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A Students Perspective – Vocational Nursing

Unitek College’s Vocational Nursing program is the accelerated, full-time, accredited Vocational Nursing program available in the SF Bay Area today. Unlike Community Colleges and Universities, there aren’t a handful of pre-requisite courses necessary (such as Anatomy & Physiology, Microbiology, and Pathophysiology) just to apply, or even be considered, to their nursing program. Unitek College’s Vocational Nursing program bypasses this lengthy step with its 3 week “crash course” in medical terminology. The crash course is plenty enough because it properly and adequately prepares the student for the 11 month long, three level, and accelerated nursing program.

Unitek College allows the eager nursing student to put his/her foot right in the door, without the uncertainty of the application process or the extra two year waiting list. But don’t be fooled by its easy admittance standards; the Vocational Nursing program is really a tough and demanding curriculum! As a 33 year old with a Bachelor’s degree and several IT certifications, I can honestly say that this is the most challenging (and most rewarding) learning experience in my academic career. The course materials include topics such as the fundamentals of Medical-Surgery, Pharmacology, and practical nursing skills. Each level is increasing more difficult and more demanding than the previous. The program is condensed and moves at a high speed! And yes, you will be a critical thinker & learner!

Having said all this, I’d like to share with you my personal insights for the would-be Unitek College Vocational Nursing student:

  1. Be prepared to study 3-5 hours a night! You, the student, will probably not have much free time on the weekends because you will either be reading ahead, trying to catch up, or cramming for a test on Monday. Before making the decision to pursue this endeavor, please have a serious talk with your family, boyfriend/girlfriend, or spouse.
  2. You, the student, will have 3-6 different instructors who share the responsibilities of lecturing and leading clinicals throughout the year. Currently, in my program, I have two “core” teachers who are both very supportive and great in their own way. They are available almost anytime that you need to talk to them and strongly encourage participation and questions during our times together.
  3. The grading system is very fair. Although you, the student, need to put in your hours of study, you don’t need to be a genius to get through! A 75% average score requirement is necessary to advance from each level. If you do not pass a section or a level, such as Labor and Maternity, then you may be allowed to “remediate” or “do-over” this section. If you do not pass an entire level, however, you may be able to repeat it and continue with a different, newer class at the next Vocational Nursing start at another Unitek College campus location. Can a community college or university give you a second chance like that?
  4. There are, on average, 2 exams a week. This will total over 100 exams by the end of 11 months. If you diligently keep up with your studies throughout the program (again about 3-5 hours a night), you should not have any problems passing every exam. Another great thing about Unitek College’s program is that by level two, there will be hundreds of NCLEX style questions incorporated throughout our lectures, further preparing you for the “big exam.”
  5. The tuition is high, and rising. Yikes! For this high cost, we students at the Fremont campus, have a clean facility, a nice, newly remodeled student break room, and access to a great big lab room with over eight beds and patient mannequins. There are a couple of small libraries that we always have access to. We also have nice projectors and large screens for lectures in our classrooms, something that most other schools may not have. However, we are currently using a classroom with PC computers and flat screen monitors that we have never used! It has been rumored that the desktops with internet access were once available and used as tools for learning, but the privilege has been taken away due to a few past students abusing the internet. So why have these PC’s around, occupying valuable desktop space, if we don’t even get to use them?
  6. If I was to change a few things about Unitek College’s Vocational Nursing program I would change the following:
    1. Use the mannequins and lab room more often! We Vocational Nursing students have not had the opportunity to use all the tech machines and mannequins in the lab room as often as I hoped.
    2. Provide instructors with IT support since they are often dealing with slow PC’s when they are presenting their lectures on PowerPoint.

Another perk of becoming a nurse: You won’t have a hard time finding your first job!

Written on 3/15/2008 by Doan Tran
Vocational Nursing student, Unitek College
Graduation on July 2008