16 things I remember from nursing school

Image: Comstock | Thinkstock

It’s only been half a decade, but nursing school seems so long ago. Let me rephrase that – me as a student nurse seems almost unbelievable.

I mean in the past 5 years I have grown so much as a nurse and as a professional that when I think about myself as a nurse back then I am just speechless at how much I DID NOT know. Not only that – but I had no idea how much I would learn.

I thought nursing school was THE ‘ticket’ – after nursing school I would be ready. Boy was I wrong. But the ‘me’ now (meaning me as nurse) wants to stay as grounded as possible, so I’m remembering all the ‘highlights’ from nursing that were (clearing my throat) eye-opening and just down-right side-stitching laugh-out-loud entertaining. At least they are now.

I remember from nursing school:

  1. How much I hated looking like a walking Q-tip (students wore all white uniforms)
  2. My very first stethoscope – boy it was horribly heavy
  3. The concept of the stethoscope being put in your ears properly – I didn’t get that at first. LOL
  4. Learning to give my first bed bath (people get baths in bed? Really?)
  5. Learning to give my first subcutaneous injection to an orange (that poor orange)
  6. Starting my very first IV on a patient as she sat up at the bedside and cried in horror (true story)
  7. Learning that the arm above the toilets only worked when you lowered them down (yes – I ducked the first time I used it)
  8. Lowering the patient’s bed is a good thing (I left it sky high once – and forgot)
  9. Hanging my first IV fluids and IV antibiotic (I thought it was the coolest thing in the world)
  10. EKG’s scared the bejesus outta me at first (PQRST? What the heck does the alphabet have to do with those lines?)
  11. Taking a blood pressure in front of my instructors ( I dropped the cuff twice – my palms were sweaty)
  12. My first subcutaneous injection given to a ‘real’ patient (I was shaking)
  13. My obnoxiously large clipboard that carried everything to clinicals (it had pockets, a calculator, ruler, calculations, etc)
  14. Looking up all those darn drugs for clinicals each day (I lost a lot of sleep)
  15. Care plans became the devil (I lost even more sleep)
  16. Time management took on a whole new meaning (I really wanted someone to invent the 30 + hour day – 24 just wasn’t enough)

And I remembered, and am reminded every day, that not everyone could do this job.

How about you? What do you remember from nursing school?

, , , , , , , ,

Scrubs Editor

The Scrubs Staff would love to hear your ideas for stories! Please submit your articles or story ideas to us here.

Post a Comment

You must or register to post a comment.

30 Responses to 16 things I remember from nursing school

  1. Victor

    I remember the fear of realizing on the first day, that watching every episode of ER would get me nowhere.

  2. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Victor LOL. Nice!

  3. Pingback: Change of Shift « NursesNetwork

  4. Elisabeth

    What I remember? Being given everyone’s obs to do, every ECG going, and being put on the spot for drug calcs and not being able to work them out because I’m too busy being nervous!

  5. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Elisabeth – Oh yes, I remember that feeling!

  6. Monica

    I completely agree with the IV meds one. When I spiked my first IV bag at clinical, I think that was the moment I felt like I was on my way. Lol

  7. megan

    Ugh…care plans….they are my worst enemy!

  8. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Megan – no argument there.

  9. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Monica Yes – it was quite ‘the moment’.

  10. Grace

    hitting the call bell and wondering why 25 frantic people run into the room and bring in the crash cart with them

  11. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Grace – I actually had to sit and think about that one! That’s too funny! Thanks for sharing.

  12. NurseNancy

    Concept maps…shudder…anyone else out there have to do those??

  13. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ NurseNancy – I would take a concept map over a care plan any day! LOL

  14. Laura

    I knew I could do this, no matter how many times I crashed, I just knew it would work for me.

  15. Claudia

    When I first became an RN I had already worked in the ER for several years as an LPN. So the IV therapist (remember them?) took me out for a day and I started 9/10 lines so she passed me. So here I am in the cardiac room of the ER with a LOL in NAD who needs a routine line. I get everything set up and just as I make the skin puncture a male patient,dressed only in jockey shorts, rolled into the room with an assortment of orderlies/aids/security/ Docs trying to gain control. Needless to say I missed the line. The LOL says “Oh honey, don’t up have a tranquilizer gun?” Could have used one then and several times during my 15 years in the ER. Priceless advice form a LOL in NAD

  16. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Claudia Well said, thanks for sharing your story!

