Advice for Nursing Students

Starting nursing school soon? Scared out of your mind? Don’t worry, so is everyone else in your class. One of the most popular searches that leads to my blog this time of year is: "scared to start nursing school." So you are definitely not alone!

My advice for soon-to-be nursing students:
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
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.

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 embarrassed, 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).
Good luck!!

Click here to see advice from other student nurses:


52 thoughts on “Advice for Nursing Students

  1. WOW!Im so glad other students know what im feeling.especially tip number 4, RIGHT on the money!it\’s nice to know we are not alone!

  2. Wow, I really liked what you said and it\’s 100% true. I\’m in my second year of nursing and all of those things still apply. Number 1 is so true, and it\’s a good thing to be reminded of.

  3. #3 hits home for me! I\’d be lost without my girls! No one can make me smile like they do these days! These are things I learned my first semester, and they are so true!

  4. Hey thank you so much for posting this blog. I have not yet started college, but will shortly and I\’m not going to lie- I am a bit scared. Everyone tells me that nursing school-is a lot of hard work, and that like you said unless you have someone to help you throughout the way, it is going to be extremely difficult. Also, I am currently in an internship program and love shadowing doctor\’s and nurses\’ ; I can\’t wait till it\’s my turn. Love the BLOG!

  5. Hi I am a 27 year old nursing student. I am in my first year which we just completed two months ago. i did very well in all classes, but I failed one nursing course which means I repeat the first year. i go to school full time and work three to two days a week. Please I need some encouragement. Do you know anyone who have failed but finally succeeded? Do I reduce my work schedule and work once a week? what do I do?

  6. I’ve been getting started with my nursing degree at a community college to save a lot of money. But how do I know whether my credits will transfer? Is there a way to confirm whether the courses I take at a community college will count when I get to my next school? I’ve looked at and a few other sites for this information, but it’s hard to find.

  7. Hi im just trying to figure this.. being my life out..Thinking maybe an ouside opinon would help. I am just about to start nursing school after these 2 years I should be RN. This is where it gets confusing. Im thinking about joining the Air FOrce reserves 6 months before joining, So ill be working as a nurse straight out of school for a year in the ICU hopefully because I would like to go on to Nurse Anethetist school the following year.. Also once i finish these 2 years to become an RN I will begin taking online courses to get a MBA (I get it for free) which is a full time so around 2 years to complete.. then PHD in either nursing or business idk.. Its all kinda jumbled up if anyone has any advice etc

    • Hi Jake,
      I’m not exactly sure what you are saying— you are starting a two year nursing program, and then joining the air force, working in the ICU AND getting your MBA? That sounds overwhelming if I am reading it correctly!!! My advice is to take things one step at a time. If you are just starting nursing school, wait awhile and see what area you like. It might not even be the ICU, you might find some other area that you absolutely love.
      Good luck with everything! You have plenty of time to figure out where you want to end up.

  8. I’m a few days away from starting nursing school for my ASN. I, too, have decided to blog about it and have just recently gotten a blog up and running at I’m really happy to hear that using a blog helped you release your stress and stay on track with your nursing goals. I’m hoping it’ll have the same effect for me. Oh, and I especially liked #7 of your list. I’m definitely going to do this while I’m school. Thanks for the advice!

  9. Hello, I do a student nurse newsletter for a professional nursing association in King County (Washington) and wondered if I could reprint your “Advice for Nursing Students” in my e-newsletter. Please let me know if this would be OK. Thx.

    • Absolutely! Thank you for asking, I’ve seen a few re-postings of it that begin with, “I’ve been asked what advice I have for nursing students, so I worked hard on it and here’s what I came up with…” LOL……

  10. Well, I go pick up my first clinical assigned patient tomorrow and begin caring for patients Tuesday. I have to say I’m so terrified of screwing up and injuring or hurting someone that I’m on the verge of panicked! I’ve worked in Dr’s offices before but THIS is so different (I’m a Medical Assistant). I have a friend who is an LPN and she keeps reassuring me that my instructor will not let me do anything that I’m not sure of without her assistance or guidance but still, panicked!! God please let me not hurt someone (or flunk) pretty please!?!?!?!?!

  11. Love your tips! I’m finishing up my second semester in a three year nursing program and getting ready to put on a boot camp for the new class of incoming students. I’ll definitely remember to pass some of these things on!

  12. Hi, I am in my 1st semester of nursing school in an RN program, I am wondering what to do, when I was in clinical the other day I had to do a physical assessment, I had practiced a ton and studied all of the steps, but when I actually went to do my physical assessment my mind was blank, how do I get over being nervous and stressed? As soon as it is my turn my hands start to sweat, my heart starts beating really fast and I forget what to do, Any advice?

  13. Hello..I just needed to share the butterflies I’m feeling about the whole ranking process that I’m going thru again which is this week…I have gone thru this when I applied for the LVN program and this time around the butterflies I’m feeling are more intense since I’m applying at Texas Tech …Any advice on how to keep a positive attitude! !!

