Common Challenges of Nursing School and How to Overcome Them
People become nurses so they can take care of people and start working in a hospital or other healthcare setting. Before they can do that, though, they must tackle nursing school. Here are some tips on how to navigate nursing school.
Students who go to school to become a nurse are on a mission. Many have selected this career path so they could take care of people and make a difference in their communities. Nursing can be a rewarding and fulfilling career. If you are a nursing student, you might be excited to start working in a hospital, clinic or any other healthcare setting. However, before you can fully start your career, you must tackle nursing school.
You learn a lot while in school but it can be easy to be caught up in your busy schedule, classes, clinical rotations and exams.
Here are some tips on how to stay focused and navigate some common nursing school challenges:
Homework and Assignments
As a nursing student, you’ll have a lot on your daily schedule. You may be busy with lectures, labs, assignments and projects. Nursing students can expect many hours of reading, independent case studies and presentations during their time at school.
While the homework can be taxing, some tactics to tackle the load are:
Start your work early. Nothing is worse than waiting until the last minute to complete a project that ends up not being as great as it could have been. Starting early helps keep you on track and stay motivated, especially when tasks are more grueling. Working on a project a little bit every day can help lighten the workload and also make your work seem more manageable.
Figure out what to prioritize. Even with assignments piling up, learning which one to prioritize can help limit the feeling of being overwhelmed. To determine what should be completed first, look at the due dates and the complexity of each task. Some big projects can be broken into smaller tasks and other projects can be pushed back to make room for projects that have a closer due date.
Stay organized and have a clean workspace. Maintaining organization and staying focused can help with your productivity and reduce stress. Try creating lists or minimizing the amount of clutter in your work area. Other another tip could include keeping a planner or using organization apps.
Herzing-Atlanta BSN grad, Aminata Kuyateh, offers some advice for students: “My advice for others is to just stay focused and be positive. Always do your work on time and study hard. More importantly, learn to prioritize your time.”
Clinicals are where nursing students take what they’ve learned in the classroom and apply it to real situations. They can sometimes be challenging since they test and evaluate not only your nursing knowledge but also your professionalism and attitude towards patients. Many nursing students find clinical a helpful way to get real hands-on nursing experience.
Some advice to confidently complete clinicals include:
Always ask questions. Never assume anything to ensure you’re implementing the best strategy to keep you and the patient safe. It is always best to double check if you don't feel confident about doing something. As a nursing student, you are still learning so don't be afraid to ask questions!
Take advantage of the resources provided to you by your university or clinical program. Clinical instructors are one of the best resources for nursing students and will guide you as you put theory into practice. Ask them questions when you need help.
Be prepared for anything. Review your patients’ medical history or anything related to nursing care before you go. You might also want to practice skills you might perform during clinical. While at your clinical, something might not go as planned, but you should have confidence in yourself and in your educational experience to know that you can handle those problems or setbacks.
Nurture connections. Clinicals are not only a great way to gain field experience, but also offer opportunities to network with nurses. Be sure to keep in touch and thank those who helped you. Also, join groups like the National Student Nursing Association to continue to build your professional network.
You can take some inspiration from Donnalee Fulton, who earned her Associate in Nursing from Herzing-Birmingham. She advises students, “Be dedicated and determined, regardless of what challenge comes your way. Don’t give up, even when you feel overwhelmed. The reward, in the end, is amazing.”
The National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX) is one of the most important and difficult milestones for a nursing student. Passing this exam requires a lot of preparation and it is different from other tests you take as a nursing student.
Study for the NCLEX. Don't try to do all your studying the night before the exam—you will be unsuccessful. You can review course materials from your nursing classes or you can find practice questions and other study tips online to help prepare. The NCLEX is a cumulative exam so you will need to review information regularly in order to commit it to memory.
Know your learning and study style. Understanding what methods help you learn best is an important aspect of studying for the NCLEX. While some may like working in a group setting, others might prefer learning on their own. Figure out what techniques work for you to make the most of your studying.
Don’t stress yourself out. Test-taking can be intimidating, but it’s important to stay positive to get through it. Try putting that nervous energy into something productive like planning out a study schedule or exercising to clear your mind. Other ways to overcome the stress of test-taking include finding a support system and trying to maintain a positive attitude. You have worked hard to get to this point and all your hard work will pay off!
Nursing school has its challenges, but in the end, all of your hard work and long hours will be worth it!
“Don't be afraid to pursue your dreams. Herzing University's Master's of Science in Nursing program challenged and sharpened me, but most of all, it made me stronger. If you don't pursue your dreams, you lose the opportunity to be your best possible self,” says Herzing-Online graduate Michele Scarborough.
If you’re interested in learning more about Herzing University’s nursing programs, visit the nursing programs page!
* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2020. 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.