Nurses Share 10 Critical Tips They Never Learned in Nursing School

Sponsor Promoted Content by Rasmussen College
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    Becoming a nurse is long and sometimes arduous journey. It takes years of schooling and healthy doses of patience, persistence and poise. But the pathway to greatness in nursing is paved with experience. Let’s face it, new nurses don’t know what they don’t know. These experts shed some light on the things they don’t teach you in nursing school.

    Nurses Share 10 Critical Tips They Never Learned in Nursing School

    You spent years pulling all night study sessions, learning the miracles of the human body and overcoming your shock reflex. Passing the NCLEX was the best day of your professional life, but your first day on the job can make it seem like you might have made the wrong career choice.

    But let’s face it — there’s only so much you can learn from a textbook. That’s why we asked veteran nurses to share the lessons they learned the hard way. Here’s what they had to say.

    Tips they don’t teach you in nursing school

    1. You have to swallow your pride…
    “A cantankerous patient was asking for all sorts of unnecessary things and berating everyone who came into her room. I decided to swallow my pride and irritation, ignore more pressing priorities and get my patient that second cup of coffee she wanted. Her whole demeanor changed — she just wanted to know that someone cared. She didn’t have any more petty requests for the rest of the day, and even her vital signs improved.<br>
    - Nick Angelis, CRNA, MSN

    2. You’ll eventually be able to stomach anything…
    “Within a week of working as a nurse, I guarantee you'll be able to eat your lunch while listening to your coworker tell a story about his or her worst ‘Code Brown’ experience. You won't push your lunch away, you won't gag, you won't even blink an eye. You'll be laughing!”
    - Natalie Kathol, CRN

    3. You WILL make mistakes…
    “The most earth-shattering realization for me is that no one ever told me that I would never ‘arrive.’ In school I thought I’d arrive once I finished. Then I thought I’d arrive after a few years’ experience.

    But after I made an enormous error and had a terrifying near miss, I realized that I was standing on an abyss of all the clinical knowledge that I would never know. That is when the thought first occurred to me that perhaps you never arrive and you just keep learning and developing.”
    - Nicole Nash-Arnold of Nurse Manager HQ

    4. You’re so much more than a nurse
    “In school, you learn about anatomy and diagnostics. But there's a reason why almost everyone loves nurses. We are often the first line of defense. We protect, defend and advocate for our patients. We hug relatives and friends. We are cheerleaders. We explain all we can. And we never stop. This isn't something you can necessarily learn just from a book or guest lecture. Our experience and our experiences make us who we are as individuals and colleagues.”
    - Josie Vega, RN, Menorah Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing Care

    5. Follow your hunches…
    “I worked on a telemetry floor and a [physician assistant] removed a patient's pacing wires after heart surgery. Afterwards, the patient felt sick and nauseated. I told the PA something was wrong and kept calling up the chain of command.

    Sure enough, the patient needed emergency surgery for cardiac tamponade, which would have killed the patient in a few more minutes. The key with hunches is to eliminate impossible choices and examine improbable ones.”
    - Nick Angelis, CRNA, MSN

    6. You have to manage your time…
    “One of the things I never truly learned in nursing school was how to be proficient in time management and team building. As a registered nurse, I worked 12-hour shifts and didn’t have time for a personal break. At first, I felt there was never enough time to get everything done and do a good job. As my capacity for teamwork evolved, so did my time management skills and general joy for a career in nursing. As a result of this progression, my patients received better care.”
    - Susan Finsaas, national health services director at The Goodman Group

    7. You never stop learning…
    “Don't think you're done learning just because you graduated. There are STILL medical diagnoses and medications I am looking up and researching! And that's OK! Keep looking things up! Also join your local or state nursing chapter sooner rather than later! Get involved! Go to meetings. Read nursing journals. I wish I would have sooner.”
    - Natalie Kathol, CRN

    8. Sometimes you need to negotiate with patients…
    “A wheelchair-bound alcoholic wanted to go home but there was a blizzard outside and nobody to deliver him safely. How could I get him to stay in the hospital for the night? The nuns called me down to care for him in the ER. Despite objections of the staff, I asked a guard for a coat and the man said, ‘I’m not wearing any coat.’ I said, ‘The coat is not for you, it's for me. The blankets they just got are for you. I'm here to wheel you home.’

