What makes Nursing school so hard?


In your opinion what makes nursing school difficult? Is it the long chapters you have to memorize for the tests? Is it the math? Clinicals? Is it the anxiety? My thing is this, I suck at math. I've changed my major a couple of times because I get so sick of studying math. However, I'm good with reading classes. So since Nursing seems to me to be a reading type curriculum and I have the people skills and work ethic, I thought I would try nursing out. What really makes the school hard in your opinion?


33 Posts

Everyone in my nursing program are 4.0 students. EVERYONE is struggling. It's not memorizing...it's concepts. It's extremely fast paced. The whole degree is unlike any other type of degree. If you're avoiding math, I would think twice about nursing...the math you do is putting peoples' lives on the line-literally. Nursing tests are also completely different than any other test you've taken.


138 Posts

I'm graduating w/ my RN in December 08 (woo-hoo!) & what makes NSG school so hard is truly a combination of everything you mentioned. A Science degree is ALOT more work w/ no more credit. I think most of us were unaware of this, it's really the sheer amount of work that is the hardest. This semester I've had to do OB, PEDS, 120 hours of Preceptorship, along with 120 hours of clinical. Don't let it intimidate you though. Prepare to work (outside of NSG school) as little as possible & get organized. You'll be fine. It's hard, not impossible.


658 Posts

Specializes in CMSRN. Has 9 years experience.

The critical thinking. The questions can be very hard because you feel you are not being given enough info to figure out the answer.

Took till the last semester to really get it together in my head.

It may click early for you but most people do not get it right off.

The key to it for me was to remember everything is linked together. It is one massive puzzle with different variables. It takes time to think it through. (Sometimes it makes you feel like your head will explode.)

Actual nursing interventions are the easy part, it is knowing why you are doing it and when to/not to proceed. Put on top that these are people's lives you are dealing with and it makes a great cocktail for


At least that is what made nursing school hard for me.


138 Posts

Also, don't do an accelerated program (like i did) ... it's so not worth it. Take the time & go through a 4 year program. My 2 cents : )

Specializes in ICU. Has 5 years experience.

The tests, including the NCLEX, require critical thinking skills. That means, you aren't just picking an answer you've memorized, you're drawing from everything you've learned up to that point to make a decision as to what the best answer is--just like every day in nursing.

That's why when people say what's the best way to study for the NCLEX, I don't have an answer for them. To do well (to make the machine shut off at 75 and pass) you have to have done really well in nursing school--the whole of it. That, and take the NCLEX as soon as possible after graduation. I mean, I did practice questions for the few weeks before I took the NCLEX, and it made me feel like I was doing something and that helped with the anxiety, but during the test those questions, I don't think, did anything. I quickly realized it was the whole of nursing school that mattered.

I slept through my liberal arts B.Sc. and got a B. In the four levels of nursing school I got A, B, A, B. but then I didn't work, we have no kids, we have a stable happy marriage, and I treated it like a full-time job for two and a half years, plus I considered it a religious calling (still do), and I was getting older and feeling like I hadn't accomplished much with my life. I also got a 27 on my ACT before entering. So, I was smart, extremely motivated, and I really wanted it, and it was the hardest schooling I'd ever done.

People say nurses should have BSNs. Hogwash! They really need to have B.Sc. before starting nursing school and nursing school should be considered a graduate program (but nurses are in way too short a supply to do that!).

Tweety, BSN, RN

32,723 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Trauma, Ortho, Neuro, Cardiac. Has 31 years experience.

Nursing school for me wasn't hard. There isn't a lot of math. What made it difficult for me was the sheer volume of work....lots of reading, paperwork, clinical hours, etc. I had to work full time as well, which made for some very long days.

Nursing school takes discipline, will power and determination. :)

racing-mom4, BSN, RN

2 Articles; 1,446 Posts

Specializes in ICU/ER.

I too did not like math, I had to take a pre-algbra class just to get up to speed for the regular algebra. Every semester you have a nursing math test at my school we had to get a 90% to move on and you only had 2 chances to take it.

I was not going to let one test stop me from finishing school so I studied math, you will memorize the formulas and pass, you have to, no choice.

The hardest part of nursing school for me was the total amount of time, it is not just go to class and then take a test, we are talking countless prep hours for clinical, obs hours on our "days off" that could sometimes be 2 hours away. My school was HUGE on papers, I had to write so many flippen APA papers I sometimes wondered am I getting a nursing degree or a writing degree?

RhodyGirl, RN

823 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg.

Being proficient at memorization and succeeding in nursing school do not go hand in hand. Many people in my program are finding out the hard way that simply memorizing chapters of information leads to failing grades.

There is a LOT of info in NS and it involves critical thinking and very, very good time management skills.

There is math in nursing school. Even in my chemistry classes (before acceptance into the program) I had to use my calculator for everything.

Think this through carefully before you make a jump.

RhodyGirl, RN

823 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg.

On an off topic-

Flightline...I love your avatar! I have 2 doxies at home! :)


299 Posts

Specializes in Trauma ICU, Surgical ICU, Medical ICU.

As everyone has said, becoming an RN does not involve memorization at all. You can't just read and memorize, you have to understand those concepts.

Clinical takes up more time than you will ever realize. Even though you spend 8 or so hours at your clinical site, you have to get ready the night before. There are hours upon hours when you first get started where you have to look up disease processes, know all the drugs your patient is taking inside and out, and truly develop a plan of care for that patient as if you were the nurse. Your instructor WILL ask you questions about everything, and you have to know them to pass. There were nights I started at 7PM (the earliest you could go get your pt assignment) and did not get all my stuff finished until 4AM, and had to wake up at 6AM to go to clinical for the morning and class afterwards, sometimes with tests on those same days. You just have to make it work and have a nice margarita afterwards :D

I have MANY of my friends asking me if they should do nursing, and many of them, I believe, will never have the dedication it takes to succeed. They want to work full time and glide through as they did with other classes. They only see me making the 'good money' and having the things they want. They ask me if they can do it online or something like that and I just want to laugh! You dont get to pick when you want to go to class, you just go!

I also did bad in math before college, but when I took algebra I spent every evening after class with my instructor and spent night after night committing it to memory. There are just certain things you won't be good at and you have to spend more time on them. Not everything will come easily to you.

I also advise anyone who's thinking about nursing to try some CNA work first, to see if its truly what they want to do. It will prepare you so much for clinical work, plus they will really work with you if you are in nursing school as a CNA in most cases. You may absolutely hate nursing, so why get yourself into something without getting your feet wet first?

Also, once nursing school is over and you pass all your tests, the learning does not stop! The hardest year I experienced was my first year on the job. Everything turns upside down again and you have to learn how the 'real world' does it! You are the one in charge and there is no one guiding you anymore, so you have to know your stuff!

Nursing school is hard, nursing is hard, and you have to be a pretty tough cookie! There are good times though and you will be rewarded in the end. I think nursing is not an addition to you, its a part of you. When I describe myself, nurse is always at the top of the list of who I am. I am proud of it, and if you succeed you will be too!


29 Posts

i think you are right. Am yet to begin in December, and i have seen students who have made it , working fulltime and on top of that having other responsibilities, though hard but with determination i think everything is possible

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