Let's face it; orientation makes nursing school just seem more "real" but it's also very daunting, and a lot of information to sift through. My orientation was not as bad as I had thought it was going to be, but I did sit with the thoughts of "what the heck have I gotten myself into" among other thoughts. I got a good impression of my instructors and they all seemed to have a passion for nursing and for teaching. Looking back at what I learned at orientation, there are some very important points that I believe we all should take into consideration.
Nursing School is Hard, but it's not impossible
The general theme was to be prepared to spend a lot of time studying and that working would be very difficult. The material is very different from any other class, and that one should not expect to do as well, initially, as one did in pre-requisite courses. It takes a little bit to get into the "groove."
Learning is Lifelong
Nursing education should not stop with the ADN degree, but continue on. It was highly encouraged that students continue to seek higher education and also realize that when one graduates one still only knows a fraction of what "needs" to know, and that the rest comes with time and experience.
If there was one thing I heard every single speaker emphasize, it was the need for students to be organized. Organization will minimize the chance for missing assignments, keep needed materials at your fingertips etc. An organized study space limits stress and makes the time spent studying more effective. Keeping everything written down in a calendar was also highly recommended. Everyone has different things that work for them, but one should find a method of organization and stick to it.
Get in a Study Group
It was highly recommended that students break into study groups. They said that the most successful students were the ones in an effective study group. By effective it means that the time the group spends studying is actually used for studying, not gossiping, talking about non-study related things etc. Everyone should study the material and then come together to discuss, help each other understand the material, and practice applying it.
Read, Read, READ!
We all know that there is a lot of reading in nursing school. However, it's important to come to class prepared AHEAD of time. In my program, we will be quizzed over the readings on a regular basis and that makes it even more important to make sure to read the assigned chapters. In my program, they told us that we will be expected to spend a lot of time discussing in groups about the material, and that having an idea of what the topic is about is imperative to success.
The Standards are Higher!
This goes back to organization a little bit, in the sense that one will be required to be on time, if not early, each and every time. There is very little tolerance for tardiness. In my program we can only miss ONE clinical. Absences are only tolerated with a VERY good reason. Personal conduct is very important as well, and one is expected to conduct oneself in a professional manner at all times. Tests are timed. I am already intimidated by the idea of having only 1.5 minutes to answer a question!!
Use ALL your Resources!
It was recommended that one purchase reference books for test questions, such as "Fundamentals Success," have more than one care planning book, make use of peers, your instructors, the lab, and even "Youtube" to help understand the material and practice skills. One should visit the professors in their office hours before a problem becomes too big. If one doesn't understand something, talk to the professor before test day! Don't be afraid to ask questions! Even allnurses.com is a great resource to use if things just don't make sense!
Be Emotionally Invested!
This means to care about what one is doing. Don't become a nurse just for the paycheck. The best nurses are the ones that care about what they do and are passionate about it. There are so many fields in nursing that if one becomes "bored" with one area, there are other opportunities to go for. Also, if one decides that nursing is not for them, it's best to not continue practicing because if one doesn't like nursing, then one is also likely to no longer be emotionally invested and the chance of burnout and errors increase.
Last but not least, be Courageous! This is where I truly saw the emotional investment of my own professor. It's a scary world out there for nurses, and also the client to some extent. The bottom line is that the nurse has a responsibility to the patient. If one sees something that is not right, speak up no matter what. Doctors can and will be mean, yell at you and we all have heard and read the stories, but the nurse has a responsibility to speak up for the patient an often that takes courage.
Nursing school is a journey. It's exciting, terrifying, rewarding and the list goes on. Hopefully some of these tips can be of help along the way. Only one more week till my first day of class and I am like a horse at the starting gate; itching to get going!