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First semester nursing student!

by paigecham22 paigecham22 (New) New

Hey All,

I just completed my third day of official nursing school, and I'm quite nervous about a few things and already feel discouraged. I'm hoping for a few words of encouragement or maybe advice for the first year nursing student (none of my family works in healthcare, so they are never really sure how to help me when I call them in a panic)

1. If I have a bit of a problem with smells and when people throw up (it makes me gag) will I still be able to make it through clinicals? Is there anything I can put under my nose to help or do I just suck it up?

2. Are there any suggestions anyone can give for studying? Or just any suggestions in general?

3. Is there any advice or suggested good quotes to look at when feeling discouraged? I know this will happen much more than once.

I've been told, not sure if this is truthful or not, that I shouldn't talk to my professors when I'm afraid of a certain procedure or struggling with smells. I was told this will cause them to call you out more in clinicals. I was also told I was crazy for going through nursing school willingly... But, I decided to post on this site, and speak to my professors about problems if it's needed.

Thank you for any kind words anyone provides even if you don't answer my questions, it's much appreciated.


Specializes in Neuro, Telemetry. Has 6 years experience.

Unless you get a really nasty clinical instructor, never feel like you can't tell them of your initial discomfort with things. Especially smells. That can't really be helped and is not a confidence or knowledge issue. It's just something you get used to over time. Now when you learn new skills and are too nervous to try them on a real patient, that is when you don't go running to your CI to tell them.

However, since you asked, you can put a dab of Vicks under your nostrils when entering a particularly smelly room. Just don't let a patient see you do it. Also, try mouth breathing. Not wide open mouth where you can almost "taste the smell". But just slightly open and breathe as slowly as possible. This will help with smell. As far as the gagging feeling, sometimes it just happens. I have gagged a couple time because a smell was just that bad. What I do is make sure I am not direnctly facing a client while cleaning so if it happens they don't notice. And over time, the smells aren't that bad and you can at least stop gagging in the room. GL.

1. You might try carrying a little bit of Vicks with you. Place it under your nose and wear a mask for strong smells. Or, you can do without the mask if you would like.

2. There are many threads that provide study tips. Just a snapshot... First, try to find out what type of learner you are...visual, etc. What worked for me was writing out my notes, making note cards, recording myself talking out the notes, and then listening later. In class, listen to the words and phrases that your professor emphasizes or repeats...you will more than likely see that material on the exam.

3. My motto during nursing school came straight from Finding Nemo..."just keep swimming." I had that as my computer background, had it posted on my wall, even saved a pic of it to my phone. Find a quote that you can pull out or say to yourself when you start to feel like you're drowning....hence the "just keep swimming."

I always talked to my professors about any fears...even my "toughest" instructor. While they would not baby me, they would help me think through what I was doing, or allow me to "walk" through procedures before going into the patient's room. I think being open with your professors can only help you as they can provide tips on how to deal with your fears and struggles.

One of my fellow students had a serious issue with smells and drains. To the point that she passed out twice and gagged at the slightest smell. It was indeed questioned if she was in the right field, but, after speaking with our professor...she was given as many opportunities as possible to deal with her fears. She overcame them for the most part and was able to comfortably perform her duties. There were some underlying issues there, though. Maybe your professor can help you overcome your fears if you open up to them.

Keep in mind that all nurses have their "thing" that they find less than pleasant. For me it is mucus and ear wax. :yuck:

Best wishes.

As far as studying goes, I think one of the biggest helps is getting used to NCLEX style questions. This can take a little (or a lot) of time), but I think being familiar with the style of questions is HUGE. When you are comfortable with the style, it makes it a lot easier to focus on the content. I highly recommend doing practice NCLEX questions at least a few times a week. My school required us to do certain numbers of them each week or semester depending on our level.

Like the other responders, I also really encourage you to be open with your instructors. I felt I got the best clinical experiences when I had good relationships with my instructors - relationships where I could tell them things I was nervous or worried about.

Good luck with nursing school - it's a craaaaazy ride! But you can do it! :)


For practicing and reviewing nclex style questions what book do you use ?


Sorry for taking so long! We used NCLEX 10000/Prep-U. Its a pretty good program and it's online so you can access it anywhere.

let the 'switch flick'..... i was worried about gagging because of smells, bodily fluids etc. my first placement was in aged care so there was every smell and bodily fluid you could think of. we were cleaning up a gentleman who had just come back from his cancer treatment, and there was fluids coming out of every place you could think of... and of course, landed straight on me. thing is, i had a job to do, so the 'professional' me switched on. I can honestly say i barely smelled anything, and just continued cleaning him up, then went to the utility room and cleaned myself up (with the help of a nurse's aid drowning me in disinfectant spray).