Despite this comprehensive academic coverage and experience in clinical rotations, there are certain things about a nursing career that you often don’t learn in a classroom setting. Check out these lessons that students may not find in the curriculum:
1. Many of your clinical skills develop once you start working
While nursing school covers the technical side of this profession, registered nurses may still experience moments where they’re left clueless about how to complete a task. A study published in the journal BioMed Central Nursing elaborated on this point. Researchers used focus groups to review opinions of 90 nurses. The study authors found that these individuals viewed their clinical education as insufficient, which led to anxiety and feelings of incompetency.
Of course, all new employees experience some levels of unfamiliarity, but lack of experience may weigh more heavily on emotions and confidence in the health care industry. That said, nursing schools do not have the capabilities to teach every single component of health care. Not only would this level of education require far more than four years, but health care professionals constantly see new issues arise.
Take the Zika virus, for example. Experts from the University of California, Los Angeles discovered that this virus’s rapid mutation makes it more dangerous and able to affect people across the world at an exceptionally fast rate. While their research has led to new findings, it also raises more questions, which means no one — nursing school professors, health care workers or otherwise — has definitive answers. Because of this inevitable uncertainty, nurses must adapt to new information as it arrives while working in the field. It is important, then, for RNs to take advantage of every learning opportunity.
2. How to deal with all the job-related emotions
As you know, nursing is no walk in the park. Patients come to you on their worst days — perhaps they just got in a car accident or experienced a bout of pneumonia. This inevitably affects how they treat you and other health care professionals, which can take a serious toll on your emotions. While nursing school certainly doesn’t sugar coat the life of an RN, many individuals in this career find themselves without the right tools to bounce back from a bad day. The evidence lies in burnout rates.
A study published in the Online Journal of Issues in Nursing (OJIN) found that nurses “cover up” feelings as the main tactic for handling emotions on the job. Meanwhile, 69 percent of nurses who employ this tactic experience high rates of burnout. This extreme emotional labor could push nurses out of their jobs, revealing how effective stress management for nurses serves both health care professionals and their patients.