What you wish you knew before starting nursing school

  1. 3
    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! News) and the real world of nursing grad jobs. I have been talking to some of my coworkers who have recently graduated from NS and have already passed their NCLEX and were also lucky enough to secure a nursing job right away. I then talked to them and asked them what they wish they knew/had done before and while in nursing school. Almost all of them stressed to me that I should find a CNA job while in nursing school in order to have an easier time to network after graduation, which will ultimately lead to an RN job.

    Anyway, for new grads (or anyone who is almost done with NS!) do you have one, ultimate piece of advice that you would like to give to someone like me who is about to start nursing school? Any help will be appreciated!
    quirkyvanilla, HopefulLPN83, and Joe V like this.

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  2. 31 Comments...

  3. 13
    Not a new grad...actually, an old, old grad, but here's my take:

    Do the very best you can to get your BSN on the first go-round. ((Not wanting to start the ancient entry-into-practice thrash here (anyone who wants to do that, please please search AN for past iterations and read it all there), just offering my opinion on your question.)) This is because potential employers, and there will be some someday will, in fact, prefer it. THIS is because increasing numbers of hiring managers have BSNs or MSNs, and they value them.

    If you have time to cram some CNA work into your schedule, do it, but remember you're only in it for the most basic psychomotor (manipulative) and time-management skills of patient care. Do not listen to your CNA coworkers about their nursing assessments, because no matter how well-experienced they have not had a nursing education. Ask the RNs what they think.

    Do not confuse what tasks nurses do (as opposed to what tasks a CNA "can do" or an LPN "can do" or a PA, or an NP) with what nurses are in the lives of their patients. 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.

    Welcome to the profession. We need you.
  4. 0
    Thanks a lot of your input GrnTea! I have read your other posts before and I truly enjoyed them

    I do hope I get more responses! Any advice from the "old-timers" or new grads, or anybody who has "been there, done that" is like pearls of wisdom from a newbie like me!
  5. 1
    I"m starting my second year of nursing school this summer I did an externship at a local hospital in the operating room. This was great exsperience but if I had to do over I would have chosen ER or ICU something closer to critiacal care instead of routine care.
    Beverly Dozier likes this.
  6. 1
    Internship and Capstone is the single most important factor in getting a job I think. That is where you show what you are made of and really get a chance to network on the floor. I did 2 internships and then before the end of my capstone, some of the nurses went to the manager and told her they had to hire me.

    Clinicals...on the floor we already know who we like after the first day of clinical. Do not act like you are too good to do anything. Have some down time? Ask other nurses if there is anything you can help them with. If nothing, ask the aides if you can help them. There is always something to do and your name will get mentioned for good reasons. I would always track down the students who came to me asking if I had anything "cool" for them to do. Heck if they dont need help, ask your other students if they need a hand with something

    Treat every rotation like you have something to learn from it, even if you dont like the content. I went in to PEDS thinking it was going to suck, I learned a lot from it and use it today in the ER.

    You wont know everything. Your teachers will pick on you for questions. It sucks, but dont take it personally. You can really learn a lot from the questions you cant answer.
    quirkyvanilla likes this.
  7. 2
    Nursing theory and nursing history may make no sense to you now, but it really is important and worthwhile. It is one of the things that make us a profession rather than just technical workers.
    GrnTea and llg like this.
  8. 5
    I wish I had known that, despite all the talk of the nursing "art" and altruism and care for the patient, health care is a BUSINESS. Hospitals, even the not-for-profit ones, are all about the bottom line. Their interest in you ends when you no longer fit into their business model. Managers and administrators will try to guilt you into doing things in the name of professionalism, altruism, etc., but they don't place the same constraints on themselves. 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. I love my patients, I love my coworkers (for the most part), I love many of the doctors, and I care about what I do. I contribute to the betterment of the world. But I wish I had known when I was young that NO ONE is going to look out for me but me.
    quirkyvanilla, GrnTea, Genista, and 2 others like this.
  9. 2
    I would say for a new student to study, study, and study some more! Higher grades mean a graduate degree which means more job opportunities. Always present your best face during clinicals and never act like any job is beneath you! Everyone starts at the bottom! PS...love the pic of your dog! I have one too..great breed!
    quirkyvanilla and GrnTea like this.
  10. 2
    I would have gotten my LPN once I passed that mark and started work that summer, even if it was part time, so that I could practice skills. Now that I am an new hire in LTC (because I couldn't get into the hospital even as an honor student with a former BA degree due to lack of experience) I look REALLY stupid most days because I have little hands on skill due to lack of opportunity or repetition while in school clinicals.

    Few want to train anymore so I am scrambling now to find opportunities to draw blood and do various procedure.
    mikeanthony81 and DSkelton711 like this.
  11. 2
    Networking--get yourself out there by getting experience as a CNA, volunteering at blood drives and health fairs, let everyone within earshot know you are starting school so you get yourself out there. Jobs right now are not as plentiful when I graduated so it can become more about who you know rather than what you know. Good Luck to you!
    newlvnstudent and kligus like this.

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