And so it begins…
The first three days of school consisted of orientation, which ended up being much broader than I expected. I thought it was going to be more of an orientation of the CRNA program, but it was more of an orientation of the campus and the college in general. People from different departments came and spoke to us such as security, the honor code committee, mental health support, etc. On the third day we did icebreakers and games to try to memorize everyone’s names and learn a little bit about each other. There are twenty-four students in my class, including myself. The majority of the students are from the upstate NY area, but there are also a few people from New Jersey. The third day of orientation happened to land on a Friday, so we all left and enjoyed our last weekend of freedom.
The class above us has lectures on Mondays, so our lecture schedule for the week starts on Tuesdays, for this first semester. For this first semester we are taking three classes, which together add up to ten credits. We are taking CNA 700-A Advanced Anatomy, Physiology, & Pathophysiology in Nursing Practice 5, CNA 701-A Advanced Pharmacology in Nursing 3 Practice, and CNA 702-A Advanced Health Assessment 2 Across the Lifespan.
The way that lectures are scheduled in grad school is very different from the way it’s scheduled in undergrad. For example, in undergrad let’s say you’re taking four classes. We will call them Class A, B, C and D. I would have class A on Tuesday and Thursday with one professor. Then I would have class B on Mondays and let’s say Class C and D on Fridays, each with a different professor specific to that class. In short, the classes would be spread out throughout the week, and you would learn a little bit from each class, each week.
In grad school so far, it is very different in the sense that there are different professors for the lectures, but it is all a part of the same class. For the first few weeks we only focused on one class “Advanced Anatomy, Physiology, & Pathophysiology”. We are tested every Tuesday based on the material we learned in lectures the week prior. In the week leading up to the test we would have lectures by three (sometimes four or five) different professors and the material from each of their lectures is on that test on Tuesday. So, it’s all for the same class, but not being taught by the same professor and the tests are a combination of questions from a bunch of different people. It’s not bad, just something very different from what I’m used to in undergrad. I am writing this the week of July 4th on a “break” (I’ll get to that in a moment) and so far we have had six tests for our Advanced Anatomy, Physiology, & Pathophysiology class, we have our second test for our Advanced Pharmacology in Nursing class the Tuesday we come back from break, and I believe we are starting our Advanced Health Assessment 2 Across the Lifespan class the week we get back from break.
As I’m writing this it is our first official break from school. It’s as much of a break I think as each of us is individually making it. Lol. We have a pharm test the day we get back and it based on the cardiac drugs, so I’ve been doing a lot of studying for that on this “break”. In hindsight I kind of wish I had gone away or done something fun for a few days, because our next break isn’t until Christmas… yikes. I’ve definitely taken time to relax here and there, and I went up to visit my cousins who have a house on the lake, but I haven’t treated it as a compete break. I know some students in my class went away for the week or didn’t start studying until the later part of break. For me personally, I’ve been steadily studying over the week so that I don’t have to cram the last few days before the test. It hasn’t been the best weather so far this summer in upstate NY anyways, so I don’t mind studying when it’s rainy outside.
As far as studying goes and lectures so far, it’s definitely been an adjustment and this “break” has given me some time to breathe. I’ll give you an idea of my typical routine over the past few months. I typically wake up at 5:30am and go to the gym. I’ve been going to the same gym for the past seven years and I love it. I find it a good way to clear my head and start the day. Our week typically starts with a test on Tuesday morning, then is followed by a few hours of lecture. By the time those afternoon lectures come around on test days my brain is already fried, and it can be hard to focus during the lectures. I will usually go home, take my dog for a walk (sometimes take a short nap), then try to review the material from lecture (because if you don’t know what’s going on from the day prior, you can be lost during the next day’s lectures as well). I try to finish studying around 7:30pm and then take an hour or two to decompress by watching tv, reading a book or (let’s be real) watching Tik Tok, then go to bed. It can get pretty exhausting during the week to go from hours of lecture in class, right into studying on your own at home, so sometimes the material isn’t absorbed as well as I would hope during the week. Thankfully I can do a lot of catch up on the weekends. I don’t know what I would do right now if I didn’t have that chunk of time to study. All our lectures are recorded, so to study I’ll usually go back and re-listen/watch the lectures and take my notes then. I find I can understand the material better by being able to pause the lecture and write my notes, as well as being able to rewind to go over a topic I didn’t understand (all at my own pace). I’ve also found that making flashcards for pharmacology has been helpful so far. One of the biggest things I heard from CRNA’s before starting the program was that you have to learn how to study. I didn’t really understand what they meant until I was in the program, but now I have a better idea. I’ve been trying different techniques, but I definitely don’t think I have it down yet because the studying takes a long, long time before I feel like I have a good grasp on the concept. It’s also just a lot of new material to learn. I’ve heard CRNA school is like drinking out of a fire hose, and I can confirm that every the first two months. I’m sure it will just intensify as time goes on; however, I’m also hoping that as my brain and body get back into school mode, I’ll be more efficient as time goes on.