How to Survive Nursing School without Ending Up in the Psych Ward

I’m kind of a list maker. It started in childhood (yeah, I’m a little Type A) but was certainly perfected during nursing school. This one is for my soon-to-be colleagues, the nurslings starting nursing school and clinicals.

Nursingschool vs real life

Found on

  1. Take a deep breath. Then come to terms that nursing school is going to be challenging. Well let’s be real, it will probably be the hardest institutionalized learning curve you face (until you get into the real world, but we’ll talk about that later, mm’kay?).
  2. Speaking of learning—you don’t have to read every page of “required reading”. Seriously. Put the book down. Learn to prioritize. It’ll serve you well.
  3. Find a good place to study. I’d say it’s best to study somewhere different from where you sleep. And sometimes study partners are great but other times they’re distracting. Be choosey.


    Photo cred:

  4. Make good use of skills lab. Don’t be shy! Seriously, go hang out with the mannequins.
  5. Learn it the way they (your institution) want you to learn…then when you become a real live nurse, learn it the way you will actually be doing it.
  6. Remember that you will not be perfect the first, second, or even fifth time you do a skill! Cut yourself a little slack. And celebrate when you get something right!
  7. Make friends, diverse friends. Pick some people you click with in nursing school but for heaven’s sakes, make other friends! They will help keep you sane when you and your fellow nurslings are all nuts during finals or clinicals or whatever.
  8. Call home and try to help them understand what you’re going through. They won’t. In fact, your mom might call a “UTI” a “DUI” accidently. But they probably want to know! And hearing a familiar voice can be super helpful to get you through the really difficult times.
  9. Practice the art of self care. We nurses are notoriouslyawful at taking care of ourselves. We care for our patients, the doctors, other nurses, our families, our friends, but not ourselves. Why? We are just as important! In fact, if you are not well, how can you possibly take care of someone else? And for the record, self care does not mean a bottle of wine.

  10. Have an open mind. Having goals is fantastic, but don’t close yourself off to other possibilities. Try to enjoy telemetry and OB and community health, ortho and surgery and psych. You never know what will strike your heart.
  11. Be prepared! Know your drugs, your patients’ diagnoses, know about their medical history. This will help you put together the pieces of what’s going on a little faster. Plus your preceptor will like having a student who’s got it together.
  12. Know your scope of practice! Always.
  13. Let your preceptor know what types of experiences you want. It’s your education, right? And it will help him/her guide you. NG tube feeding
  14. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I guarantee your preceptor will appreciate you asking good, thoughtful questions rather than you going off like a maverick! Don’t be an unteachable, know-it-all, rogue nursing student. It makes us nervous. And irritable.
  15. Guard your heart! By that I mean that you’ll meet people—doctors, other nurses, instructors, patients, even fellow students—who perhaps don’t mean to squash your confidence but will thoroughly crush you. And you’ll meet people who are just truly nasty. Don’t let your heart listen.
  16. On the flip side, learn how to take constructive criticism gracefully. Don’t be snotty. Don’t break into a million pieces. Just learn from it!
  17. Always introduce yourself with confidence, pass meds with confidence, perform skills with confidence. Talking through your game plan with your nursing instructor or preceptor before you go into the room can give you that extra boost. If you don’t know something, a great phrase to use is, “I don’t know the answer, but I will find someone who does.”
  18. Learn to listen to that little voice within you. One of the most difficult skills to learn is your nursing instinct ‘cause what the heck is it really? At the beginning you will probably feel uncomfortable about most situations so it’s hard to trust your gut. As you gain experience, you’ll start being able to look at a patient and have that gut instinct that something is “not quite right”. thank_you_nurse_quotes
  19. Similar to your nursing instinct, use your compassion instinct. Yes, the call bell down the hall is going off and you have three more med passes to get out, but sometimes your patient needs that extra hand squeeze or five minutes of empathetic listening. Don’t be afraid to open your heart—people respond well to that.
  20. Finally, never, ever say “just a nurse”. You are going to be a nurse. A healer. We do the dirty work. We are the doctors’ eyes and ears. We are our patients’ and families voices. Be proud of your chosen profession!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s