Kim over at Emergiblog wants to know how nursing school clinical experience stacks up across the board. She says there are distance-ed programs that condense an entire education's worth of clinicals into two weeks - which terrifies me (although I swear I've worked alongside a few nurses who got less than that). And I'm sure there's been a good deal of change over the years, as nursing has evolved as a profession. So here's my take.
I graduated from a BSN program that was part of a university system. I chose the BSN route as a precursor to graduate-level nursing education, something I may one day choose to pursue though my life path has changed somewhat from what it was back then. At the time I enrolled, I had a bit of a head start with a BS in Zoology, thanks to my 4.5 years as a pre-med (don't even get me started on the medical school application process). As a result, I got to start right in on clinicals the first year I was there, skipping the first year that most of my fellow students spent doing prerequisites and liberal arts requirements.
It was a program that supposedly contained more clinical experience than the standard BSN program, and all in all I felt like I had a good foundation when I graduated. But in terms of procedural experience, I had very little. I'd started one IV successfully, a couple of botched attempts (which did little for my confidence) - had one Foley insertion (male, no less) and a decent amount of med administration. All the rest, I learned as I went. Thankfully, I had a great orientation at the Facility That Shall Remain Nameless - a 16-week new grad orientation in the Emergency Department that kept me feeling very safe and supported. I have to say, though, that the nursing theory part of my education has done me little good... I've been periodically annoyed with all the efforts that nursing seems to feel compelled to make to justify itself as a profession. I agree that nursing has its own body of knowledge, its own way of thinking - but I don't agree that we have to work so hard to draw a line in the sand separating ourselves from medicine. It's a team thing - one doesn't work well without the other - so can't we all just play nicely? The only consistent thing I use from all that nursing theory is to joke about how poorly we all apply Dorothea Orem's (I think) self-care theory. (shrug)
I dunno. I am happy with the education I got in school, by and large - but I think the other side of that coin is a good solid orientation, which I think is a rarity these days.