How Hard Is Nursing school?

By gabriel


Have you heard frightening stories about nursing school? 

The nursing curriculum’s difficulty is a tune nearly everyone hums! 

However, how accurate are these telltales? Is nursing school as challenging as everyone claims? 

This in-depth piece sheds light on the truth, clarifying what nursing school is and isn’t, what you can expect, and practical recommendations to become a more productive nursing undergrad. 

Ready? Let’s dive in! 

Key Takeaways

  • Some students may find nursing school challenging, while others may discover it’s a piece of cake.
  • Three primary activities make up a good nursing education, whether BSN or ADN. They are classroom curriculum, simulation labs, and clinical hours. 
  • Securing a BSN in nursing is possible through the traditional four-year option or the accelerated sixteen-month alternative. Not to forget, credits are transferable from a prior bachelor’s degree for faster education.

What Must I Know About a Nursing School Curriculum?


Nursing school introduces students to all healthcare fields to make them capable deputies to medical doctors. Consequently, the curriculum covers human sciences thoroughly, including anatomy, chemistry, psychology, and biochemistry. 

In addition, subset courses cover crucial administrative concepts, such as ethics, healthcare laws, philosophy, and sociology. 

What Are the Most Challenging Courses in a Nursing School Program?

Determining what the most challenging courses are in a nursing program is subjective. What is difficult for one nursing student may not be difficult for another. 

Not to mention that no course has to be “most challenging.” 

Pathophysiology, pharmacology, and medical-surgical courses may pose a challenge. But we’re convinced intense concentration will help. 

How Long Must a Nursing Student Study Daily?

Your study schedule depends on your course requirements and brain ability. Some students may require a few hours for thorough understanding, while others may need the entire night for the same purpose. 

What Is the Easiest Class in Nursing School?

Defining the easiest nursing classes is a subjective activity due to preferences. However, common mentions include humanities, intro to speech, English composition, history, social sciences, and information technology.

What Are Simulation Labs?

Simulation labs are facilities designed for immersive, simulated learning experiences. These labs mimic numerous healthcare settings, including operating theaters, emergency wards, labor centers, and neonatal intensive care units, for a hands-on understanding of classroom teachings. 

Undergrads can develop their core clinical skills through this setup. Simulation labs are typically the first place to try out catheterization, nasogastric tube insertions, and intramuscular injections. 

Therefore, nursing simulations are necessary because they train nursing students to provide holistic care (enabling better patient interactions) and revisit critical skills and concepts learned during nursing school. It also allows you to make mistakes and take in instructor feedback to level up on your next attempt.

Today, there have been many advancements in nursing simulations. For example, some schools employ lifelike simulation mannequins, which will go so far as to replicate facial expressions and follow you around the room, forcing you to interact with them.

What Are Clinical Hours?

Consider clinical hours the real-world version of nursing simulations. These rotations require students to work under a supervisor’s watch in actual healthcare settings for skill improvement.

Clinical hours tend to start with a pre-conference, where the instructor specifies the expectations for the day regarding assignments and caseloads. 

Initially, these hours focus on real-life demonstration of knowledge picked up in the classroom and the skills developed in simulation labs for the week. However, students are soon introduced to incidents that require skills they picked up a while back.

Most nursing schools expect you to complete 1,000 clinical hours to graduate.

What Are the Tasks Expected During Clinical Hours?

Your clinical hour shifts may require you to discharge one or more of these duties:

  • Head to toe assessment
  • Monitoring vital signs
  • Assisting with placing catheters and IVs
  • Performing medical dose calculations
  • Explaining symptoms to patients
  • Recording a patient’s medical history
  • Housekeeping (bathing patients and changing bed sheets)


Nursing school seems easy on paper, but it may be straightforward in practice. It depends on the student’s involvement in the curriculum, labs, and hours. Now, let’s see the prerequisites for getting into a nursing school.

What Are the Prerequisites for Admission Into Nursing School?

Securing admission into your ideal nursing institution demands completing specific educational laps beforehand.

Below is a list of prerequisites for admission into the University of Florida’s College of Nursing Accelerated BSN program:

  • Anatomy & Physiology One: 4 Credits (including lab)
  • Anatomy & Physiology Two: 4 Credits (including lab)
  • Microbiology: 4 Credits (including lab)
  • Statistics: 3 Credits
  • Human Growth and Development or Developmental Psychology: 3 Credits
  • Human Nutrition: 3 Credits


Applicants must score at least a C on all prerequisite courses taken anytime within the past seven years.

