The Basics of PUC’s Nursing Program

One of PUC’s largest programs is the nursing program. While its popularity is undeniable, the application process can be a bit confusing. We enlisted the help of recent nursing graduate Rachel Dunbar to help make the process clearer. Read on for a very detailed look at the nursing program!

Applying to the AS Program

  • The AS in Nursing (Associate of Science degree in Nursing), also called the Registered Nursing (RN) program, is typically completed in three years. Most students take one year of general education classes and then try to apply for fall quarter; to start the 2-year AS degree portion. The actual nursing portion/classes consists of two years, which is six quarters of coursework. The first year students spend taking English, communication, general psychology, and other general education requirements to get into the program—not any nursing classes yet. These students are considered pre-nursing until they apply and get accepted to the nursing program.
  • Yes, you have to apply for the nursing program. Just because you were accepted to PUC doesn’t mean you’re accepted to the nursing program. PUC typically accepts 27 people each quarter.
  • PUC has made it so you can apply for any quarter (Fall: starts in September, Winter: starts in January, or Spring: starts in April). So if you need one more class before you can get into the program, you can take it in the fall and apply for winter quarter instead. Or; if by chance, you don’t get in, you can retake a class or two to raise your GPA and reapply for the next quarter. It’s a huge plus because you don’t have to wait a whole year before applying again. I recommend reading the curriculum guidesheet for more information about the requirements for the nursing program at PUC.

The AS Program

  • Once you finish the three years (one for general education classes, and two nursing program years) you have completed the AS (RN) requirements and are ready to take the state boards, actually licensing you as an RN.
  • The AS is the actual diploma/degree you will receive, but it makes you eligible to take state boards to become a registered nurse (RN) as far as your title.
  • PUC’s program is what they call a 2-step program; meaning it is split between the RN and the BSN portions. You can come back to PUC to finish the last year; or you can go elsewhere.
  • What the AS (RN) program consists of:
    • The two year AS program (after you finish your general education and get into the program) consists of six quarters (two years) of actual nursing courses.
    • Each quarter you typically take two nursing classes.
    • Sidenote: The first year you don’t have enough credits to be considered a full load (12) so you need to take a class outside of the program to receive financial aid. It can be exercise science, religion, etc., as long as you meet the 12 credits.
      • A note about religion classes: You have to have three classes (nine credits) of religion before you can graduate with the two year AS degree. They suggest you get them done within the first year of the program (quarters one through three) because the second year (quarters four through six) is busier.

First Year of the AS Program

  • First year:
    • You take Medical Surgical (Med-Surg as it is referred to) quarters one through three. The Med-Surg floor of the hospital is the floor where you see just about everything. Each Med-Surg class is broken down into different topics like heart disease, cancer, Crohn’s disease, and many other disease processes. For the first year your Med-Surg class is the one that has a clinical attached to it. So you will be at a local hospital one day a week. First quarter is typically four hours, then eight hours for 2nd and 3rd quarters. The second class you take varies depending what quarter you’re in. So first quarter is Med-Surg one (or nursing one as we call it) and Health Assessment, which is all about how you assess a patient effectively and what clinical manifestations you should see with certain disease processes. Second quarter is Med-Surg two (or nursing two) and Pharmacology. Third quarter is Med-Surg three (nursing three) and Pathophysiology, which is where you learn how the most common disease processes occur in the body.
    • You also have what are called skills tests. You have a certain amount each quarter in the skills lab. You learn skills like how to give medications and the proper steps to follow, how to take vital signs correctly, and a few others. Each skill you learn you do in front of the skills lab professor without prompting to pass. You have three tries to get them right. If you don’t pass the first time the teachers walk through it with you step by step to help with what you missed before you take it again.

Second Year of the AS Program

  • Second year and preceptorship (6th quarter):
    • You take Medical Surgical quarters four through six. For quarters four and five, you continue with the Med-Surg clinical once a week, but now you also have a clinical for your other course at a different hospital, which gives you two clinicals a week plus class time. This is why they want you to get your religion credits taken care of prior to the heavier load. Second year there are varying hospital/shift options for clinicals and I won’t go into every single one. The hospitals change; giving most people some sort of commute depending on what you choose. They try to give you your first or second choice, but that can’t always happen. So, fourth quarter you take Med-Surg four (nursing four) and Mental Health with a clinical as well where you study all kinds of mental health related issues such as bipolar, and schizophrenia. You have one clinical on a Med-Surg floor and then the other clinical is at a behavioral health center. Fifth quarter you take Med-Surg five and Obstetrics (or OB as we call it). You get to learn all about infants and many different things that can happen during pregnancy. You continue with the Med-Surg clinical and then you have an OB clinical as well.
  • During one spring quarter, you’ll also take Pediatrics, which will extend into the summer with a 2-week clinical and class rotation at a children’s hospital.

Important Things to Know

  • Test Averages
    • Within the entire program; for every class, you need to have a class score of 75 percent and a test average score of 75 percent.
      • Sidenote: If you decide to major in nursing, you need to get a C (75 percent) in ALL classes pertaining to the AS degree, even if you’re already in the program and taking a religion class. You need to get a 75 percent in that religion class or it will not count toward your AS degree. However, the test average rule does not apply to other classes outside the actual program courses.
      • If you don’t get a 75 percent in the class or test average, you will need to re-take that quarter if there is an available spot. Most of the time the class score isn’t tough; it’s the test average that can be difficult depending on the quarter.
    • Passing vs. Not passing
      • There aren’t very many things that keep you from passing nursing school, but they’re all important.
      • The class score/test score as mentioned above.
      • Skills tests, which need to be completed without prompting within the third try.
      • Clinicals
        • Each clinical is pass or fail. There isn’t a score associated. The biggest thing with clinical is just to be safe. If you’re not sure; ask!
        • There is clinical paperwork due each week which can hinder you from passing if you choose not to complete it.
      • Dosage and Calculations
        • At the beginning of each quarter (besides first), you have what is called a dosage and calculations test. First quarter, you start learning how to calculate meds, and then you are tested during the first week of every quarter thereafter. For quarters two and three (first year), you need to obtain an 80 percent to pass. For quarters four through six (second year), you need a 90 percent to pass. You have three tries to obtain the proper score, but you cannot go to clinical until you have passed; proving that you are safe to administer medications. You have to wait 48 hours between each try; which could hinder a clinical day if you need all three tries.

Wow! That was a lot of information! I hope it helped clear up any questions you had about the nursing program at PUC. Maybe you have more questions, which is totally fine! If you visit PUC’s Admissions website, you can find more information, curriculum guidesheets, and a live chat where you can ask an enrollment counselor anything you need. You can also call (800) 862-7080, option 2 or email enroll@puc.edu for more help.

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