First week in classes. Mental meltdown.

  1. 1
    Hello, I am in the RN program. I worked very hard to get in and was one of the thirty nursing students selected out of 400 applicants. The program I am in is just so overwhelming. I thought that if I could make it in and beat out all the other applicants I could do this.

    However, on my first day I was told any grade lower than a 78% is flunking and if I receive 3 or more 78% or lower scores I will be dropped from the program. I put my two weeks in at my job to allow me to focus on school solely. I am blessed that I still live at home and don't have to pay rent.

    I also have to pass a practicum in October with at least a 93% or I fail out. I am so scared I can't do this. Does any one have any tips on how to keep calm and study or any advice on how I can succeed? I want this so bad.
    Last edit by Joe V on Aug 26, '12 : Reason: spacing
    Joe V likes this.

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  2. 19 Comments...

  3. 6
    These are typical requirements of nursing schools. Think of how many people per year graduate from NS: you can do this. Put in the time studying and you will pass.
  4. 7
    I'm there with you. At the end of my first week I pretty much went into full panic mode about all the things that would lead to my failure. I think it's normal to see the mountain of work that you're responsible to master, feel like you won't meet the expectations, and totally freak out. You just have to take it one day at a time and just stay on top of your reading and studying.

    If you haven't done it yet, then you need to organize your days. Make a schedule. You have 24 hours to work with. How many do you need to devote to sleep? Don't skim on it. It's important to keeping you healthy, focused, and feeling mentally good. So after sleeping hours, split up the hours left to organize your waking time. There are fixed hours like class time and traveling to class. Work with the rest of your hours to set up a routine for eating time, play time (you still need some fun!), other life responsibilities, exercise time (at least a walk for your overall well being), and then of course hours of study time. When you set up a routine where you know you will study between, say, 4pm and 6pm with 10 minute breaks within each hour, then you will make a point of studying every day. This is what's worked for me. Especially because I quit my job and it felt like I had both too much time and not enough time. A schedule was just muddy in my head but after I broke it down on paper it put more focus on my strategy. I think I felt overwhelmed at first because I had a vague idea of what I needed to do and not enough direction on how to do it.

    I have several study chunks in my day with other activities in between. So I study for about 5-7 hours a day, on average. I felt so overwhelmed with the amount of reading but after I set up a schedule for myself, it felt like I was making progress. I'd check off the chapters in my syllabus and I felt like I was moving forward. So that would be my advice to you. Organize!

    Ok, so I've rambled on a bit but bear with me a little longer. Because the second thing I felt was that even though I was doing all the reading, it didn't seem like I was retaining enough info or actually understanding it. So when I get to a point where I feel caught up with the reading, I devote some of my study time to review. I make flash cards to review on my own, ask someone to quiz me, and do all the critical thinking and multiple choice q's at the end of every chapter. Do I remember every single little thing and definition in the book? No. Did I think I had to? Yes. But those were my own expectations, not my instructor's. So I got over it and started to focus more on mastering the material in lecture and in the power points. Read the chapter for an overall idea, hone in your studying to the material your instructor focuses on.

    Finally, I started a study group and that's been helpful to verbalize my understanding of the material and to get other perspectives. One of the girls in the group is so good with those NCLEX types of q's so it helped me start to understand that kind of style when she explained her thinking and rationale. Oh, and there are two book I found helpful in just understanding the structure of those types of q's. They're called Fundamentals Success and Test Success. They have previews of the book on Amazon and even the stuff you can see without buying is really eye opening. So that might also help with your anxiety.

    And breathe! Good luck!
    Nurse2b7337, lovedijah, yolandaoz, and 4 others like this.
  5. 3
    Yeah, this is not uncommon. Just take it one day at a time. Your instructors want you to succeed, and they will teach you what you need to know. Just remember, you were accepted out of 400! That means admissions liked what they saw in your application. Good luck!
    yolandaoz, mustlovemars, and runforfun like this.
  6. 1
    You need to figure out an organization system and a plan for yourself. All NS have this type of grading system. I have been in school 1 week as well, and have taken 2 tests, 2 lab checkoffs and am studying for the 2 tests that I must complete in 1 and 1/2 weeks. This is fast paced and hard. But, you are smart to remind yourself that you beat out 370 other people. Never forget that when you are struggling mentally!
    mustlovemars likes this.
  7. 1
    Thank you for all of your very insightful information Willoita! It was very helpful as was everyone's replies so thank you to everyone.

