Getting through nursing school is no easy task. Long days spent in the classroom combined with hours spent doing clinical work can take a toll on your body and mind. However, there are a number of proven tips that you can employ in order to survive the rigors of this academic program. Here are five proven ways that you can stand out as a nursing student.
1. Prepare and Plan
Before you start your nursing school journey, prepare yourself for what lies ahead. Your success will largely depend on how organized you are.
Be sure to have everything that you need on hand prior to the first day of class. This comprehensive list of essentials includes a stethoscope, the required textbooks, a day planner, and any classroom materials.
As soon as you receive your class and clinical schedule, make a plan about how you are going to tackle all of these duties. You will go into the new school year with confidence if you have a plan in place, thus increasing your chances of success.
2. Dress the Part
If you want to be a nurse, you need to look like a nurse. Shopping for the appropriate scrubs prior to school starting will ensure that you appear professional and ready to get started.
In addition to finding a pair of comfortable shoes for all of those hours in a hospital setting, you also need to buy the appropriate clothing. Koi scrubs are a great choice when looking for something that will wick away moisture and keep you comfortable in any working condition.
Not only will dressing the part help you to project a more professional image to your instructors and colleagues, but the right uniform will also make you feel more confident. This boost in self-confidence can go a long way in helping you to feel more empowered to do your best.
3. Ask Questions
If you want to set yourself apart from the crowd, you should not be afraid to ask questions. Now is not the time to be quiet and keep your thoughts and questions to yourself.
Asking relevant questions is a great way to show your instructors and fellow students that you care about the work that you are doing. This is important both in the classroom and in the clinical setting. If you are unsure of anything, this is the time to get clarity.
4. Ask for Help
Nursing school is a challenging gauntlet that can leave even the strongest students feeling overwhelmed or unsure of themselves. You should not feel ashamed to ask for help should you need it.
Depending on your school, you may even be offered complimentary tutoring help. Take advantage of all of the resources available to you if you want to boost your chances of success.
One of the most challenging parts of going through nursing school comes at the end of the journey with the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). You do not want to take any of these certification or licensing exams lightly. Invest in a test prep book or tutor to help you pass with flying colors.
5. Go Above and Beyond…
Meeting the bare minimum standard is not enough for a demanding career such as nursing. You will be in a better position to get a job after graduation if you go above and beyond while still in nursing school.
Demonstrating an eagerness to make the most out of this learning experience will increase the odds that you land the job that you want after graduation. To help you to perform better on your exams, look at materials from supplemental study guides and other items that will give you a competitive advantage. All of these steps will show that you are ready to do more than just pass.
If you employ these five tips, you should be able to tackle all of the demands of your nursing program and meet your goals both in school and after graduation when you are looking for that perfect job.
As ICU nurse Alex Duron learned, evangelical schools do not welcome gay students with open arms. After Union University accepted Duron into their graduate program for nurse anesthetists, he thought his next three years were mapped out. Unfortunately, his plans were thrown into disarray when the Jackson, Tennessee evangelical school found evidence that their new student was gay. University officials quickly rescinded Durin’s acceptance on the grounds that he was engaged in “sexually impure relationships.”
While there is some debate about whether a Title IX religious exemption allows schools to deny admission to homosexual students, Union University officials maintain that they have the right to deny admission to gay students. Union cited the school’s Community Values Statements on the “worth of an individual,” which asserts that “sexual relationships are designed by God to be expressed solely within a marriage between a man and a woman” (the statements also declare that “identifying oneself as a gender other than the gender assigned by God at birth is in opposition to the University’s community values”). Duron took issue with the decision, noting on Facebook, “Did you know that Union University is not a fully private school and accepts federal funding? Did you know that your taxes are allowing them to discriminate against LGBTQ+ and their allies?”
Duron signed the university Values statement when he applied, but he paid little heed to the fine print. He did not expect his fiancé to accompany him to Jackson, and in his view, being gay and in a committed relationship would have no bearing on his campus life. He had not been questioned about his sexual preference during the admissions process, but apparently school officials discovered Duron’s fiancé in his LinkedIn profile. Although he had not mentioned his fiancé, the school expressed concern about possible cohabitation when they emailed him about their decision: “Your request for graduate housing and your social media profile, including your intent to live with your partner, indicates your unwillingness to abide by the commitment you made in signing this statement.”
Duron’s prospects have improved since he went public. In an interview with Buzzfeed News, he said he had “dodged a bullet” by not attending Union;s grad program, and after hearing about his story, nursing schools around the country have been contacting him to see if they can find a way to grant him admission this fall.
For more on this story, see the article in Buzzfeed News.
Many people go into nursing because it offers a unique opportunity to care for others and make a profound difference in peoples’ lives. However, you need to balance these lofty aims with an awareness of the day-to-day realities of the profession. You should certainly hold on to your ideals—they make the daily grind worthwhile!—but make sure you enter your career with your eyes open.
If you are a new nurse just starting out, here are 8 things that many veteran nurses wish they had known at the beginning of their careers.
