Between classes, clinical, work and family time, nursing students juggle a lot on a daily basis. Some, like McKindi Heiman, make it look easy. We asked McKindi, who is currently earning her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) at Herzing University-Madison, to tell us what life is really like for a nursing student, how she stays on top of her schedule and what keeps her going.
1. What does a typical day look like for you as a nursing student?
On the days I do not have work or clinical (they are rare) I wake up early, eat a nutritious breakfast and break out the books! I like to print off the PowerPoint presentations for the following week’s lecture in all of my classes and then read through the assigned material. This helps me prepare best for class. By the time lecture comes around, I already have a basic understanding of the material, so I can focus on learning what I don’t fully understand. I also make notecards well in advance of every exam, so I have at least a week to study them.
2. What made you decide to pursue a career in nursing?
I was working as a medication technician in a nursing home and was in love with it. I realized it was my calling and I enrolled at Herzing University!
3. What’s the hardest part about being a nursing student?
Time management. This semester has been a difficult one for me. Managing tons of hard classes and having to read multiple chapters for each is very challenging, especially when I am working. Managing my time isn't always easy, but it is necessary. I’ve learned to make my notecards ahead of time and get the easier assignments out of the way first.
4. What’s the most rewarding and exciting part about being a nursing student?
I love the fact that I am learning so many new things every day that I can apply to my work as well as my home life. I am gaining valuable experience and I am thankful for the opportunities I have gotten at Herzing.
5. In your opinion, why is clinical experience so important to your nursing career?
Clinical is a way to get hands-on experience while also being shadowed by your clinical instructor in case you need help. It is a good way to “get your feet wet,” if you will. Some people haven’t ever had patient care experience, and clinical is an amazing way to learn how to talk to patients and see what went well and what you can improve on in a nonjudgmental place.
6. What’s the best part about clinical?
I really enjoy the interaction with the residents. Right now, I am in my gerontology clinical and the residents are so helpful and positive. They’re really great to work with. It is nice being welcomed every week.
7. Do you have any secret tips on how to survive nursing school?
Make notecards to study with. Have friends at school and outside of school that you can talk to. Relax once in a while. Keep telling yourself you will make it and that you are doing your best. Eat right and exercise!
8. How important is your cohort during your nursing school?
SO IMPORTANT. My cohort has a Facebook group where we all talk, share questions and post funny memes about nursing school. If I ever have a question, I am not afraid to ask. We all really lean on each other and it really helps.
9. Do you know what kind of nursing specialty you want to go into?
My dream is to be a sedation nurse and work in the UW Health Gastroenterology Clinic in downtown Madison. I was diagnosed with an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) a year ago and learning about my disease has piqued my interest in pathologies associated with the gut.
10. Tell us about a challenge you’ve faced as a nursing student and how you overcame that challenge.
There have been times when I felt very overwhelmed, but I overcame it by working out regularly and creating a routine that helps me stay on top of my coursework. I also suffer from test anxiety and am terrible with answering NCLEX-style multiple choice questions. I’ve started doing some extra practice with NCLEX-style questions, and it’s really helped me with my test taking.
11. What’s one memory from nursing school that will stick with you forever?
Being able to relate to a patient who also has IBD meant a lot to me. I was able to empathize with her and see the situation from her point of view, as I had been in her shoes before. I think my experience as a patient will help me become a better nurse.
Whether you are new to nursing or want to further your career, Herzing University offers a variety of nursing degree pathways to help you meet your goals and the support you need to succeed. Check out these nursing school tips from our graduates, and get started on your nursing career path today!