Major Profile: Nursing

Whitney Morris, staff writer 

Utica College’s nursing program is a program that has relished 23 years of ongoing success.

Completing the four-year program leads to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. The program offers a number of benefits, some of which include not having to wait two years to apply to the program, while completing liberal arts courses, a strong ‘reality-based’ clinical focus, small nursing classes limited to 36 students, and a highly qualified staff who each hold nothing less than a master’s degree in clinical nursing areas of specialization.

“The objective of the program is to prepare students to be safe bed-side nurses in a variety of settings,” Civita Allard, Associate Professor of Nursing, said.

The program features three study options- the traditional campus-based program for students coming straight out of high school, the RN to BSN for already licensed nurses who are seeking a higher credential and the accelerated program for people who have already received their bachelor’s degree but wish to pursue a career in nursing.

Associate Dean of Nursing, Catherine Brownwell considers the nursing major to be “the most challenging undergraduate major on campus.” It is an extremely rigorous program that requires the maintenance of a 2.8 GPA. In this major, failing is considered anything lower than a 77 percent (C). If you fail one class, it can set you back an entire year. At two classes, you will be kicked out of the major.

Nikiya Harris, a senior in the nursing program, says the major is unlike any other in the sense that it requires an immense deal of focus.

“It’s a very challenging major that requires a lot of reading,” Harris said. “It doesn’t require memorization- it requires never-ending studying. You cannot ever study the night before for a test because that’s like asking for a zero.”

Junior Anastasia Fitzpatrick said the nursing program at UC involves a lot of independent studying.

“They tell us what we have to know. We have to read from the book and learn it ourselves,” Fitzpatrick said.

In order to become a nurse, one must complete the general core, take 11 other major-related courses and complete eight clinical rotations between your junior and senior year. The last clinical requires the student to work with a staff nurse for three weeks, in 12 hour shifts, mirroring everything they do.

Most students seem to really enjoy clinical days because they get real hands on experience. A clinical day can start very early in the morning and last into the late afternoon or start in the afternoon and last into the night.

“Clinical days are nice. I like clinical,” Fitzpatrick said. “I feel like I learn how to be a nurse there.”

Once the student arrives, they are assigned a patient who they may need to gather information for. Next, they need to touch base with their clinical instructor before going off to provide care for their patient. Typically speaking, because it is a hands-on experience, students receive the opportunity to do reports and assessments under supervision; they take out IV’s, put in catheters, administer medicine and give shots. Harris says that after a while, students start to get treated like regular nurses.

“Most students don’t switch by choice; most times, they just aren’t making the academic cut,” Professor Brownwell said.

Because the major is such a rigorous one, it might be surprising to find out that not many people switch out once they’re in.

“Once committed, most students make every effort to be successful in the major,” Professor Allard said.

Once the program is completed, students are required to take the NCLEX exam in order to get licensed to work as a registered nurse. Allard said it is very seldom for one not to get licensed. If a student wishes to do more within the field, they may proceed to graduate and med-school. The traditional campus-based program, however, serves the sole purpose of preparing students to be registered nurses.