If you have made the decision to pursue a career as a nurse or if you are looking to take your existing nursing career to the next level, you are most likely in the process of looking for the right nursing school for you. There are a number of nursing schools to choose from across the country that offers both undergraduate and graduate degree options. Choosing the right one is the best way to set yourself up for academic success.
By now, however, you have already likely been made aware of how difficult nursing school can be. Whether you are looking to advance your nursing career by earning a graduate degree or just starting off in your journey to become a nurse through an undergraduate program, you should know that there will be a number of challenges on the road ahead.
In fact, every year, a significant number of nursing school students choose to change their paths entirely after discerning that nursing school itself is not right for them. Among all the knowledge you will be expected to learn, you will also be subject to hours of clinicals and labs. Your schedule is going to border on the hectic, and if you begin to feel the stress of the situation, you certainly will not be alone.
That being said, getting through nursing school is absolutely something you can accomplish with the right level of perseverance and dedication to the task. At the end of it all, you will have succeeded in becoming either a qualified nurse or in advancing your existing nursing career.
One thing that can make a big difference when you are about to start a nursing degree program of some kind is to make yourself aware of what you can expect from the experience ahead of time. Understanding what you are taking on can help you prepare mentally for the challenges of nursing school.
With that in mind, here are seven things about nursing school that you should know so that you can start your educational experience off on the right foot and give yourself the best chances of finding success.
1. You Can Learn Online
The field of higher education as a whole has seen its fair share of changes in recent decades. One such change that has become increasingly more practical in this day and age is that of the accessibility of degree programs through online education.
You no longer need to attend all of your nursing school classes in person at a traditional university. Rather, you can now enroll in an online nursing school program so that you can enjoy greater flexibility in your education.
This applies to nursing degrees of all types. While you will still need to be available for practical learning experiences, including clinicals and the like, you can even potentially earn your doctor of nursing practice degree online from any number of accredited universities across the country.
Earning a degree online means that you can continue to maintain your work schedule while in school, which many graduate degree students take advantage of. Moreover, you get the freedom to learn at a pace that is right for you instead of being restricted to the traditional classroom setting.
2. Nursing School is Emotional
When you decide to pursue a career in healthcare, you should do so knowing that there is going to be a degree of emotion involved in such a path. The same goes for a career in nursing.
As a nurse, you will be faced with assisting patients going through some intense physical and mental struggles. Illnesses, injuries, and mental health conditions are all things that you will come in contact with regularly throughout your career as a nurse.
This fact is going to be particularly true for those nurses who choose to specialize in areas like critical care and emergency medicine. That being said, all nurses will be expected to handle emotional situations regularly in their jobs.
Since nursing school is designed to prepare you for a career of this nature, you should expect to face some emotional experiences throughout your education. Therefore, the sooner you can come to terms with this aspect of the job and find ways to cope with it, the better off you will be not only in nursing school but also in your career as a nurse in general.
3. Your Schedule Will Be Packed
One of the things about nursing school that many students find particularly challenging is that life as a nursing student means that you never really stop. Classes, clinicals, lectures, and labs all have to be completed throughout the course of your degree program. As a result, the amount of knowledge that you will be expected to obtain is substantial, and you will regularly find yourself wondering when you will ever get a break.
Ultimately, you can expect your entire schooling experience to be like this. This is because a nurse’s job involves a hectic schedule as well, and the purpose of nursing school is to prepare you for such a career.
Knowing this particular fact ahead of time might not make things any easier, but it will give you the chance to accept it and prepare yourself accordingly. So work on honing your time management skills, get yourself a detailed day planner, and make sure you have a strong support system behind you.
It is also good to bear in mind that to accomplish what you want to in your career as a nurse, it will mean making some short-term sacrifices. For example, you might not have as much time for socializing with friends for now, but it will be worth it in the end when you achieve your dream of becoming a nurse.
