Nursing makes unusual demands on BYU students

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At 4:45 a.m., Sadee Hansen hears the buzzing of her alarm clock. As much as she wants to pull the covers over her face, she has to get up or she’ll miss her bus for her 7 a.m. shift at the Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City. Hansen is a nursing student in her fourth semester at BYU, and time is something she does not have a lot of.

What started as a childhood interest developed into her soon-to-be career. Hansen, 21, from Riverton, grew up in the medical field, as her father was a surgeon. Her love for the nursing field developed after she went to Haiti with her mother. It was then she learned that nursing could open the door for her to help and serve people in all sorts of places.

The undergraduate nursing program at BYU is a three-year program after admittance. Each semester has a different focus, and from the second semester until graduation students get hands-on experience in hospital settings with real patients.

Along with taking classes, nursing students are expected to complete six to 12 hours of hands-on work in the hospital per week. However, students are not guaranteed a spot in Provo hospitals and often have to commute.

Data from the 2010–2011 school year report that 368 students were in the undergraduate nursing program. The average GPA of these students was a 3.79. The College of Nursing has a 100 percent pass rate on the American Nurses Credentialing Center examinations to be a family nurse practitioner and a 96 percent pass rate on the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses exam.

Because of these numbers, the program is highly competitive, and many students don’t make the cut when it comes to admittance into the major.

Hansen said “everyone told me good luck” when they found out she was applying to the program.

Sadee Hansen cheerfully practices her nursing skills.

She explained that, as with any competitive program, the prerequisites and other parts of the application process were not easy. Part of the process is completing a volunteer log that represents all service and volunteer-oriented activities from the past five years. She also explained that students are told they need a car, and if they do not have a car, they need to have their own transportation lined up because of the excessive traveling involved with completing clinical rounds.

Lauren Wallace, 21, in her second semester of the program, said the competitive nature of the program “separates the people who really want to be there and are passionate about being nurses.”

Wallace describes her classes as being stressful because what she’s learning really matters.

“I knew going into it that the program was very demanding,” Wallace said, but she noted that because she wants to be a better nurse, she is willing to work hard.

Like Wallace, Hansen feels a lot of pressure because she knows the seriousness of what she’s learning.

“If you mess up, you’re affecting someone’s life,” Hansen said.

Despite the stress and high pressure she faces, she feels nursing has helped her to be more compassionate.

She said it’s an adjustment “getting used to working with people who are always at their worst.”

When she goes in for her shift at the hospital, she said, “I forget about what’s going on in my life and focus on the patient.”

Melissa Williams, 21, in her fifth semester, is one of the few nursing students who works and goes to school. Because of her hectic schedule during the week, she attends classes and completes clinicals during the week, and she works long hours on the weekends.

“You have no time for yourself,” she said.

Williams said it’s easier for her to work on the weekends because during the week you “can’t really prepare for what they’re going to tell you to do or where you need to be.”

She has needed to be flexible and make nursing her priority throughout the course of her undergraduate studies. She said the most difficult part about being a nursing student is the demand on her time and its effect on other aspects of her life.

However, Williams, Hansen and Wallace feel that they are putting in the time now for a payoff later. All three students, like many others in the nursing program, feel they will be better prepared to enter the work force after graduation because of the hard work and the time they put in.

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