Interview with a Nursing Student

When it comes to going to nursing school, many people have only heard the typical horror stories. The weed-out courses, the professors that seem to want to make you cry, the exams that cover nothing that was on the review, and on and on. However, most people don’t talk about the great and sometimes beautiful things that also happen during nursing school. What fears should you have? What can you expect? Is it really worth it? I sat down with a current student to answer all of these questions and more to give you insight into what going to school to be an RN is really like.

Q: How did you know you wanted to go to school to be a nurse?

A: I love this question. I always knew I wanted to work with people, but that’s a very general category. Then, in 2016 when my grandpa got sick and spent most of his last few months in the hospital, that’s when I knew. Witnessing the compassion and the care the nurses gave him touched my heart in a way I had never experienced. Those men and women came in every day and gave him everything they had. The relationship they all developed was absolutely beautiful. I knew I wanted to do that, to have those relationships, and to make that same impact on others, that those nurses made on me and my family.

Q: What was your biggest fear before enrolling in nursing school?

A: Easy. Not being good enough. You always hear about how hard it is and how many people don’t make it, and I was terrified of being one of those people.

Q: Is that still a valid fear?

A: Yes and no. This is just opinion-based, but I feel like the people that don’t make it don’t necessarily want to make it that bad. Again, just an opinion, however, it’s a lot of work. Not just that, but it’s a lot of hard work. You absolutely have to be willing to put in the time and effort that it takes to make it. I study and do homework for hours upon hours a week. My social life has been affected by it. My friends with different majors get to go on trips that I don’t have the time to go on because I can’t take the time away from my work. I want to be a nurse. So badly that I am willing to make these sacrifices in order to make that happen. If you’re not willing to put in the work and make sacrifices, then you should be afraid of making it.

Q: How have you overcome your fears?

A: I’ve reached out to friends who are currently nurses for moral support and motivation. I speak to my professors and advisors about my fears and we brainstorm ways on how I can overcome them. I’ve learned that it’s all about your mentality. I have to believe that I will achieve my goals and make it, or I won’t. I also journal. It sounds simple, but I write down my fears and also my goals and I try to figure out how I can use my fears, change them, and turn them into accomplishments.

Q: Let’s talk about time management. How do you know what to dedicate your time to?

A: What works for me might not work for everyone else, but realistically, I have a short attention span. So I really want to dedicate as much time as I can to studying, while still retaining all the information I read. Personally, I study in hour increments. Study for one hour, then I give myself a break. I grab a snack, watch a short 20-minute episode of my favorite show, or just walk outside to get fresh air. I try to keep my breaks between 15 and 30 minutes. I function and retain information better this way. My advice would be to find what study regime works best for you and your learning style.

Q: When it comes to course work, is it as hard as everyone says?

A: The short answer is yes. Real answer is no. You have to work hard, to make hard work easy if that makes sense.

Q: What shocked you most?

A: Honestly, clinical work. Until you work with real patients, you have no idea what you’re going to experience. The instance that was most surprising to me was when I was in the labor and delivery unit and I helped with my first birth. I truly took my breath away and gave me chills. It was such a beautiful experience, one I’ll never forget.

Q: Building off of that, do you ever get used to the things you see?

A: Yes, and very quickly. Blood, vomit, and other stuff gets very normal very quickly. When you know that what you’re doing is to help a patient, you have to remain calm and collected for them.

Q: Would you recommend nursing school to anyone thinking about attending?

A: If it’s something you want to do, then yes. It’s not for the faint of heart. Don’t go until you’re ready. Be ready to work hard and be ready for some stress. Just remember how rewarding it is, and how everything you go through: all the long nights, tears, and laughter, will all be worth it.

Q: What advice do you have for students just starting, or about to start on the path to their RN?

A: SO. MANy. THINGS. 1. Brace yourself. It’s going to be a long crazy ride. 2. Get a planner. Your planner is your new best friend and you will be spending all of your time together. 3. Be prepared for your social life to change, but also 4. Be ready for all the amazing friendships and bonds you are about to form. Lastly, 5. Have fun, enjoy the moment and work hard. You’re only going to do this once. Make the most of it and get it done.

