I am a 36 year old man, I ride a Harley, my skin was strengthened in a period of homelessness, I was forced to drop a full load of pre-req's after being severely burned. I had the determination to keep going. I had little help. I CRIED
This is the boring part. (skip down for advice)
When I got into nursing school, it was a sigh of relief followed by pressure. This pressure was delivered to me in a neat little "Welcome Packet" filled with all of the things I needed to accomplish in a month. Background Checks, Drug Tests, Physical Exam, Fingerprinting, Vaccinations, Titers, a list of things I would need to buy, $1000 access fee for computerized books that became the old edition 2 weeks in, all of these documents to print and sign, and a deadline.
I did that. I went to welcoming night, where I was the only person that came without support (mainly because I had no real support). My mentality was, I got into this by myself, and I am going to make it out by myself... And I have never been so wrong in my life.
Call it a lucky twist of fate, but we were partnered up with strangers for something called frontloading, which I had never heard of before. You don't know fear until you are thrown onto the stage with someone you don't know, to perform things you don't fully understand, in front of a panel of judges that seem like they are there to make your life hell. They have these checklists of every little detail, and watch over your shoulder while you meticulously wash your hands, clean rubber private parts, and take the manual blood pressure of your partner while they listen in on a double headed stethoscope monster.
Somehow, we made it through that fire, and were released to clinical sites. Some of us had an easier time than others. All of us were scared, and all of us were a mess, and we ALL made our mistakes. We were slowly transformed from classroom learners to hybrid creatures, in a land where the books contradicted themselves, we were guided and not instructed, and the tests made absolutely no sense. Each day, each semester, was progressively harder than the previous. No longer motivated to score the highest grade possible, we read and tried to understand and questioned everything. Notes were shared, practice questions were useless without rationales, and failure was always one step behind us.
When the final semester came around (4th for us), everything was about High Acuity, crisis, the worst of the worst. All of the things you don't want to see. and it began to tie together what exactly we were preventing with those nursing actions that didn't seem to make sense. The last semester was the most stressful period that I have ever endured in all of my life.
We needed to maintain a testing average to sit for the final. I went in with 1 point over that average. That isn't a lot of room to breath, considering the exam was 2 days after our last unit test, and 2 days after that was our exit exam. We weren't allowed to now what questions we got wrong on the tests we took, so there was no way to study your weakest areas.
What got me through?
- My Study Group (Nursing Family)
- Reading again and again, summarizing sections
- Practice Questions (daily)
- Working on Questions Together, verbalizing thought processes
- Reading the rationales whether you were Correct or Incorrect
- Colored Highlighters
- Organization and Time Management
- Google Docs (collaborative study guides)
- Being Responsible for my Education
- Using Evidence Based Study Methods (There are so many strategies)
- Holding Myself Accountable for my Grades
- Index Cards (Cards for every diagnosis, med, lab value, etc...)
- It cannot be memorized. You have to UNDERSTAND.
- Discussions with peers
- Discussions with professors
- following the lesson plan. everything you need to understand is laid out for you.
- There are NO LUCKY GUESSES on Select All That Apply
Mental Health was part of my last semester. It was paired up with all of the trauma and shock. Something I did was take a piece of paper, and on the front, I made a little patient profile.
The patient had:
- brief explanation of the disorder
- risk factors
On the reverse, I made a list of Nursing Actions and Why they Helped.
Meds, with their action, SIDE EFFECTS, and Nursing Concerns (warnings, dangers)
What my Nursing Care Plan would be for this client (this was directly from the text)
So what can you do? You can't help her pass. She has to do it. As every nurse will tell you, and every patient deserves, she is responsible for her education, she is responsible for every answer she submits on her tests, because she will be responsible for the lives of people, being the one who stands between a vulnerable human and a deadly error. Her eyes will need to see test results and understand if it is lethal.
You can listen to her. To her fears, her self criticism and doubt. You can ask why, and push her to think a little deeper. If she doesn't have a study group, you can allow her to teach you. You can make sure she has food, water, and encourage her to rest. If she has a study group, you can allow her to contribute, we were lucky and always had an environment that was free of distractions.
you can tell her that if she fails, you will still love her. You can tell her that Nursing School seems worse than boot camp, and that you are proud of her for coming this far. You can make sure her education is given the highest priority in the household. Pick up her chores, cut her a little slack, precook some meals, things you are probably already doing.
What you can do for yourself is understand that Nursing School is made to break people down, to restructure our entire way of thinking, and creates Nurses that question everything, trust no one, endure the worst and sacrifice themselves for the wellness of other people. You can encourage her to give 100% until she graduates or they kick her out. If she fails the semester, she will be better off retaking it after giving all of herself to the end because she will have a better understanding.
Once nursing school is over, all of that studying, sacrifice, determination, it is all worth it. People fail classes. It happens, and they can still succeed. That choice is hers. Mental Health is not for everyone, she may love it or hate it. But taking a good look at the world we live in, mental health is everywhere, and it is evident in every field of nursing, no matter what the demographic or the specialty, it is there.
A nursing license isn't what it used to be: following Physician Orders without question, doing what you are told and expected. A license is responsibility. it is Accountability. It is a privilege to clinical judgments and decisions based on your knowledge.
Okay that was a lot of typing and I'm sure you already know most of these things. Take what you need, discard what you don't.