Where Can I Take the Prerequisite Courses? 

Candidates who took the nursing classes in high school can apply to any nursing school, provided they meet other requirements.

However, applicants without nursing backgrounds can enroll in the Fast Track program in their respective choice institutions. This program typically offers prerequisite courses within four to twelve weeks and is available online. 

For perspective, the University of Rochester’s School of Nursing fast track program offers the following courses:

  • NSG 305: Growth and Development Through the Lifespan
  • NSG 309: Microbiology and Application to Health
  • NSG 315: Microbiology Lab for the Health Sciences (1 credit)
  • NSG 310: Nutrition and Health
  • NSG 311: Statistics for Evidence-Based Practice in the Health Sciences
  • NSG 312: Human Anatomy & Physiology I and Application to Health
  • NSG 313: Human Anatomy and Physiology II and Application to Health
  • NSG 322 Anatomy and Physiology Lab I for the Health Sciences
  • NSG 323 Anatomy and Physiology Lab II for the Health Sciences


The coursework is self-paced, so working nurses can afford a healthy work-life balance.

What Are the Required Exams for a Nursing Program Admission?

Specific exams are a part of your admission requirements. These tests assess your reading, calculative, and science knowledge. They include:

  • (HESI) Admission Assessment (A2): This test focuses on English language, math, sciences, and personality profile. It helps to evaluate reading comprehension, vocabulary, general knowledge topics, and learning style.
  • Essential Academic Skills (ATI TEAS): This exam also reviews your math, reading, science, English, and language knowledge.
  • National League for Nursing Pre-Admission Examination (NLN-PAX): This entrance exam for nursing schools focuses on verbal ability, math, and science.

What Are the Degree Types in Nursing School?

Nursing school offers three significant pathways to becoming a nurse. They include:

Bachelor’s Science in Nursing (BSN)

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing is a program for non-nursing applicants and existing nurses with lower authorization to secure a degree usable for higher nursing roles. This program typically takes four years, although there are accelerated options that last 16–24 months only.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), BSN nurses positively affect the mortality rate in a hospital. Therefore, employers prefer their expertise in any healthcare setting. Not to forget, they’re qualified for advanced nursing positions and leadership roles.

However, BSN schooling is more expensive than other entry-level nursing programs. It also takes more time, and even though there are accelerated alternatives, they cost even more. 

Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN)

An Associate Degree in Nursing is an entryway program that introduces students to fundamental knowledge and skills. This program lasts for two to three years and is typically offered in community colleges and other similarly ranked institutions. 

Acquiring an ADN education may qualify you for specific nursing roles, but the degree falls short ultimately. ADN-RNs must upgrade to BSN-RNs to advance their careers. 

Regardless, ADN nurses earn good pay, averaging over $55,000 annually. This figure may even increase according to location and experience. 

Diploma in Nursing (DN)

A nursing diploma is a degree you acquire after one to three years in nursing school. This certificate prepares a nurse for entry-level nursing roles. The prerequisite coursework for admission and other exams is similar to the BSN and ADN norms.

However, DN-RNs are ranked low in the nursing chain. They make less salary and have fewer job opportunities. Therefore, they eventually secure their BSN degree.

How Can I Be More Productive in Nursing School? 

Productivity in nursing school trickles down to your time management skills, as you must make sufficient time for classroom sessions, simulation rounds, and clinical hours. The following are helpful recommendations to consider. 


Log all academic deadlines in a planner or calendar for reminder purposes. Alternatively, you may use the calendar to plan a studying session. Whichever works for you is excellent! Consider Microsoft Outlook for a start. 

Manage Others’ Expectations

Set upfront expectations with the essential people in your life to ensure your education takes the front seat always. You’ll miss some functions, but it’ll be for a good cause, such as a classroom lesson, clinical hour session, or simulation lab visit.

Avoid Procrastinating

Your curriculum is extensive; therefore, it’s best to study consistently. Procrastinating until the exam is near may hurt your chances of thorough understanding.

