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Culture Shock & Big Girl Panties - Ch 2

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Julie Reyes has 6 years experience as a DNP, RN and specializes in pediatrics, occupational health.

1 Follower; 44 Articles; 65,816 Profile Views; 260 Posts

Is nursing school stressful?

Nursing school is not at all what I had expected. After flying through the basic courses, I figured the nursing program would be a cinch. Anyone who goes into nursing school expecting to it to be a breeze is in for a culture shock - which is exactly what happened to me.

Culture Shock & Big Girl Panties - Ch 2
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Follow my journey through nursing school - read Go to Nursing School? NEVER!! Ch 1

I am 43 years old. I have 4 kids - 2 in college, one in high school, and one starting 8th grade. I am on my second marriage, so the 4 kids I mentioned are mine, and my new husband brings in 4 more - 2 out of high school and 2 still at home. We have a lot going on. Football, soccer, track, band - extra-curricular activities for the kids means extra-curricular activities for me. With nursing school starting in the fall, I drop all of my odd jobs and focus on the kids and my one summer prereq course - pathophysiology.

I am floored when I get my book from Amazon - or whatever site I got the textbook from. It is bigger than the family Bible! Anyway, I dive right into my class. Since I live an hour away from the university I am attending, I am doing all my classes online. Nursing school - eline... I am not sure this is the smartest decision I have ever made, but I am not working, and gas is near $4 a gallon at the time. Everything is expensive and we are short on money. With 8 kids - oy - we have to save where we can!

The professor for my patho class is a doctor in the emergency department at the hospital I want to work at when I am done with school. He is really an amazing professor, and I am learning so much in the class. I don't have to study that much, because he is so great at the powerpoints and lectures that are posted. (Unfortunately, this professor is so great, and I am learning so much from his online lectures, that I set myself up for a rude awakening in nursing school!)

Fall is here - the long awaited time to begin my first nursing classes. I have spent an enormous amount of money on the "required" textbooks - most of which I will never use in nursing school at all! I am a little shocked at how unorganized the eline program is. No set due dates, no set exam times. It is a semi-new program for the university, so I suppose they are just working out the bugs. However, the disorganization leaves me in a state of confusion. Adding to my disappointment is the fact that none of the classes are like my patho course!

I dive into my classes (pharmacology, fundamentals, theory) and I drag textbooks to football and soccer games and read when my kids are not playing or... marching/drumming/or anything I should be cheering for. I have no clue how to study - I think I have been "winging it" until now, and from the syllabus for my courses, I am not going to be able to float through these classes anymore. So, I do what I think I should do - I highlight every single word I read...on every page. I should have bought stock in the highlighter company. Um...is it excessive that I have just highlighted all the pictures too - just in case!?!

This is the part where I turn into an insecure whiney brat. How is it that the words in the pharmacology book are written in another language? Well, maybe it is English, but OMG, seriously? I don't have a clue what I am reading. That being said, I have become a thorn in my professor's side. I email all of my professors constantly, begging for clarification, explanations, and "please spell this all out for me" type of emails. I need someone to hold my hand so that I can make it through this!

I have suddenly discovered that this nursing school business is for the birds! Apparently, nurses have to know more than just how to wipe butts and give shots....and it seems that the Board of Nursing is determined to make sure nurses know a lot about, well, everything! It is impossible, right?! With my first exam looming, I have developed intense heartburn and incredible anxiety! I am snippy and snooty with my family - I have no patience for anything or anyone. I am just not cut out for this! How in the heck is nursing school so hard?!?! My first husband was right when he said I am stupid and not smart enough to go to school - just like he always told me. This is really hard - I can't do this! I am FURIOUS that he might be right. I put off my first exam day after day, which is easy since there is not a deadline to take it.

As I stare at the yellow highlighted pages in my pharmacology book, I think, "Just take the stupid exam!" I will never move on if I can't get passed this. I am terrified of it. I have no idea what to expect on it, I have no idea what I should know. What more can I do - I have studied all I can - well, I have read all the pages that didn't make any sense anyway.

I put away my notes and my books and log onto the site to take the exam. One question after another "you gotta be kidding me" question. Um, I don't think that they took these questions from MY pharm book. By the end of the exam, I am in tears. I have no clue what just happened, but apparently, I got the wrong textbook. I submit my test and stare at the screen. My score comes up and I got a 58. OMG, I failed! I close my eyes and put my face in my hands. I am at a loss.

I send a plethora of panicked emails to my professor. One after another, and another. I am not ever going to be able to get this - how the heck am I supposed to understand any of this...this STUFF??? I have NO clue how to study! My professor for this class is NOT teaching me! My patho professor was so good and this professor is ... well, is NOT my last professor!

I whine the rest of the night to my husband, who patiently listens to me and then tells me for the first of hundreds of times, "If it were easy, everyone would do it". My kids can't believe I failed an exam, and I mentally see them slapping high fives to each other for all the times I have scolded them for any time they have ever received a poor grade (although they really were NOT doing that). Ugh, now what?!

The next day I am still wallowing in my pity party when I received a reply email from my professor, who has apparently had enough of my "poor, poor me" helpless attitude. "Dear Julie, it's time to put your big girl panties on and get down to business" ("to defeat the Huns" - I always have to add those words when someone says that. Is it just me or do you do that too?).

In hindsight, that was the BEST thing anyone ever told me! She totally snapped me out of my pit of despair! Somehow, I was able to pull myself up by my bootstraps and figure out this studying thing. I connected with others in the eline nursing program who helped me learn how to study and work through the coursework (God bless you Dawn, Rhonda, Erin, Lesley, Erica, Sarah, John, and Annie). I threw out the highlighters and I quit believing I could NOT do it and started believing I WOULD do it.

