What is the hardest part of nursing school?


I have made it through most of my pre reqs for nursing school. I just have a ton of anxiety about how hard everyone says it is. I want it & am confident I can do it, I'm just a little intimidated. Is the hardest part memorizing all of the content or the quantity of information you are expected to learn? Did you feel like any of the prereqs prepared you in anyway for how to study?

Has 4 years experience.

For me the hardest part was learning how to learn so much information. It is so much more than memorizing information because you have to understand processes and the how and whys--it's knowledge building on knowledge. My best advice is to take advantage of any tutoring offered by your school. Free tutors are usually students in the program who have taken (and excelled in) the class. They will be able to share how they studied, took notes, etc in order to do well. Learn from others and take advantage of any resources you have! If you're focused and dedicated and willing to ask for help then you will do just fine!


113 Posts

I just finished up nursing school in May. This question is so difficult to answer - for me, lab values and medications KILLED me. Pure memorization is difficult for me: "what should you monitor a patient for, who is taking oral terbinafine"? Oof, my mind would just lock up on what that medication even was, even if I had reviewed in 100 times! Some sort of mental block. I can apply knowledge well, but I struggle to absorb it when It's not "in context", if that makes any sense. Since I worked as a CNA on a med/surg floor, I started looking though the medications my patients were taking, then when I went into their rooms to get their vitals or something, I'd look over them for the side effects of whatever medication I's earmarked for review. "Mr. ____ is taking Atorvastatin, a HMG-CoA reductase drug. He says he feels good, so no myalgia or abdominal cramping (some of the averse effects), but his most recent blood panel still shows high cholesterol...." It really worked for me! I'd make up theoretical patients, if none of my patients matched what I was studying.

Anyways, what I'm trying to get at is that it's VERY important that you take inventory of your learning style: the best way for you to study, and ways to strengthen your absorption and recall of information, because it WILL be information overload!

Although, if the question really is what the most difficult part is, it's emotional, not any of the material. In clinical, SOME nurses and SOME instructors (not all) will jump on you for any little mistake or sign of weakness - but it comes from a good place: they are trying to make you a better nurse, unaccepting of any mistake that could be unsafe for the patient or for you and coworkers. But, they can come off REALLY strong - just remember, it's not personal, and it's for improvement. But I left clinical feeling like a failure more times than once, and a quick review of the student nursing board here shows I'm not alone. Nursing school is emotionally draining!

For example: I volunteered as a veterinarian's assistant. They don't use safety syringes (the ones that have a trigger on the side that snap a cover up over the needle), so you had to re-cap them. Hospitals all use safety syringes. One time, under the observation of my clinical instructor, I re-capped a needle. I got an "unsatisfactory" for the day, and the lecture I got from my instructor was ear-blistering. I realized the significance of it, but she really made SURE I felt like ****. I took the needle off a clean syringe, took the (needle-less) syringe home with me, and walked around with it in my hand, practicing triggering the safety mechanism. For me, muscle memory is a big thing: I'm a kinesthetic learner.

When you feel low, and feel like a failure, step back: recognize what you need to improve and take positive steps toward fixing it, rather than wallowing in self-hatred or pity. The instructor never showed any satisfaction or encouragement in clinical after that, and watched me like a hawk - I was sure she hated me and wanted me to fail. My stress was though the roof for months! On my final eval. though, she left a sweet note about my commitment to self-improvement and patient safety.

Hi there, its my first semester in nursing school. So far, the volume of work is rough with the addition of clinical which is really draining physically and emotionally. However, its doable! Stay organized, relax, and stick to whatever learning style works for you.

Ashdwn, RN

6 Posts

Specializes in Nephrology.

I second this. I just finished the first year and it is by far just the volume of reading/homework mixed with clinical hours. You will feel like you never have enough time for any of it.


34 Posts

I understand where your anxiety comes from- you don't know what to expect and people are telling you scary things. Yes, nursing school is hard.

But don't forget, YOU got into nursing school! You earned your spot in this program through hard work. You will continue to work hard, and everything will be okay if you stay positive and stay focused.

For me, the hardest part of nursing school was learning skills like IVs because of the limited time in clinical and learning how to do NCLEX style questions. I am a 'people person' and connecting with patients came easily to me, I have strong critical thinking skills, and I learned a strong work ethic in my prerequisite classes so nursing classes weren't too difficult.

My advice is to take it one day at a time. Keep a calendar. Keep a 'to do' list. If you can, cut down on the hours you are working during nursing school. If you take care of your kids or have other responsibilities, ask for support. Make friends with other nursing students. Study in a quiet space.

Everyone talks about how horrible and hard nursing school is. It is true, nursing school can suck. But no one talks about the great parts of nursing school. You will spend lots of time with other nursing students and make lifelong friends. You will get to know your patients and you will remember them forever. There's nothing more rewarding than your first IV stick. You may see open heart surgery, a baby's first breath, comfort someone who just found out they had cancer, etc. Don't stress too much! Good luck!