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What is harder- nursing school or first year working?

Nurses   (17,092 Views | 80 Replies)

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HermioneG has 1 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Emergency Nursing.

1 Follower; 1 Article; 168 Posts; 6,995 Profile Views

For me, nursing school was much harder. Instead of stressing about exams, all nighters, and busy work, my free time is my own. Although I use my free time to study, my studying is based off of real life scenarios instead of random nursing models.

There's a lot of responsibility and a healthy level of stress that comes with the adjustment process in your first year of nursing, but I've found it to be very manageable. A big part of me thinks, though, that its because of my solid support system. In my unit culture, you're never truly on your own. Even on our first day off orientation, multiple supervisors were rounding on us new grads constantly to check in, see if we needed help, and cheer us on. Experienced nurses who have been precepting for years were assigned as team leaders in our assignment areas or given an assignment right next to us to keep a watchful eye. Everyone watches out for each other (nurses, techs, RTs, PCAs, etc) and that takes away so much of the anxiety. My coworkers have my back and I have theirs. Aside from the stress of being responsible for someone's life (I consider this a healthy stress that better never go away) most of the other stresses are just growing pains. They'll pass and you'll hopefully acclimate quickly.

TLDR: nursing school by far. The first year of nursing is awesome and I love being on my own.

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Been there,done that has 33 years experience as a ASN, RN.

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Working, absolutely. I'm halfway through my first year and it is nothing like nursing school. It feels like my brain is whirring a million miles a minute most of the time. No number of lectures can make you realize the sheer amount of responsibility you have on your shoulders. That's not to say it's all bad, because it's not. It can be pretty amazing getting to see your work during nursing school pay off. And you learn so much. Honestly there are a lot of shifts where I'm more mentally exhausted than physically, because there's so much to absorb.

Responsibility is the word. We have the world on our shoulders.. and administration keeps on piling more.

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2 Articles; 133 Posts; 4,925 Profile Views

Thanks again, everyone, for all your input! I really wish I had done a poll so I could see which one for the most votes without tallying them myself! Anyways, I will go through both learning curves whatever the answer happens to be. Now that I have had a break for 2 weeks I feel human again, and ready to study! My takeaway so far is that my own personal circumstances will play a big part in which is "harder", and that school is difficult because of the non stop pressure, while work is hard because of the life and death responsibility. The upside to work is that we get paid, while the upside of school is that we don't carry the full burden of life and death. My guess is they structure school to be extra stressful to weed people out. Thank you again for all your answers!

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31 Posts; 895 Profile Views

Nursing school was only majorly difficult up until the moment I began to reflect back upon how simple it was compared to real-life nursing.

The first year of being a new nurse... phew, buckle up! Some people glide by with ease, others ride the struggle bus with worn-out breaks and a quarter tank of fuel. I always envied the former.

Nursing is a never-ending learning experience, but it does get easier with time (except the physical demands - those only seem to get more and more difficult).

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31 Posts; 895 Profile Views

Nursing school will test you and fill your head so full of knowledge, data, lab values, questions, comments, concerns, and therapeutic phrases... that you will hit the floor for the first time and feel all of that information fly out of your skull while you grasp at the air trying to collect every bit of knowledge you worked so hard to obtain through your schoolwork.

As a new nurse, it is very common to be very task-oriented, to fail to see the "big picture" because you're so focused on 'this lab and that med and who's that doctor and how do I enter this order and why is pharmacy calling me and why does nobody speak English around here and why is my patient lopsided and drooling and who do I call now?" At least, that's how I felt ;) This is normal and eases with time, but THIS is what I find many new nurses struggle with the most/the reason they think "the first year is harder than school ever was."

Best of luck to you, future RN! :)

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Passion8RN has 13 years experience.

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CanadianAbroad I get kinda where you're coming from, but I wouldn't consider being a nursing student working for free. You don't have the same responsibility and repercussions if you make a mistake as you would as a licensed nurse, and the purpose of being a student is to learn and get prepared to become a nurse. Nursing students should appreciate this and use it as a time to absorb as much information and attain as many skills as possible. Anyone who thinks of being a nursing student as working for free may need to choose another career avenue. IJS

Edited by Passion8RN

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Passion8RN has 13 years experience.

29 Posts; 1,579 Profile Views

Nurse Maru, BSN, RNI will say being a good nurse is a learning process. Healthcare is forever changing a being a nurse affords us the opportunity to continue learning everyday. So, as nurses, yes we are getting paid to provide competent compassionate safe nursing care, but we are still learning in the process. I've been at it for 14 years, in a variety of positions, including leadership and lead preceptor, and I still learn something new daily at work.

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Shilamar has 11 years experience.

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Not even a close race. The first year makes nursing school look like child's play. Not trying to scare you but it's beyond difficult. Be prepared.

I'm sorry but I think that is false. Lol.

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I ended up studying every single day, 7 days a week, for hours.

I was a student who, like you, studied almost 24/7. Although I am only 7 months into my 1st year, so far I much prefer it to nursing school. I have time for family, life outside of nursing, and sleep!

I could have definitely spent less time studying in nursing school, and made it a more enjoyable experience, but I was dedicated to developing a solid academic base to build on. Looking back on it, it was definitely worth it. This first 7 months hasn't been super easy, but I can see where I want to be and the path to get there.

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