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Kayla Nelson

You Can Do It: How to Stay Positive in Nursing School

Every nursing student encounters different stressors and setbacks throughout life. Here are some ways that you can stay positive in nursing school!

Kayla Nelson is pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) at Herzing’s Minneapolis campus. She shares her story and some tips for nursing students.

“How do you manage with your plate so full?” That’s a common question for most nursing students.

Every nursing student encounters different stressors and setbacks throughout life. For me, a major setback occurred when I was 19 and lost my father. This caused me to think about who I wanted to become, and it motivated me to want to reach my full potential and earn my BSN.

Here are some ways that you can stay positive in nursing school, regardless of the challenges that come your way:

1. Rely on your support group

Having someone you can rely on can makes a difference while you are in nursing school. My mother was the first person who inspired me to earn my BSN. She has always been the one who I look to for advice, to cry to, to laugh with and more. She is my role model, as well as my number one fan, and she wants to see me reach my full potential and make a difference in this world.

My mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor back when I had enrolled in a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) program. I couldn’t focus at first, but my goal was to make my mom proud, and that has continued to be a major source of motivation. After I finished my LPN, I enrolled in the BSN program at Herzing University and I realized that I wanted to accomplish this goal so she can see me do something good with my life.

Having someone like my mother in my life has both inspired and encouraged me in my nursing journey. I wouldn’t have gotten this far without her. If you don’t have the support of family members, try confiding in your friends or other loved ones. Other students in your nursing classes can make for a great support system, too. If you’re not sure where to start or where to look for help, try talking to your instructors or career advisors. They want to see you succeed, and they may be able to offer supportive resources you haven’t considered yet.

2. Gain motivation from others

I can only speak for myself, but kids are wonderful. I have an 18-month-old and a 5-month-old. As challenging as it was to have them so close together and right before enrolling in the BSN program, they also motivate me to finish. Anyone with children knows how much time, energy, emotion and care they need, but you also understand that you need to be an example for them. For me, I want my little boy and little girl to grow to their fullest potential and make a difference in their own lives while empowering others. No matter how tired and burnt out I get, I look at their faces and remind myself that there are greater reasons for why I am here and earning my degree.  

Nursing is focused on helping others, so try to remember why you want to care for others. Do you want to make a difference in the world or change someone’s life? Keep those external motivators top of mind, and reflect on them when you’re feeling tired or overwhelmed. Remembering that I am working for something outside of myself helps keep me motivated!

3. Keep your goals in mind

While I already mentioned that external factors and people can be great motivators, you should always remember your internal motivations too. Think about why you chose to enroll in nursing school, what drove you to the field, what becoming a nurse will mean for you and how it will help you accomplish your other goals.

For example, one of the greatest needs in my life is learning all that I can and uplifting others. Being an LPN is great, but sometimes I feel restricted because I know that I’m capable of doing more. Occasionally, I will make RN-level decisions in my head to prove to myself that I can do it, but I want to be able to make those decisions in my career. Practicing those decisions in my head keeps me moving forward and focused on the goal, rather than falling back as sometimes I want to do. It is not about proving others wrong; it is about proving myself right. I feel ready to save lives, teach and watch others grow, and earning my BSN will allow me to do that and ultimately help me feel more fulfilled.

4. Never give up

Throughout nursing school, I’ve learned that it is okay to fall if I just remember to pick myself up. I know that I had to go through heartache to learn how to power on so that one day I can help others through their heartache. We must carry on, and look back and learn from our misfortunes and hardships. Other nursing students have similar stories or their own unique setbacks, and we learn from each other and grow together. We flourish so we can help others heal and thrive.

To all nursing students, I encourage you to remember what has gotten you this far. No matter how far along you are in the program, every day gets you closer to achieving your goals. We will reach our destination!

Learn More About Our Bachelor of Science in Nursing


* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics 2023 / Occupational Outlook Handbook 2022. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.

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