5 real-life tips for the back-to-school nursing student

Shutterstock | Syda ProductionsShutterstock | Syda Productions

Got your notebooks? How about your extra flash drives? Have you ironed your scrubs? Are your pencils sharpened? Have you sold a chunk of your liver to pay for the Cecil Medicine you’ll be using for the next four years?

Good. I’m going to give you some real-life tips on surviving nursing school. Ready?

1. Do not be a hero. Get one of those rolling bags to haul around your books and supplies. I carried a backpack back in the day, only to calculate about six weeks before I graduated that it had, at its lightest, weighed about one-third of what I did. This is bad for you. Rolling bags, people—they’ll save your back and your sanity.

2. Get some good shoes. Get two pairs and change ’em out regularly. Next to your back, your feet are the most important things in your life as a nurse. It pays to take care of them from the start.

3. PRINT OUT EVERYTHING YOU WRITE. I’m not usually shouty, but this time I’ll make an exception. Nursing instructors are even more frazzled and overcommitted than you are, and thus tend to lose your work. Extra flash drives and backups aren’t enough; you should have something in hard copy for every assignment you turn in.

4. Be prepared to kiss your life goodbye for a while. What this means in practice is that the simpler you can make things, the better. Don’t waste brain space on dressing or eating; carve those routine things down to their most basic elements. You’ll have time to go shopping at The Rack and cook gourmet meals during Christmas vacation.

I have saved the most important thing for last:

5. You will survive this, you will pass the NCLEX, you will eventually learn time management and skills. It’s much, much easier to be a nurse than it is to be a nursing student. Keep yourself focused on the goal, and ruthlessly cull out those people who don’t help you get there. Cultivate those people who can and do help. And have somebody else host Thanksgiving this year, even if it’s your turn.

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