What you wish you knew before starting nursing school - page 2

by margritamix 14,727 Views | 31 Comments

Hello guys! Recently, I have been looking at threads in the career section of allnurses and I noticed a disturbing trend. Namely, that there is a big disconnect to what the internet says about job projection (ahem, Yahoo!... Read More


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    I wish I would have had some experience working as a CNA prior to entering nursing school. Almost everyone who has had CNA or tech experience had no problems landing jobs almost immediately after graduation. But those of us who went into nursing as a second career choice, and who do not have health care experience, have had the toughest time even landing interviews.
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    Quote from GrnTea
    When you start school, it's perfectly natural to focus on the lab check-off list of skills and swoon over a peer who "got to do" something new and exciting. These will be completely old-hat by the time you've been a real nurse for a year. Try hard to see the rationales for everything and see how they fit together in the nurses' whole approach to the individual patients while they are in their care. It's way beyond the "got to do this one!" lists.
    This is excellent advice. It really is easy to get caught up in the tasks and procedures, because those are the tangible skills that you can see. However, the critical thinking skills are truly the important ones and those you can only learn by constantly trying to figure out the big picture and not focusing on just getting tasks done. Always ask "why" when you are in clinicals. You need to understand the why of what you are doing to be a good nurse.
    bubblejet50 likes this.
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    Quote from monkeybug
    If you drop dead in the nurses station, the manager is not going to be thinking about you, your family, your pet, or your kid. They are thinking about how to fill your shift, and worrying that they might have to dirty their hands by actually touching a patient themselves if they can't find some sucker to come fill your spot. You are expendable, and you are replaceable. They are not looking out for your best interests, (and in many cases they aren't looking out for the patients' best interests) they are there for the money.
    Monkeybug, this made me laugh so hard!! I really needed that today!! Very very true!!
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    i did not work as a CNA before i went to NS. i found the first clinical rotation hard. my first patient was a complete cares geriatric who went hospice halfway through my shift. talk about an awakening! it was my first bed bath but i recruited some of my classmates who had been a CNA and now i can do bed baths in my sleep! i agree that you will get a chance to do skills as you go through. i got hired as a CNA when i was in my LPN year at a place for traumatic brain injuries. it was a small facility and the staff was small and super understanding and i had many nurses show me how trachs were not as intimidating as school made them seem. again another skill i can do in my sleep now.

    in clinical......be nice to your nurse no matter how rude they are to you. offer to do anything, i mean anything! our last semester we were on one floor for the whole semester and got to know the floor staff very well. they all talk. i would also talk to them about their nursing school experience. we had mutual friends and a lot had gone to my school and had my instructors. i was soon paired up with the charge nurse every time she was on duty. never be above any job. my clinical instructors had us clean rooms like dust until we gained their trust. then when we were on the computers they would understand we were looking something up. if a patient is discharged on a busy floor and you are not busy off to take out the linens or clean up what you can to help housecleaning. take patients to the bathroom and always walk them if they are ambulatory! if you don't know a med during prelab look it up BEFORE you approach your instructor to administer it. know your labs and buy a nursing diagnosis book. you will soon know them all but until you do look up diagnoses in the book. i asked to go to rounds and asked my nurses a lot of questions. when i went to the ER and OR i always offered to do skills and procedures. i was very go-getter about my clinical rotation (i'm such an introvert!) but no one is going to hand feed you information. if you don't seem interested your floor nurse will not find you to do procedures. stay busy. unless your census is less than or equal to the amount of students on the floor there are things to do. offer to call dr.'s and pharmacy for your nurse. we had a few days that census was less than the number of students and then you learn charting better.

    in the classroom.....it is true that the squeaky wheel will get the oil but do not try to be the know it all or challenge your instructor repetitively without good reason to. those students quickly dropped out or got the bad clinical assignments. if you have a serious problem with an instructor (i did with one who accused me of plagiarizing but never checked my sources which i found out when i approached her) talk to them in private after class hours. know that you do NOT know more than your instructor. yes, there is a difference between real world nursing and nclex nursing. your instructor is trying to help you pass nclex. yes they are aware of, and probably use, the real world nursing in their bedside nursing but at school accept that they know what they are doing and talking about. be prepared for discussions in class about the material being covered. it is not supposed to be the first time you see the info. i will admit i was not good at this. i am an auditory learner and if i heard it it stuck with me forever but i lose my attention when i read a textbook so i would not read much. i advise against this. we had a lot of pop quizzes. do not be afraid to meet with instructors after class hours to review info you do not understand. take notes. lots of notes. find a study group and go out once a week and study material. i did not do this but a lot of my classmates did this and LOVED it.

    stick through it for the time you are in it. it gets better. i went through my LPN year, got a LPN job and started the RN program a semester after i finished the LPN program (i grad in Dec 10 and started Jun 11). I just grad in May 12 and will start my BSN program in a week. one student who graduated a year ahead of me said it best....these two years are like boot camp, you play by their rules and put up with the no notice change of schedules and you will survive....there is an end in sight. my stepdad told me of his college days also. he went to a college where they were known for being very tough (one of the military colleges). one day there was a picture on the blackboard (drawn by a fellow student) of the president on the college with a nose that was in the form of male genitalia with the sentence under it saying, "you can make it harder but you can't make it longer (in reference to the program and graduation)!" that is true. keep that in mind when you feel like you can't deal with the stress anymore.
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    To never stop pursuing your dreams and ambitions.
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    If you feel a pull toward a certain specialty....network and get involved in it as a student, as this may open doors when you graduate that may not open later in your career. I have found it hard to switch specialities these days, even after many years of nursing experience. I agree with previous posts about knowing that nursing is a business. You may have gone into it for altruistic reasons, but the bottom line/efficiency is often what impresses an employer. Be safe above all else, but also know that you are your own best friend...so look out for yourself because no one else will (that applies on so many levels form making sure you get your breaks, to learning to say "no" to overtime you don't want, and to knowing when you need to move on to a new role/adventure). Good luck!
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    Quote from bubblejet50
    one day there was a picture on the blackboard (drawn by a fellow student) of the president on the college with a nose that was in the form of male genitalia with the sentence under it saying, "you can make it harder but you can't make it longer (in reference to the program and graduation)!"
    classic, QFT.
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    Be accountable... not to sound self-righteous but I think I knew that going in; some of my classmates did not. Some still don't.
    quirkyvanilla likes this.
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    This is such a helpful thread. Thank you so much for all of your advice!
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    Not trying to be funny but isn't this something we all learn in high school lol


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