We’d Like to Hear From You!

To those of you that read these blogs consistently, thank you so much. Having an audience rather than feeling like I am writing into the void is a rewarding experience, so again, thank you. Seeing the reactions to articles, stories and interviews never gets less heartwarming for me. Especially when I can relate to even just one person.

Now I typically write about different topics that I come up with or that seem like a good fit at the moment, but now I want to hear from you guys! To our students, prospective students, and just general followers of our page, what do you want to read about?

We get great feedback especially when I do interviews and personal pieces. So, what type of topic would be personal to you? Do you need motivation? Time management tips? More information on the nursing field? Or would you like to hear about different job opportunities in different areas of study? Let us know!

Leave a comment on this post telling us what you would like to hear next. I’m all ears!

– Lucy

25 Nursing Memes to Help You Get Through the Day

1. When you’re a licensed RN but look young for your age

2. The horror when you lose your favorite pen

3. We all have those days…

4. Just minding my business over here…

5. Some people will never understand…

6. The BEST feeling

7. You never know what you’re going to get!

8. Hey Bestie!

9. I look okay, right?

10. Where’s the bread???

11. Night shift problems!

12. Sleep, Eat, Repeat

13. T.M.I.

14. Just my luck…

15. I swear it makes sense…kind of

16.  It’s the most important meal of the day, right?

17. You’re making me nervous!

18. This is sort of like a superpower, right?

19. Why are you standing up???

20. Freedom!

21. New Year’s resolution?

22. Now that’s what I call art!

23. Sad, but true.

24. I’m trying my best, okay?

25. Hey nurses, we appreciate you!

Letters to Yourself: A Gift for Graduation Day

Have you written a letter to your future self before? When I was in eighth grade, I had a history teacher that had us write a letter to our future selves, which would be opened at a later date close to high school graduation. We were instructed to write about our current hobbies, favorite music, friends, and our future hopes and goals. I wrote about how my volleyball and track seasons were going and how I hoped one day I would be a college athlete. I wrote about the Black Eyed Peas and how much I loved them and my favorite songs. Cringey, right? I finished my letter by telling my future self what I hoped I would accomplish in the next four years and reminded future me to not be so hard on myself.

Over the course of the next few years, I forgot all about the letter I wrote, until the day before graduation when I finally was able to read it. When I unsealed the letter and read what 13 year old me had written, I laughed and cringed and eventually was brought to tears. I was shocked by what had changed, but thankful for the personal growth I saw. I was heading to college to major in Secondary Education and as a member of my university’s volleyball team. I no longer listened to the Black Eyed Peas (except for the occasional throwback), and I was still working on being an advocate for myself and finding my voice. The letter was such a breath of fresh air, I then came up with the idea of writing a letter to my future self for when I graduated college. Being 17, my goals for the future were different. I sat down and wrote another letter to myself, this time, to open the day before I graduated from college.

Three years later, I unsealed yet another letter from myself. The emotions I felt while reading that letter were indescribable. My younger self had written about how I was nervous to leave home, moving to a place where I didn’t know a soul.

She was scared of living up to the standards she had set for herself but was determined to make her family proud. The last thing she wrote about was finding happiness.

Younger me had been struggling with knowing where she belonged and just wanted to find her place in this world. Reading my final letter urged me to reflect on my past three years. Three years full of switching majors, an athletic career cut short by injury, one too many crazy hair phases, gaining lifetime friends, goals I reached and even the ones I fell short on. Reading my letter made me more conscious of how I have changed and grown. It reminded me of some of my past visions that I lost track of along the way. It made me appreciate how far I have come and it made me look forward to the future.

Memories tend to fade and become distorted over time, making them unreliable by the time you graduate. It’s far better to put pen to paper and write down all of your hopes and dreams, your visions and aspirations, as well as ask some mindful questions that only your future self can answer.

