Focus on the Positive

by TheCommuter Senior Moderator

4,360 Views | 12 Comments

Be cognizant that people have the tendency to place more emphasis on negative incidents, especially when discussing nursing school. In fact, the term ‘negative bias’ describe the trend by which people concentrate more on negative experiences while paying less attention to positive or neutral experiences. This article is a reminder to focus on the positive.

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    Focus on the Positive

    People in society generally focus on the negative gloom and doom, even in the presence of positivity, good news or favorable statistics. In fact, professionals in the field of psychology have coined the term ‘negative bias’ to describe the trend by which people concentrate more on negative experiences while paying less attention to positive or neutral experiences.

    For instance, a highly skilled clinical instructor may generate a small handful of positive references from students when she demonstrates how to start a peripheral IV on a patient during clinical rotations in a local acute care hospital. However, the same instructor will generate negative feedback from almost every student during a particularly stressful clinical shift because she snapped at one of their classmates who had made a mistake. For some reason, the negative stuff quickly becomes a part of our long term memories while the positive stuff is tossed aside.

    Or, to flip the coin, an excellent student who usually receives ‘A’ grades is well-regarded by her professors until, one day, she storms into an instructor’s office screaming about a poor test grade. This student has probably done 1,000+ positive things in the two years she has been in the nursing program, but this one negative incident is what faculty members will remember her for.

    I have comprised a list of negative myths surrounding the nursing school experience. Although each person’s experience is unique, I would say that people routinely overdo the level of difficulty regarding specific tests, exams, skills and proficiencies.

    1. Nursing school is the hardest thing in life itself!

    In reality, nursing school is not as bad as many people make it out to be. I am cognizant that we all come to the table with different types of academic preparation. For example, the person who took college prep, honors, and advanced placement courses in high school might have a sturdier foundation and better study skills than the individual who dropped out in ninth grade, earned a GED at age 40, and has not attended school in more than 20 years. Even though nursing school involves plenty of reading, acquisition of new skills, multiple tests, and lots of work, I would not say that it is the hardest thing ever.

    2. NCLEX is hard!

    The statistics indicate that 85 percent of US-educated nurses pass the NCLEX on the first attempt. In other words, four out of five test takers pass NCLEX on their first try. The vast majority of nursing school graduates pass without having to repeatedly take it. Contrary to popular belief, this test is not as difficult as many people would lead you to believe. With good test taking skills, solid preparation, and techniques to reduce test anxiety, the NCLEX is conquerable.

    3. Nursing school leads to breakups and divorce.

    Some students have split apart from their significant others while in nursing school due to stress that exacerbated an already fragile relationship. In reality, school is not going to lead to separation or divorce if the relationship is strong to begin with. Moreover, if a couple breaks up, one or both parties might unfairly blame the stressors of nursing school when the root cause was something else (infidelity, lack of communication, emotional detachment, unsupportive spouse, et cetera).

    As you continue through school, be aware that people have the tendency to place more emphasis on negative incidents. Do your part by placing equal emphasis on positive and equal experiences and, most importantly, do not believe everything you hear. Good luck to you.
    Last edit by Joe V on Feb 26, '13
    LadyFree28, EmpRN, carakristin1, and 12 others like this.
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  3. About TheCommuter

    TheCommuter is a moderator of allnurses.com and has varied workplace experiences upon which to draw for her articles. She was an LPN/LVN for four years prior to becoming a registered nurse.

    TheCommuter joined Feb '05 - from 'Fort Worth, Texas, USA'. Age: 33 TheCommuter has '8' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'acute rehab, long term care, and psych'. Posts: 26,902 Likes: 37,850; Learn more about TheCommuter by visiting their allnursesPage Website


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    12 Comments so far...

  4. 1
    Very nicely written.
    herring_RN likes this.
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    But Commuter, we all know that reality checks are so... so... unfair!!
    LadyFree28, tnmarie, and ShyeoftheTiger like this.
  6. 4
    Quote from GrnTea
    But Commuter, we all know that reality checks are so... so... unfair!!
    LOL!

