What sorts of Nursing Students should drop Nursing School? Am I one of them?

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    I am in first semester Nursing School and need some help.

    For background, I am the type of person who needs orders to do a job. I see myself as a tool to be wielded by a hand: a natural born servant. I find most of my work related joy comes when being praised by a superior I respect for helping carry out their will. I have no real ambition for it's own sake and chose nursing based on faulty, outdated information concerning it from family (not that I blame my grandmother and older aunt, of course - medicine changes fast and has changed quite a lot from when they were in school and nurses were just helpers to the MD in charge). That lack of personal ambition is proving to be a crippling hindrance, however. I have made an average of D on my exams. I have come to realize that the NCLEX style questions are designed with natural born problem solver type people in mind - those who spot problems before they even start and are always thinking three steps ahead of illness and complications. I am not among those who think this way; I am a reactor who has never been able to think ahead very well. It is a personality that I respect and serve, easily, but is antithetical to my own personality.

    Does anyone else feel this way? Like maybe you made a mistake or didn't really appreciate the full gravity of what Nursing was before you got into the class? Are some people simply not cut out to be real nurses? Should I expect it to magically click? My aunt says it might just click for me if I stick it out but I am worried about me GPA and financial aid situation if I stick it out and totally fail the course. Even with the stress of the program set aside, studying for three to four hours a night to carry a failing grade is demoralizing enough to make me consider dropping nursing to choose another path.


    I don't want to sound like I fault my professors either; each is an amazing person who has completely ignited in me a complete respect for the profession of Nursing (more so than was already there). If I am too dumb for this sort of career, it certainly isn't their fault.
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  4. 26 Comments so far...

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    If you honestly feel like you have to be led to do anything, then I recommend you just drop nursing. Nurses take initiative and we are leaders. A monkey could follow a prescribed order, it's how one executes and continues to treat that prescribed order which what makes a nurse. You will not be praised by a superior for doing your job every day, sorry.

    I don't think you're dumb at all, because you did get into nursing school afterall. However, you will find in your career, whatever you decide to do, requires a take-charge approach and someone who's not afraid to research for help or ask for help. You might want to try flipping burgers (harsh, isn't it?).


    edit: The reason why you could be failing classes is maybe you're just not motivated in nursing? In our program, all of us are super competitive. We will fight to finish and be the best damned nurses we can be. When we do pathophysiology jeopardy, it's almost like we will murder each other for that one extra point.
    UWMstudent, tcvnurse, JustMe54, and 1 other like this.
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    You freely admit that you lack ambition, so it sounds that regardless of what you do with your future you need to apply yourself. If not nursing, what career option would you do instead? Had you shadowed a nurse before nursing school? Nurses are certainly not "natural born servants". I am a assertive, integral, member of the healthcare team that thinks critically to ensure the best outcomes for my pts. I am not just blindly following orders like a "servant." I formulate a plan of care and carry it out based on evidence based practice to ensure the best outcome for my pt.
    JustMe54, CrazyCoconut, bebbercorn, and 1 other like this.
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    Very interesting self-analysis. Alas for you, the only place I can see for someone who is a follower only, cannot do/isn't interested in problem-solving and personal responsibility is being a private in the Army. Even corporals have some responsibility over privates.

    If this is really something you think will become boring or generally financially unrewarding over a lifetime of work, consider analysis and therapy to learn different coping skills. But only if you want to be different.
    JustMe54, imintrouble, bebbercorn, and 1 other like this.
  8. 0
    Quote from StephenAndrews
    If you honestly feel like you have to be led to do anything, then I recommend you just drop nursing. Nurses take initiative and we are leaders. A monkey could follow a prescribed order, it's how one executes and continues to treat that prescribed order which what makes a nurse. You will not be praised by a superior for doing your job every day, sorry.

    I don't think you're dumb at all, because you did get into nursing school afterall. However, you will find in your career, whatever you decide to do, requires a take-charge approach and someone who's not afraid to research for help or ask for help. You might want to try flipping burgers (harsh, isn't it?).


    edit: The reason why you could be failing classes is maybe you're just not motivated in nursing? In our program, all of us are super competitive. We will fight to finish and be the best damned nurses we can be. When we do pathophysiology jeopardy, it's almost like we will murder each other for that one extra point.
    I never said I needed to be praised to even do a job, only that I have no personal ambition beyond helping other people and making enough money to do the things I enjoy doing without worrying about living on the street. I enjoy working under supervision and with other people but do not like trail blazing and disagree that one needs to do this to do any career in life. I don't think it is unreasonable to be someone who prefers investments to gambles; when you take responsibility on yourself you are gambling, when you work under someone else you are making an investment without the danger of losing everything (because your leader is taking on that risk) - if anything, I am being prudent.

