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A Letter to Student Me

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Specializes in Emergency Department. Has 2 years experience.

What will you tell yourself if you could?

This is a letter I would write to myself as a nursing student.

A Letter to Student Me

Dear Me,

Yes! You will survive this semester. And the next one, and the next one ...

It’s okay, you don’t have to have straight As. Don’t let a B discourage you. That B and that C will still get you through school. It will get you that degree. Yes, do your best. But you will learn that straight A students don’t automatically make good nurses. And, some of the best nurses out there barely passed school.

You will get so discouraged

You will feel like there is no end in sight. You will cry literal tears when you look at your clinical schedule. How many exams you have this semester. How many textbooks you have to read through. It will be overwhelming. You will think that you can’t possibly do it all. But you can! And you will! And the end will come. I promise!

Remind yourself of your why, every day

Remember the reason you decided to go to nursing school? Write it down inside your planner. Look at it every day. And let that be your motivation to keep on going. Maybe it seemed like a simple reason. That’s okay! Write it down. Memorize it. Whisper it to yourself. It will keep you going.

You don’t have to be the Pinterest nursing student with the trendy backpack, cute coffee mug and a cardiac Littman around your neck. Money is going to be tight. School is expensive. Textbooks are outrageous. You’re going to be looking at your bank account with $3.41 and hope you have enough gas in your car to get you to clinicals and back until pay day. Walmart deals on Black Friday will be just fine. A $25 stethoscope will get you through school. You can get that Littman with your first paycheck. Don’t put the pressure on your self to be an Instagram model. Going for “the look” will just cause anxiety that you definitely don’t need right now!

Here’s some things to add to your backpack

Tissues

Your classmates are gonna see you cry and you’re gonna see them cry. And no one will judge you cause they all want to cry with you.

A planner

You have to write things down and plan things out. There’s just not enough room in your brain for all that will be required of you.

Ibuprofen

For or the headaches.

Mints

Chewing gum isn’t allowed at clinicals and onion breath will ruin your confidence.

Learn how to study every spare second of every spare day

You will figure out that index cards are perfect for taking notes on and keeping handy. You will pull them out in the waiting room, at a stop light, while you are folding laundry, during your lunch break. They are perfect for crashing through just before the test. Youtube videos on IV tricks, skills performance and understanding cardiac strips will come in handy. Experiment with different ways to study and retain. You’ve never done nursing school before. You don’t know how you study best. Try different ways, be open-minded, and see what works for you!

Lean into your support group

You don’t know how badly you will need them! Family, friends, new buddies at class. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to say that you are struggling. It’s okay to work in a group setting. It’s okay to call a friend that you can just unload on. When someone offers to help you, accept it. Now is not the time to be stubborn. Plug into the nursing student association that is at your school. (You will regret not doing this sooner.) You don’t have to do this alone. You can’t do this alone!

You are not a bad mom ...

Or wife. Or daughter. Or friend. Guilt will hit you. You will feel like you aren’t being 100 percent for your new baby. You will feel like your husband is getting the short end of the stick. You will realize that you haven’t talked to your sister in over a month. Remember that this is only for a season. Go for quality over quantity. You won’t be able to take a weekend trip with your husband (unless you pack along the textbooks which won’t be appreciated). But going out to dinner will be a great time to connect, and no dishes later! You can send a quick text saying you are thinking of someone, even if you can’t make a family dinner. You won’t be able to spend hours at the park with the baby. That’s okay. You can rock her to sleep each night and tell her how loved she is and that one day you will help her chase her dreams, just like mommy is doing.

Yep. It’s sadly true. Nurses eat their young

Not all of them, but some do. Don’t let that preceptor who huffs and puffs dampen your confidence. Don’t let that one nurse who rolls her eyes and takes the assignment from you because you’re “too slow” make you feel inadequate. Their seeming attack on you stems from personal issues, and is in no way a reflection on your ability to be a good nurse. You’ve got this! Who cares if that jaded inpatient nurse looks at you like you’re stupid? Or that ER nurse tells you to just stay out of her way? You will actually be a kinder nurse because you know what it’s like to be brushed aside.

Don’t quit!

When you walk across that stage and the nursing program dean who told you twice you aren’t going to make it places that RN pin on your shirt, you will be so proud of yourself. And you should be! You will be so thankful that you finished what you started. You will smile and you will cry. You will know what it’s like to dance in the clouds. It will be surreal. It will all be worth it.

You’re going to make it. I promise!

After all, you are writing this letter to you.

You will be a nurse. An ER nurse like you wanted. You will have your number one choice in jobs, out of three offers. You will print RN after your name with pride. You will go on to add certifications to your name. You will save lives. You will help others get where you have gone. You will have that Littman stethoscope.

Keep going! I’m proud of you!

Lindsynicoler has 1 year(s) experience and specializes in Emergency Department.

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7 Comment(s)

Julie

Specializes in Sm Bus Mgmt, Operations, Planning, HR, Coaching. Has 39 years experience.

On 12/3/2020 at 9:59 AM, Lindsynicoler said:

A planner

You have to write things down and plan things out. There’s just not enough room in your brain for all that will be required of you.

Lots of great advice @Lindsynicoler but this really resonated with me.   I would add in time for yourself and never sacrifice that time. Say "no" when you need to make yourself a priority. 

Thanks for this great information.

Thank you for this. All of it. I relate to it deep in my core and ended up crying halfway through reading. I am in the thick of it right now with the end of my second semester of my ASN program on the horizon, and I often wonder if I’m going to make it. I have big midwife dreams and they seem so far away and sometimes even impossible. I really needed these words today, so thanks again. 

Wow, thanks so much for this. I'm finishing up my third quarter of nursing school now. Overall, it's been good but I definitely feel dumb most of the time in clinicals, even if I receive mostly positive feedback. Sometimes I look at the nurses precepting me and think, "wow, they're so competent - they must have coasted through nursing school." It really helps to be reminded that you can struggle through nursing school and then go on to become a great nurse!

Beachwave, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psychiatric Nurse.

This was my story! Thank you for writing this!  I had a hard day at work with “nurses eating their young.” It’s my first year too. But looking back, man . . I’ve come so far 🙂 

Beachwave, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psychiatric Nurse.

All of your student nurses will make it! I believe in you! The tears and fears make your stronger. I know! Keep studying and ask for help when needed. And don’t forget . . . to take care of yourself as best you can 🙂 

Just finished my first semester of nursing school and this is much needed. There are moments where I questioned whether I could make it, but in that semester, I've learned that resilience, self-reflection and discipline are your most powerful tools. Thank you for posting this!  

Mister_Masterz, CNA, EMT-B

Specializes in Emergency medicine. Has 17 years experience.

I just wrapped up my 1st semester, and I must say it was very difficult. Nursing school is hard! Believe me, hard work is not new for me. Years ago I did all my prerequisites for PA school, and I did well. That's a different story for a different post. Learning theories and how it's applied was very different for me. Especially when doing exam questions and every answer is right, but have to figure out which one is "more" right in the situation at hand. My class & I are doing this all online, I have a 1 yr & 4 Mo old at home and working full time taking 15 credits during the crisis. I swear I wasn't going to make it through the semester. THANK GOD for my fellow classmates & the "team" mentality I made it through!  Thank you for this post.