Since school is back in full swing for everyone I thought it was fitting to share the tips I learned about surviving nursing school.
As most of us know, nursing school is one of the hardest and most trying times in someone’s life. Not to say that other majors don’t have their moments and don’t work hard but I’ve seen grown women cry because they got an 80 on an exam. Remember, you’re not alone through this. Nurses and nursing students past and present have all gone through what you have and will help you see the light at the end of the tunnel.
So here they are..my tips for surviving nursing school.
- Make friends who are going to be your ride or die: I can’t stress this enough. Believe me when I say there is no one who is going to understand what you’re going through besides the people in your class. They’re the ones that know the frustration and stress level and utter exhaustion. You need to find a few good friends who are going to be your go to for every bump in the road, every life changing moment, and everything in between. For me it was my friends Kate and Sarah. I wouldn’t have made it through if it wasn’t for them pushing me harder, crying with me, laughing with me, and helping me realize that I’m going to be a great nurse and I know my shit. These are going to be the friends you hold onto and freak out about NCLEX and life as a nurse. Trust me.
- Listen to your teachers: This might seem pretty obvious, they’re the ones who are teaching the material, making up tests, and giving you the grade you work your ass off for. You’ll see that there are teachers who go above and beyond that. One teacher I had in particular, Dr. Knecht, was not only concerned about us learning and understanding the material for class but also that we learned the skills we needed to succeed on the NCLEX and as an RN. She would meet with us one on one, in small groups, or as a class and have heart to heart sessions with us. She would challenge us to think outside of what the book was telling us. Which leads me to my next point…
- Remember life isn’t like the textbooks: This is the most true statement that I wish someone had stressed more all throughout college. In the books you get presented with the perfect, ideal patient who has all of the symptoms of one disease process and there’s few options that are set in stone and the procedures you preform are going to go perfectly. Hate to break it to you but that’s not real life. When you get to clinical you’ll quickly realize that your perfect textbook patient doesn’t exist and they’re going to have multiple disease processes which most of the time the treatment for one is contraindicated for another. The sooner you realize that you’re textbooks aren’t going to be your saving grace, the quicker you’ll start learning how to critically think.
- Stay organized: Another obvious one you would think, right? WRONG! There are more times that I can count or would like to admit that I completely forgot about a homework assignment or what chapters we needed to read. Finally by spring semester of junior year I started using my agenda like it was my lifeline. Nursing students are beyond busy, keeping organized and knowing what’s happening when is essential. Also your ride or die friends will help keep you in check.
- Advocate for yourself: All throughout nursing school I was taught to advocate for your patients. This is also true for yourself. There’s going to be times where teachers are busy and might not realize that you need extra help or another explanation of a topic. There might be a time where a clinical instructor is belittling you to the point of tears (it happens..trust me). You need to be able to stand up for yourself and make sure that you’re getting the most out of every situation in nursing school. You’re going to graduate and have people’s lives in your hands. Make sure you know that topic like the back of your hand, make sure someone knows that you’re not being treated fairly and not comfortable with a clinical instructor (it helps for when you’re not comfortable with how a coworker is treating you). Don’t get all high and mighty thinking you deserve to be treated better than everyone else but make sure that your voice is heard so you can become the best nurse possible.
- Remember to schedule ‘you’ time: This one is probably the hardest for most nursing students. We go into each semester with the mentality that we need to study X amount of hours in order to get the grade we need to pass the class. As true as this is, you also need to remember your mental health is crucial, not only in surviving nursing school but being a safe and competent nurse. Give yourself at least an hour a day to unwind and for once not think about the patho of a medication and how it works in the body. That hour will mean more to you than you know.
So there you have it. Six tips for surviving nursing school. It won’t be easy and these tips aren’t going to make or break you, but they’ll make the hardest journey of your life a tad bit more tolerable. You’re never alone in nursing school. Your class goes in as a team and comes out as one. I can honestly say I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of every girl in my class (I say girl because I went to an all girl’s school..). You make friends with the people you normally would never talk to because you all have this one common goal, to become a kick ass nurse. Accept and embrace it, these people are going to be the backbone to your success and you’ll be part of theirs.