I’ve been reading through all of my comments, and I have received several requests for advice from people entering nursing school in January. I will post the advice I have given them, and would love if those of you in school now (or those of you who graduated years ago) could add to my list.
My advice to a soon-to-be nursing student:
1. Never forget that every other person in that classroom is just as scared as you are. If they always look confident, it is just an act. So don’t let them stress you out.
2. Be prepared to work hard. You will have to do a lot of reading, and it will be very confusing at times. Do the best you can to get through it, and highlight anything that might sound important.
3. Find a few classmates you get along with, and stick with them through the whole program. At times when no one else in your life fully understands what you are going through, they will. I can’t emphasize enough how important this mutual understanding is, and I guarantee that these people will talk sense into you every time you are 100% sure you are going to quit. (Danielle, John, Natalie & Rachel, I love you guys and will never forget all you have done for me!!)
4. Be prepared to feel lost. My first time doing everything (including putting a patient’s sock on her foot), I was so scared I was shaking. It is normal to completely forget how to do everything (even the most
simple tasks) when you are nervous. So don’t let this make you feel stupid or inferior- it is NORMAL!!
5. Ask tons of questions. If you are told by a nurse to do something on a patient and you are not familiar with it or are uncomfortable, ask for help. Don’t let it bother you that she rolls her eyes at you, you have the right to learn, and your patients have the right to receive safe care.
6. Be prepared to laugh at yourself. If you fail to do this, you will be more stressed out than necessary. When you do something stupid, laugh. Don’t be embarassed, we all do dumb things. Also, allow your patients to laugh at you. One patient told me that watching me frantically search for my clipboard (the clipboard I was holding in my hand) and then laughing with me when I realized my mistake, was the highlight of her week.
7. Even though you are extremely busy, take one night off. This means do not do any school work whatsoever one night every week. Thursday night is my night off. I watch TV, catch up with friends, just do whatever I want. On Monday, when I really want to watch something on TV or feel unmotivated to work, I keep telling myself that I only have a few more days until Thursday.
8. Find an outlet for your frustrations. This site has been wonderful for me- I just write about what I feel, and even though I usually don’t end up posting those things for the world to see, just writing about them makes me feel a lot better. Although this takes away from my study time, it is well worth it. I don’t think I could keep going all those hours if I didn’t have some way to release some steam.
9. Know that you are not alone!! If you need someone to vent to or share your wonderful experiences with, leave me a comment and I will get back with you (just don’t forget to leave your email address).