A healthy dose of apprehension goes hand in hand with any big life change. Many of our students currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nursing through our accelerated nursing program in Las Vegas came into the program with no past nursing experience and plenty of anxiety over whether or not they could make it as an RN. In honor of Halloween, here are four common fears expressed by incoming nursing students – along with four reasons why you shouldn’t let them haunt you.
I’m afraid I won’t be able to handle losing a patient.
The very thing that makes someone want to be a nurse – the desire to make a meaningful difference in someone’s life – is often the same thing that inspires the most anxiety about the job. All nursing students feel overwhelmed at some point by the idea of holding someone’s life in their hands. But that’s what nursing school is for – to prepare you intellectually and psychologically for those situations. By the time you’re working as an RN, you’ll have been exposed to numerous real-world patient scenarios that are both inspiring and difficult. And while loss plays a role in almost every healthcare career, practicing RNs will remind you that for every life lost, dozens more will be saved as a direct result of your efforts.
I’m afraid I’m too squeamish to be a successful nurse.
Yes, nursing is very much a hands-on profession, and not all aspects of patient care are glamorous. (The same can be said about child care, pet care and most other care taking positions.) However, repeat exposure and your innate desire to help your patients will quickly overshadow any hesitations you have in dealing with blood, fluids, wounds and other less pleasant aspects of the job, and probably more quickly than you expect.
I’m afraid I’ll make a terrible mistake or forget all my training in the first emergency.
One thing is certain: you will make mistakes as a nurse. But a major component of nursing school is making those mistakes in a risk-free environment such as our nursing simulation lab, so you can learn from them before you enter the workforce. And remember, nurses who practice in hospitals and healthcare facilities rarely work alone; most are part of a team that includes doctors, other nurses, technicians and staff. That’s why nursing programs emphasize teamwork and why nursing students cite their peer connections as one of the most valuable benefits of nursing school. So while you’ll surely make some mistakes, your fellow nurses will have your back– just as you’ll have theirs.
I’m afraid I won’t have a life if I become a nurse – I’ll spend all my time working.
The notion that nursing offers a poor work-life balance is another misconception that scares off some potential nursing students. They envision pagers going off at 2 a.m. or frequent all-nighters in the ER. The truth is quite the opposite: many people switch their career to become a nurse precisely because it’s such a flexible profession. The nurse-to-patient ratio is still much better than the doctor-to-patient ratio, so nurses have more flexibility in choosing their shifts and planning their work schedule around other commitments. Another advantage of nursing compared to other jobs is that your work hours can differ from week to week if you choose; you’re not locked into a certain location or normal business hours each day.
No matter what fears may be holding you back from a future in nursing—fear of loss, fear of failure, fear of the unknown—they can usually be overcome by talking openly to other nursing students and RNs. Most will tell you that, after some time and experience, doing a job they were meant to do is thrilling enough.