Struggling through Nursing School

Students General Students


We all know that there's nothing more daunting than actually being a nurse, than getting into and succeeding in nursing school. Over the years, I've watched countless friends and acquaintances struggle with nursing school, and come out as some of the best nurses I've ever encountered.

So, I recently asked former and current nursing students a series of questions to better understand what causes us to break down what Nursing students face, compared to the realities of nursing. Below, I've composed a list of the questions and some of the response I received. Feel free to add yours in the comments!

1. What was the hardest part about nursing school (if still enrolled, what is the greatest struggle you've encountered)?

KC: "Hardest part for me was when everything was going wrong and I wasn't understanding anything, I felt so overwhelmed with all that was going on and I had no way to get a break from it, so take my advice and get a break from it even if you feel like you don't have the time to."

JA: "The work load, for sure! I have never had so much homework; it really consumes your life. You miss one day of classes and you're making it up for 2 weeks."

MW: "The hardest thing about nursing school for me was changing the way I studied. In my general education classes I would only study a day or two before, but now I find myself studying weeks in advance. The type of questions asked on nursing exams make you apply the knowledge you learn in order to find the answer. You have to start thinking like a nurse to succeed!"

KP: "The hardest part was the fact that clinicals were nothing like what the reality of being a nurse is. It was mainly doing CNA tasks, and I maybe got to pass out meds about 5 times (a couple of pills each time). It did not prepare me at all for real nursing. At my current job, I medicate 18 residents every morning (while helping my CNAs) and I really enjoy it. It was encouraging to watch myself grow once I graduated and to catch on to what actually happens when you're a nurse. It took a few breakdowns, but it was totally worth it. I get to laugh and have fun every day with my awesome team at work and my residents, and I've left the traumatizing memories of nursing school clinicals behind. Contrary to what they teach, you are allowed to have a sense of humor AND be a good nurse."

2. Have you ever had any breaking points (where you were sure this wasn't the profession you wanted to go into)?

KC: "I think everyone has at least one time has questioned if this is what they are meant to do. But when you have that one patient take your hand and say you made their day, you know all this is worth it."

JA: "I had a huge breaking point- I got sick (bronchitis) and couldn't be in classes for 3 days. When I got back - I had missed three chapters. And the way they pushed everyone, it was like they were trying to invent a new super race of nurses. The pressure wasn't for me."

MW: "While I have never this wasn't the profession for me, I have had several times where I would have much rather given up than keep pushing forward. My biggest motivation to continue would be not wanting to disappoint my family. I also look back at all the effort I have put in and it encourages me to continue on."

3. Why are were/are you in this field?

KC: "I want to make a difference in someone's life."

JA: "I wanted to help people; genuinely help people. I wanted to be an OB nurse, so that I could help bring life into the world."

MW: "I chose to go into nursing after seeing the care my grandmother received while she was sick. Seeing the genuine care she was given inspired me to want to do the same for others."

4. What was your motivation to keep pursuing a degree even if you may have felt defeated?

KC: "I wanted to make a point to myself and others that I can do this."

JA: "I want to be able to show something for myself. I want my family to be proud of me- my parents didn't even finish high school and our family struggled when I was growing up; I missed out on a lot. I want my children to have more than I had."

5. (Those who did not finish :) What made you finally decide that you no longer wanted to pursue Nursing?

JA: "When I realized I could make an even bigger impact on lives by being a teacher."

Consider making sure this is what you want to do, as you can tell some people feel an urge to help people in different fields. Those of us who decide to make the journey down the path for Nursing, consider what you've read here and make sure it's something you wholeheartedly want to pursue. Know you aren't alone, and that resources to help you are right here within the nursing community.

Please share your experiences and comments as well J

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