Stress Test (aka Burning Man)

Is nursing school stressful?

I did it. Silly me, I opened up Google and typed, "I hate nursing school" It was more of a reason to vent than anything. Heck, it was about 4:10 in the morning on a sleepless night. (Not that the time matters so much. I get up at 5am these days.)

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Is nursing school stressful?

I'm in an accelerated "leadership" program (as they sometimes put it), which has us taking frequent ATI tests on top of classes. If you don't make the mark they want on the ATI, you lose 1-2 letter grades in the respective class. (Apparently it used to be that you outright failed, but they changed it so that A students who screw the pooch on the ATIs can keep going.)

It's only the end of the first semester, and I've already hit a burn out point. I've lost my drive to study, and am despising classes. Don't get me wrong, I've been doing well and I LOVE the clinicals. I love getting to know my patients and helping them. I love all this hands on learning. Furthermore, I love the people in my cohort and most of my professors. They're smart and just good. It's a pleasure to be among them.

But despite all this, I'm having a hard time focusing on studying. I've lost my drive, my love for the actual program.

I hate that I have a 97 in patho right now, but there is a serious chance I will end up with a B since I haven't been able to get good studying in for the final. (And it doesn't help that our new and vague professor added 5 additional chapters right at the end before the final. And why in the world can't we download your ppts? I don't get that. And why do you quiz us on your lecture material before the lecture? I get that you want to make sure we pre-read, but it seems antithetical. And don't get me started on all the students I've seen come out of your office, wholly disheartened and questioning their career choices after one of your "pep talks".) I can't even study for that final right now because we have an ATI right around the corner. I basically have to choose between the two - in which do I want to keep an A, and which will I dangle over the sacrificial pit of B? And I hate some of these stupid ATI questions. Who cares if requesting a new antibiotic from the pharm is "fair, responsible, risk taking, or creative"? I mean, really? How the frogger does this help us become better nurses? We get hammered with little assignments and things to learn that seem a waste of time. Graded videos that don't really teach jack. Required and timed online simulators that we have to pay for and that really don't teach jack. I need to be studying diseases and foundational skills, not memorizing arbitrary "levels of critical thinking" or "the eleven nursing attitudes". What a waste.

On top of that my life sucks now. My wife and friends are going to festivals, having game nights and dinner parties. Meanwhile I go to bed at 9-10 and get up at 5 every day to study if not hit a clinical. I get offered gigs that I have to turn down because I can't confidently make the time commitment. (I was previously an artist.) My foreign friends chat with me, and I realize I'm losing some of my language skills but can't do anything about it at the moment. I get asked to reboot old language projects, which I would really love to do, but again can't commit. I get ideas for new projects, and just have to jot them down and hope for the future.

I loved A&P. I loved my chem classes. I was a top student in all of those and it was because I loved the subjects. Going into nursing school, I was excited at the courses. Pathophysiology, pharmacology, psychiatry? Yes, please! But what I loved I now loathe, and despair that there is a year yet of this accelerated program to go.

The result? I'm irritated pretty much most of the time, and I've lost muscle but am putting on plenty of fat. Pudge McMe.

So I Googled, "I hate nursing school". The result?

What came back was a lot of nurses who say they love nursing but hated nursing school.

It was actually really good to read that. Thank you.

I may be coming to the conclusion that As are not so important anymore. What's more important is health. And that means both eating better and getting to the gym more, and getting involved in life. But this is easier said than done. I am grad school minded, and I will still fret if I don't feel A-lvl prepared for exams. Making myself get back on a good diet and exercise routine shouldn't be too hard, but getting involved in artistic projects again while keeping my grades up will be difficult. On top of that, the men in my family tend to die young, heart complications, average age about 55, so if I look at this schooling and grad, especially if I have to sacrifice living, to use the term as an expression of happiness and exploration and all the terms we typically associate in positivity with living, I sometimes ask, "Will the later years be worth the 10%+ of my portioned seasons I am giving to these studies?" (I'm middle aged, to boot.)

Or maybe I'm ignoring the bigger issues. Like that I had a cardiologist appointment because out of the blue I started getting heavy chest pains when I jog, or because that dizzying arrhythmia I used to get once a month or so is now almost every day. Or that a week ago, right when I was having the cardiology appointment, I learned my sister tried to kill herself and was hospitalized. Or that I tried to make three appointments at two different clinics to talk with someone about all this, and they never even got back in touch with me. Who does that?

So yeah, I'm having a hard time concentrating. It was getting harder before, I was already losing the drive, but now it's just practically nonexistent, the will to study. But I have to.

Positive notes:

My sister is getting help. She rejected it for a long time, but she's now accepted she needs help and is getting it.

Cardiology results are not yet conclusive. I was able to go on a good jog after taking a bunch of magnesium. And while on my father's side all the men die young, on my mother's side we have some pretty stalwart longevity.

I have an awesome cohort.

I love my patients and have enjoyed clinicals.

