What Is Nursing School Like?

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Before beginning nursing school, you may be wondering what to expect. What is nursing school like? How hard is nursing school? These questions, and more, swirl in your mind. After all, an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program like ours at Pacific Lutheran University is a challenging undertaking. Going into it prepared will help you put your best foot forward.

Nursing students working together in sim lab

Let us walk you through exactly what to expect during the first semester of nursing school, show you how to get ready, and ease your mind about starting the program. Many students have gone before you, so remember that with dedication and passion, nursing school can be the starting point for the career you’ve always hoped to have.

What to Expect in Nursing School

During your first semester of nursing school at PLU, you will take the foundational courses that provide the base knowledge you will need as a nurse. You will jump into a challenging curriculum that will test you and shape you.

Pacific Lutheran University nursing student working with lab equipment

Get ready to get outside your comfort zone and study in new ways. After all, nursing school, especially an accelerated program, is not meant to be easy. Nurses have a huge responsibility in caring for people’s lives, so you have a lot to learn. Though the beginning of nursing school will be tough, you will learn how to study, with ample support resources available to help you along the way.

How to Prepare for the First Semester

As you prepare for the first semester of nursing school, take time to think about why you want to become a nurse. What inspired you to begin this journey? Write down your “why” and keep that as motivation as you undergo challenges. You will need to be mentally ready for long days of studying and lots of hard work. Expect to feel a little uncomfortable as you embark on this new venture.

Here are a few steps you can take before your first semester of nursing school begins:

  • Finish up any remaining prerequisites and send your final transcripts to PLU.
  • Stay in touch with your admission counselor to complete any needed paperwork.
  • Set up your housing for nursing school.
  • Create a personal budget and work with your admission counselor to make a tuition plan.
  • Review your course schedule and start planning your study schedule.
Pacific Lutheran University ABSN students looking at hospital equipment

Wondering how to become an RN with a bachelor's degree or prior college credits? Follow these steps to begin a nursing career.

Four Tips for the First Semester of Nursing School

Once you begin nursing school, remember that it is normal to feel some anxiety at first. Give yourself time to adjust and settle into a routine. Use these nursing school study tips to help ease into the program:

  • Create a study schedule to help you stay on track.
  • Study in ways that align with your learning style: visual, kinesthetic, auditory or reading/writing.
  • Find a peer study group. Meet regularly to review material and keep each other accountable.
  • Ask for help. Your instructors at Pacific Lutheran are here to support and guide you through your nursing school journey.

Is Nursing School Hard?

Nursing is well-known for being one of the more challenging degree paths, and for good reason. You will be learning complex science like pharmacology, diagnosis and treatment, chronic health conditions, research and health care leadership. On top of that, you will need to develop finesse with technical nursing skills and hone your patient communication skills.

These studies come together to ensure you are ready to provide top-quality care for your future patients. They depend on you, and at PLU, we take that responsibility seriously. We will prepare you to be the best nurse you can be, and that will take hard work.

nurse looking at monitor above patient's bed

With the challenges that accompany nursing school, what makes the career worthwhile? Let these eight reasons to become a nurse inspire you to pursue your dream.

Challenges of Nursing School

What are the main reasons that nursing school is hard? Here are a few challenging aspects of nursing school:

  1. Curriculum: Understanding the human body and how to treat it is no easy feat. The content you will learn during nursing school is complex and interconnected.
  2. Schedule: You will need to balance a busy, full-time schedule of online classes, labs and clinicals, along with additional study groups and personal commitments.
  3. Accountability: Because the ABSN program consists of online classes, you will be responsible for working through the material independently and ensuring you do not fall behind. It takes discipline to stay focused.
  4. Comfort zone: Nursing school presents many new experiences, some of which can cause anxiety. Even if you have worked in health care before, you will be challenged to step outside your comfort zone when interacting with patients and learning new skills.


Now you know what nursing school is like and what to expect in the first semester — but what about the specifics of the ABSN program at Pacific Lutheran University? Our 16-month program, with three start dates each year, is available for eligible students.

Nurse looking down at clipboard

How long is nursing school? See how you can finish in as few as 16 months at PLU.

When you begin nursing school at PLU, you will learn via three different modalities, allowing you to reap the benefits of both online and in-person learning.

Online Classes

In your online courses, you will work through lessons using our intuitive e-learning platform. Material will be presented in several formats to accommodate students’ varying learning styles. You will work through material independently, meeting deadlines set by your professor. Plus, you will get to collaborate with instructors and peers regularly.

closeup of a person typing on a laptop

Nursing Labs

Nursing skills and simulation labs let you put your knowledge to the test in a safe and supportive environment. Skills labs teach you technical nursing responsibilities, such as

  • Taking vitals
  • Inserting intravenous lines
  • Catheterization
  • Patient interviewing

During simulation labs, you will work in groups, under the supervision of your instructor, through simulated health care scenarios with high-fidelity manikins. A debrief session follows each simulation activity.

Clinical Placements

The last piece of a well-rounded nursing curriculum is clinical rotations, which take place at health care facilities in the Seattle area. There, you will work with real patients under the guidance of instructors and preceptors, giving you the experience necessary to prepare for professional nursing practice after graduation.

Begin Your Nursing Future with PLU

nursing students in lab with instructor

Now that you can answer the question, “What is nursing school like?” we hope you feel ready to take the next step in achieving your goal of becoming a nurse. Earning your BSN at PLU near Seattle will set you up for a rewarding and in-demand career.

Getting started is simple. Just contact our admission counselors via our online form, and we will get in touch with you. We are here to help you navigate your nursing journey.