20 things every new nursing student needs to know

Shutterstock | Monkey Business Images
Shutterstock | Monkey Business Images

Would ya like some tips on surviving? Here’s a quick list of 20 survival tips for the nursing newbie:

  1. It’s okay to be nervous and scared. That means you give a darn and want to do well. Trust me, you’re not alone. Your classmates are just as freaked out. Some just hide it better than others.
  2. There is strength in numbers. Meet and greet as many people as you can. You’ll be surprised how much you all have in common.
  3. Get used to not knowing something. After a decade of doing this job, you still won’t know everything. But that’s no excuse for not knowing something the second time around.
  4. Get used to meeting strangers. Give a firm handshake, look them in the eye and say their name twice.
  5. Be confident. You are going to meet A LOT of new people during your lifetime as a nurse.
  6. Walk the halls of whatever facility your clinical rotation is located. Know your way around. You’re going to need it.
  7. Ask questions. Every. Single. Day.
  8. Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know the answer.
  9. Study your rear off. Get organized. Your patients are depending on you.
  10. Get used to being tired. The lack of sleep doesn’t stop once you graduate.
  11. Um. Peeing. Yeah. Get used to not doing that.
  12. While we’re at it. Eating. Uhh. Yeah. Get used to not doing that, too.
  13. You are going to want to quit. Don’t. You are going to want to cry. Let it out and move on.
  14. Never cry in front of a physician. They’re not worth it.
  15. You are going to meet a lot of unpleasant folks. Don’t ever let them sway you.
  16. Befriend every single nursing aide (CNA) you meet. They are the backbone of this profession.
  17. Never, ever, ever shy away from getting your hands dirty. You are not above any task.
  18. Never forget what this first year feels like. Once you move forward in your career, help the next generation.
  19. Never apologize for doing your job. Advocating for another human being is not easy.
  20. Good grief, have some fun!

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5 Responses to 20 things every new nursing student needs to know

  1. Tammy Lamm

    Befriend the Unit Clerks as well. They know everybody and how to get things done. Also please use some common sense. You’ve got it. Just take a deep breath. You can do this! You will be awesome.

  2. goodcareers

    Great list Sean! I would add patience is a virtue so have plenty of it and don’t let patient families intimidate you. You have to hold your ground at times with family, remember your priority is your patient and doing whatever is best for them.

  3. Sheila Bycraft

    You are going to hear that-so and so is: a Doctor, Lawyer,Indian Chief! DON’T be intimidated. At this point they are your “patient”. Continue to give these individuals the same conscientious, meticulous, professional care that all patients should receive.
    You will find that nurses in general have a slightly warped sense of humor, it can be the tension reliever that is sometimes needed. Enjoy your career!

  4. tom combs

    Best of luck in your incredibly challenging and meaningful career.
    I think the lesson I was taught by an older physician many years ago applies – “Keep your focus on patient well-being and you will never be off course. You will earn your patients’ appreciation and your colleagues’ respect.”
    From the article’s solid list a comment on Number 14 – “Never cry in front of a physician. They’re not worth it.” Harsh imo and afraid may give an errant impression. If a physicians’ abusive manner or lack of respect (yes – unfortunately it does happen) is what this refers to I can see the basis. Hopefully such events are rare (and if not should be addressed) I encourage you not to fear or expect physicians’ to behave as jerks.
    I hope you have a career where you and the men and women with M.D. after their name share mutual respect and appreciation. It can be a significant personal and professional satisfactions in your career.
    I hugely value the relationships and experiences of collaborating with nurses in caring for our patients.
    I believe the overwhelming majority of doctors feel the same – I hope you anticipate and experience a career where mutual respect and cooperation is the standard. That is the way things should be – you and our patients deserve it.

    • tom combs

      apologies for sloppy keyboarding –
      among other errors want to clarify “It can be a source of significant personal and professional satisfaction in your career.”

      All the best in your noble work!