    With more objections, the nuns hushed everyone. As soon as he could see through the glass doors to the blizzard outside, he asked if it would be OK to spend the night instead of going home.”
    - Jonathan Steele, RN executive director

    9. You’ll bring work home with you…
    “I wish I had learned more about the emotional aspects of nursing. When your shift ends, the laughs, tears and heartaches don't disappear. It's important to learn coping skills and have mentors who can offer you tools until you develop your own.”
    - Josie Vega, RN, Menorah Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing Care

    10. You have to trust yourself…
    “In nursing school, you don't learn that rampant paranoia diminishes your ability to become a good nurse. Calling a physician over trivial matters or insisting that dire complications are around the corner clouds rational judgment.”
    - Nick Angelis, CRNA, MSN

    What do you wish you learned?
    Experience is a nurse’s best friend — and some lessons just can’t be taught in the classroom. They must be learned firsthand. What do you wish you’d learned before becoming a nurse? What did you have to learn the hard way after nursing school? Share your story with us in the comments
    Last edit by Brian S. on Jun 3, '16

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    About Rasmussen College

    The Rasmussen College School of Nursing offers career-focused degree options that can help launch or advance your nursing profession. With a curriculum that is continuously evaluated and updated to include the most advanced patient-care procedures, you’ll have both the insight and skills you need to improve the health and well-being of your patients. Follow our Nursing Blog for educational, engaging and entertaining industry-related content: http://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/nursing/blog/

    This is a sponsored article brought to you by allnurses.com in conjunction with the advertiser. The views expressed in this article are those of the advertiser and do not necessarily reflect allnurses.com, its parent company, or its staff.

    9 Comments so far...

  3. by   FolksBtrippin
    These are not tips.
  4. by   Guest12/13/16
    Anyone else find it ironic that content about what they don't teach you in nursing school is sponsored by a nursing school? LOL
  5. by   FranEMTnurse
    How true. I believe we learn more by being on the job than in the classroom which is an area to learn the basics of nursing.
  6. by   elkpark
    Quote from lnvitale
    These are not tips.
    The "article" is just an excuse to get their advertising blurb at the bottom of the article seen.
  7. by   kbrn2002
    8. Sometimes you need to negotiate with patients…
    “A wheelchair-bound alcoholic wanted to go home but there was a blizzard outside and nobody to deliver him safely. How could I get him to stay in the hospital for the night? The nuns called me down to care for him in the ER. Despite objections of the staff, I asked a guard for a coat and the man said, ‘I’m not wearing any coat.’ I said, ‘The coat is not for you, it's for me. The blankets they just got are for you. I'm here to wheel you home.’

    With more objections, the nuns hushed everyone. As soon as he could see through the glass doors to the blizzard outside, he asked if it would be OK to spend the night instead of going home.”
    - Jonathan Steele, RN executive director

    At least this one made a chuckle a bit. What would he have done if the patient said "OK then, let's go!"
  8. by   Libby1987
    I'm not a fan of these marketing articles and I don't think these tips have any teeth.

    Here's we one I wish schools would preach with conviction, before they take your money..

    Plan your life around your first 1-2 years in a nursing role and treat it like boot camp. You will need to continue outside education on your own dime in anything that is challenging you at work whether that be time mgmt, coping with anxiety, difficulty handling scared and/or angry patients/families etc.

    School in no way prepares you for nursing in this decade. Don't plan a marriage or kids in the first year if you can help it. And if you already have either or both of those, your time investment to learning the basics of your new trade doesn't come close to stopping when you graduate. Work life balance comes after you've established a nursing career and if you can grasp that, embrace it even, you will set yourself up for a career that you manage versus it running you.
  9. by   All4NursingRN
    These "tips" don't even crack the surface. Nursing school is a joke compared to real life practice. I personally believe nursing schools curriculum need major reform. Want some real life career tips from a real nurse. # 1 BIGGEST token....realize you can't always satisfy people, whether it's your manager, patient, colleague. Do your best and screw the rest.
  10. by   Broinpgs
    Now THAT is a tip they should tell you week one in school.
  11. by   elkpark
    Quote from Libby1987
    School in no way prepares you for nursing in this decade.
    (To me, the sad thing is that nursing school did used to prepare students well for the reality of nursing practice and to enter practice and begin functioning.)


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