Intimidated by Younger Nursing Students

  1. Dear Nurse Beth,

    I have been out of school for three years, going back to get my RN. This is my second week and I am so overwhelmed. I am beginning to doubt myself on returning. I want to become an RN, I know that it comes with great responsibilities. I just can not grasp a study plan, being older than my peers, i feel very intimidated. Any words of advice for beginning this study plan?

    Dear Intimidated by Younger Students,

    It can be intimidating to feel as though your fellow students are grasping the information and you are struggling. You have earned your right to be in this class, you have met the criteria, and you've passed some very hard pre-requisites. What study plan worked well for you then?

    You feel your problem is due to age. That may or may not be the case. You may be painting the picture with a broad brush, and it's entirely possible some of your younger classmates are also struggling.

    It is important to get on top of your studies. Check out the Study Tips for Nursing Students forum here on line. Everyone learns differently, and here are the top three tips that worked for me:

    • When you are in lecture, pay attention to what the instructor feels is important. This is the information that will show up on exams.
    • Review regularly. This hard-wires the information.
    • Use a highlighter to force you to recognize the most pertinent information.

    Related: Age Discrimination in Nursing

    Best wishes,

    Nurse Beth

    Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!
    Last edit by tnbutterfly on Oct 23, '17
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    About Nurse Beth, MSN, RN

    Joined: Mar '07; Posts: 1,478; Likes: 4,350


  3. by   JinnSchlajfertig
    I got my BSN at 35. I guarantee that all the students harbor individual doubts about their ability to get through the program. Some just don't show it because there is this culture of fear around appearing stupid in some educational programs. It can vary by cohort. I was a TA for undergrads and the difference between cohorts can be striking. Some tips:

    -ask for help! As a TA I saw professors always welcome the opportunity to steer a student to the right path.
    -print out slides and write on them during lecture if you find that typing notes isn't helpful for retention (rather that typing on emailed slides). It was like night and day for me and I wish I had tried it sooner.
    -don't be afraid to ask "stupid" questions in class. I guarantee that others have the same question. Also it's congruent with nursing values to ask questions to get the best understanding. It's what keeps patients safe! Your leadership in this area will encourage other students to ask questions and gives the profs a way to guage comprehension.
    -remember that nursing school is very challenging for everyone and take care of yourself. That includes acknowledging small victories. And knowing when to get help.
    Good luck. Nursing needs more second-career nurses. We bring a richness to the field.
  4. by   sunny time
    Change the dialogue in your head. I was 38 when I received my nursing degree. Most of the students were younger than me but there were a few of us that were around the same age. We had kids about the same age. The dialogue in your head should be "no matter what or who, it will not stop me for making a better life for myself" say this to yourself every day to affirm your self and rejuvenate your brain into knowing who you really are. Pick up you head when you walk into class and don't let the age of people intimidate you. Remember you will be dealing with people of all ages. Learn now to deal with it.
  5. by   Slhengy
    I was 37 when I completed my RN, 43 when I completed my BSN and I am now 49 working on my FNP. You can do this! Do not let ANYONE intimidate you! Go in to your class with confidence and tell yourself repeatedly that you can handle this! You will have the same kind of pressures when you are a practicing RN so use self talk to get you through.
  6. by   MelissaBarthold
    I understand --- I went back to school in a RN to MSN program. I had a diploma and a grand total of 12 hours of college credit. I had to earn almost 160 credit to finish. I was working full-time, with 2 kids in college and 1 in high school. Quite a different background than my fellow students.

    Almost all my fellow students were well under 30 - and I was very well OVER 30. I remember taking a course that included a history of the women's movement in the US. I had lived during the time they were studying and remembered about burning bras and marching in protests for the Women's Movement. It wasn't ancient history to me!!

    The one thing I found was that I cared more. I really wanted to be in school, I really wanted this degree and my life experience provided a lot of support to my studies. And I really worked at my studies.

    I think I was the only student in several of my undergrad classes that completed all the assignments. Isn't that what we were supposed to do in school? I was amazed at students who paid a lot of money for these classes and put little effort into them. (Obviously, this wasn't true of all students-- but certainly more than I'd ever expected to see.)

    And --- I ended up doing much, much better than the other students, and I really enjoyed being back in school again - and coming from a different direction. I was now an experienced expert in my field - not a nervous 18 year old with no knowledge of what I was getting myself into.

    So -- the younger students may seem to know more than you --- but they really don't. You are the expert - and as you go through your classes, you'll find that your life experience and your practice experience will really support your studies.

    Congrats --- you'll have the BSN soon----and then can go on for your MSN!!!