There are still many options for the future.

My gpa will be just fine if I relax and make a few Bs.

I have the greatest wife, who loves and supports me no matter what.

Breathe. Stretch. Smile. Focus.

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Specializes in Critical Care and ED. Has 34 years experience.

This too shall end. Put in the time and sacrifice now and it will pay you back in dividends. You have the rest of your life for dinner parties and festivals and you'll appreciate them all the more for this experience. I've been in school since 2011...I feel your pain. I went straight from my BSN to my MSN and won't graduate until 2019. That's 8 straight years of missing out, sacrifice and suffering, but at the end of it I'll have a recession-proof career that will last me the rest of my life. I'll be able to take care of my family and I'll have the self-respect I've earned. It's temporary but the rewards are permanent.

Nigel9

1 Article; 19 Posts

Has 1 years experience.

I don't really care about festivals and dinner parties. I do care about quality time with friends and family, however. I also care about how I'm in my 40s and experiencing arrhythmia and angina when so many men in my family die young due to heart related issues. If, hypothetically speaking, after graduation I would have ~10 more years of life, would I even continue with this track? (My post was really long, and I totally understand you may have missed some of that. Sorry for the rant. I was part venting, and part just looking for support from people who have been on this path. And I also was hoping I could delete or edit the post later as it's pretty personal, but I see the edit option has disappeared now that someone has replied.)

For what it's worth, I previously had what some would consider a dream job. But I decided I wanted to come back to the US for a bit (was I crazy? haha), and knew that I would have to start my business over. Contemplating learning a new angle on life, I took tests that said I had aptitude in science, arts, and psychology. Eventually I happily decided to go back to school on a nursing track.

Studying science has been a blast. Meeting patients and working with them has also already charmed my heart. Nursing school itself, however, I will be happy to finish.

I'm going to stay the course, of, er, course. There are stressors (pun!), and there are questions. But what can I do but pay attention to now? I just need to try to relax a bit, not worry myself over a 4.0, and remember to live and love.

Oh, and I seem to be having art withdrawals. I need to find how to reincorporate that. The trouble is that it's time consuming.

But I digress. Laden with trouble we may be, we are still the lucky ones. Even if worse comes to worse and I die young, man have I lived one heck of a life. And I am thankful.

Tomorrow is clinical. I can't wait to see those guys! But for now, study.

Thanks for your words, friend.

You're not alone. I love clinicals, I don't even mind class so much, I love learning, had a 4.0 through it all and this semester, the dreaded 2nd semester, the one that if people will fail out of the program, this is where, I have a measly 90. Is that great? Some think so. I just see it as a loss of my $1000 scholarship and I feel like I am paying so much back to school and I wish I had that money. I try to remember that they told us at orientation that if you were an A student, you would get Bs and if you were a B student you would get Cs. I TRY to remember that but we also like to laugh about how nursing students are crazy type As and if we were GETTING As, we would obviously be disappointed when we don't. I am working full time and have clinicals on Saturdays and class after work during the week and even though I love everything I am doing, I am over working so hard, too. I miss my family and friends, I miss having more than 1 day off. I'm sad that that one day off involves me studying and doing everything I didn't have time for during the week. I miss summer breaks, I miss not having to schedule everything into the small amount of free time I have. I had intermittent chest pains for 5 days (before my cardiac exam!!) My EKG was fine but now I still need to do a stress test to rule it all out. I'm thinking maybe acid reflux since tums for a few days stopped it. Who knows. But I want you to know that you are definitely not alone. We CAN do this and we WILL do this. Anyone can be hit by a bus tomorrow or we can all live til nursing students who arent even born yet are wiping our butts :) Good luck!!

Has 6 years experience.

I, too, hated nursing school. I was in my late 30's and had never experienced anything like it. I hated that nursing school caused me to miss three years of attending BurningMan, actually. Classes started at my school the week before BM, so year after year, I missed it.

Anyway, all I wanted to say is, you'll get through it. I went through hell and back in my personal life during nursing school. I, too, was diagnosed with a heart issue during nursing school which required a cardiac cath. I went through not just one, but TWO divorces, court dates that were hundreds of miles away, failed out of nursing school once, was diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia, and to top it all off, an ex husband moved with our three children 1300 miles away and there was nothing I could do...except finish nursing school and then move right after graduation.

It's temporary. It will be all worth it. I love my job as a nurse now and am so glad that I stuck with it. It was difficult right up to the very very end. I almost quit two weeks before graduation because I was so burnt out and just DONE.

You are definitely not alone! I currently have a 4.0, but that comes with a 20 pound weight gain and absolutely no life. I'm going into my final year promising myself to let go of the need for A's and learn to balance life a bit more. I feel like I spend so much time away from my kids and family that I'm letting everyone down if I don't maintain that 4.0, but really it's not healthy mindset. I need time for my kids, time to exercise, and meal plan. I need time away from the books. There is a balance, many people juggle school and work, and have a life! I also know many that are happy with a B, and find tons of time in gym, so I know it's time to change my mindset too. I also know that won't last forever. Hang in there, you're almost done!!

