Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Being a Nursing Student

When I am advising a potential nursing student, I often get the question, "So what can I expect when I am a nursing student?" This is a difficult question to answer. Many times, it is only after a student has been accepted into the program and in the thick of it, that the realization of what nursing school entails hits the student like a brick...or a ton of bricks! While I am sure that talking about what it is like to be a nursing student isn't just like "being there", I feel like I need to shed some light on the subject...even if it's for the sake of the nursing student's family members (I told you!!!).

Nursing School is HARD!

Nursing school was the hardest thing I ever had to do...and I've been to graduate school! Grad school was a piece of cake compared to my undergraduate studies. In grad school, I made a 4.0. In my undergrad...well, I was lucky that I made B's and C's. It takes dedication, time, effort, loyalty, ingenuity, strength, courage, love, and patience. It takes all of that and then even more. Nursing school requires that students give more than and work harder than they have ever given before. I have had students who have fought in a WAR say that nursing school was harder than being in Iraq or Afghanistan. One student was even shot during war, and he felt that the skills check off during the first semester was tougher than that. Now THAT'S saying something. I mean...really let that sink in for a

Nursing School Requires Family Support

Being a nursing student means having minimal luxury time. That being said, family members really have to pitch in if the student is to be successful. Sometimes family members do not understand this. If you are a family member of a nursing student reading this, please....I beg of the nursing student as much as humanly possible. The nursing student is working on little sleep, probably a ton of sugar and caffeine, and has the lives of his or her patients in hand. Only once you're in nursing school can you understand the depth and brevity of this. A nurse has the weight of the world on his or her shoulders. So much responsibility, so little time...

Nursing School Requires Time

Time is an issue for nursing students. That is probably the understatement of the decade...or millennium, for that matter. Nursing students have to figure out how to read 100+ pages each week, do homework, get prepared for clinicals, take care of family, cook, clean, etc. It is tough, but manageable with a plan. It is wise to get the entire family in on the plan, so that everyone has a duty. The nursing student shouldn't have to worry about every single house matter that arises. A little (or a lot) of sacrifice (on the part of the nursing student and the support system) is needed for nursing student success.

Nursing School Requires Patience

Nursing students often feel overwhelmed. When I've asked students the exact reasons they feel overwhelmed, I've been told, "I feel like I need to know everything right at the beginning." While this isn't 100% accurate, it has a certain truth to it. If we haven't gone over congestive heart failure (CHF) in class, but you are taking care of a CHF patient, you are expected to know about that disease process in order to care for that patient. However, your instructors do not expect you to be an expert. They are well aware of when you will learn that information. So be patient. Don't freak out because you haven't yet learned about diabetes. If you had to know everything the first week of school, we would NEVER have any nursing students. Everyone would run away screaming and crying. Yes, do your very best...and even better. But don't stress over not knowing everything. You have years and years and years to learn...and you still won't learn it all. So don't get worked up about it.

Nursing School Requires Determination

I have told many nursing students that if they want it bad enough, they will sacrifice until they have it. I don't mean sacrificing a marriage or kids. I mean sacrificing fun times. I didn't have a life when I was in nursing school, and neither will you, most likely. I don't know of many people who do have a life during nursing school! The "nursing school no social life" memes are some of my favorites because they invoke *fond* memories of my own time in school.

If you do have a life, you may not do so well in nursing school, or you may not pass boards. Nursing school requires more than just being smart. You have to memorize and then apply what you know. Most students are used to memorizing...but the application is what's so difficult. How will this information help you to take care of your patient? THAT is the question.

Nursing School Requires Passion

If a student doesn't have a passion for learning, or a passion for helping people, nursing school will be even harder. Some people get into nursing for the money. Yes, while there is money in nursing, remember that RN does NOT stand for "rich nurse". One has to really love caring for people in order to make a life-long career out of nursing. Otherwise, burnout is always right around the corner.

My advice? If nursing is worth it to you, do the best you can. Make those sacrifices for two years (plus or minus). If it is not worth it, don't waste your time and effort. Best wishes to all of you!


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  2. I stumbled upon this blog totally at random. I just began my 4 year "trip" into becoming a Nurse. It has only been a week of classes and I've 1)driven home in tears and 2)Came home and cried myself to sleep before getting back up again to eat and then study. I want this bad and uprooted myself, my husband and our two kids and moved from CA to PA to attend a University full time for a BSN Degree. I won't give up but I can appreciate already what you stated. I am worried most about the fact that I am 40 and going to college for the first time in my life. I haven't had a math or science class since pre-1989... and math was never my strong point... people and working with them has been... understanding and compassion... being able to make decisions under stressful situations yes... but not the chemical math problems... (ugh) I am going to give it my all and take on the free tutoring the University offers... and I am going to get my BSN Degree in the end. :)

  3. To Jeana said... Hang in there you will be able to make it. I too just randomly came across this blog. She has a lot of great insight and pointers. The road will be long and may have its rough patches but it will also have smooth stretches. I am in my first year as well. Just completed week 3. One day at a time! Best wishes!

  4. I wish you both the best of luck! Stick with it, make the sacrifices for a short while, and you will get there!

  5. This blog article has been extremely helpful to me. Thank you for posting

  6. There are actually different types of Accelerated Nursing Degree on offer nowadays and each kind of nurse have different requirements that would enable them qualify to work in the medical field like a health care provider.

  7. I'm two and a half years into a three year program but I still feel overwhelmed most days lol. Most of my class mates feel the same. Whatever you go through, however you feel, just remember that being a student is short-term as it's just the beginning of our journey into nursing and it's a profession in which we'll never stop learning ;-) Keep it up, we can do it!

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