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.