Nigel9

1 Article; 19 Posts

Has 1 years experience.

Thank you for the responses, everyone. They have been quite helpful.

I think I'm going to have to place boundaries on school, even if it means a few Bs. I will be happier focusing on aspects of the classes that are longitudinally more beneficial towards being a nurse anyway, as opposed to focusing on what I need to make a top grade. There is, I'm sure you all know, a difference.

In the mean time, a call for health both mentally and physically is indispensable. What kind of nurses are we if we can't take care of our own selves?

Thanks again for the comments, everyone, and best of everything to you.

Wiggly Litchi

476 Posts

@Nigel - I hit that kind of breaking point this semester and it was brutal. I was about to get my acceptance letter for nursing, everything was going great.... But the last 2 years caught up to me (and some other fun stuff, story for another time) and I didn't think that I would make it.

What took other students 2 hours was taking me 8. I had no motivation, no drive, and I wasn't retaining things as I used to. I still maintained my 4.0, but I can't count the nights where I'd forum crawl and just feel totally....insignificant. I knew what I wanted to become, but just thinking about getting through the next 2 years just wrecked me. I wanted to be the woman enjoying her clinicals, I would give anything to work in the ER, or heck, anywhere! I'd find some enjoyment in it all. But mentally, my mind was saying "Nope Wiggly, never gonna happen."

I was getting frustrated at small things, and every trial that came at me just seemed so massive and unbearable.

Have you cried over spilled milk? I did haha, man that was brutal. I never did get that cereal :(

Anyhow, one day I was at my breaking point; I sat and cried in the campus bathroom for an hour before class started. I couldn't convince myself to go further, and that was when I made the call to the campus counselor.

She suggested some things that really helped me to get my focus back - I treat exercise or fun time like I'd treat a class. Mandatory fun time... I could schedule it!

Studying in smaller chunks was great - after 30 mins, if my concentration waned, I'd take a 5min walk and get back to it.

I have a planner now where I write down goals and tasks. Having everything written out helps me to be accountable and helps build my motivation when I see the list getting smaller and smaller (let's not talk about when I have to add more to it though haha)

I'm on medications now that help my anxiety and focus (though not everyone needs this, they've been really beneficial to me). My mind was going at 100mph and I couldn't keep my focus even if I wanted to. Even without the meds, speaking to the campus counselor has given me a bunch of coping techniques and an outlet where I know I can let all my frustrations out if I need to.

Maybe counseling may help you too?

If you need to chat, I'm a PM away! You got this!

Nigel9

1 Article; 19 Posts

Has 1 years experience.

Hey guys. I want to thank you all again for your support and advice when I was stressed out. As it turns out, I aced all my subjects.

Second semester has not been fun, although I am doing well in my classes. My aim is to be a psychiatric nurse, but I have found my psych clinicals to be disappointing. To clarify, I have enjoyed working with patients and staff in all my clinicals, and in psych I have a fondness for patient interaction. However, seeing what the psych nurses do has been disparaging. They are pretty much bogged down in paperwork all the time. So far they don't seem to work with patients much outside of medications.

Psych theory class was also very disappointing. Apparently the old professor left and an assistant filled in? She is nice, but it is apparent that she has not done this before, and we're not learning much. The book also is a mess, coming across as mostly a copy/paste job. Very disappointing, being that I was looking forward to this and pharmacology the most.

The thing on my mind now is that in the future, my wife and I will return to her hometown overseas. I will not be licensed there, and will not be able to get licensed there. Is telepsych, practicing from abroad, a good option for states where I am licensed? What do you think?

Nigel9

1 Article; 19 Posts

Has 1 years experience.
Wiggly Litchi said:

I'm on medications now that help my anxiety and focus (though not everyone needs this, they've been really beneficial to me). My mind was going at 100mph and I couldn't keep my focus even if I wanted to. Even without the meds, speaking to the campus counselor has given me a bunch of coping techniques and an outlet where I know I can let all my frustrations out if I need to.

Maybe counseling may help you too?

Since you brought this up -- yeah, so far in just the vicinity where I sit we've had one panic attack and three students go on meds (ADHD and mood stabilizers). Yikes!

Wiggly Litchi

476 Posts

Nigel9 said:
Since you brought this up -- yeah, so far in just the vicinity where I sit we've had one panic attack and three students go on meds (ADHD and mood stabilizers). Yikes!

Stress can affect us in many ways, but this may go to show how serious/prevalent mental health issues are and how we need good psych nurses out there - I'd be absolutely lost without the wonderful psych nurse that takes care of me and I'm so glad to be one of her patients.

Some folks can ease their stress just by talking it out with someone, and others may need a little something extra - that's okay too! just be sure to use the resources available to you if you need them. Good luck with your studies!!