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Fear-mongering in nursing school

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by Guest1033582 Guest1033582 (Member)

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Coming on here just to vent and see if anyone has noticed a similar culture:

I just finished my first semester of BSN nursing school (fundamentals w/ clinical, health assessment, & pharm I) at a private 4-year university. I absolutely love what I am learning and have never been more sure that nursing is my calling.

However, I notice there is a huge culture of fear-mongering among nursing students and professors. Before I actually started the program, students were telling me to be prepared for how hard the classes would be. Even advisors and professors would try to emphasize that nursing school is the hardest thing you would ever do, how it would push you to your limit, how you would have no social life and study all the time, etc. As a pre-nursing student, I was terrified to enter nursing school and what it would hold.

But after a semester...I find that their comments are almost unfounded. The sheer volume of work is a lot but the actual content of what we are learning is--dare I say--easier than my prerequisites. I feel as if nursing students and professors go around saying how hard it is, wearing it as a badge of honor. My friend group feels the same way I do, but among my classmates, all you hear are nursing students complaining about how hard their life is, how nursing school is impossible, how they're being pushed to their limit. I wouldn't say nursing school is "easy" because there is so much time just completing busywork (I.e.- care plans, concept maps) that goes into it...but it certainly isn't rocket science, like there's a reason so many people make it through nursing school vs. how many people make it through medical school. Pharm is the most conceptually heavy and even that just builds off A&P course (my university has very challenging prerequisites so maybe we were just well prepared).

So all of that to say--have any of you experienced a culture of fear-mongering in your nursing school and found it to be completely asinine? I feel as if it's a negative environment that is toxic to morale, and I just don't understand why PROFESSORS continue to propagate it. How do you separate yourself from the negativity? It is hard for someone who is already anxious to hear all this hype that I will be so pushed and so challenged, and having to deal with the constant influx of "LOL yeah good luck" is emotionally draining.

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I agree that some of what you hear prior to entering nursing school is hype.. it's not all fear-mongering as you call it.

For most students - this is the first professional program that they will be exposed to and the fact that information must be retained and recalled during the entire program will be new and challenging for many. This will also be the first time that many students must start really comprehending the material instead of simply memorizing. 

This alone is enough to raise the apprehension of many nursing students... then many programs will add the extra stress of a raised passing minimum - you no longer pass at a 70 but now must receive a 74. You are only allowed 1 failure to repeat then you are expelled from the program. Clinical 1 1/2 away and starts at 6am --- there is no excuse to be late... even if you have a big assignment due the day before and have to stay up for an extended period to complete it. 

For most of the education path students simply memorize and regurgitate information term after term for courses. 

So yeah - some of the hype is deserved as students deserve to know the actual expectation of the program before ever stepping foot into their first class.

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4 minutes ago, 203bravo said:

So yeah - some of the hype is deserved as students deserve to know the actual expectation of the program before ever stepping foot into their first class.

I just don't think nursing is any harder than other science majors that don't get nearly the amount of hype as you call it. As I mentioned, my prerequisites that I took alongside premeds, bio majors, etc were much harder conceptually than my nursing classes. Nursing classes, on the contrary, are quite a breeze but they do require more time just because of the useless busywork. I just think my peers and professors need to get over themselves and realize that no, nursing school isn't anymore "special" and certainly not as difficult as other science majors. That negative hype is detrimental on every level.

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Encouraging post. Thanks. Alleviates sone of my apprehensions. 

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NICU Guy has 5 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in NICU.

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1 hour ago, 203bravo said:

I agree that some of what you hear prior to entering nursing school is hype.. it's not all fear-mongering as you call it.

For most students - this is the first professional program that they will be exposed to and the fact that information must be retained and recalled during the entire program will be new and challenging for many. This will also be the first time that many students must start really comprehending the material instead of simply memorizing. 

