3 Nursing School Tips for Success I Wish I Had Been Given

Today our guest blogger shares the three nursing school tips for success she wishes she had been given during her time in nursing school and in her nursing career.

At some point in every professional’s life, he or she has wished they had been given key points of critical advice pertaining to his or her area of expertise. Nurses are just the same. From nursing school and far into my professional career, there have been various times I have said, “I wish someone would have told me that.”

3 Nursing School Tips for Success

Tip 1: Saving Some Money

Nursing school is a time of growth and cramming an immeasurable amount of information into one’s bank of knowledge. For me, I had some really great professors who shared immense knowledge and valuable advice. What I wish I had been told or advised during nursing school doesn’t pertain to nursing or diseases processes, but rather, life and work in general. When I went back to school to get my BSN I was a non-traditional student, meaning I already had a bachelor’s degree and obviously wasn’t right out of high school. Fortunately, I also wasn’t that far removed from my collegiate years that I forgot how it worked. However, things had changed in the three years since I graduated with my BA. First, when I was in college for my first degree everyone had books they physically carried around. When I went back for my BSN the textbook renting phenomenon was in full swing and students were starting to rent electronic versions of books instead of the old school hardbacks. I wasn’t too keen on renting books and thought I would use them forever. Unfortunately, most textbooks are outdated by the time they go to print, and to this day collect dust in boxes in my basement. I sincerely wish I would have saved myself loads of money by renting or using electronic formats of my textbooks. I know many professors, writers, and textbook publishers will cringe when reading my feelings about this topic.

Tip 2: Taking Care of Yourself

Next is a topic I hold very true to my heart and encompasses caring for one’s self. Nurses historically are very good at taking care of others but don’t always do the best at taking care of themselves. I noticed this trend playing out for myself in nursing school. I gained a good 16 pounds on the vending machine diet. I quit exercising. I told myself I had to squeeze every waking moment into studying. While this might sound admirable to some, it’s absolutely moronic to me. Yes, studying is important but so is taking care of one’s self.

I am pretty confident that I would have felt better about myself and had more energy had I taken the time to exercise and pack myself healthy snacks during late night classes.

This notion of taking care of one’s self will also carry on past nursing school. I can’t stress how important it is to get enough sleep, eat well, and take care of one’s mental health. Nursing is taxing emotionally. Some critics believe nurses should be immune to mental anguish, but that’s just not realistic. Nurses feel pain and get emotionally and spiritually fatigued. How can we not? We see a lot of pain, suffering, and hard-to-swallow cases. Take vacations, go to support groups, see a therapist, exercise, meditate, pray, or do whatever mentally healthy practice you partake in to stay in the best emotional and physical shape you can be in. It’s okay to say no when your manager asks you to work a double because someone called off. It’s okay to not have to always save the day. Moral of the story: just take care of your overall health.

Tip 3: Ask Questions

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Nurses sometimes have a habit of “eating their young.” This phenomenon of pushing new nurses to their limits and belittling them as if it’s a right of passage is changing, but still heavily present in some places of employment. No matter how small someone makes you feel, never give them the satisfaction of causing you to lose your job or make a mistake because you were too afraid to ask a questions. Whether it concerns a drug you have never given, a procedure you are not familiar with, or even a hospital policy on vacation time, don’t be afraid to speak up. I have heard of nurses who have lost their jobs over simple medical errors that could have been prevented by simply asking for help. Nursing is a team effort. Also, don’t be a jerk. This whole concept of bullying in the workplace and “eating our young” needs to stop.

There are probably a million more times I wish I had known something during nursing school and probably will be for the rest of my life. For now, these are the topics that hold true to my heart. Overall, just remember we are all just imperfect humans and learning from experience is usually more memorable than having someone offer advice.

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