5 cold, hard truths of being a nursing student

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How badly do you really want it? Nursing school is not for the faint-hearted or weak-stomached. And, contrary to popular belief, nursing school is not a place for would-be medical school flunkies. It’s tough. It tests your intellect, but also challenges you emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Nursing students have to do more than just pass exams and tests. If you think you’re up for it, then you had better accept the following dirty little secrets:

1. You will have to prove your worth

You will prove it to your instructors, your fellow classmates and your family. You will have to prove yourself worthy to the staff nurses precepting you. You will have to prove yourself worthy to the physicians. You are being judged on a continuous, unrelenting cycle, every time you set foot in the classroom, every time you put on your uniform. Get used to it.

2. You will get crapped on

Literally and figuratively. Welcome to nursing. You will do a thankless job, even when you go above and beyond your responsibilities and your physical means. You will clean it up with your hands, and you will have to take it from some of the worst attitudes known to man. Get used to it.

3. You will never get comfortable

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. The minute you learn a new task or sharpen a new skill, another one will be given. The minute you get comfortable working with or working for someone, it will change. The minute you get comfortable, someone or something will make it uncomfortable. Welcome to nursing. Get used to it.

4. You will fail, miserably

You will not excel at everything; in fact, you may not excel at most things. There are times when just squeaking by will be an accomplishment. There will be concepts you will not get. There will be skills you will not be proficient at. Get used to it.

5. Get used to the “What the…?” feeling

That moment when the walls feel like they are closing in because you feel like the smallest person in the room. That feeling you get when you get the wind knocked out of your sails. The emotional scare you get when you fall backwards and you have no idea where and when you’ll fall. Yep, welcome to nursing. Get used to it.

Nursing school is not only a time and place to teach you the skills and knowledge you need to care for patients, it is also the time to weed out those who can’t hack it. It’s time to buck up and suck it up or move on.

And once you do make it out of nursing school? I promise that your crazy school experience will be 100%, completely worth it.

Any questions?

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6 Responses to 5 cold, hard truths of being a nursing student

  1. neonghost7 Student

    As long as you know that it’s hard then you should be fine. Assuming that it’s going to be this easy cake walk where you ace every single task you set out to do is unrealistic. So far my experience hasn’t been as terrible as this post shows it. But I was prepared. I knew that it was going to be hard and pretty stressful. I think starting with the understanding that it will be difficult has helped me. I have seen some who I thought would do fine completely crumble under the pressure and drop out. Try harder than your hardest, treat every single experience as a chance to learn, excel, and grow, and take it one day at a time and you’ll do fine. I think this article paints nursing school in a bad light, it may suck but its not life long.

  2. chanie911

    I didn’t expect it to be easy, but I definitely didn’t expect it to be SO hard–if for no other reason than the amount of work involved. (I’m a career-switcher, I’ve got a previous AA, BA, and MSW, so I know how to work hard, but this is a VERY different kind of work!)….I agree with everything written here, and don’t think it’s necessarily a “negative” article….For me, learning to be less than perfect, learning to be uncomfortable–those have been very beneficial for my personal growth (and probably make me a better team player).
    Having spent much time as a patient myself, I can say that not everyone who “can” be a nurse “should” be a nurse….I think anyone who is truly passionate about nursing would not be discouraged by these truths–nobody warned me, and I’m still in LOVE with nursing every step closer to graduation I get. At the same time, I see many of my classmates getting frustrated, or cutting corners, or dropping out (or being asked to leave)…maybe they are stronger students, even, but when it comes to this field, brains aren’t the be-all and end-all.
    Just my 2 cents….

    • bigtwister

      Nursing is a second career for me too after 25 years in the IT field. I like how you say nursing school is all about learning how to be less than perfect, so true. I have been a nurse for four years now and I can say with all honestly that nursing school was the hardest thing I ever did and the accomplishment I am most proud.

  3. billymayhem

    This semester (just finished) was amazingly difficult. Even though finals are over and my clinical finished Thursday, I can’t stop feeling like I have chapters to read, tests tostudy for, or an ATI module due. I dream of IV catheters and Alaris pumps. There’s a constant feeling of being behind schedule and never being able to catch your breath. My patho class felt like three classes shoved into one semester. I am tired and weary and I haven’t seen friends or family for more than tiny visits in months. And you know what? I wouldn’t change one thing. This has been one of the hardest experiences of my life and, I might not love every minute, I love the fact that I am doing it. Strive on fellow students. Its a bumpy ride but a great destination!

  4. Wlk4life

    Keep up the good work, your almost done

  5. A__Rogers

    This is awful, I’m a nursing student and it is nothing like this. Nursing is a wonderfully encouraging career where most people do appreciate the work you do. Even only being students we help to save lives every day and people are thankful for that. People need to focus more on the positive parts of nursing rather than discouraging anyone who may think about going into it. Maybe it’s different in the US but in England we’re short on nurses and yes, people need to understand it’s not an easy thing to do, but there are certainly more positive things to focus on than ‘being crapped on’ etc.