A LIFESAVER FOR ALL OTHER ADULT AND ELDER CLASSES!!!! If you take one thing out of this blogpost -- take that ! GET THIS BOOK ASAP. It is an entire book dedicated to practice NCLEX questions. Not necessary for this course, but it might help you feel more prepared for the class if you're feeilng uncertain. Honestly, I alwasy felt uncertain going into this class for an exam because I didn't know how to study. This class really teaches you the basics on how to study for NCLEX-style exams, which AE2 is all about.

Professor Ea: I had Professor Ea as an instructor. i didn't get to know him personally, but he's very sweet and approachable. Point of note: he puts not a lot of information on his powerpoints and talks A LOT -- so make sure you take note! Tests are based on the powerpoints and some parts of the reeading; make sure to review the end ot he chapter summaries at the end of the required readings to help prepare for exams. And really take notes with what he talks about.

Ah, this class. Honestly, this is a tough one to get through. There's a class every semester that we all have to get through, and this is this one for first semester. It's hard to focus on because it's different than other nursing classes, and unless you want to go into management and the business side of nursing, it's hard for a lot of people to find it interesting. They have changed things from when I took the class, but the first test was nearly impssoible; we all walked out feeling as though we had failed. It was Mattia Gilmartin's first time teaching the class at NYU so it was a learning process, but it was brutal.

Read the book for exams. For our final exam, we got a fairly detailed study guide -- follow the study guide to a T and you wll be fine.

I know Gilmartin and James Weidel are both teaching this class. I had Weidel for psych and I absolutely loved him. I can't speak too much on this class because it's changed a lot but just do the work and you'll get through it. It's not like patho, don't worry!

The first semester is hard, challenging, and makes you want to cry. If you're like me, you WILL cry because of the amount of work you do. Ha. It's rough. But remind yourself it's only 13-14 weeks and you get 6 weeks off over Christmas break.
Make yourself known to your professors (if that's what you want). I've gotten to know my professors more second and third semester, and didn't at all first semester. go to office hours, ask questions, let them know that you're a person, not just a face in the crowd. They care, they really do! Even if they don't seem like it sometimes. A few of these guys, in first and later semesters, are some of the most caring people I've met.

Make friends, but don't make too many friends.
I've gone through a lot in this program, and one of the professors I went to for advice told me, "Be careful who you tell thing to in this program." they were right. Make some friends and stick by them. The program can be lonely sometimes, despite the amount of people. But just get through it the best you can and just know that there is light at the end of the tunnel even when it doesn't seem like it sometimes!

Use NYU resources.
If you're sick, don't go to clinical. They try to scare you with the absentee policy -- which IS scary -- but if you are deathly sick, don't force yourself to go to class. If you're having a problem -- personal, family, any kind of issue you need to talk out -- go to the Wellness Center. They are great and will work with you and the nursing school if anything significant arises.

This one seems silly but it's vital! I'm an athlete -- I played soccer in the fall and did a little gymnastics this spring. If you so much as show up with a cast one day they will kick you out of the program. Ok, maybe not right away -- but if you are in a cast, boot, or splint of any kind that is visible and known, they will make you not go to clinical and you won't be able to finish the semester. It's serious. so, this might not be the best time to take up Judo, competitive skiing, or play super competitive soccer! But, do something for fun still.

This is the best I can give for first semester. If anyone has any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments!

GOOD LUCK on starting your first semester of school AND YOU WILL DO GREAT! If I can do it, you can too, I promise.