1. There is a Lot of Fine Print
While your schedule on paper may seem doable, with a few 12 hour-long shifts or so, this quickly expands when your commute time, changeover duties, and key patient information exchange after and before every workday are factored in. Additionally, you may not have as much time off as you expect. Your promised off days will very likely begin with early morning calls requesting you to come in when the hospital is understaffed.
Weekends and holidays are not guaranteed to be off and loved ones may not be able to see you. Furthermore, the term “nursing” is a nebulous one that goes beyond simply the medical care you had been trained to provide. A nurse can be anything from a counselor and advocate to an engineer and deliverer. Thus taking a more holistic approach to the profession is the best approach.
2. Memory Matters, and Mistakes are Inevitable
With all the patients you will come into contact with, you will have to deal with large quantities of information. Apart from the quantity, the quality also matters, as this information is not only strongly protected by medical privacy laws but is essentially a matter of life and death. You will be expected to know it all and at all times. Finding a way to recall facts and keep things in order is vital in a profession where so much is at stake all the time.
At the same time, though, mistakes are inevitable. How you react to them, though, makes all the difference in the world. Learning from your mistakes and not repeating them is a more realistic goal than seeking outright perfection. Medications are something to be mindful of, as they are the easiest to confuse.
3. You Will Learn to Cope with Death
As you learn to handle mistakes, so too will you learn to deal with death. Nursing school, for all it teaches you, does not prepare you for coping with death. Each death is as unique as the patient and does not get easier, as each one hits hard in a different way. Part of the way you will learn to cope is by way of a dark sense of humor.
4. You Will be on the Phone a Lot
In the midst of dealing with large quantities of patients and pressure, you will be spending very large amounts of tedious periods of time on the phone, calling, answering, and mediating among staff, departments, and companies.
5. Your Body Takes a Beating
Long shifts involving standing, lifting, squatting, and walking are bound to take their toll on your body. For this reason, stretching properly and wearing supportive garments can help you manage these stresses.
6. Work and Life Become One
With nursing, the line between work and life becomes blurred. An example of this is that your family and friends, while seeing less of you on holidays, nonetheless become extra patients who will look to you for your expertise. Conversely, your coworkers and patients become like a second family to you, weathering the storms of your career with you as one.
In addition to family, fashion bleeds into nursing, too! You need to be comfortable and there are certain fashion scrubs for nurses out there to make wearing them all day into the night a lot easier on you.
7. You Will be Underpaid
Unfortunately, the pay is not going to match the work that has to be done to fulfill the basic duties. However, there are plenty of chances to take up overtime and more shifts, through which you can earn more so long as you are willing to do the additional work.
8. Nourishment Matters
Breakfast is something too many people skip as they begin their workdays, but given how few chances there are to eat, it is imperative to have that first meal in order to have the energy to keep up with the demands. Stocking up on nutrition bars and beverages can help. Nursing is not an easy profession to get into and succeed in, and it is not for everyone. Make yourself aware of the realities of the job and learn to take them in stride. If you love the job, then you can surely persevere.
As colleges and universities around the country struggle with burgeoning outbreaks of COVID-19, students at Ohio State University are trying to find ways to make campus life safer. The Safe and Healthy Campus Innovation Challenge, hosted by OSU’s College of Nursing Center for Healthcare Innovation and Wellness and the Offices of the Chief Wellness Officer and Student Life is accepting student submissions from August 24 through September 7.
The Innovation Challenge is focusing on three key areas:
- Physical distancing (on- and off-campus student housing, bars/restaurants, etc.)
- Wearing of face masks/coverings
- Mental health and well-being
Student innovators are being encouraged to form cross-disciplinary teams to pitch ideas that can be implemented in the OSU community. Winning pitches will receive financial backing and be paired with a faculty or staff mentor. First and Second place projects will be announced on September 21.
College of Nursing Dean and Chief Wellness Officer Bernadette Melnyk commented, “There is a tremendous spirit of innovation at Ohio State, and we know our awesome and creative students can identify new ideas and solutions… that will promote optimal health and well-being for the whole university. They will help us foster the safest and healthiest campus community possible.”
Tim Raderstorf, chief innovation officer for the College of Nursing and co-editor with Dr. Melnyk of Evidence-Based Leadership, Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Nursing and Healthcare, thinks students will prove to be natural innovators: “Administrators and leaders are not usually the best people to solve the problem. The best people to solve problems are the people who experience them firsthand. There’s no better group for us to be reaching out to than students because they know the problems intimately and know what solutions may be feasible for them.”
As the founder of OSU’s Innovation Studio, Raderstorf is speaking from experience. He advised student innovators that “We’re not asking everyone to come to us with a life-altering, game-changing idea. What we’re asking for is the best idea that you have right now. We’re going to try everything within our power to help your ideas rise to the top.”
Visit OSU’s Innovation Challenge for more details.
To cope with diminishing resources during the state’s spike in COVID cases, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and the State Board of Nursing have issued a temporary order permitting graduate nurses to treat patients during the crisis.
At Medical University of South Carolina’s Florence Medical Center, Chief Nursing Officer Costa Cockfield stated, “This is a win-win situation, the nursing students have a pathway to work while waiting to take the licensure exam. Likewise, the hospital benefits by getting the new graduate oriented and into clinical practice much faster.”