    I know I might sound a little harsh here, but I sometimes get the impression that people take comfort in not owning up to personal flaws. As long as it is somebody else's fault (or something else's fault), some people feel reassured. For example, if someone repeatedly fails NCLEX, it is sometimes more comforting to believe that the exam is unfairly difficult, even when the vast majority of nurses educated in the US pass on the first try.
    LadyFree28, tnmarie, herring_RN, and 1 other like this.
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    In your article you state "Contrary to popular belief, this test is not as difficult as many people would lead you to believe. With good test taking skills, solid preparation, and techniques to reduce test anxiety, the NCLEX is conquerable. " Could you elaborate a bit more on the last sentence, because I surely thought it was difficult and I was well prepared. Unfortunately I didn't pass the first time. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
    herring_RN likes this.
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    Quote from torresm13
    In your article you state "Contrary to popular belief, this test is not as difficult as many people would lead you to believe. With good test taking skills, solid preparation, and techniques to reduce test anxiety, the NCLEX is conquerable. " Could you elaborate a bit more on the last sentence, because I surely thought it was difficult and I was well prepared. Unfortunately I didn't pass the first time. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
    I completed an LPN-to-RN bridge program with horrid first-time NCLEX pass rates of 47% in 2007, 56% in 2008, and 59% in 2009. Prior to my completion of the program, the school's nursing program was placed on warning status by the state board of nursing for consistently low first-time NCLEX pass rates.

    I knew that, if I wanted to pass NCLEX on the first attempt, I would have to over-study because my nursing program was obviously not doing a good job at preparing previous graduating classes. The school paid for all students to attend a four-day Kaplan live NCLEX prep class, which I attended. I also paid to attend a four-day live Hurst Review. I also performed self-study by answering questions out of the Saunders review book. I also had access to questions and review tests through the online Kaplan QBank.

    I treated my NCLEX-RN preparation like a part-time job and passed with 75 questions on my first attempt. I used self-study to pass NCLEX-PN with 85 questions.
    LadyFree28, tnmarie, herring_RN, and 2 others like this.
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    All Nurses really had me hyped up about the NCLEX. I was stressing out about it before I even started nursing school.

    A couple weeks ago I realized that of all the nurses I know in real life, not one has failed the NCLEX. Not one. Odds are, I won't either.

    I'm a lot more relaxed about it now
    LadyFree28, tnmarie, and GrnTea like this.
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    When I taught the Kaplan review courses there were ten sessions, of which 5 were med/surg and 1 was the practice exam review. I taught all 6 of those, leaving peds, psych, and OB to someone else. The first session at introduction time I always asked them what the pass rate for NCLEX was in our state. The answers came back timidly, "50%?" "45%?" "60%?" At the time it was well north of 90%, with most schools at 95-99%. They didn't always believe me when I said that. OK, said I to myself, I'll take another track.

    "Tell me about your nursing faculty. Easy-going bunch, right? Let a lot of things slide, passing was, what, 65 in your program?" Now they really looked at me like I had two heads. "No way," was the most printable response.

    "OK, then. This tough bunch decided to let you graduate and become nurses. You passed a difficult course of study with a (75-76-78) average. The pass rate here is better than 9/10. So ..."

    Still true.
    Last edit by Joe V on Feb 28, '13 : Reason: removed
    herring_RN and TheCommuter like this.
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    I truly enjoyed your posting and you are absolutely right many times the negative can completely cloud our ability to appreciate the good that is part of our life and even the blessings that are in our future. I listen to a gentleman by the name of Les Brown who says it best we all have greatness within. We need to begin to have positive conversation within ourselves in order to reprogram our way of thinking in order to truly be successful. here is a video i think is truly fantastic i hope you guys like it think it will help many reassess your goals. Les Brown - Unwrap Your Infinite Greatness - YouTube << Youtube Les Brown
    LadyFree28, EmpRN, and herring_RN like this.
  12. 1
    I agree that the negative can often times overwhelm the positive. I try to look at life with a glass have full instead of half empty but a full glass of wine is the best way to live . I'm happy that my program is challenging and that we have to work hard to pass. If this was an easy profession then the patients would suffer the most from incompetence and poor nursing care. At our school we learn from the beginning that attitude is everything and body language speaks volumes to patients, staff, instructors and fellow students. If you go in with a bad attitude then it brings down everyone and doesn't help anyone. If you learn from mistakes, pick yourself up and approach life in a positive manner then everyone else will be positive with you. Sometimes this is hard after failing exams, missing IVs, being yelled at by patients (or family members) but you move on and make a negative into a positive.

    "Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same." Francesca Reigler
    LadyFree28 likes this.


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