With a heavy science basis and clinicals that require a long and grueling commitment, nursing school is not an easy task.
Yet in recent years, nursing school has gotten a bit of a reputation as being nothing more than an assembly line for creating professionals to replace the large number of retiring nurses and to fill the nursing shortages all over the country. While it’s true that recruitment methods urge students to consider nursing school, and that you can earn an RN license in as little as two years, don’t expect an easy time of it. Nursing school is a challenge—both to get in and to get through.
If you’re one of the students who got all the prerequisite classes completed, gained entrance to an accredited nursing program, and are working hard to keep up, here are a few tips for finding success.
Establish a Good Relationship with Your Instructors: You don’t necessarily have to stay late every day to chat up the teachers or sit in the front row and have all the answers. But you should do your best to respect the instructors and the curriculum they have set out. Unlike many types of educators, nursing instructors are all nurses first, and instructors second. They have the hands-on skills you’ll need to develop over the next few years, and their experience should become your own. Do the work that is required of you, and take any feedback you get and put it to good use. Making allies of your professors can really boost both your professional success and your entire college experience.
Ask For Help: Nursing is one of those professions where just one mistake could cost you your job—and someone their life. Get in the habit now of asking questions and asking for help when you need it. Working as part of team is always going to be present in the nursing profession, and it’s okay to lean on your coworkers (and co-students) from time to time. It’s better to take the time to learn things now, even if it is difficult, rather than to learn the hard way later that you aren’t prepared to do your job well.
Pitch In and Help Others: At the same time, you want to be the type of nurse others are comfortable approaching for help, as well. A student who demonstrates responsibility and accountability, and who goes above and beyond to contribute to the whole team, is going to be better equipped to succeed in a real world setting.
Be a Caring Professional: Nursing is one of those careers that has a big scientific foundation—but just as important is a solid base of caring. Nurses are often the people families and patients see and talk to the most in a formal care setting, and they rely on nurses to be their advocates within the health care system. Use your nursing school time to develop compassion, empathy, and respect for your patients and the profession as a whole.
Of course, if you want to succeed at nursing school, you’ll also need to set up a good study schedule, spend a lot of time pouring over textbooks, and show up to class every day. As is the case with any medical profession, nursing school prepares you for the real world of nursing, and your commitment to your education will reflect in your job skills.