Student nurse tips

Every August the top Google search that leads to my blog is “what is nursing school like?” By early September, it changes to “how to survive nursing school.” And by late September, “Should I quit nursing school?” starts creeping up. If you are struggling in school, please do not give up! My classmate used to ask me:  “What do you call a nurse who got all C’s in nursing school?”  The answer:  “A nurse!”       I’m not telling you to stop caring about your grades, because you should do your best. But your future patients will care more about how you treat them– your compassion, kindness, and genuine interest in helping them– than how you did on your health management exam your first year of school. You will have bad weeks. You will have bad tests. But you will also have amazing patients whom you will never forget. My advice– after you’ve had a great day in clinicals, write down how you feel. Write the nice compliments you receive from your patients, instructors, and classmates. Then if you fail an exam, hang it on your fridge. But make sure you put the paper with all your compliments right next to it. It will help you remember what is more important.

Always feel free to leave me a comment if you need advice! Please include your email address.

And for those who came for it, here’s my original advice for student nurses:

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.banner51.jpg

33 thoughts on “Student nurse tips

  1. Oh my gosh…my bff just sent this to me and I needed to hear every word you have written. I am in my last year of an eve/wkend RN program and my bff is a year behind me. I have light at the end of the tunnel and every day I want to quite! No lie….I just keep telling myself I can do this!!! I am doing this!!! I will finish this!!!

    Thanks for the encouragement!!!!!

    • I just reread my post from last fall…to those out there reading this and feeling hopeless know it can be accomplished! IT CAN~

      I graduated from nursing school on May 22, 2014 and passed my boards on June 19th! Yes, I am a nurse!!!

      I will say this has been the hardest thing I have ever accomplished in my life….I am so proud of myself and my classmates!

      Good luck to everyone out there pursuing their dreams…don’t let go!!!!

  2. Thank you so much for this. I had my first week of nursing school and failed an exam given the first day and am Scared of Upcoming clinicals. I’ve been crying everyday and this blog has helped me. Please keep writing 🙂

    • Please don’t give up! I am in my last year and just got my grade on the first quiz of the semester….BOMBED IT! Understand what went wrong and fix it, if you need help ask for it! You will get there!!!

  3. This is the best thing I have ever read. I just started college but my major is Nursing. I am in the process of doing pre requisites and this made me feel much better about going into the Nursing program. I know it’s going to be hard but you are right when it comes to doing your best and your patients are going to care more about your compassion.

  4. I just failed my last semester and I am desperately hoping that I can have another shot at taking the final over. I am so disappointed and I really do not know what will be next. I am not sure what other options I have.

    • I’m at the teetering point of failing my final semester. I only have my final to make or break me. How did it turn out for you?

  5. Was it the “non-skid” DOUBLE-SIDED footwear that gave you trouble? 🙂 That one made me laugh out loud! I am in an accelerated program and we are about to finish our first (of 4) semester. I love ALL of your suggestions and advice! Thanks for giving us all a boost!

  6. I just flunked it of nursing school on the last day of my last semester when i should have been celebrating graduation. 2 years ago i got an F in fundamentals and now i just failed med/surg 2 by 1%. I am now out of the program. I went to Bryant & Stratton. Any idea of what school takes the most transfer credits? I don’t have the energy not the means to start over at fundamentals again

  7. These are such good words to read. They do not just give you a nursing degree because you want one! You have to work hard and sacrifice things…but Believe me e it WILL all be worth it in the end! I am almost done with LPN then on to RN! Hang in there fellow students! We can do this!!!

  8. I love this! I just finished my last semester ( which I repeated) and it has been the hardest thing I have ever done. I was never an A B honor roll student, not until I required a B to pass each semester :/ yes, the school I attend is pretty tough! I believe if I can get through nursing school with a newborn and a hubby who works away from home, anyone can 😉 good luck to everyone, your not alone….

  9. I agree with you about taking one night off. I think it is so important to have this time to just decompress and catch your breath. I give myself time every week to just forget about school and do nothing school related.