    I do have the book Fundamentals of Success and a Rationale book. They are very helpful.

    5-7 hours a night is very intense. I was told about 4 hrs a night and thought that was crazy! I definitely need to be studying more.

    I seem to retain information when I am very interested in it. Anatomy is pretty easy so far but my Fundamentals Class is killing me so far. It is a bunch of Nursing Theories and Paradigms. Not so interesting and very hard to study.

    I'm most nervous about my practicum that I have to pass in October with at least a 93% or I fail. Luckily, we get 3 tries.

    So I will definitely need to be studying more. Thanks for all your help!
    yolandaoz likes this.
  8. 2
    Ive found out that the first week of every new semester if nursing school is overwhelming, trust me as the first 2 or 3 weeks pass it be ones routine and less stressful.
    yolandaoz and rainyn like this.
  9. 1
    You can do it! We have to make an 80% or higher in my program. Good luck!
    yolandaoz likes this.
  10. 3
    I, too, know the feeling of absolute panic that sets in once nursing school starts. I have had to retake more pre-reqs that I'd ever want to admit, and I still passed my 1st semester of nursing school. It was not easy, and for awhile I was on the fence worrying I would not get the required 80 or better needed to pass.

    The best thing you can do is stay on top or ahead of your assignments. Reading is the best study method for me; so figure out what works best for you if haven't already. Then make a list of all the readings you have to do and when you want to have them done by. Do the same for all other assignments, such as drug cards, care plans, or papers. If your readings list says, read: Chapters 1-3; watch DVD module 1-4, Skills workbook 1-6 (demonstrates how to do skills like insert a catheter) - do ALL of it. All the information will be the same, presented 3 different ways for you to retain the info which you will be tested on eventually.

    Also (this will vary depending on your school) but we had quizzes every week in lab, and there were at least 4 quizzes I could have gotten hundreds on had I just triple checked my answers. Even though I did check twice, it wasn't until we were going over the answers that I realized I didn't fully answer the question, or the answer was wrong and I just didn't realize it. My quiz grades are what saved me at the end of the semester; so do as well as you can on those - they are relatively easy. (Ours were 10 questions with varying question types; such as fill-in-the-blank, multiple choice, 2 parts, etc).

    I had to retake my medication practicum 3x before I passed! But I'm glad I had to do it that many times because I learned something new each time; something that I will remember forever now. Our practicums were pass/fail - how do they grade you on your practicums?

    Before I started, someone a semester ahead told me they lost about 20 students out of 60. When I told my uncle this he said: "Well, there's still more people in than out." (My class ended up losing about 20 people after the end of the semester, but judging by the pictures from previous graduating classes only about half of us will graduate. At least when we were supposed to, you can repeat and only end up a semester behind, but you can only repeat twice before being dropped from the program) The people who aren't going to make it are the ones who just don't do the work; others will have unexpected life events that force them to drop. It doesn't mean they won't eventually become nurses. I have a learning disability, if I can do this - you can do this. Even if you don't make it the first time around, you'll get there eventually. Good luck!
    lovedijah, yolandaoz, and willowita like this.
  11. 1
    Just wanted to add something quickly, that I found to be very helpful. I color coded my text books on the reading list. Every time it was Fundamentals, I highlighted it yellow, Lab text, Skills book, and DVD all got another color. So every time I wrote the assignment in my planner/agenda/calendar it got the corresponding highlighter color. So instead of having to read what I wrote I could just see I needed the yellow text book, and then I focused on completing whatever the assignment was for the book. Once it was done I crossed it out. Then I went to green book assignment, then pink, and so on.
    yolandaoz likes this.

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