Dispelling the black-hole myth

Image: Mike Kemp | Getty Images

I recently helped out at school at the new-student orientation for the incoming nursing class. My friends and I were passing down advice to the “newbies,” all the while finding it hard to believe that we were in their shoes only a year and a half ago.

So among the sage advice of “don’t wear colored underwear under your white scrubs,” and the “get to know your classmates because no-one at home is going to understand what you’re talking about,” I heard those chilling words I had heard so many times before, “You’re not going to have a life once you start nursing school.”

Have you heard this?!? I had heard these same words from countless students in the weeks leading up to nursing school, and they haunted me. I remember talking to my family and friends, warning them that they may not hear from me once I start, and telling my boyfriend that I hoped we would find some time to go out once-in-a-while, because I wouldn’t have a life once I started nursing school.

I would like to set the record straight: you CAN have a life outside of nursing school. In fact you NEED to get out and do something else every so often. It might not be the party-every-weekend kind of life that you see on TV or in movies, and it might not be as eventful as you’re non-nursing friends’, but it is possible to have fun.

Nursing school does not have to be the life-consuming black hole everyone makes it out to be. Yes, there are nights when you would rather be out with your friends, but you have to finish a paper, and maybe you can’t make it to EVERY (insert family event/party/date here), but after a year and a half of it, I am a firm believer that you NEED to make the time every so often to put yourself together, meet up with your friends/family/significant other and relax.  It is not impossible. Nursing school only controls your life as much as you let it. You have to be in control, plan your week out, and balance your study time with a few hours of “you time” whatever that is. It’s not always ideal, but on those days you HAVE to study, come up with an alternative way to reward yourself for all the hard work you’ve done. Nursing school is tough, but it’s not the end of life as you know it….it’s just the beginning.

Is your school plagued with this saying too?  It’s always tough trying to balance it all, what ways work best for you?studne

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Ani Burr, RN

I'm a brand new, full-fledged, fresh-out-of-school RN! And better yet, I landed the job of my dreams working with children. I love what I do, and while everyday on the job is a new (and sometimes scary) experience, I'm taking it all in - absorbing everything I can about this amazing profession we all fell in love with.

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7 Responses to Dispelling the black-hole myth

  1. jennifer

    I hear that, but what about accelerated 5-quarter programs? I really think it will be a whirlwind!

  2. Ani Burr Scrubs Blogger

    I agree, the accelerated programs are a whirlwind, and a lot of work. I have many friends that have gone through all types of programs, and still agree: you may need to have more study time and less “you” time, but in the end, having some time to yourself helps you stay grounded and keep you from burning out 3 quarters in.

  3. Matt

    I am finishing up my 2nd semester of an accelerated 16 month ADN-RN program. I heard all the same warnings. The first semester wasn’t too bad. I only studied an hour or two a day and never on Friday nights or Saturdays. I never felt overwhelmed once I got on a study schedule. Second semester has been a bit tougher since we just finished a semester of Med-Surg in 11 weeks. My study time increased about an hour a day but I never had to study past 2300 or on Saturdays. I made sure I had plenty of rest and a full day to decompress and relax. It is all on how you schedule your life. You can do it.

  4. I have been an RN for 2 years now, and thought I would never finish my BSN program; being married, having a full time job, kids….but, I made it through, learned a lot, discovered my passions within the field and pursued them. During orientation once accepted into the BSN program, we had to bring our families into a “lecture” regarding the rigor and ungodly time we would have to devote to the program; basically, give up our lives. I thought that was scary but by the middle of the !st sem, I got my groove. Don’t get me wrong, it was hard but worth it.
    As for the NCLEX, I hate to say this but I didn’t study, went in, was cut off around 80 questions and passed….So, pay attention in school and trust your instincts and knowledge.
    Although I don’t and don’t ever want to work in a hospital setting, community based rural clinics are the most inspirational, rewarding and challenging times to grow as a nurse and as a person.

  5. Rhonda

    I agree… our instructors made a big hairy deal of the time we would need to commit to study… and told us that we would not be able to work! (who has that luxury, over the age of 20? whomever you are, I am green with envy!) anyway, I worked, commuted, went to school & was caregiver to my Dad. On clinical days, I discovered the wonder of the morning energy drink! I didn’t do much extra study for the NCLEX, just reviewed, & passed no problem.
    Have no fear, if nursing is your calling, you will make it- just cram in some personal time at regular intervals. (it’s amazing how refreshing a couple hours NOT spent in a book or the skills lab can be!)

  6. sherri

    i am just starting out in the nursing program. i enjoyed your comments and needed to read them. thanks. now i know i can do this.

  7. lynn

    i was already an lpn when i signed on to take accelerated classes for associates. thru lpn school, when you saw me there was a book or notebook close at hand. this time i decided from the very first day, there would be family and me time. the first round of nursing school ended with a divorce and that was something i was warned about when i signed up for the classes. Most relationships don’t make it b/c of the time needed for studying/clinicals/stress related to studying and clinicals.ect ect. My current husband and I have a regular day set aside that no books are allowed concerning any type of classes.