This alone is enough to raise the apprehension of many nursing students... then many programs will add the extra stress of a raised passing minimum - you no longer pass at a 70 but now must receive a 74. You are only allowed 1 failure to repeat then you are expelled from the program. Clinical 1 1/2 away and starts at 6am --- there is no excuse to be late... even if you have a big assignment due the day before and have to stay up for an extended period to complete it. 

For most of the education path students simply memorize and regurgitate information term after term for courses. 

So yeah - some of the hype is deserved as students deserve to know the actual expectation of the program before ever stepping foot into their first class.

I will agree with this. I will add that professors also emphasize "NCLEX type" questions.  There are six types of questions: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Each category of questions requires an increasing level of critical thinking skills. Analysis, synthesis and evaluation questions would be considered higher-level NCLEX questions. Most pre-req classes use the two lower level questions: knowledge and comprehension (ie: Hypoxia is defined as...?) vs the higher level questions (Your post-op patient has a HR: 120, RR 30, Sa O2 of 74%, increased work of breathing,  moderate sub-sternal retractions. What is your first intervention?). All four answer may be correct, but which is the "best" answer. Struggling with those types of questions, causes lower grades, which causes anxiety, which causes longer hours of studying, which leads to less sleep. It becomes a nightmare for some students. You may be able to comprehend the coursework, comprehend the higher level exam questions, etc. Nursing school may be easier for you, but it does not mean that the "hype" is not real for many nursing students.

Nursing school requires you to be able to comprehend and retain the content that you learned last semester, two semesters ago, three semesters ago. Nursing classes are not memorize and forget for next semester. Since you completed your first semester, your "fear mongering" comment may come into play in the next 2-3 semesters.

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7 hours ago, emilyjoy19 said:

I just don't think nursing is any harder than other science majors that don't get nearly the amount of hype as you call it. As I mentioned, my prerequisites that I took alongside premeds, bio majors, etc were much harder conceptually than my nursing classes. Nursing classes, on the contrary, are quite a breeze but they do require more time just because of the useless busywork. I just think my peers and professors need to get over themselves and realize that no, nursing school isn't anymore "special" and certainly not as difficult as other science majors. That negative hype is detrimental on every level.

And some people just "get" it easier than others... good for you.

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Nurse SMS has 9 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development.

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There is an edge to the hype that does border on fear-mongering, no doubt. That being said, too many people go into a nursing program without realizing it is a full time endeavor, requiring full time childcare and full time attention. People who are used to skating by often cannot once they get into nursing school. If someone has never learned to study properly, it will come out. There is a nugget of truth in the hype.

Your personal experience is anecdotal. I will also add that one semester of nursing school does not an expert make. You are doing well and not suffering undue stress, which is fantastic, but to blanket that across the entire experience is A)  naive and B)  unkind and C) a false comparison. 

Get to the end of the program and graduate. Then tell us what you think of the "hype". In the meantime, recognize that you have some gifts and/or privilege that makes this experience easier for you than many, at least thus far. That doesn't mean the "hype" is wrong so much as it means you personally are doing better than you expected. To say its all hype implies others who might be struggling are somehow "less than". That's unkind. And untrue.

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22 hours ago, emilyjoy19 said:

 Nursing classes, on the contrary, are quite a breeze

There's 2 kinds of nursing students:  The ones who have to learn every intervention for a disease, have it all spelled out, study nonstop, and the ones who figured out "cause the opposite of the symptom."

For me, the biggest challenge was time.  My school was making some changes and led to a lot of disorganization.  And since we're paying a lot of money to go to that school, apparently it makes perfect sense that we have to work around their schedule instead of them work around the schedule we already agreed on.

Flexibility is hard when you're not married and live alone and actually have to work full time.

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9 hours ago, Nurse SMS said:

That doesn't mean the "hype" is wrong so much as it means you personally are doing better than you expected. To say its all hype implies others who might be struggling are somehow "less than". That's unkind. And untrue.

You see, I'm not the only one who feels this way though. My friend group who has been with me since the very beginning (some of whom are already entering senior year) are breezing by with 4.0s as well while hearing 75% of our classmates complain about how "hard" everything is. I think it's an attitude problem.

