Nursing School Advice

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    I am in my first semester of nursing school and I am feeling pretty overwhelmed by the demands. Does it get easier after the first year or should I expect to be overwhelmed the whole time? Any advice is appreciated.
  2. 9 Comments so far...

  3. 1
    I'll be following this thread because I feel the same way!
    jthys likes this.
  4. 1
    From what my instructor told me, the first and the third semester are the hardest. So hang in there, we will get through it! I feel this way too, and I remind myself how far I've come from when I first walked into that Fundamentals class a couple months ago! Semester's almost halfway over!
    jthys likes this.
  5. 3
    Yes and no. The coursework doesn't get any easier, it gets more complex; but your ability to get organized for classes, ability to do care plans, know how to take application/ critical thinking/ NCLEX tests does get easier. Don't think about what you have to learn next semester. The knowledge you are gaining now will be built upon next semester. Your first semester is culture shock and you will be amazed at the lack of knowledge when you started on day one of nursing school compared to your knowledge base on last day of school. Nursing classes build on each other and are intertwined. Pharm, pathophysiology, mental health are used throughout your classes.

    The best advise I can give you is to meet with instructors after every test to go over what you missed. As you go through the program you will get more and more application questions (Suzy is a 38 yr old complaining of XXX) instead of knowledge based (the definition of XXX is ...). The more you understand the reason the correct answer is X, the easier you can understand how to pick the correct answer on the next test. Teachers are there to help you succeed, the more you show them that you are a serious student and take nursing school seriously, the more they will go out of their way to help you understand the content. If you are struggling in a class and don't ask for your instructor's help until the end of the semester, then the blame falls entirely on you. At that point it is too late for them to help you. Teachers are your ally and not your enemy.
    jthys, alindberg, and i♥words like this.
  6. 2
    No, it absolutely gets harder after the first year. You will be held responsible to retain and apply everything you learn -- prerequisites and nursing courses. Those who can't fall behind, because they can't progress in developing the critical thinking that is integral to the nursing process, the ability to take patient assessment data and synthesize a plan for how to go from here. Some people never do get that, and they quite literally don't understand why they fail.

    But buck up. Look around you. All those nurses passed nursing school. Think you're any less able than they are? Of course not. Go forth.
    jthys and i♥words like this.
  7. 1
    I'm in the beginning of my second year and while the material and expectation level is harder, I feel less overwhelmed than I did at this time last year when I started. Having gotten to know the instructors over the last year and the students in my class makes the hard and overwhelming stuff seem minimal. Yes, it will get harder as what you are expected to do increase with each semester or quarter, but you will get in the groove of things and hopefully feel less overwhelmed.
    jthys likes this.
  8. 1
    I always go back and forth on this one.

    Everything is harder when it's new. Nursing school has a particularly steep learning curve to get through in the beginning because we're leaning to speak a different language and think a different way.

    So, in some ways, it does get easier as we go. Sometimes my friends and I laugh at the ridiculousness of some of the wrong answers in our NCLEX practice questions books...and then we realize we very well may have picked those answers a year ago!

    The material does get more complex as you go. I think how hard that makes it depends on your grasp of those early basics. No one has time to teach you the basic anatomy/physiology of a heart during critical care, so if you floated by somehow in the beginning, you will get caught, you will struggle, and you might fail. If you have those basic building blocks down, it's just adding layers. Not that difficult.
    jthys likes this.
  9. 1
    I am in my first semester and don't feel quite as overwhelmed as I thought I would. Of course some days are worse than others. I have been told by some 2nd year students that the stress doesn't get less, but it changes. The first semester is the one where you cram in the most fundamental info in along with your skills - pair that with learning a new language and learning how to think in a completely different way AND take tests in a completely different way can be pretty dang daunting, especially for someone who didn't expect any of it! In our program once we get to second year, we're in clinical 2-3 days a week and class one day. So we go from learning all the new stuff and ways of the nursing world and organizing all of this info to "working" as an RN and keeping up with coursework and clinical responsibilities along with learning more critical skills/information, etc. By then, you should be more aware of what to expect on a test, but the info will be more detailed and critical. Will it be less stress? I guess it depends on who you ask...

    As someone else mentioned, in nursing school each semester builds on the previous one. The information cannot be learned for a test and then forgotten, like we probably did a lot more in our pre-reqs than we'd like to admit. You have to retain ALL of it and learn how to apply it to more situations and then go into more detail about it. And I'm sure by then you'll better know how to manage the stress too! I would take one day and one week at a time. Don't look too far ahead because that's going to overwhelm you for no reason. Of course you're not going to fathom working a trauma in your first semester when you're just trying to learn basics. But when you get to that, you'll know the basics and how to apply that to your patient and then some! I'd be willing to bet that you will be totally shocked at what you know next year - what answers and information pours out of your mouth that you didn't even know you had tucked away in your memory banks! You got this, don't worry!!

    P.S. Don't forget your own "self-care". Exercise, meditate, read the Bible, go out with friends/family, read a book, take a walk, listen to music, take a nap, cook, take up a new hobby....Something that you want to do for YOU to get your mind off of school and rejuvenate you. You won't be able to do everything you need to do if you forget about you in the process.
    jthys likes this.
  10. 0
    I am in my third semester of nursing school and I can tell you that it does get more challenging. However, if you build up good study habits from the beginning you will be fine =).
  11. 1
    I'm glad I am not the only one who feels/felt overwhelmed. I am hoping for an experience like yours where I feel less overwhelmed even though the content may be harder or more complex. Thanks!
    GrnTea likes this.


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