I was able to finish my first semester with 2 A's and 1 C (it is hard to come back from a failing exam grade)! Hey - if Mulan can do it...! Somehow - those seemingly harsh words in the email from my professor made me look inside myself and find something I never knew existed - resolve, willpower, and endurance; the ability to overcome adversity and rise to the occasion - a skill that is needed by every successful nurse. I learned to quit whining and start working toward my goal. The road to nursing is hard, and it is a road less traveled, but like my husband says - it is was easy, everyone would do it.

....and I realized, this "big girl panty" thing - it rocks!

My journey begins!

For the rest if the story, see

Go to Nursing School? NEVER!! Ch 1

Culture Shock & Big Girl Panties - Ch 2

Pretzels, Puppies, and Physical Assessment Ch 3

Tales from the Crypt....uh.... I mean Clinicals. Ch 4

Give me a BREAK!!!! Ch 5

RN: Judge and Jury Ch 6

Virtual Reality Ch 7

Avoid Kids at ALL Costs! Ch 8

The End of the Tunnel...Holy Cow - is that LIGHT?! Ch 9

Julie Reyes, DNP, RN

1 Follower; 44 Articles; 65,816 Profile Views; 260 Posts

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kbrn2002 has 25 years experience as a ADN, RN and specializes in Geriatrics, Dialysis.

3,168 Posts; 30,383 Profile Views

I too went back to school as an adult. For a lot of us nursing is a second career. God did that suck relearning how to be a student! Fortunately I didn't have anything as disheartening as a failed test to motivate me, but I also know if I had the option to put off tests and assignments that had no due date other than the end of the semester...well, I would've been the fool doing a whole semesters worth of tests in the last few days and probably failing miserably. Good for you to be self motivated enough to just get it done.

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tnbutterfly - Mary is a BSN, RN and specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.

14 Followers; 141 Articles; 5,631 Posts; 203,553 Profile Views

Thanks for the second chapter in your nursing journey!

I LOVE your avatar!!! HA HA HA

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Julie Reyes has 6 years experience as a DNP, RN and specializes in pediatrics, occupational health.

1 Follower; 44 Articles; 260 Posts; 65,816 Profile Views

tnbutterfly said:
I LOVE your avatar!!! HA HA HA

Funny how that came about!!!

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kbrn2002 has 25 years experience as a ADN, RN and specializes in Geriatrics, Dialysis.

3,168 Posts; 30,383 Profile Views

OK...I hear a good story coming about the avatar. Do tell!

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Julie Reyes has 6 years experience as a DNP, RN and specializes in pediatrics, occupational health.

1 Follower; 44 Articles; 260 Posts; 65,816 Profile Views

kbrn2002 said:
OK...I hear a good story coming about the avatar. Do tell!

Most of the story of my "big girl panties" is in this article! However, I was given this pic by tnbutterfly - who thought they might fit me! haha! Those are some big panties to fill (and with as much as I ate over Thanksgiving - they might just fit!!!!) haha! I just had to make it my avatar for this article!

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Nienna Celebrindal has 12 years experience.

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I love the message of your article! It'sso ttrue. Nursing school is hard work and I look back on my other classes and felt like they spoon feed me information vs nursing school which in comparison is more like the hunger games. Lol okay I exaggerate but it's work! And I totally laughed at the Mulan reference.

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kbrn2002 has 25 years experience as a ADN, RN and specializes in Geriatrics, Dialysis.

3,168 Posts; 30,383 Profile Views

Julie Reyes, DNP, CPNP-AC, RN said:
Most of the story of my "big girl panties" is in this article! However, I was given this pic by tnbutterfly - who thought they might fit me! haha! Those are some big panties to fill (and with as much as I ate over Thanksgiving - they might just fit!!!!) haha! I just had to make it my avatar for this article!

Gosh yes, that time between Thanksgiving and New Years gives a whole other meaning to big girl panties doesn't it? Maybe I should attempt a little self-control this year [or not!]

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Julie Reyes has 6 years experience as a DNP, RN and specializes in pediatrics, occupational health.

1 Follower; 44 Articles; 260 Posts; 65,816 Profile Views

kbrn2002 said:
Gosh yes, that time between Thanksgiving and New Years gives a whole other meaning to big girl panties doesn't it? Maybe I should attempt a little self-control this year [or not!]

I vote "OR NOT"!!!

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Julie Reyes has 6 years experience as a DNP, RN and specializes in pediatrics, occupational health.

1 Follower; 44 Articles; 260 Posts; 65,816 Profile Views

NightCrow said:
I love the message of your article! It'sso ttrue. Nursing school is hard work and I look back on my other classes and felt like they spoon feed me information vs nursing school which in comparison is more like the hunger games. Lol okay I exaggerate but it's work! And I totally laughed at the Mulan reference.

Haha! I am glad you liked that! I completely "snarfed" at the Hunger Games reference too! The first part of the movie that ran through my mind when I read that was how the deceased were accounted for at the end of every day! Yes - your analogy seemed very appropriate!

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brown eyed girl specializes in LTC/Sub Acute Rehab.

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I LOVE IT! Especially the highlighter! It just might be time for me to throw mine away as well! PLEASE KEEP IT COMING! I'M ANXIOUS FOR THE NEXT CHAPTER! :yes:

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Love, love, love your story! I'm sure all of us could relate to your experiences. What I remember most about nursing school was lack of sleep, staying up half the night studying or preparing a care plan for the next day in clinicals. By the time I arrived at the hospital to take care of my patient, I truly felt like crawling in bed with him/her and sleeping. Determination and hard work paid off and at the age of 50, I graduated from nursing school!

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