This was a tough week to say the least. I heard many call this week “hell week.” But the hardest part – an Adult Health II midterm on Monday then a Peds or OB midterm today – is all over. Part of me wants to party, and as I am two seconds away from texting out a mass “lets go to Brewer’s Art” text, I realize… we still have clinical tomorrow… and Friday. I guess I have to wait until Spring Break to have any fun, but it’s only a few days away!
Late last week I ran into a newly accepted student that was checking out my building to live in during the program. After I highly recommended my building, which I’ll get to later, she then asked me what I thought about the program. Among friends I usually refer to being in the Accel program as “hard, time consuming, sleep depriving, like taking a drink from a firehose”. To the new student however, I didn’t want to scare her off, so I took a little extra time to think it out. The resulting description can be some good information to any incoming or prospective student:
This is the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life (barring future childbirth), but it’s also one of the best. I am challenged so far beyond what I could have imagined before coming here. The school throws you into nursing on the first day, yes, you are on the hospital floor in the first week you’re here – so be mentally prepared. On top of that, you’re learning massive amounts of information, most of it brand new, which results in constant studying. I actually feel guilty not studying some days. What helps you learn it all is the environment Hopkins provides: the professors are great, the students are all amazing, and it creates this very supportive environment. You’ll learn that Baltimore is a far cry from wherever you’re from (which to many incoming students is somewhere in California), and you’ll miss home and your family more than you expected. Don’t worry about Baltimore, you won’t have time to really experience it, just remember to never walk alone at night and that the city is pretty “patchy.” Your focus is the program. There are no “easy” semesters, but you will get through it and find it interesting or fun at times. I strongly suggest you make time to embrace the people you meet and get to know them; Hopkins knows how to pick good people. I’m glad I chose to do this, as much as I complain, and I think it’ll be worth it in the end. After all, you graduate a Hopkins nurse.
The newly accepted student I ran into then asked me a few logistical details which would also be pretty helpful:
Do you need a car? How far do they send you for clinical if you don’t have a car?
If there was one thing I would change, it would’ve been to bring a car up. You don’t need a car, but it would certainly help. For clinicals, expect to be sent all over Baltimore county. The school only takes your lack of a car into consideration for your first clinical rotation, but after that it’s a free-for-all. There’s no difference between a person without a car and someone with, you both have an equal chance to be sent off to Arundel Hospital which is about 50 minutes away. We do carpool a lot, so if you are unlucky and get a far clinical site, all hope is not lost. On the other hand, sometimes you have people in your group that are unwilling to drive or you live in a place that isn’t convenient for pickup. Also, Baltimore isn’t convenient or pretty, having a car would help with groceries and getting out to the suburbs for a breath of fresh air and to see some green space. I know having a car is an extra cost, and it was definitely out of my budget, but if you can squeeze it in – do it.
How safe is Baltimore? How did you pick a place?
It’s not. It’s worse than most, very patchy. There are no defined “bad” or “good” neighborhoods. Crime happens anywhere, but as long as you’re smart about it, you should be fine. Some of my classmates have had their places broken into, and that’s why I’d suggest to live in a building with a front desk. I feel very safe in my building because of the front desk security but without it, I would feel uneasy at night. I’m the minority though, most people live in row homes and enjoy it. Also, I picked my place because I was working before I came here and therefore had no time to devote to actually look at neighborhoods to make a good decision outside of apartments owned by a management company. If you have no time, don’t find a place on Craigslist that says it’s close to the school and sign a lease. If you want to go the rowhouse route, be sure to visit it and know who else is living around you first.
These are my personal responses to the program here, other students would have different descriptions/advice. I hope this helps the prospective a little bit, and if you have any other questions, drop me a line in the comments.