Nursing student encouragement ideas?


  • Specializes in ER, ICU, Education. Has 15 years experience.

As a nursing instructor, I am always looking for ways to encourage my students. I have high expectations of them in the classroom and clinical setting, and my favorite aspects of my work include challenging them to learn more and providing a positive atmosphere. Did you have someone who encouraged you? It could be a classmate, former or current instructor, or coworker? I am looking for new ideas. I want them to enter the profession understanding that nursing is challenging, but that theycan succeed. I am looking for quotes, sayings, inexpensive small gift ideas, etc.


341 Posts

I think I'll hand these out to my friends when we graduate...

Nurses Survival Kit

Lifesaver - a reminder of the many times others will need your help.

Snicker's Bar - to remind you that laughter is the best medicine

Candle - to remind you that you can light up someone's day

Tissue - to dry tears, your own and someone else's.

Starburst -

for that burst of energy at the end of the day

Button - to remind you

that sometimes you need to button your lip

Bath Salts - to take you away

at the end of the day

Marbles - to replace the ones you will loose

Playing Card - to help you be a better mind reader

Lollipop - to

help you lick everyone's problems

Mint - to remind you your compassion

is worth a mint to your patients.

These fun kits are made simply by adding all of the "ingredients", printing

the list of items and their meaning and putting it all in a jar with a nice

decorative jar topper. These are inexpensive kits, especially if you can recycle

the jar from your kitchen (keep your eye open for nice jelly and relish jars at

the store.


908 Posts

Has 10 years experience.

The person that encourages me the most is the clinical instructor I have right now. I don't think any quote or gift would mean as much as it does when she tells me that I'm going to make a great nurse one day. When school can get so discouraging things like that are a good reminder that everything we are doing is for a reason, and that even though we might feel lost and confused right now we are on our way to being good nurses!

Specializes in Cardio-Pulmonary; Med-Surg; Private Duty. Has 5 years experience.

How about including them in their own learning process? Ask them what things they find helpful and which things they don't really get a lot out of in the class. Does the class like small group projects in class, or do they get more out of your lecture time? Do they like when you "talk out" NCLEX questions in class to help them with their critical thinking? Do they like handouts about subjects you're discussing?

There's nothing more demoralizing than telling an instructor (politely/respectfully) that the majority of the class gets nothing out of X but really learns from Y and would benefit from more Y and less X.... and having the instructor not give a poop.

I'm sorry, but I am not an art major, and I don't think that coloring a poster is really going to help me when it comes time to take the NCLEX. But I would dearly love it if, instead of making me color a poster in class, you could actually complete ONE lecture at some point during the semester. There's a LOT of information to be covered, and hearing "real life nursing stories" during lecture is a big benefit to a lot of us -- it helps us connect the dots. I've known how to use a crayon for almost 40 years -- coloring really isn't that educational for me, sorry to say.

So if you want to let students know that you care about them, asking how you can best help them is never a wrong idea!


7 Posts

I guess it may be easy for instructors to forget how much we students hang on your words and seek your approval. Acknowledging progress is an excellent way to encourage. A simple "good job" from an instructor (when it is warranted) can mean the world to a stressed out, burned out, sleep deprived student. A little verbal encouragement throughout the clinical day can really boost confidence and make a huge difference in a students self regard.

We had an instructor last semester who, before every test, would announce that "since the mind/body will only do what we tell it to do, everybody stand up and yell at the top of your lungs, 'I WILL PASS THIS TEST!'" We thought it was odd and funny the first time, but by the second test, we expected to do it and it helped relieved some anxiety immediately before taking the tests. Also, usually right around mid-term and finals, she'd show us these inspirational/motivational videos she'd find on Youtube right as we'd walk into class and tell us how proud she is of all of us and to keep up the hard work. Oh, and lets not forget about the mints she'd pass prior to testing that she said would help our test taking abilities! :)


9 Posts

I agree with the above posts, that encouraging words in the right moment are perfect. It fuels us as students to burn the midnight oil, and motivates us to continue the journey.

Case Scenarios are so wonderful at helping to connect dots. Also, tips and tricks for remembering things are great for us (like acronyms and visual aids).

I had a professor ask what we felt like we needed help with, and at the time I struggled with understanding assessments, my professor took me aside the next clinical and walked me through it. Since then I haven't been afraid to ask for help when I need it (for anything else I feel weak in) and I feel 1,000 times better at assessments.

I had a nursing instructor who wrote us an encouraging email each week, a few days before clinical, reminding us to take care of ourselves by encouraging us through a holistic mental picture of the success she knew we could achieve. She also would talk us through visualizations before tests, and taught us how to do healing-touch on our own necks and heads when we were stressed out.

Another instructor wasn't afraid to talk to us. She asked us pointedly how we were doing and let us know that we could talk to her. That semester was really rough for me, so I took her up on the offer. She used therapeutic communication to help our clinical group get through some really tough stuff.

A friend of mine said that her instructor gave them funny socks at the end of the semester saying, "When you become a nurse, remember a little humor goes a long way, but I like to take it with me with each step."

No matter what you will do great as an instructor! The fact that you are asking for how to encourage your students proves that. Good luck and keep up the great work!

Specializes in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology.

I think the one instructor who has encouraged me the most so far did so by being the ABSOLUTE example of poise, grace and intellect. She scared the crap out of me at first but within 15 minutes of getting to know her and having her be our med surg instructor along with my group's clinical instructor, gosh, I sure did hit the jackpot. As mentioned above, we do hang on your every word and seek your approval. So many of my peers express a lack of not feeling like they are hearing whether they're doing well (or even not so well!). They just want to be given specific instances of when they are clearly advancing in their program (or not). That really is the best method of encouragement and the instructor I had made sure to mention in post-conference or during lecture certain instances of students excelling at a skill or patient interaction they had. It made a world of difference.

Also, pinterest. There's so many fun things for nurses on pinterest. :)


104 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg.

I think all the above ideas are great! I wanted to reiterate the importance of letting your students know you want them to succeed. Just the simple act of encouraging them that way has been a big boost in our program when teachers do that. It has created an environment where we also then encourage each other to succeed. We've also had instructors play music before class to relax the environment, we've watched TED talks on success, we've been given small gifts such as mints or lotion since our hands are forever dry from washing. The biggest thing that has made a difference is encouragement. But be genuine, when something is done well, say so. The personal stories of real life nursing also help to bring things together for understanding, that and being creative with how the material is presented.


90 Posts

I had a wonderful instructor who did video's of the material and class time was used for questions. It was way less overwhelming that way, but mostly she helped us understand the emotional side of nursing and took the time to get us to think of ways of truly changing nursing into a kind and compassionate career. That day she asked us all to say how we can make change was huge. People shared truly deep things and we all bonded. She allowed us to bond and not just cohabitate. We all were assigned to have "Battle Buddies", she was retired Air Force. We could chose the person but we all had to have one. She made us all plan out our semester as an assignment as well. She was awesome and I hope I get her again in 3rd semester.