The people who are struggling and feel the need to complain are my biggest issue. It fosters such a negative culture and honestly...if you're struggling either 1) reevaluate your career choice or 2) work harder and don't complain because that takes up time. My own roommate, actually, is entering senior year and has been struggling, getting B's in her theory classes. Does she have to work harder? Yes. Does she complain about it? Not once.

Bottom line--if you can't run with the big dogs, stay on the damn porch. And don't scare the poor prenursing students by making it sound as if nursing school is the hardest thing EVER. That not only drives away some potentially brilliant minds, but it is also a "Debbie Downer" to the people around you who are actually working hard without being whiney. Yes, nursing school is time-consuming. But it's nursing--not exactly med school, engineering school, etc.

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I had a similar thing happen to me... I was so worried about college being so much harder than high school that I really buckled down and took everything seriously, got my ducks in order and got everything done.  I got all A's that first year.  Maybe you're doing well because you prepared yourself mentally for something hard?  That's OK too.

This isn't just a nursing school thing..I have an unrelated background for my first couple of degrees and there was a ton of hype about how hard everything is.. it also builds up the cult and keeps people together.  I'm guessing they see a lot of people fail out and they figure they should warn them that you can't skate by anymore.. also retention=$$$.

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So, I'm going to be honest, after the last thread... You might have a little shock coming in your next classes.  For me nursing school was easy, but my way of learning made it easy.  I made connections that made everything make a ton of sense almost effortlessly.

After fundamentals, you're going to be going very heavily on application.  When you learn about a disease, you have to know about the disease to have a background, but you're in school to be nurse, you're expected to know what a nurse needs to know.  How easy or hard this part is depends on your assessment skills.  That's the primary role of a nurse.  Without that, you're useless in the RN role.  To understand why I'm pointing this out, you were arguing with someone that has a BSN about whether or not they have any qualification or knowledge over someone with an ADN.  Your classes, from now on, aren't telling you what to do for someone with x disease.  You're learning the disease and key symptoms, and you have to be able to figure out on your own what to do.  Like, whenever TB comes up, you're going to learn the symptoms specific to TB... But you can't forget that it's still a respiratory infection and all those symptoms come with it too and you have to know how to handle that patient.

School is going to get tougher.  It's not as hard as the hype, you're right about that, but it's not something you can do in your sleep.  Best advice for this Summer find logic puzzles and do them like crazy.  Learn to get used to making connections and applying what you already knew to what you're learning new.  Fundamentals was easy, but it's very objective.  Nursing is more abstract, make sure you're ready.

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Nurse SMS has 9 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development.

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On 5/7/2020 at 4:11 PM, Guest1033582 said:

You see, I'm not the only one who feels this way though. My friend group who has been with me since the very beginning (some of whom are already entering senior year) are breezing by with 4.0s as well while hearing 75% of our classmates complain about how "hard" everything is. I think it's an attitude problem.

The people who are struggling and feel the need to complain are my biggest issue. It fosters such a negative culture and honestly...if you're struggling either 1) reevaluate your career choice or 2) work harder and don't complain because that takes up time. My own roommate, actually, is entering senior year and has been struggling, getting B's in her theory classes. Does she have to work harder? Yes. Does she complain about it? Not once.

Bottom line--if you can't run with the big dogs, stay on the damn porch. And don't scare the poor prenursing students by making it sound as if nursing school is the hardest thing EVER. That not only drives away some potentially brilliant minds, but it is also a "Debbie Downer" to the people around you who are actually working hard without being whiney. Yes, nursing school is time-consuming. But it's nursing--not exactly med school, engineering school, etc.

Again. You have completed ONE SEMESTER. You are nowhere near even midpoint of this race and not even remotely qualified to decide everyone else is "scare mongering". You sound arrogant, judgmental and unable to tell the difference between anecdotal evidence and real evidence. You and your friends may be doing better than most. Great. I hope it continues. But stop painting others with this "I am so great, what's wrong with you" brush.

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