  10. Hi, my name is Elsa. I am a 17 year old from Texas, currently enrolled in high school as an incoming senior this August and a college student, sophomore this incoming August as well. I am extremely interested in becoming an RN, but still have many questions unanswered. From reading some interesting stories on your blog, I am very interested in getting in contact with you. I would really love to know your first steps right out of high school. I am decided that I should go for my BSN but that is all, I don’t know what steps to take from there… I would really appreciate if you could get in contact with me. I would like to have some questions answered from an actual RN that has passed by the common experiences most student nurses do. Please and thank you.

    • hello Elsa!

      Some suggestions for you….Call your local hospital and see if they have a shadow program or volunteer program to see if nursing is for you! Then find a mentor, a nurse who loves what they do and they will be a great source of support as you pursue your dream. Many nurses are burnt out and not happy with their role as nurse and will discourage you from your dream….so find find a good role model and forget the rest!
      Nursing school is hard work! It is unlike any other course of study…..there are days of “I got this” to days of “I quit!” Temper tantrums and crying jags! Honest….But you can do it!. Going for your BSN is best…talk around town is all nurses will have to have BSN by 2020…although this talk has been going on for sometime now.

      Good luck in your endeavors! Don’t give up the dream!!


  11. I honestly really needed to read this. I have one more year in my program and I am still feeling like I do not know anything. I feel like I am so scared to make mistakes that it holds me back from ever learning anything. Do you have any study tips and suggestions for those days when you just are not motivated?

  12. Jules,

    My advice to you is remember why you started this journey! Many days I wanted quit! Don’t be afraid to make mistakes….As I look back (and I just graduated 5/22) I wish I hadn’t stressed out about clinicals as much as I did…go in prepared and ready to learn and ask questions! All the nurses I worked with during clinicals all felt the way we do during their journey and I agree with the statement “the more you learn the less you know” or at least it feels that way! You cannot possible know everything…think about it…its medicine…ever changing! Give yourself a break, breath and remember your dream!

    Good luck!


  13. Thank you so much for this post. I’m a 20 something wife, mother of two boys 8 & 1, full time working and nursing student. Well not quite into the nursing program yet. If all goes well and nursing is wants me I should be starting clinicals next fall. A little on my story, I started this journey in fall of 2008 just taking a class here and there I’m a local community program and then transferred to a 4 year university. After having my baby and coming accross some issues I took 2 semester off and I’m currently back on the grind taking the last four classes required for this school to get into the program. All my pre reqs are done and all were passed with As and Bs. Except chemistry. Chemistry kicked my behind big time. I dropped out the first time in fear of my GPA dropping which was perfect. But then retook it another 3x (4 total) passing the last time with B-. All the programs have a limit on how many repeats you do on pre reqs and Ive exceeded mine with this one. My advisor tells me there’s still hope although is not guaranteed but I feel doubtful. Any words of encouragement or advice you can give me?

    • Pamela,

      Always figure out your requirements for courses and expected GPA required….Chemistry kicked my butt as well….When I opened my Chem book I yelled “who put math in my science book!” Not my cup of tea…I passed that class with a C.
      With that said, I was able to get into TWO nursing schools with my points and GPA, I chose a private school over public (Comm. College). I graduate in May 2014, passed my boards in June 2014 and started orientation this week Sept 2014!
      If there is a will there is a way…you will get there!


      • Hi Linda.
        Thank you. I actually emailed my advisor yesterday to ask a few question I got from my reading. So far so good, now is pretty much the waiting period. I will be told in June if I got accepted into the program. I’m keeping faith that this journey will soon be over 🙂

      • Pamela,
        You are so very welcome! Write anytime for support, encouragement or a shoulder to cry on! I know how hard you have worked and the mountain you are about to climb! All of us former nursing students have your back!!!


  14. Oh how I wish I knew someone to help me! I am completing a health care aid certificate before getting my BSN I have lots of experience, but have spent so much if my life being a mom. I so badly want this but I am SO scared!

  15. Can someone please give me some advice?! I just started my nursing program and im already overwhelmed. Im taking Anatomy and Physiology and i feel like none of the information is sticking which concerns me because these are important and things im going to need to know them in the future as a nurse. Is this a common struggle or am i doing something wrong?

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