    That said, I am not all that competitive. I study with a group that makes As and Bs and am always the first there and the last to leave when studying. I have an NCLEX book (a few, ranging from Saunders to others not on the class roster, plus ATI as well) and am trying to memorize all the rationalizations I can read so I can parrot them when needed - it isn't like I'm not trying. I just can't figure out how to problem solve and think ahead like they do. It seems too easy for the others in my study group to pass these tests so this critical thinking and problem solving ability is either inherent or I am an imbecile compared to most the people in my class and got in by a fluke.
    In which case, maybe I would be better off flipping burgers. Or dead.
    Last edit by Vysection on Nov 7, '13 : Reason: Pasting from Word made the font size wacky on these.
  9. 1
    Quote from ChristineN
    You freely admit that you lack ambition, so it sounds that regardless of what you do with your future you need to apply yourself. If not nursing, what career option would you do instead? Had you shadowed a nurse before nursing school? Nurses are certainly not "natural born servants". I am a assertive, integral, member of the healthcare team that thinks critically to ensure the best outcomes for my pts. I am not just blindly following orders like a "servant." I formulate a plan of care and carry it out based on evidence based practice to ensure the best outcome for my pt.
    I suppose I do have the ambition to be comfortable but, outside of that, I have never been one to want to carve my name in the face of the moon. If not nursing then I might choose something that is more organized and less likely to present me with novel situations that can't be handled by memorizing and recalling data points. I can change oil, code a website, and so on following a series of commands or instructions but patient care is too varied and gray. Too much can go wrong. It is overwhelming. That said, everyone on this forum and all over the internet say it is overwhelming for new students, so I am not sure if I am just seeing a normal trend in the training or if this is a warning sign I am not cut out for this.

    You may be assertive but I am submissive by nature. That said, I can respect you being integral to your team and all of that, I just didn't realize how much responsibility nurses had concerning care. My grandmother and aunt went to school at a Catholic Hospital where they were instructed never to address or contradict a doctor (and if they had concerns to bring them to the head nurse, according to them). It was my fault for not shadowing a nurse prior to school so I take responsibility for going off outdated information.
    msbprn likes this.
  10. 0
    Quote from GrnTea
    Very interesting self-analysis. Alas for you, the only place I can see for someone who is a follower only, cannot do/isn't interested in problem-solving and personal responsibility is being a private in the Army. Even corporals have some responsibility over privates.

    If this is really something you think will become boring or generally financially unrewarding over a lifetime of work, consider analysis and therapy to learn different coping skills. But only if you want to be different.


    I think many people are like me - if there wasn't the world would be filled with stock brokers, entrepreneurs, politicians, and others who are more assertive and take charge. Leaders need followers. You can't have a whole planet full of leaders; nothing would ever get done because nobody would accept delegation from anyone else. That said, I'd be the first to admit there is no glory in being a follower. You don't think I would be different if I could? I find the insinuation insulting, but understand as this is the internet and my post didn't make it clear that I was unhappy with the way I was. These are my limitations, like someone missing their legs - ones I have had for as long as I can remember. If there were some pill I could take for them, I'd have found it long ago while experimenting with adorall, nootropics, and all manner of controlled substance in my youth. New study habits, herbal remedies, meditation, even self-mortification; none of them worked. If I were giving up I wouldn't be trying to work around my inbuilt limitations.
  11. 0
    Quote from Vysection

    You may be assertive but I am submissive by nature. That said, I can respect you being integral to your team and all of that, I just didn't realize how much responsibility nurses had concerning care. My grandmother and aunt went to school at a Catholic Hospital where they were instructed never to address or contradict a doctor (and if they had concerns to bring them to the head nurse, according to them). It was my fault for not shadowing a nurse prior to school so I take responsibility for going off outdated information.
    Nursing has changed a lot since your grandmother's day. My mother was a nurse in the '70's and even she is surprised, and even a tad uncomfortable, at the thought of nurses being assertive independent members of the healthcare team.

    While I can't say whether or not nursing is for you, I will say there are plenty of people in nursing who were quite and not assertive who had to learn how to overcome this to be a nurse. There are many nurses that learn how to be the nurse they need to be at work to get the job done, while at home they may be more submissive and quiet.

    What drew you to healthcare in the first place? Was it just the fact that it seemed like a good job for a "follower" type mentality or did you have an actual interest in healthcare?
  12. 0
    Well, it did seem to go along with my personality at the time (not so much now, of course) but also because I have a mind for memorizing large blocks of facts without knowing what they mean. I was good in Anatomy and Physiology because I could memorize stuff and excel in the class. Muscle groups, bone processes, and so on. The same has held true for Pharmacology; I tend to remember medical names, like Latin and learning what words and stuff mean in it, and have a mind for charts and jargon too. I figured all I was missing was the muscle memory in doing procedures (injections, IV, catheter, and that stuff you have to actually practice to know). I didn't think much of theory, figuring that clinicals would be my main issue and that theory would just be like the Pre-Reqs.
  13. 0
    Your post was very well written. Perhaps nursing isn't for you and you're looking for something else. I think you already know the answer to your own question, but you want validation from other students/nurses.

    We can't give you that validation. I don't think flipping burgers is the way to go, and you are obviously intelligent. Figure out what YOU want to do. I majored in literature/English my first time in college, and I don't have that natural gift for writing that you so obviously have. Maybe look and see what does interest you. If it is not nursing, then find something else. (Perhaps writing...)

    Also, being a follower is never indicative of needing to "die". There are definitely leaders and there are followers, and I find that knowing who you are is better than pretending. You know who you are and I hope you know what does make you happy. If it is not nursing, then go elsewhere, but you have the intelligence to figure it out for yourself and not rely on family members to make that decision for you. Only you can make yourself happy.

    With all that being said, I wish you nothing but the best.


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