Task Batching

Task batching means completing smaller tasks in a specific time block. These tasks may range from submitting papers to responding to your email notifications. This technique improves concentration since you no longer worry about unread emails and links. 

Day Designations

Devote a day to a specific task theme that may take the entire day to complete. For example, applying for scholarships and internships could consume a whole day. The same if you’re studying for a particular test on a second day. Compartmentalizing and “day theming” could keep all of your tasks in check.

Meal Preparation

Hourly and weekly study hours leave little to no room for on-the-spot cooking; therefore, plan meals. Design a shopping list for the week and tick all boxes on Sunday. This day may cover grocery shopping, extensive cooking, and labeling and storing Tupperware containers for quick heating throughout the week. 

Take Healthy Breaks

Include breaks in your study schedule to refresh your brain. The Pomodoro technique is an excellent option, which allows for 5-minute intervals after each 25-minute chunk of work. 

This tactic allows you to track downtime more effectively and improve productivity.

Life After Nursing School: What Is the NCLEX?

Completing a degree program in nursing school doesn’t earn you a practice license, as you can only become a registered nurse after passing the NCLEX.

The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) is a final test nursing school students must pass to gain their license. Students who fail can apply for a resit at most eight times per year. 

There are two NCLEX formats: NCLEX-PN for aspiring licensed practical nurses and NCLEX-RN for registered nursing applicants.

What Materials Does the NCLEX Cover?

The NCLEX covers the following eight nursing subfields.

  1. Management of Care – 20%: This section covers topics like Advanced Directives, Advocacy, Case Management, Client Rights, Concepts of Management, Confidentiality, Continuity of Care, Quality Improvement, Delegation, Establishing Priorities, Ethical Practice, Informed Consent, Legal Responsibilities, Referrals, and Supervision.
  2. Pharmacological and Parenteral Therapies – 15%: This section tests your knowledge of the following: Adverse Effects, Contraindications, Blood and Blood Products, Central Venous Access Devices, Chemotherapy, Expected Effects, Intravenous Therapy, Medication Administration, Pharmacological Pain Management, Total Parenteral Nutrition, and Dosage Calculations.
  3. Physiological Adaptation – 14%: This section covers concepts like Alterations in the Body Systems, Fluid and Electrolyte Imbalances, Hemodynamics, Medical Emergencies, Pathophysiology, and Unexpected Response to Therapies.
  4. Reduction of Risk Potential – 12%: This section covers Diagnostic Tests, Laboratory Values, Potential for Complications from Surgical Procedures, and Health Alterations and Therapeutic Procedures.
  5. Safety and Infection Control – 12%: This section covers Accident Prevention, Error Prevention, Hazardous Materials, Surgical Asepsis, Standard Precautions, and the Use of Restraints.
  6. Health Promotion and Maintenance – 9%: This section covers topics like Aging Process, Ante/Intra/Postpartum and Newborn Care, Developmental Stages and Transitions, Disease Prevention, Health Screening, Lifestyle Choices, Physical Assessment Techniques, Health Promotion Programs, High-Risk Behaviors, and Self-Care.
  7. Psychosocial Integrity – 9%: This section covers concepts like Coping Mechanisms, Grief and Loss, Mental Health Concepts, Spiritual Influence on Health, Sensory/Perceptual Alterations, Stress Management, Support Systems, Therapeutic Communication, Chemical Dependency, Behavioral Interventions, Crisis Intervention, Coping Mechanisms, End of Life Care, and Family Dynamics.
  8. Basic Care and Comfort – 9%: This section covers concepts like Assistive Devices, Elimination, Mobility, Nonpharmacological Comfort Interventions, Nutrition, Oral Hydration, Personal Hygiene, and Rest and Sleep.

How Many Questions Does the NCLEX Pose?

The NCLEX adjusts its difficulty level according to the taker’s performance. Therefore, an excellent performance reduces the number of questions and vice versa. Note the minimum and the maximum number of questions an NCLEX can pose are 75 and 265, respectively. 


The nursing line leaves its professionals in charge of human lives. As such, it’s understandable that the required education may be challenging. 

However, nursing schools produce thousands of qualified nurses yearly. Many students make the cut, so what’s holding you back?

Nursing school may be a welcome challenge for a passionate undergrad. Not to forget the exclusive rewards that accompany its completion.

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