As you write your letter, your current thoughts and consciousness will be stored in your words. And as you read it after graduation, months or years later, you will be provided with a different perspective, letting you see just how much you have changed since then. Write to yourself. Include your goals and your fears. Ask yourself questions, and offer advice to your future self. There are no restrictions on how far you should project your letter to — you can write to your future self 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, or even 10 years from now!

A few quick few prompts to start your letter could be…
  1. Ambitious: “In (number of years) I would like to achieve…”
  2. Goal-driven: “My goal for (date/year) is…”
  3. Motivating: “Dear future self, I would like to encourage/motivate you to…”

Study Buddies

Taking the leap to enroll in an online education program is a big deal! So congratulations if you’ve taken that step! Now that you’re in an online program, it’s time to think about a study buddy. Enrolling in an online school comes with an abundance of benefits. Flexible classes allow you to balance the day-to-day responsibilities you have, like your job and family obligations, while still earning a degree. Online discussion posts and staying in constant communication with your professor can be beneficial by motivating you to stay on top of assignments, but having one classmate to count on can help make studying easier. Have you considered finding a study buddy?

A study buddy is a fellow student who can help you stay focused, share notes with you, prepare for tests with you, and/or help you understand difficult concepts. Finding a study buddy when you’re taking classes online might seem difficult, but it’s not! Taking advantage of available technology like email, instant messaging, or video chatting can help you make a connection with your classmates. There are several things to consider when looking for a study partner:

Class Discussions – In a traditional classroom setting, the ideal study buddy may be the student that sits in the front, participates in discussions, and takes detailed notes. However, in an online course, it may be difficult to make these observations. So, watch the discussion posts to see who participates and the frequency of participation. Seeing who responds quickly, thoroughly and in-depth may just give you an idea of who is reliable and dedicated.

Your Goals – Before jumping into asking a peer to be your study buddy, first reflect on your goals. The reason you might need a study buddy could differ from your classmates. Try to find someone with similar goals, a similar major, or career interest. Or, try to find someone who excels in the parts of a class where you may be struggling. Also, don’t forget that you’ll be a study buddy too so knowing what help you can offer the other person is important.

Dependability– Putting aside what you may need assistance with within your class, make sure the study buddy you pick is dependable and will help you focus instead of being a distraction. Having a person cancel when you’re depending on them to study for a test or compare notes can not only be a disappointment but could set you back in your studies. Additionally, getting along and becoming friends with a study buddy is great – just make sure he or she is someone who also can concentrate well so you can stay focused on what’s most important.

Ultimately, a study buddy should help you excel in a class and better your grades/study habits. If they don’t, it may be time to find someone new. Earning a degree is a huge commitment and a major step to advancing or changing your career. Finding someone that is just as dedicated and can help you reach your goal can go a long way in helping you earn a degree! Study hard!

Benefits of Online School

If you’ve been weighing your options between online and traditional schooling, it may seem like an overwhelming process. Huge decisions are often difficult to make. However, this article will walk you through online education and why it may be a great option for you.

 

Online coursework gives student’s the convenience of studying on their own schedule. Nearly 32 percent of higher education students reaped the benefits of enrolling in online courses in 2012, according to a survey released by the Babson Survey Research Group and the College Board. There are many advantages associated with online learning. These include, but are not limited to, the ability to study from home, lower costs, and flexible schedules. Individuals that attend higher education courses online also develop a knowledge of virtual networking and well-versed technology skills.

 

The option to study at home offers students a level of convenience and comfort that is not available to those who attend traditional classes. While taking classes from the comfort of their home, students are able to avoid traveling to and from school grounds, as assignments and instruction are delivered virtually to the student’s laptop, phone, etc. Additionally, all other course resources are available online, so students never have to leave home to complete coursework. According to Sean Chamberlin of Fullerton College, studying at home also prevents students from missing classes, and classes are not canceled for reasons such as inclement weather.

 

The cost comparison between online school and traditional school carries a significant financial benefit to those attending school online. Costs associated with traditional college typically include student services fees, gas, and school supplies. Many students also factor in costs for parking on some campuses or using public transportation. Instructors often use e-textbooks for online learning instead of costly hardcover textbooks, which can reduce costs for students considerably. Students with children are also able to save money on childcare costs.

