Preparing for Nursing School

Nursing school is tough, and it’s only going to become harder. One of the major challenges that nursing students face is the transition from being a pre-nursing student to a nursing student; for, the classes are much different. As a pre-nursing student, your prerequisite science courses are “black and white” courses because the answers are dichotomized to being “either this or that.” However, nursing school science courses have a plethora of grey areas because the average patient has complex issues. Unfortunately, many students aren’t able to grasp this concept until it’s too late. Additionally, pre-nursing students aren’t prepared on how to plan prior to nursing school, and they don’t realize what to expect while they’re in nursing school.

Pre-nursing students often inquire about what it takes to be a successful nursing student. Follow these tips to make your transition a successful one:

  • Set your goal for attaining the best, but be prepared for the worst. If you’ve recently been accepted into nursing school, that’s great! Congratulate yourself because you’ve achieved a major accomplishment, and it’s mostly to do with your superb academic achievement. However, don’t expect that same academic achievement to be replicated in nursing school. Always remember, B is for balance.
  • Take a critical thinking course prior to starting your nursing classes.  The nursing profession is one that requires a lot of critical thinking, and nursing school requires the same. If you haven’t done so already, take a critical thinking course so that you will become acclimated to the thought process.
  • Get organized. Organization is a huge key to being a successful nursing student. Nursing school requires many classes, and these classes require many assignments. Between care plans, research papers, case studies, quizzes, and tests, you will need to have a method to keep yourself knowledgeable of the many due dates and prioritize your assignments. I suggest purchasing a desk calendar and writing all of the due dates on it. If you want to make it more interesting, color code it with the course the assignment belongs to. Organization also applies to your finances, family life, and daily routine.
  • Make time to relax. You may not have much time for extracurricular activities once you’re in nursing school, but you still need to devote a designated time to have fun and relax. Nursing school is very demanding, and it can often damper your emotions. Bring your emotions back to life by doing something that is of interest to you, whether that is going for a hike with friends, getting a massage, or sleeping for an extra hour. You will be thankful you did it.
  • Get a nursing mentor and network. Having a relationship with someone who is a nurse will be very helpful to you because that person will help guide you along the path. Also, it’s really great to network among nurses because you never know when you will need the advice from someone who has been in your position. Nurses can offer a lot of valuable information and wisdom; utilize them wisely.
  • Learn to not take everything personally. In nursing school, you’re probably not going to receive many praises, but you will receive a lot of constructive criticism. Get used to it. The path to success is filled with flaws, and your nursing professors will be quick to point them out. Once again, get used to it. If you take every constructive criticism personally, you will become an emotional wreck. Find the goodness in the criticism, and learn from it. You can only get better if you know what you’re doing wrong.
  • Get great nursing supplies. It’s really embarrassing to be in clinical or lab, and your penlight stops working or the diaphragm of your stethoscope falls off. Invest in some quality supplies, and test them the night before you are to go to clinical and/or lab. For stethoscopes, Littmann is on the top of the list for quality brands.
  • Have a great team to cheer you on. There will be days when you come home crying, and there will be days when you will question whether or not you’ve made the right decision with your life. It is during those times that you need your supportive team members the most. Build a team of people who want to see you succeed and who will gladly offer those kind words of encouragement.

121 comments

It seems to me that your dire warnings might be better applied to students entering medical school.  I am sure that there is a lot of stress in nursing programs, and it is better to be forewarned.  Also if you are addressing minority nuurses, you might consider approaching their experiences, as they will be our nurses in the future.

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