HELP,HELP,HELP,HELP,HELP--student nurse in distress

Nurses Career Support


Please help. I am set to begin my clinical's for the BSN program I am in next fall. I am currently taking AP I and microbiology now. I have so many doubts about nursing right now, and I need help. Well, a big part is I hate not all the reading and memorizing....but the labs. I puke all day after we work on our fetal pigs becuase I cant get the smell out of my head. It is horrible. I talked to my professor about it...all she said was I still had to do it. If I cant stand dissecting a pig, how am I going to make it as a nurse? I am also terrified of contracting disease while working in a hospital. Is it common and should I even worry about it? I am so close to getting into the upper level of the nursing program and I dont know if I should quit now...or keep going and give it a try. I need some solid honest advice about what to really expect as a nurse. Please...any advice is welecomed good or bad.


gwenith, BSN, RN

3,755 Posts

Specializes in ICU.

Not everyone is cut out to be a nurse and there is no shame in that. Dissecting a pig - well there is not often you will have to do that as a nurse so that is not a problem but being scared of catching something is or rather can be. All of us are a little afraid - that is why there are universal precautions but I have known those for whom it bacame an obession and they had to leave the hospital setting.


222 Posts

You won't be dissecting any pigs when practicing as an RN. Even though the pig used to make me sick, I have watched surgery and even an autopsy with total awe and wonder. No queasiness at all. The human body is a beautiful thing.

Hanging blood makes me kind of queasy, but I don't have to do it often, and I don't look at the bag.

I, too, feel afraid of catching a disease, but it just makes me more careful. You have to remember, most of your patients ARENT contagious. Very few will have Hepatitis or HIV, and you'll be wearing gloves and goggles during invasive procedures. I won't work in an ER or in a high risk area.

There are many kinds of nursing. Talk to your instuctor about your fears.


136 Posts

Originally posted by NancyRN

There are many kinds of nursing. Talk to your instuctor about your fears.

I agree with NancyRn, There are several areas of nursing. You could work in a doctor's office or even telephone triage. I know one of my instructors could not stand feces, while another could not stand vomit. So talk with your instructor about your concerns and go from there. Some things we learn to adjust to.

I wish you the best of luck in whatever you decide.


378 Posts

I haven't dissected any pigs in my 24 years!! :)

One of the top students in my class had a bad phobia of sticking needles into people. She froze when havng to do injections and venipuncture. Almost failed but made it. We used to have to take her in the lounge, lay her down and elevate her legs because she turned snow white and would almost pass out at the thought. We would rally around her and get her all pumped up, she would go do it and then run to the bathroom to throw up afterward, but she made it.

I ran into her about 3 years after graduation, she was one of the top PACU nurses in the teaching hospital in which she worked. She overcame her fear and loathing and actually worked extra shifts on the IV and code teams.

Hang in there!! The time will pass.


1,062 Posts

Specializes in ICU, psych, corrections.

We had a student pass out the day we did a craniotomy on our cadavers. The instructor asked him to pull out the brain and he passed out. He claimed it was from not eating anything the entire day, but he looked green to me. I ended up being the one to take out the brain. Give me human cadavers over pigs and cats anyday. I did a fetal pig in 9th grade and a cat in 11th grade, then again in my freshman year of college. The cadaver was a LOT more useful in learning about the human body than either the pig or the cat. And unlike with the pig or the cat, my professor wasn't concerned about our dissecting skills. I remember when we did the cat and the pig, our teachers flipped out if we made one wrong cut. This professor was really cool...he would just say "they're dead..they can't feel it". He didn't care what we did with the parts as long as we didn't take them home.


If you have so many doubts, why did you even apply for nursing school? What made you decide to study nursing? Why don't you start from there.

No pig disection is waiting for you, but you will encounter all kinds of things that may gross you out. Not only that, you have to read and read and read in nursing school. I'm not kidding and don't mean to scare you, but it's true!! You will probably find that out in the first semester/quarter.

Without a strong commitment you may easily give it up. Better not to start than to quit after you spend so much time? Well, I can't answer that for you. Talk to your nursing student advisor even before you start. S/he may help you to have a bigger picture of what's like to be a nurse.

English is not my primary language (I'm from Japan!) It was so difficult for me to go through the nursing school and get a BSN degree. But, it was worth of my effort. There are so many things that you can learn and contribute as an RN. Good luck to you.


222 Posts

I just thought of some useful advice my own son gave me when I was in school, which has served me well: "Run into the fire!"

This means, whenever your fears are holding you back, just DO IT...and you'll be so proud of yourself; and you'll wonder why you ever were afraid!

renerian, BSN, RN

5,693 Posts

Specializes in MS Home Health.

I hated cutting up an animal as well but I did do a cat for six weeks. Was disgusting to keep dragging that animal out. YUCK. I found working with people different though since I was helping them with their health issues.


Farkinott, RN

581 Posts

Specializes in Renal, Haemo and Peritoneal.

Cutting up pigs in the name of education is crap! Please try and sift throught the bulls**t that is thrown at you at uni! In you real nursing job you will never cut up bodies again! If you wish to be a theatre nurse and watch live physiological beings cut up on the table that may be a different matter!

Please do not worry about catching any diseases fromyour patients/clients. Frequent washing of the hands (i.e. standard precautions) usually takes care of that!

Nursing school is not the job of nursing. Go with the flow, make your mind up about how you want to approach the job of nursing and go with that. Don't take any flak for having feelings. As a nurse you wil need them! Good luck and keep on fighting the good fight!

Liddle Noodnik

1 Article; 3,789 Posts

Specializes in Alzheimer's, Geriatrics, Chem. Dep..

Y'know, this may be ONLY about the pigs! Not your value as a nurse! Is this a university class or a nursing class? If it is a university class you may be able to get out of dissection under principle.

If it's a nursing class, I still think you should be able to get out of it somehow; there are other ways of skinning a cat. Er, maybe that isn't the best expression to use right now.

Is the smell formaldehyde or just the smell of the pig itself?

How much of your grade is the pig stuff?

We had to do frogs and worms; I don't remember if we did pigs. But I didn't like it. I didn't feel I had a choice but I did it. But if you are vomiting! because of it, maybe there are other alternatives.

God knows, nurses don't do surgery anyway. It is not a skill you need to have. What you DO need is a knowledge of A and P.

Good luck. I don't think you're so weird or that you are gonna be a bad nurse. I just think you hate cutting up pigs, is all.


42 Posts

I always wanted to be a nurse, but ended up getting a teaching degree and regretting it. I think that if you feel strongly about being a nurse, you should do it. I am now back in nursing school (almost done!:D ), and am so happy that I am finally doing what I originally intended to do.

Don't worry about the pig. Find a way to get through that part. I have found there are things that make my toes curl (burns, orthopedic surgery, eye surgery), so I know I won't practice in those areas. But there are so many things I LOVE--like doing something small to put a patient at ease, or getting to try a skill I have never done before (I was so giddy the first time I checked NG placement--silly, I know).

There are so many AWESOME things nursing and nursing school have to offer. All those pre-reqs are the sludge you have to walk through to get to the good stuff!!! You are almost there......

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