 

Online courses allow students the ability to balance their work and family obligations while in college. For instance, individuals with 9-to-5 jobs can complete assignments in the evening or on weekends. The 24/7 availability makes online classes ideal for many students desiring to pursue a college degree. Strong self-discipline is an essential quality for online students, who must possess the drive to meet their course deadlines while handling personal obligations as well. With well-developed organizational skills, many students can manage these challenges with ease.

 

Online education attracts not only students from all across the United States but rather, all over the world. Attending class virtually enables students to make connections with individuals they may not have otherwise met. Virtual classrooms are filled with diverse individuals from varying backgrounds, resulting in unique and thought-provoking classroom conversations. Online class settings sometimes inspire students to form study groups and schedule outings at local venues. Students consistently receive chances to learn from each other and develop lasting professional networking connections.

Projected Outlook for Nursing Careers: A Breakdown for ASNs, BSNs and MSNs

Did You Know?

The World Health Organization (WHO) deemed 2020 as the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife” in order to recognize the essential and critical role nurses and midwives play in providing care to those in need. WHO also noted that “nurses are often the first and only point of care in a community and that nurses often face challenging conditions.” Of course, the organization could not possibly have predicted just how important nurses would be during 2020, considering the COVID-19 pandemic and other events that have occurred over these past 12 months. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular Nursing paths.

 

Breakdown: ADN

An Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is the minimum degree requirement for becoming a registered nurse (RN). You’ll find ADN programs at community colleges and some four-year institutions.  An ADN from an accredited nursing school is a fantastic choice if you want to become an RN without the commitment of a four-year degree. It’s important to note, however, that while this is the minimum education for licensing, employers are increasingly making a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree a requirement for new hires.

 

ADNs typically require around two years to complete. State-approved programs will include extensive on-site clinical training that aligns with your state’s requirements for licensing.

 

Breakdown: BSN

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is a degree program designed for RNs who want to pursue higher management positions and qualify for higher-paying jobs. If you’re ready to work as an RN, a BSN could be a great choice for you if you have the availability and financial accommodations to commit to a four-year degree.

 

A BSN is also a great place to begin if your ultimate goal is to earn a master’s degree and work as an APRN (advanced practice registered nurse). More than half of RNs work in hospitals, though with your additional clinical experience and any specialized skills, you can find a variety of less traditional roles. These could include Case Manager, Forensic Nurse, Home Health Nurse, Nursing Informatics Specialist, Occupational Health Nurse, and School Nurse.

 

Breakdown: MSN

A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is a graduate program of study designed for nurses who want to practice in a specialized role known as an advanced practice registered nurse. The curriculum in an MSN program is far more specialized compared to a general nursing degree. You will study deeper into a concentrated area of study while taking advanced courses in topics such as leadership, management, healthcare policy, and research. Students who enter into MSN programs with a BSN typically take about two years to complete their degree.

 

With an MSN, you’ll be prepared to work as an APRN in your area of concentration. To do so, you’ll need to hold a state license as an RN as well as a national credential in your specialty. Specializations vary by program, but common options include the following: Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Certified Nurse Midwife, and Certified Nurse Anesthetist.

 

Job Outlook

The employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 7 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. Growth will occur for a number of reasons. About 175,900 openings for registered nurses are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

 

Overall, job opportunities for registered nurses are expected to be good. However, there may be competition for jobs in some areas of the country. Generally, registered nurses who have a bachelor of science degree in nursing (BSN) will have better job prospects than those without one.

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook

 

 

What Can I Earn?

The median annual wage for registered nurses was $73,300 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $52,080, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $111,220.

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook

 

Which Nursing Degree Is A Good Fit For Me?

With so many nursing degrees and paths available, it is important to understand how each program is laid out and the requirements they have so you can weigh your options and decide which one may be the best fit for you. If you’re a recent high school graduate, an experienced career veteran, or if you’re looking to make a career change, there are plenty of options to fit your dream. Take the time to evaluate your goals and finances and match that to whatever path aligns most with your current lifestyle.