  17. Teresa

    I remember being in the midst of my first set of clinicals as a nursing student. The nurse I was working with sent me in to collect a urine specimen from a man with a Foley catheter. I told her I wasn’t sure I knew how but she said to just collect it from the “port.” I went in and came back out with a syringe of awfully clear-looking “urine” and sent it to the lab. When I went back into the patient’s room a half hour later, I found the catheter laying on the floor. I asked him what had happened and he replied, “I dunno. It just fell out.” (Turns out when I had collected the urine, I had pulled it from the wrong port. My “specimen” was actually the sterile water that is used to inflate the balloon tip when placing a Foley…. My silly teacher just laughed and said, “Well, now you get the experience of putting a catheter back in!” I was mortified.

  18. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Teresa – You are not alone on that experience, I for one had a class mate do that, and I also have heard others with similar stories.
    It’s funny now, but to me it’s bad precepting/teaching. You can now pass your knowledge onto the next student and beginning first year about your experience.
    So in the end it was a good thing! Thanks for sharing.

  19. Monica RN

    I remember during our peds rotation our professor made us try any liquid meds we gave to a patient. I don’t know how I ever took any of those when I was young, or how the patients didn’t puke everytime I gave it to them!

  20. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Monica I can’t say I was expecting that scenario? Wow.

  21. Melissa

    I remember giving my first insulin injection and feeling like I was the coolest ever…lol

  22. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    @ Melissa – didn’t we all!

  23. Kristine

    I remember the clinical where I learned rectal tubes (yes, it was that long ago) were not one time use only like foleys.. My instructor brought me in to re-insert one, and when I whipped it out of the package the previous nurse had replaced it in, liquid stool flew in an arc… right onto my instructors white scrubs. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry! I think I did both.

    • Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

      @Kristine – Oh I think we all have that kind of ‘instructor’ story. I know I do!

  24. Mscott Student

    I am a current 1st semester nursing student and find your trip down memory lane encouraging. Just this week I was so proud of myself for giving not one, but two insulin injections. I also dressed some wounds on a resident’s feet and was feeling pretty accomplished until the CNAs reported that the dressings didn’t stay and needed to be redone – 3 times.

  25. NenaMataHari CNA

    CNA training forgetting to put those bed rails back up. My classmates would say “Uh oh, your resident just fell out of bed and you’re in big trouble, missy!”

  26. Abby Student

    My first cna clinicals, I was assigned to a double amputee. I was giving a bed bath, and only uncovered one part at a time like I was supposed to. So then I said, “Now I’m going to wash your legs.” I move the cover and just then I noticed that my instructor was standing there. I was mortified. Now I’m getting ready for my first nursing clinicals, and I feel like I’m ready for anything

  27. Nana

    1. I remember being yelled at because I shook the top sheet in the air when making a bed. Spreading germs all around. 2. Being proposed to by a psych patient. 3. Uniforms washed by hospital starched so stiff you had to peel sleeves apart to wear them.

  28. Mommynator Student

    My first patient during my first semester was recovering from a stroke and was making good progress with walking. A couple of weeks down the line, we took a turn around the unit. He then sat in his wheelchair for awhile then wanted to go back to bed. So I did everything technically correctly – got him close to the bed, allowed him to stand up on his own and was getting ready to help him turn to sit on the bed when he passed out and started to go down. I was able to grab him in a hug and squatted with him until one of my fellow students ran to get the nurse who called a rapid response. I couldn’t lift him, I just had to squat there with him until several people came and were able to help me lift him into the bed. We nursing students weren’t worth the dirt on the nurses’ shoes until that point. I saved them a whole lot of paperwork and explanations by not letting my patient fall down.

  29. wcollins0043

    Giving a bed bath in clinical a and telling the resident your going to wash their feet before pulling back the cover to see they are a double amputee and that was a pillow under the cover. Actually happened i still feel bad about it.