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Thinking of dropping out

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Hi all. I just completed my first semester of nursing school, and I'm waiting to see if I passed or not.

This semester truly was a rollercoaster, and I am glad that it's finally over so that I can finally relax. It was tough academically and emotionally, and I'm wondering if this is a field that's truly for me.

I've realized that I'm scared to have somebodies life completely in my hands. I understood that prior to starting clinicals, but while in clinicals, it all started to hit me. Like, one day, I really will have someones life in my hands. What if I hurt them? Will I know what I'm doing? Am I smart enough? Can I do this? The fact that I failed some tests and barely passed others didn't necessarily help. Adding to that, I struggled immensely with depression and anxiety this semester. I think the stress of school really brought it out. Now that the semester is over, I feel like myself again, but I'm scared of getting to that point again next semester. I felt sad and irritated all the time, and found it harder and harder to be interested in the material the farther we got into the semester. I was extremely overwhelmed.

The main reasons why I'm considering switching my major is again for the same reasons: I wonder if I'm smart enough (I made so many silly mistakes in clinicals, struggled so much with lecture and felt like a fish out of water in lab) and I wonder if I truly want the responsibility of having someones life in my hands. If I'm honest, I dont think I do, but I do realize that my self esteem and confidence took a hit as well. Adding depression and anxiety to the mix, I do not want to make a hasty decision that I will regret later.

I've honestly always wanted to be a nurse, and when I was younger, I felt so excited by the prospect of being one. I really enjoyed anatomy and physiology, I enjoy helping people, I like how flexible and broad the field is. I like how you get to mix science through learning about medications and how they affect the body, with empathy. I'm amazed by how much nurses know, how they're able to think of their feet, all of that. I cant even begin to think of all of the critical thinking that goes into everything they do on a daily basis. Truly, I think they are amazing.

I just dont think I'm cut out for it, and I dont know what else I would choose to major in. I've been looking into genetic counseling as it sounds interesting, but I'm scared that I'll look back and wish that I completed nursing school. But my heart and my mind just aren't in it anymore.

I hope that this makes sense to you all...I'm just looking on some guidance as to what I should do. Thank you.

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I can't tell you what to do and I am just graduating in 2019. I can tell you that I saw many students in my class struggle with what you are going through. We started with a full class and now only about 40% will be graduating. Wonder if you are "smart enough" seems like you may be defeating yourself. The struggle about whether you passed or not may be what makes you decide. We had a few students that could not keep up with the study load, they either went down to part time or quit. Have you ever thought about working as an Aid for the a few months to try and get a better feel for the job?

Nursing is not for everyone. I would do some soul searching.

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You have a lot more to go, I'd give it the chance. If you got through one semester, you can get through all of them, just focus and study. For having someone's life in your hands, if you don't want something like that, be an occupational nurse, or work in a CVS giving flu shots. Or be a school nurse. You don't have to do nursing where there's a realistic chance of someone dying. But by the time you get through school, you'll probably be way more confident.

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I think the feeling of "oh god how will I ever keep someone alive" is really common after first semester. I know I saw nurses out on the floor and wondered how the heck they were so confident and so sure of what they were doing, while I felt dumb and could barely handle caring for a single, not very sick patient. As time goes on though, you do gain confidence. You give the same meds over and over and figure out why you're giving them and what side effects to watch for... over and over. Before you know it, the knowledge is ingrained. You will deal with tasks that terrify you again and again until they don't bother you one bit anymore! For me, vents, ostomies, and NG/OG tubes were my kryptonite when I was in school. The other day as I was turning my vented ICU patient (after pausing his tube feeds - also after drawing up and giving all the meds called for during his bedside tracheostomy/monitoring/titrating his drips during it to keep him going), I realized his ostomy bag was leaking all over and needed to be changed and I just did it, no big deal. All of those tasks would have stopped me in my tracks as a student, but now those things are just a normal part of my day that I've done a hundred times before. It does help to do it on your own without an instructor breathing down your neck!

I felt like I barely dragged through nursing school by the time I got to the end (the end was in May of this past year, btw). The stress of it really got me down. Being a nurse is still stressful but in such a way that when I get home, I can put the stress away and not worry about it until the next time I go to work. I don't have to think about it in my down-time or worry about being "kicked out" of the nursing profession. It's more responsibility, but it's also more fun than school, for real. Just something to think about :)

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I can't tell you what to do and I am just graduating in 2019. I can tell you that I saw many students in my class struggle with what you are going through. We started with a full class and now only about 40% will be graduating. Wonder if you are "smart enough" seems like you may be defeating yourself. The struggle about whether you passed or not may be what makes you decide. We had a few students that could not keep up with the study load, they either went down to part time or quit. Have you ever thought about working as an Aid for the a few months to try and get a better feel for the job?

Nursing is not for everyone. I would do some soul searching.

Hi there, thank you for replying! I found out that I passed this semester by the skin of my teeth...I'm grateful that my program rounds up the final grade. I also did a lot better on the final exam than what I would have thought, which was a pleasant surprise. However, I'm still hesitant about moving forward...I have a few weeks to figure everything out.

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You have a lot more to go, I'd give it the chance. If you got through one semester, you can get through all of them, just focus and study. For having someone's life in your hands, if you don't want something like that, be an occupational nurse, or work in a CVS giving flu shots. Or be a school nurse. You don't have to do nursing where there's a realistic chance of someone dying. But by the time you get through school, you'll probably be way more confident.

I see what you're saying. It's great that there are so many options that don't involve life or death situations, but I just dont know if my heart is in it anymore. I've read so many stories of people who hated nursing school and thought about dropping out but ended up loving being a nurse...but then there are people who ignored switching their major when they should have an regret their decision. I definitely have a lot to think about.

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I think the feeling of "oh god how will I ever keep someone alive" is really common after first semester. I know I saw nurses out on the floor and wondered how the heck they were so confident and so sure of what they were doing, while I felt dumb and could barely handle caring for a single, not very sick patient. As time goes on though, you do gain confidence. You give the same meds over and over and figure out why you're giving them and what side effects to watch for... over and over. Before you know it, the knowledge is ingrained. You will deal with tasks that terrify you again and again until they don't bother you one bit anymore! For me, vents, ostomies, and NG/OG tubes were my kryptonite when I was in school. The other day as I was turning my vented ICU patient (after pausing his tube feeds - also after drawing up and giving all the meds called for during his bedside tracheostomy/monitoring/titrating his drips during it to keep him going), I realized his ostomy bag was leaking all over and needed to be changed and I just did it, no big deal. All of those tasks would have stopped me in my tracks as a student, but now those things are just a normal part of my day that I've done a hundred times before. It does help to do it on your own without an instructor breathing down your neck!

I felt like I barely dragged through nursing school by the time I got to the end (the end was in May of this past year, btw). The stress of it really got me down. Being a nurse is still stressful but in such a way that when I get home, I can put the stress away and not worry about it until the next time I go to work. I don't have to think about it in my down-time or worry about being "kicked out" of the nursing profession. It's more responsibility, but it's also more fun than school, for real. Just something to think about :)

Hi there. You're right, confidence and competence comes with experience! This past semester definitely made me doubt my own intelligence for a variety of reasons, and its hard for me to see myself being a confident nurse who knows what their doing...but I guess I have to stop being so hard on myself.

That's great that you found that being a nurse is way better than nursing school...that gives me something to look forward to!

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