Elevator Pitches: What They Are and How To Create One

You may have heard of elevator pitches from coworkers, professors, or friends. Like many, I had never heard of one until college when my professor stressed how important they were in the world of networking. An elevator pitch is a very short summary of yourself that, from start to finish, is completed in the average amount of time it takes to travel on an elevator, approximately thirty seconds or less. Elevator pitches are so simple, yet can be one of the most vital tools you have in the professional world. In thirty seconds, the objective is to get your point across while inviting the individual you are speaking to ask more about who you are. Consider it to be a sales pitch, but the product being sold is you and your abilities. You should be able to accomplish, without rushing, in half a minute or less.

When composing your elevator pitch, there are a few main points you will need to hit. Keep these questions in mind: Who are you? What do you do? What do you want?

Start with a greeting, then limit it to one sentence about yourself. Introduce yourself not just by stating what your title is, but what you do. For example, I wouldn’t introduce myself by stating that I write blogs. Instead, I would state that I am a freelance content writer that helps businesses gain more traffic to their websites and social media.

Write one or two sentences about who your ideal clients are. You may want to write down how your products or services help this group of people.

Write a sentence or two about what you do every day in your business. If your emphasis is on time-saving techniques, state briefly how your strategies work.

Make your value be known. Don’t make it sound like you are just listing off your best qualities, flip the narrative to where your best qualities are instead of potential benefits to the prospect.

Elevator pitches are typically given in in-person situations, such as career fairs, networking events, or even elevators. A fantastic way to get the person you’re giving the pitch to involved is to ask about their business and see if they have a need for someone like you.

After finishing your pitch, have a business card prepared for anyone that may ask for it. This way, if a prospect liked what you had to say, they now have your contact information for future reference.

The most important advice I can give to you in regard to an elevator pitch is simple. Practice, practice, practice. Writing it down and memorizing it just isn’t enough. You don’t want to come across as a robotic salesman, now do you? Take the time to read it out loud. Record yourself and listen to see how you need to adjust your voice, mannerisms, and timing. When the time comes, you want it to seem like a natural conversation, not a forced sales pitch. And if it doesn’t? Rewrite it! Practice until you’re comfortable enough to try it out. Elevator pitches can be a quick, almost effortless way to not only introduce yourself but to gain the interest of a potential prospect.

Setting Goals for the New Year

So the New Year is here. We often hear about big plans and resolutions, but it’s a little less common to hear of people actually sticking to these goals. Which is completely understandable! Changing parts of your lifestyle overnight is extremely difficult and can be a major part of why some people’s New Year’s resolutions end up ultimately falling by the wayside. I suggest starting small and focusing on one goal at a time. Remember, the best resolutions are the ones you can actually keep. If you haven’t made any resolution yet, no worries! It’s never too late to get started changing your life for the better. If you can’t quite think of what you want your resolutions to be, here are a few ideas.

1. Find a new podcast to listen to. Take the time to decide on a subject matter that you like or that you would be interested in learning more about. Perhaps you want to learn more about ancient Egypt or even learn different cooking techniques. There are millions of podcasts readily available and the opportunities to find a great listen are endless.

2. Set your alarm a minute earlier each day for a month. After 30 days, you’ll have an extra half hour on your hand to spend how you like! This can be a great opportunity to pick up a new hobby, watch an episode of your favorite show, or even listen to a new podcast.

3. Set aside twenty dollars each week. Maybe to make this happen, you need to eat out one time less a week. It may not sound like much, but setting aside that $20 means by the end of the year, you will have saved $1,040! Can’t afford to set that twenty aside? Not an issue. Any amount helps! Just setting aside ten dollars a week will help you save $520!

4. Give someone a compliment each day. Whether it’s your family member, a complete stranger, or even your pet, a small act of kindness can go so far. Tell the woman walking by you that you like her shirt, tell your waiter that they did a great job or just tell your dog that he’s/she’s a good boy/girl. Opportunities for kindness are abundant.

5. Each night before bed, write down one good or happy thing about your day. It could be that you ate your favorite food, you got a raise, or even that you woke up healthy. By this time next year, you will have 365 little notes of happiness to reflect upon.