With NCLEX testing sites closed due to the pandemic, the state has been suffering from critical nursing shortages that have been unrelieved by any inflow of new RNs. Under the new order, graduate nurses who have not been able to take the NCLEX can temporarily fill staffing gaps despite lacking a license. The new rules apply to graduate nurses who have registered for the NCLEX and have graduated from an accredited nursing program. The grads are required to work under the supervision of an RN at all times.
Tony Derrick, Chief Nursing Officer at McLeod Medical Center, said, “There is certainly a place where… [these graduate nurses] could fit in to assist as a resource, and while they’re doing that, they’re learning, so I think it’s a positive win for both the student nurse for resource allocation as this pandemic continues and I don’t think it hurts to have this as a good resource.”
South Carolina is one of the few states to issue an order to temporarily admit graduate nurses into the workforce. In March, Ohio governor Mike DeWine signed a bill allowing newly graduated nurses to obtain a temporary license prior to passing the NCLEX, but so far few states have followed suit. Prior to the state’s surge in COVID cases, the Texas Nurses Association, the Texas Board of Nursing, and the Texas Organization for Nursing Leadership issued a joint statement advising that “Prelicensure RN students from diploma, associate degree and baccalaureate degree nursing programs and PN/VN students from certificate nursing programs could augment and support nursing services in health care facilities.” The American Organization for Nursing Leadership released a policy brief recommending similar measures, but such proposals have not gained traction among officials and legislators.
For more details on the decision in South Carolina, see the story at the Florence, SC CBS affiliate site.
We’ve all been experienced it: maybe new graduates are experiencing it right now…it’s the first day on the job with our freshly minted nursing degree and “what in the world am I doing here?!” is running through your head. Despite studying diligently to pass those exams, surviving the NCLEX, and making it through on-the-job training, Imposter Syndrome still hits close to home for many graduates. We’ll be discussing what it is, who is affected by it, and how to overcome it.
What is Imposter Syndrome?
Let’s not confuse imposter syndrome with new nurse jitters. New nurses may feel unsure of themselves and their knowledge especially during the first year on the job. However, Imposter syndrome is a constant, relentless feeling of never being good enough or that one is a “fake” at his or her job or responsibilities. In Patricia Benner’s classic book, From Novice to Expert: Excellence and Power in Clinical Nursing Practice, she compared being a novice nurse to learning a new skill like learning a new language: “in the beginning, performance is halting and rigid, and one must pay attention to explicit instruction. Performance is rule governed.” Imposter Syndrome is more of a feeling or a mindset than an action.
Who Experiences It?
Not just nurses experience this phenomenon. People from all ages and industries can feel the pangs of Imposter Syndrome. It seems to be experienced when someone is new to a role or has taken on different responsibilities. Therefore, it would make sense that new nurse graduates could have thoughts or feelings of being an imposter. “The syndrome is most common among women leaders who feel they don’t deserve the success they’ve achieved despite external evidence of their competence,” according to researcher Rose Sherman. It’s also likely to be experienced by people who describe themselves as perfectionists. Other people who are prone to this syndrome are those who have a competitive nature or those working in high stress environments.
How to Overcome It
John Discala lists six ways to overcome this mindset. It can be helpful to try a variety of strategies to shift away from this mode of thinking. Two ways are staying positive or talking with a friend. Dr. Lowinger coaches health professionals and in her 2019 article for Hospital and Healthcare, discusses other tips for managing Imposter Syndrome. She notes building confidence is key. How does someone build confidence? Taking an honest look at strengths and weaknesses and being realistic. Is what ever the nurse is feeling really the truth in the scenario? It’s important for the person to be honest with herself. Lowinger includes tips for both individuals and leaders for building confidence. Once someone is feeling surer, other negative feelings of inadequacy may dwindle and reality may be clearer to see.
Why Is It Important to Help Nurse Graduates?
“[Imposter Syndrome] has important implications for individual health professionals and the system as a whole,” says Lowinger. As a nursing profession, we should be mindful that new nurses commonly feel Imposter Syndrome. It’s important that nurse educators and programs in nursing schools teach about this. It would be interesting if more studies existed that investigated new nurses leaving the profession due to Imposter Syndrome. Could they truly be leaving because of this mindset? Could this mindset be so strong and detrimental? More research is needed. The nursing workforce cannot afford to lose more capable future nurses from this way of thinking that is treatable.
Imposter Syndrome is a persistent feeling or state of mind that the person is not good enough or a “fraud” in his or her job. Many people, despite industry, experience these feelings and particularly so if they are new to a role. People with specific personality traits such as high achievers or perfectionists tend to experience Imposter Syndrome more. There are several strategies available to minimize these feelings and there is much data showing this syndrome is common. It’s important to address this in nurse graduates because the nursing profession has the potential to retain more nurses who could otherwise leave due to Imposter Syndrome. Nurse graduates should be reassured that this phenomenon is felt by many and utilizing the strategies can help. A final suggestion is if the strategies in this article aren’t helping, to consider seeking professional help from a counselor or coach.