4. You Will Need to Be Physically Prepared
In addition to preparing, you for a job as a nurse from a knowledge and training standpoint, your time in nursing school will also serve to prepare you for the physical demands of the job. Nursing as a profession is a physically demanding job by nature, and the right nursing program will help you to learn what that is going to mean for your professional life going forward.
For starters, nurses spend a great deal of their time on their feet. So, while you will have breaks, the bulk of your shift will see you administering care to patients and assisting physicians and other members of your healthcare team with various tasks.
Furthermore, nurses are responsible for various practical aspects of caring for patients, including transporting them from one place to another within a hospital and moving equipment around. So even though you won’t be expected to run a marathon or anything like that, looking after your physical capabilities is going to be an important part of preparing to become a nurse.
5. You Will Spend a Lot of Time Reading
Part of the process of getting through nursing school is going to involve a great deal of reading. You are expected to absorb and retain an incredibly vast amount of knowledge, and reading a seemingly countless number of textbooks, and academic journals is one way in which you will obtain the knowledge you need to be a successful nurse.
Bear in mind the fact that pretty much every other nursing school student finds themselves intimidated at the sheer amount of reading that is expected of them. The key is to become as efficient as possible with your reading without compromising the amount of attention that you need to give to critical topics.
Another strategy that many students find helpful is to join a study group. Since you are surely not the only student feeling overwhelmed at the amount of reading that needs to be done, you should look to team up with other students who are in the same boat as you. A study group can allow you to divide and conquer the workload so that you can get through things more efficiently and effectively.
Joining a study group in nursing school can provide you with some other benefits as well. You will be able to build strong connections with your peers that can prove to be useful down the line in your career. Furthermore, you will be able to learn how to benefit from others’ perspectives when it comes to the world of healthcare, a skill that will only serve you well as you start your career as a nurse.
6. You Should Take Advantage of Any Opportunity to Grow
As a nursing student, you will be placed in new situations that you might not be very comfortable with right off the bat. Interacting with patients, administering injections, and dressing wounds are all parts of the job of a nurse. However, shying away from opportunities to learn how to do these things in a controlled and supervised environment will not help you grow and develop as a nurse.
The fact of the matter is that even though such things might make you feel uncomfortable at this point in time, you will need to get used to doing them sooner or later. So, take advantage of the opportunities that you have in nursing school to get used to them in the right environment.
This means that you should get used to volunteering for things like demonstrations and the like. The more you can practice your practical skills in the clinical setting, the better off you will be when you are actually expected to treat patients as a fully qualified nurse.
Another reason to take advantage of opportunities when you are in clinicals is that you can show off to potential future employers. The physicians and nurse instructors that will be accompanying you in your clinicals might very well be in a position at a point down the line to help you find employment at the hospital in which you are doing your clinicals.
By making a positive impression on these individuals, you can potentially set yourself up to be considered for a position when you graduate from your nursing school degree program. Any connections of this sort that you can make while you are still a student can really come in handy later on down the line.
7. Your Mental Health Needs to Be a Priority
With all of the stresses and pressures that you will be up against in nursing school, it is important to make sure that your mental health is a top priority. You will need to get in the habit of checking in with yourself from a mental standpoint to see how you are getting on. If you detect any signs that you are starting to struggle, you will not be doing yourself any favors by refusing to seek help.
Many nursing schools have mental health counselors on staff in order to help students deal with such things. This is because stress, anxiety, and other mental health conditions are so common among nursing students at all levels. However, with the right help and guidance, you can navigate the pressures of nursing school in a healthy manner.
It is also a good idea to make sure that you have a strong support system behind you for the duration of your time in nursing school. This is also true of students pursuing a graduate degree, especially those who are going to continue to work while they earn their degree.
Take the time to talk to your close friends and family members. Let them know about how big of an undertaking nursing school is going to be for you. Communicating with your support group in this manner will help you in more ways than one.
It will help them to know that they need to expect less from you from a social standpoint for the time being. More importantly, though, being on the same page as your support group will help you to feel more comfortable going to them with any struggles you experience during your time in nursing school.