The first semester of nursing school has been a whole new experience unto itself. I have perused nursing message boards and YouTube discovering that the consensus seems to be that the difficulties of nursing school are a fact of life. I believe that the curriculum is structured in such a way as to create stress intentionally. Nurses have to take care of many different types of people with a variety of problems. Some of these problems are life threatening and one wrong move on the part of the nurse could mean life or death.
I've also encountered attitudes about nursing that have made me want to scream. Like, "It's just caregiving..." Being a nurse isn't just caregiving. If you want to be a caregiver then go ahead and become one. There are many opportunities available in caregiving that don't involve the work of a nurse. Being in the first semester, I'm still figuring out what it is a nurse does.
What I have learned is that it is A LOT of work. Nurses work with other members of the health care team in developing ways to help people. To do this means being able to communicate with others of varying backgrounds, be empathetic but to remain objective. We have to put aside our problems when we're having a bad day to focus on the person we are helping. Nurses have to know how the body works, how different medications work, and how to look at the big picture while recalling the little details. We also have to remember all our basic skills and standard precautions to keep ourselves and the patient safe.
Nursing school is a lot more difficult than I expected. I didn't realize just how stressed out I was going to become. If you are an A student, be prepared that might not be the case in nursing school. There's just too much to learn in a short period of time. The program that I am in is competitive and fast paced. I can't speak of other programs. We began our clinical rotations a few weeks into this semester; some don't begin until almost the end of the first semester (if at all).
So far, it has been rewarding. I have had my very bad days when I have questioned if this is what I want. I've made mistakes! Stupid mistakes that make you go, "Oh my god, what if I made a mistake like this while working as a nurse?" Mistakes can get you booted from the program. In that regard, I feel it is too rigid. Everyone makes mistakes or as we first learned from The Joint Commission, "To Err is Human." To be a nurse, you have to be exceptionally intelligent but even intelligent people aren't perfect. We all have our areas of weakness: mine is anxiety.
I can know how to do something inside and out but once my teacher sets foot in the room; my palms begin to sweat and my heart begins to race. Did I know that I would be like this before classes started? No! One of the worst parts is that I feel it makes me look flighty and incapable. It's something I am working on but does that mean I shouldn't have the opportunity and time to work on it? What about the student that isn't a good test taker? Or the student that doesn't get the math right away? What is the point in beginning with new students if we've already invested in some that are working on their issues? I don't think it should be that unforgiving. We are in school after all. This is the time to learn what we need to know and become capable.
If several students barely pass the dosage calculations class, is that all on them or is there an issue in the curriculum or teaching? Accountability needs to take place across the spectrum. My English teacher allowed everyone to write their papers over until they got an A. I recall him stating, "If you don't get an A in this class that is on you." I wasn't a great writer when I started that class. I got an A because I kept re-writing until I figured it out. Maybe we need just a smidge of that kind of attitude in nursing school.
Well that is my rant for the day. I do have to say, nursing students (at least the ones in my class) are pretty awesome. They are some of the most caring and kind human beings I have encountered. I have hope that we will all pass and become nurses one day. The world needs people that care. We all have our stories of great nurses and unfortunately, there are stories of some bad experiences. I hope to be a good nurse and if I don't make it, I know I tried. That's really all you can do.