  14. Great advices…
    However i want to share with u all how i get jobs for first resume submit only..
    hehe..actually i join organisation of RNR (
    this organisation give me free support about nursing resume. if anyone on last semester can go to the organisation for helping… daaa


  15. I just wanted to say thanks for the advice! I am so excited and nervous to start nursing school in August. I actually started my own blog to help with anxiety and to track my journey! Keep Calm and Nurse On..on Love your posts!

  16. Hi, I just wanted to say Thank you for writing such wonderful blogs! I’m currently attending FSCJ and I’m majoring in Nursing! Currently I’m working on getting my AA in nursing. I love reading your blogs, its very entertaining and informative as well! Reading your blogs motivate me to work hard and that in the end its worth it!:)

  17. OH MY GOODNESS. Today was my first day of clinical and not only was I a bit scared, but my teacher just threw us onto the floor to fill out a bunch of paperwork without going over it. I just graduated highschool a year ago…i have no medical background knowledge and today i had NO idea what i was doing. I asked her for help like a million times and she just wouldnt help me..i dont know if shes just a bad professor or what. But she expected me to know what I was doing…I stood there staring at this paperwork and my patient’s charts trying so hard not to burst into tears. Thank goodness i sorta made friends with a guy whos been an EMT and has an idea what the paperwork was asking. He helped me alot and if it werent for him I wouldnt have been able to fill out anything except the patient’s name…. I need advice so I can be more comfortable with this stinkin paperwork since im going to have to do it every week at clinical. I dont want to rely on my friend to tell me what to write. I know it’s only been the first day and yeah I expected to be confused…it just stressed me out so much and it stresses me out even more knowing that my professor just wont answer my questions…help?

  18. Thank u so much. I’m going to start school spring 2013, and l’m only thinking if lm gonna make it until the end. Im so scared that when my acceptance letter got to me l did not got happy at all : (

  19. I start my nursing degree in January 2013, and I will be honest, im completely freaking out about it lollll.
    My friends started in September and have told me what to expect, it sounds so very hard and complicated already. That self doubt keeps creeping in :<
    Even the thought of catching the train each morning is scaring me. How on earth am I going to cope with all the intensive study with my three young children arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrhhhh.

    • Hi Dawn,
      I know how scary it is before starting school. It will probably be difficult at first to figure out juggling your children with studying and classes, but you will get it all worked out and it will be worth it in the end! Good luck and let me know how you’re doing!

  20. I’m about to start my nursing program soon and I am really scared of failing. I’m determined to get thru it best as possible but I’m still like… Nervous outta my mind. *chuckles nervously*

  21. I thank you deeply for your post. Totally made me feel better. Im basically at the front end of my first year. Second test coming up. I wanna take your advice to take one day a week but there is just too much to cover before the test. Power points, notes, reading what I hi lighted and going over the study guide of 6 chapters takes so much time, added to tending to wife and kids, and part time work on weekend. There is no day. Not for me at least right now. Wish there was. Keep posting the happiness though, it does calm me. First clinical next Tuesday. Any tips? Assisted Living.

    • Thanks for the comment! I completely understand how hectic things can be before a test. I didn’t have any children when I was in school, now that I have a daughter I have so much respect for anyone going though school with kids!!! Good luck with clinicals– my best advice is to remember to laugh at yourself, and try your best to relax– it is normal to be nervous!

      Let me know how you do!


  22. I’m SO happy I found your blog!! I love reading your stories. Being a junior in nursing school I need all the encouragement I can get. Especially after the day I had today!!

  23. This is a great article with excellent advice for nursing students. Nursing school can be super scary and is tough! We need great advocates like you to help the next generation.
    There is a great article on Scrubs Magazine that rounds up a few more tips that many nursing students might find helpful. My personal favorite is finding a study group. The friends I made in nursing school are still some of my closest friends to date. 🙂 Oh, and preparing for NCLEX style questions before you start nursing school will really help you ace your tests!

  24. I am about midway through my nursing school and I really appreciated this article! The advice was very dead-on. I don’t have advice, per se, but I am starting a blog as well about my life through nursing school and beyond at if you have any advice on how to best use it as a tool for stress-relief and/or growth!

  25. So I’m starting west coast university in literally two weeks and I am freaking out. Honestly I barely graduated High school because I never really tried in school since I was busy having fun and not being in school. So I’m scared I won’t do good in nursing school because everybody tells me that it takes a lot of studying. I don’t even know how to study because is never studied in High school. So I just need to know that if I actually give my all in nursing school will I do good ? Because it’s very expensive and I don’t know how I would possibly pay that money back..

  26. oh my … number 4!!! I am doing very well in my classes but 2nd day of clinical and I feel like I don’t even know how to tie my shoe or say hello… So incredibly nervous that I can’t think when I am at clinical !!! AHHHH!!! I can’t wait for it to get better!

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