The nursing program is one of the most coveted and difficult programs that Yuba College has to offer. For one student, the journey that is the nursing program is about to end.
Nicolas Morales is currently working through his final semester of the two-year nursing program. Getting into the program in the first place requires quite a bit of work, as he told me.
First and foremost, once a student decides to apply to the program, he or she must meet with a counselor and make an educational plan. The plan must be tailored to meet the requirements for the Associate of Nursing major.
After taking the necessary classes, which include pathophysiology, pharmacology, and nursing based biology, students fill out the application and send their transcripts over to the nursing program.
To receive acceptance into the program students must not only have good transcripts but also pass either the HESI or TEAS-V which are the nursing school entrance exams. If their combined point total from the exam and transcripts is high enough, the student is admitted into the program.
After all of these requirements are met, the real work begins. The first semester serves to get a student’s feet wet. Students learn the fundamentals of nursing, which prepares them to think and act as a nurse would, as well as learning how to give injections, oral medications, and how to take care of wounds.
Students also participate in patient labs, where they practice all of the previously mentioned skills on dummies, before they treat real patients. Each student works under a nurse administering basic care to two patients by the end of the semester.
Essentially, the first semester serves to teach students the basics, onto which they will continue to build upon as time goes on.
Then a challenging second semester begins. “Second semester was probably my toughest semester. Expectations were more higher than I would have expected,” Nicolas shared with me.
During this semester, students focus on topics such as the respiratory system, the gastrointestinal system and the integumentary system amongst others. Students are also allowed to give more advanced care, including giving patients medicine through an IV.
They also are forced to begin relying more on their instincts when it comes to administering care rather than on the nurse they are working with. This was particularly challenging, Nicolas told me, because while students are learning more and more, they are still a bit hesitant to fully trust their instincts when it came to patient care.
“Third semester was probably my favorite,” Nicolas told me. This was due in part to nurses Ruth Tamulonis and Lynette Garcia, who Nicolas said were both “wonderful, energetic professors.”
In the third semester, students focus on acute care, which includes the cardiovascular system, the endocrine system, and neurology. By the end of the third semester, a student will have learned about eighty percent of what the program will teach, according to Nicolas.
Now in his fourth and final semester, Nicolas is gearing up for his preceptorship which will begin in mid-March. The preceptorship is basically like an internship.
The preceptorship consists of students being assigned to a nurse, and under his or her supervision, helping that nurse take care of their patient list. Eventually, the student will be giving care to everyone on the nurse’s patient list.
At the end of this semester, Nicolas will graduate from the nursing program. But in order to officially become a registered nurse, Nicolas will have to pass the NCLEX-RN exam.
Nicolas’ educational goals will not end there, however. He hopes to attend Sacramento State and complete his Bachelor of Science Nursing while working as a registered nurse. Eventually he hopes to complete a masters in Science and Nursing.
For Nicolas, the lifelong dream of becoming a nurse is closer to becoming reality each day.
Note: This article was featured in the Spring 2016 edition of The Prospector.