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Help! Failing my first semester of nursing school!

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I'm currently studying for my finals, but one class that I'm currently struggling in is Pharmacology (they took it back into the program after 5 years of being discontinued due to students complaining its difficulty) and after the HESI that we just took (which I failed) I have to get over a 100 on my final just to pass my course to a 78%. Any less than that, they'll kick us out since the passing rate is a 78%, so I don't know whether to even try studying for it. I've read some other topics that were in my position and I'm still disappointed in myself for not being able to pass this semester (my parents are even blaming me for not studying harder). I've worked really hard to get into the program since it's really competitive to get in and with all the work I've done, I feel like it wasn't enough.

I have friends who took the exams with ease and I just feel like they're naturally smart, especially one that's working in the weekends (she even went to a concert!) and she's still passing her classes with high 80's. I know I'm not supposed to compare myself to them, but I'm in a really hard predicament right now so I don't know what else to think, like why can't I be like that smart. I'm also bummed that I won't be with them for the next semester.

I've tried studying in study groups and even asked other people for help (including my mother who's a nurse but she hardly sees me since I'm mostly in school and/or she works since she takes night shifts in two hospitals), but for some reason, the information just doesn't stick. I know that I'm lacking in my testing skills since I knew the information but can't apply it to the question so I'm always constantly bickering to myself inside my head between two answers. I've read some test-taking strategies and it helped somewhat but I was still struggling.

If any of you guys mention, that nursing isn't for me, it is. I love watching my patients smile during my clinical (they've sent me blessings and a good luck in nursing school, so I feel bad for disappointing them) and I especially love taking care of old people (or people in general). My role model is my mother who is currently a nurse and she works twice as hard since my dad is the one who takes care of my brother and me at home by doing housework. The more I think about that, the more I feel like a burden because my mom has been buying me books to get me through the semester (especially a monthly subscription picmonic for pharm) and she's the one who's been paying for my classes and books included. (I'm planning on getting a part-time job to see if I can help)

Sorry this seems like a rant, but I've been so down lately that I don't know what to do anymore and I feel like a failure. I've been trying to keep up my positivity in the first half of the semester but I finally broke down by the near second half. I still want to pursue nursing and I don't want to give up, but I would have to wait for another semester to reapply again and I feel like I would've used that semester as a student in the second level... so if anyone has anything or suggestions to help me get through, it'll be highly appreciated! Please and thank you!

Don't give up! I totally understand, I think many of us have felt exactly what you're feeling...on multiple occasions! Pharm is definitely a tough one, but there are definitely ways to get through it, you just have to figure out how you learn best.

Picmonic was a life-saver for me when I was struggling with pharm. I know you said you're using it, but there are actually so many features and cool things that you can do with it that maybe not as obvious right off the bat. Once you use it correctly though, you'd be suprised at how much it helps in exams! If you need help, message me and I can walk you through it :) I love to spread the Picmonic love because it changed everything for me in nursing school and raised my grades a ton.

The good news is that you're right, just because you're struggling with test taking and memorization doesn't reflect at all what type of nurse you'll be. Nursing is all about compassion and love for people, all the school stuff will stick in time!

Thank you for the comment! I would love to get help from you regarding picmonic since maybe I'm not really using it right. I just barely made this account yesterday because I was in such a distressed state so I don't mind if you help me out by starting the message first.

I've been beating myself up so many times and seeing my friends who are going to continue off without me hurts, but I won't give up!

Thank you again for reaching out!

Message sent 🙂

Don't give up my dear.

angeloublue22, BSN, RN

Specializes in Addictions, psych, and corrections. Has 7 years experience.

Try simplenursing on YouTube. He was the one that helped me the most and he has fun ways to remember information. That was one of my hardest classes as well and now I'm known as the "med queen" because I will most likely be able to answer most questions about meds. He's also great when you get to med/surg classes.

Try using drug flash cards for the drugs that will appear on your exam and do practice questions.

Perhaps take a different approach? I am one of those 4.0 students, maintained through Nursing. Inam currently in an LPN to BSN program.

I never "memorized" anything flash card style because it never helped me. Rather than that, I focused on groups. What did that entire "group" do.. Side effects, how it interacts with other medications.

Example is ACE inhibitors. I focus on that group, and then the individual meds associated with it.

Maybe you might consider a different study strategy if what you are currently doing isn't working :) It is not difficult to change strategies.

I'm sorry that I just got your PM earlier since I was busy studying for Fundamentals! But when I tried to reply back this is what it told me :(

"We apologize for the inconvenience but sending a Private Message is disabled for all members who have not actively participated on the site. Members are required to have a minimum of 15 quality topics in order to use our Private Messaging (PM) System.

This change is required to decrease the likelihood of someone abusing our policy and soliciting members. If you get any private messages that are soliciting in nature, please report them using the Report button found in the message. Thank you for understanding."

I only have a week left of nursing school (technically 2 days) and thank you so much for the recommendations you've sent me in PM! They're helpful! I don't mind if you can send me the next step and/or find a different way to contact me! :D

Edited by nursing_potato


I heard that med/surg is hard (I have it in the first rotation of my second semester if I passed my classes) but what books did you guys use for your class for Pharmacology? because does it matter what kind of books you guys used compared to ours?


Yes! I've tried so many different strategies (and even changed so much of my study habits) that it became exhausting until I felt comfortable on one that I chose, but by that time though, it was already too late because it was already near the end of the semester ;; I have done that groups example as well and tried to make connections, like what you said for ACE inhibitors which are the -prils in the end of their names and indiividual generic names for each medicine (not the brand names).

I'm in the ADN program and I want to ask if you guys used the same book for Pharmacology? My professor told us to use "Frandsen & Pennington: Abrams' Clinical Drug Therapy: Rationales for Nursing Practice, Eleventh Edition" and I wanna see if it doesn't matter what books to use to actually study for Pharmacology (the point that came with it was super helpful afterwards when studying for a chapter since you get to do quizzes!)

Neo Soldier, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psychiatry. Has 6 years experience.

I'm sorry you're going through this. If this first semester doesn't go as you planned, please consider (if you haven't) taking the CNA exam and getting certified. You may not need to take a CNA course since you've had a semester of nursing school. This way while you wait you can get immersed in patient care and make some money. If you do take the CNA exam, know that there is a skill section where you show your skills; you can watch videos online so you get a general idea of how a skill is performed. I think having a job may be therapeutic as opposed to waiting for another semester to come by. You say you intend to work part time anyway why not use some of the skills you acquired during your first semester.

Working at a job while you're a CNA also has the added benefit of you having a possible job when you graduate and get your RN license. So while many go through the awkward new-grad-job-search phase, you have your foot in somewhere.

Please consider applying to other schools in your area besides yours. It may be better to go to a different school because there are schools that may only allow you to fail once.

A helpful strategy for nursing school is to study practice test questions and read rationales. This will improve your test taking skills especially for the select all the apply ones. YouTube is a helpful resource for content you are struggling with.

I wish you good luck and a happy holiday!!

angeloublue22, BSN, RN

Specializes in Addictions, psych, and corrections. Has 7 years experience.

nursing_potato said:

I heard that med/surg is hard (I have it in the first rotation of my second semester if I passed my classes) but what books did you guys use for your class for Pharmacology? because does it matter what kind of books you guys used compared to ours?

We just used a basic pharmacology textbook. I used flash cards and youtube.

angeloublue22 said:
We just used a basic pharmacology textbook. I used flash cards and youtube.

Did you all read about 9 chapters for each exam that's given to you as well? In the beginning I overstudied until I realized after each and every exam what to study for (but also because he changes the way he questions us since a lot of us were failing)