As a college student with a busy schedule, it can often be difficult to make goals and resolutions and actually persevere and achieve them because of work, family, friends, and other obligations you may have in your life. With that said, hopefully, I gave you something a little different than your typical New Year’s resolutions like, “eat better”, “get more sleep”, “work harder” – but instead provided resolutions that anyone can easily incorporate into a busy lifestyle and actually stick with. Good luck and happy New Year!

Brain Food: Snacks that Provide Energy

Your years spent earning a college degree are a vital time for learning. Before you go to grab a candy bar to snack on while studying, remember this: students that choose foods that fuel their body and mind are much more likely to prosper. For years, research has found that consuming a balanced, nutritious diet can enhance focus, strengthen memory, and improve critical thinking. Limiting the amount of refined sugar and processed foods that you consume daily and focusing on fresh, plant-based foods can help display more effective problem-solving skills, fact comprehension, and stronger mental recall. Make smart choices by filling your plate with fresh fruits, fresh veggies, lean proteins, and whole grains. Limit the number of high sugar foods you consume.

Healthy snacks are one of the most important components of a balanced diet. This is especially true during the grueling hours spent studying in college. Snacks act as a bridge between meals and can prevent excessive hunger. Snacks also help with portion control and mindful food choices. Mindful snacking also promotes increased energy levels, stimulates metabolism, and stabilizes blood glucose. Snacking throughout the day will keep both your brain and body satisfied and energized, but you have to make sure you’re consuming the right foods.

You might be wondering what the best snacks are to give you energy. The ultimate snacks for studying are made of a serving of quality carbs alongside a lean protein item. Appropriate carbohydrate intake is important for your health. High-quality carbs supply a long-lasting supply of energy. Try to make your study snack fun! Getting creative with your food is an easy way to get excited about being healthy. Below you will find a list of food combinations that will fuel your brain for optimum function and energy.

Snack Options to Fuel You Brain and Body

1. Bake sliced zucchini to make zucchini chips and dip them in salsa.

2. Create a homemade trail mix with ingredients such as whole-grain cereal or granola, raw nuts and seeds, and a small amount of something sweet such as dried fruit or sugar-free chocolate chips.

3. Spread organic peanut butter on celery sticks, apples, or banana slices.

4. Roll up a few cucumber sticks in a few slices of lean lunch meat for a gluten-free snack

5. Dip carrots, sliced peppers, cucumber slices, celery sticks, or cherry tomatoes into hummus.

6. Combine healthy granola with low-fat, high protein yogurt.

7. Toast a piece of whole-grain bread and mash ½ an avocado to spread on top

8. Crunch on some whole-wheat pretzels with a cheese stick or reduced-fat cheese slices.

9. Drop some mixed berries into plain greek yogurt for a sweet snack

10. Whisk together two eggs, add a handful of spinach and bake in a muffin tin to create mini omelets

11. Make whole-grain cracker sandwiches with nut/seed butter (peanut, almond, cashew, or sunflower) butter or reduced-fat cheese.

12. Pair unsweetened applesauce with pecan or walnut halves.

13. Pack cherry tomatoes alongside a hard-boiled egg.

14. Sprinkle shredded reduced-fat cheese onto a whole grain tortilla and microwave for a fast quesadilla.

15. Snack on a cup of cottage cheese and a side of peaches

16. Sprinkle some cinnamon on non-GMO popcorn for a twist on a classic snack

17. Top a whole-grain toaster waffle with nonfat/low-fat yogurt.

18. Spread natural peanut butter on celery sticks and top with just a few sugar-free chocolate chips

19. Freeze grapes to create a snack that tastes just like candy!

20. Make a peanut butter and jelly roll up with a whole-grain tortilla, 2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter, and 1 tablespoon of sugar-free jelly strawberry jelly.

Get creative! There are no limits to what you can make for a snack. Just make sure you’re being mindful and staying healthy. If you are someone that loves sweets like I am, then find a way to incorporate that into your prepared snacks. Make it fun and study hard.