From the moment you start doing your undergraduate coursework to the time you apply to nursing school, there is a heavy emphasis on the sciences and on math. Starting with the very first day you decide to be a nurse, you’ll learn biology, chemistry, anatomy, statistics, and physics—and all with hands-on laboratory work like dissecting frogs and cow eyes.
Although this can seem overwhelming, it’s something most nursing students are prepared for, and the hard work is just part of the challenge of reaching your professional goals. What many students aren’t prepared for, however, is the other kind of work that you’ll be taking home: term papers and group projects.
Depending on where you are in your education, you might end a quarter of nursing ethics with a ten-page research paper, or spend an entire nursing theory course working with a team to create posterboard presentations, power points, and other large projects. These can be time-consuming and work-intensive, but a passing score here is just as important as it is during your clinical rotations.
Why Nursing Schools Include Papers and Projects
It might seem unfair to spend most of your time writing a paper when you’ll never be asked to write again, or to work with a team of nursing students who might not be willing to pull their own weight for a group presentation. However, these are common parts of the nursing curriculum. The reasons for this vary, but typically include:
- Group Challenges: Being a nurse is very much a team effort. You’ll be working with doctors, therapists, nursing aides, and other nurses to provide a high quality of care. Some of these team members will be great; others will not. Getting used to working in a team setting—with all its challenges and setbacks—starts in nursing school.
- Critical Thinking: Writing a ten-page report or paper requires quite a bit of planning, research, organization, and dedication. The focus here is not so much on how well you write or how good your grammar is—it’s on seeing whether or not you can pull together several different components to reach a whole.
- Academic Learning: If you’re going to nursing school to get an MSN or even a BSN, you are going to be entrenched in the academic setting whether you like it or not. In many cases, you might even wish to go on to be a nursing instructor, nursing administrator, or research nurse. Having a background of academic learning and scientific documentation will really help boost this part of your career.
As is the case with any academic challenge, the key to writing successful term papers and doing well on your nursing group projects is to plan ahead and get the work done before the last minute. Nursing school is still very much a school, and although you’ll be drawing blood and seeing patients fairly early on in your education, you still need to focus on the textbooks and papers that will provide the foundation for learning for the rest of your life.