Things I've Learned From My First Year In Nursing School

How is nursing school like?

I am now in my last semester of nursing school. I have 9 more weeks left. As I complete my nursing education, I think of where I came from. I think of my first year and how scared I was. The first year is the year that we never really know what to expect. It's the brand new part of the beginning. It's the pinnacle of learning and it has a certain newness to it. I wrote about what I learned in my first year.

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How is nursing school like?

1. It Isn't as easy as it looks. When they said it was hard, they meant it.

I was pleasantly shocked when I entered the world of nursing. The nursing program threw some curve balls and held nothing back. We were now a part of a culture. It was do or die. I thought the CNA classes were hard and I thought the prerequisites to get in the nursing program were hard but I was proved so wrong. I saw nurses as people who "only passed meds" and didn't have to do much. Ha! When I started passing meds, I realized it was more to it. We have a lot of responsibility on our shoulders.

2. Team work is key!

You can't be cocky. You have to be willing to learn and help others. Teamwork between students, between the nursing staff, between the instructors and between the doctors. All of those connections make a heck of a difference and its important to act like a team member.

3. Finding Your Niche is important.

It may not be a big thing in regular college classes. But for clinical and nursing classes, its pretty darn important! You're going to have to find your best ways to study efficiently and effectively at the same time. You're going to have to figure out an organizational system. Believe me, if you lack organizations, things WILL fall. If you ask any nursing student, they will say that they had to keep a calendar and keep things straight. Before I started the nursing program, a second year student told me that keeping a planner was the best thing I could ever do for myself. And Yes, yes, it was.

4. Ask a million freaking questions. No question is off limits or foolish.

If you are afraid to ask questions, you need to work on getting over that fear. If I didn't start learning to ask questions, I don't think I would have ended up being as quick on my feet as I am now. You have to swallow your fear or pride and ask. Why? Because it will be on your shoulders if you weren't sure about something and a mistake is made. Even minor mistakes are huge in nursing.

5. You will make mistakes!

I don't care how smart and awesome you are, you will make mistakes. No one is perfect. I learned that I had to take it easy on myself and realize that I am in school to learn. Learning includes some failures. This goes for clinical and in lecture. I've failed a few tests in my first year. It wasn't the best feeling. It sucked! But I realized that though i failed at something or made a mistake, I have to be willing and open to learn from it. I started recognizing mistakes as a opportunity to learn and do better. I am proud to say I never failed a class or a clinical because of this attitude.

6. Remind yourself why you're going for nursing and why you love it.

I've seen patients be mistreated and I've seen practices that weren't always right. Instead of letting myself be discouraged or falling into what others did, I resolved to do better. I would remind myself why I was where I was. I would remind myself why I love nursing. It wasn't the money and it wasn't the prestige. It's hard and I don't think I would think it was worth what I go through if I didn't love what I did. SO that keeps me going and strong. This attitude effects how the people I take care of are treated.

7. Own up.

Maintain integrity in all that you do. Do what you know is right when people are watching and when they are not watching. It will pay off sooner or later. Things get brought to the light all the time and nursing is not a joke of a responsibility. Its a life or death type of job. As long as you know what you are doing is right and own up to mistakes, you will be alright. Learn how to document, speak up, maintain integrity and be honest. Instructors notice. Nurses notice. Classmates notice. But most of all Patients notice.

8. Be efficiently effective.

You will not always have time. You've got to use the time you have the best you can. Prioritize and be timely.

9. Things will come in time.

As time goes on, things get easier. Practice makes perfect. It matters on how much time and effort you put into something. If you put in enough time and effort, it will show up in your work! Mark my words. You will notice what you skipped over vs. what you focused on. Be determined to do your best and realize everything doesn't happen by a snap of a finger. You are in school to learn.

10. Don't be intimidated.

Don't back down if you know something is right. Don't be intimidated by things you "think" you can't accomplish or do. I didn't think I could get through my first year of nursing school but I did. I took one step at a time and did my best with what I had. I couldn't look at the mountain I had before me. I looked at the path I had to take to get over the mountain. Sometimes, you have to look at the details.

11. Calm Down.

Sometimes you have to take a deep breath and keep going. It's not always something you feel like doing but it is worth it to keep going no matter what.

12. Find things you know helps you relax and kick the bad habits.

I would take a day off from studying sometimes (not that this is always possible.) I would shut time out for myself. I used to binge eat but I've noticed it was not always the best method. My suggestions for relaxing and having "me time" is: Exercise (run, walk, bike ride, hike, swim, go to the gym), nap, go to the spa, read (though if you're me, reading isn't your go to since you read huge nursing books all the time), meditate, watch a movie or 3, sing, blog, make music, play a instrument, hang or talk with a friend.

13. Read when you can.

Reading is invaluable. Not everyone learns by reading. But I did. I realized that I did better on tests when I read. Did I always read every chapter and everything? Heck no. Sometimes that was truly impossible. But I did read about the things in the chapter that the test was on, the bolded print and the boxes. If all else fails, read the boxes and the bold print with its definitions.

14. It's not about grades.

Last but not least... For a while you worry about getting A's and getting a good grade but after while it is about understanding what is being taught. I think it's good to do your best and if your best was an A, great! If it wasn't, don't beat yourself up. If you pass, then you passed! That's something to rejoice about because some people failed and couldn't finish. Your degree won't say how many A's, B's and C's you received. It's gonna say you met the requirements.

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Dezi . You are absolutely right. I'm a new Nurse . I graduate in December 2015. Everything you wrote I could relate to. No question is too stupid. I asked a lot of questions in Nursing school. I read constantly, I still read a lot because I'm a little nerdy but that's ok. Like you stated prioritizing is so important. I worked went ,school, and still made time for my family. I really feel that my prioritizing skills help me be a good nurse on the floor. Congratulations on upcoming graduation. Like you I'm from Illinois. Illinois nurses rock.


2 Articles; 84 Posts

Thank you for reading and taking time to relate!