As I near the end of the phase of nursing school, there are things I wish I would have known prior to starting. If I would have known all these things, would I have still gone to nursing school? Yes, I would have. I may not have chosen this path or this time to do it, but I absolutely would have gone to nursing school. It is still my #1 desire to become a nurse practitioner, and there are no schools around me that have a Direct Entry Nurse Practitioner program.
My nursing school journey looks like this: [yours may be different].
pre-nursing…I worked for 8 years in an allied health career. 6 of the 8 years were spent primarily in pediatrics with some dabbling in adult and emergency care.
phase 1: I’ll finish up this part in a few weeks. I’ll get my ADN. I’ll be able to take the licensing exam and [in theory] I can begin working as a nurse.
phase 2: I’ll be working on my BSN. It’s 99% on line, and the classes are relevant with no extras thrown in.
phase 3: the NP phase…of which I am undecided as of yet.
I was accepted to an accelerated BSN program, but I chose not to attend it for financial reasons. 4 semesters of full time school at $6500 = $30,000… not including books/supplies/ect…the way I am doing it will take me 27 calendar months [instead of 16]. The ADN will cost me <$2000 total, and my BSN program is ~$500/class so 10 classes x $500=~$5000…so maybe $7500 for the two programs together. So while I will be in school an extra 10-12 months [and some of that is time not is school due to calendars no meshing well], I’ll save at least $+20,000 AND I will be able to work and make $$$ and continue to gain experience.
My nursing school journey started in May 2014 and if all goes according to plans should end in July 2017. I didn’t count on breaking my wrist and ankle, not graduating until July 2015 [instead of May 2015], a 100 year old flood canceling my original NCLEX test date, and while I was accepted into my BSN program in January 2016, I didn’t start until May 2016. But that’s life for ya.
Helpful [or not] advice for getting in, and through nursing school
- Although it was a royal pain in the ass, getting into the program really was the easy part.
- You will spend a small fortune on textbooks, coffee, and gas driving back and forth to clinical sites.
- Before you even start your program, friends and family will be asking you to make medical diagnoses of their problems. [I’m lucky. I already work in health care, most of my friends are in medical school, physician assistant school, or health care professionals, and my boyfriend is a physician, but I STILL have some people ask about drugs…It’s always the drugs.]
- You are going to see a lot of naked people. Most of them you would never want to see naked. The naked human body quickly loses its appeal.
- You will meet some of the most amazing people you have ever met. You will also meet some complete assholes. Some of those are surgeons.
- You are going to talk about poop. A lot. Yeah. It’s gross but get used to it now.
- You’ll ask complete strangers about their poop. And have them describe it to you. In detail.
- Several people from your class [or school…we have really small classes] will sleep with each other. If you are of the male and attending nursing school, your chances of getting laid go up by about 1000%.
- If by some miracle no one hooks up in your class, SOMEONE will hook up with someone they met at a clinical site [full disclosure: in my previous program, I dated one of the someone from one of those clinical sites while I was in school. Yes, I was that person. We dated for a year or so of the two year program. I still had to see him after we broke up. I still had to LEARN from him.] Hell, I occasionally STILL have to see him now. Hooking up with classmates and clinical instructors = your life just becomes much more difficult.
- For all the reasons listed above it is a fucking HORRIBLE idea to hook up with one of your classmates or someone from your clinical site. Just trust me on this one.
- It is next to impossible to concentrate in class, perform a physical exam, or do your job in a CODE when you know what the person next to you looks like when they have an orgasm. And if you are at all paranoid, they know what you look like when you come too. This does not make for the basis of professional relationships.
- Rumors [about you, your classmates, your professors] are like a snowball rolling down a mountain … as it rolls it picks up speed and more and more snow. Soon it creates an avalanche destroying people or places and then there is no going back.
- Do not wear scrubs to lecture. . It makes you look like a tool. If you must wear scrubs to class, go for the khaki or navy blue pants…those can at least pass for regular pants. And ALWAYS take off the scrub top…t-shirt and scrub bottoms are much more passable than straight scrubs.
- Pick your coping method very, VERY carefully. Alcohol is a bad idea…Once again, trust me on this one.
- Nurses are notorious partiers. It’s OK to have one drink (unless, of course you are like me) with coworkers after work. But limit it to one. And if you can’t, zero is your number. (Zero is MY number) No one wants hungover nurses. Not patients, not your coworkers, and take it from me, being hungover at work, is a terrible, terrible idea. Once again, trust me on this one.
- Nurses are notoriously hard partiers. Keep that in mind at the “End of Semester” bash. And if someone suggests calling the evil med-surg instructor that made everyone miserable all semester to tell her what ya’ll really think of her while you are all drunk, for the love of God, don’t do it. [also, don’t take a group photo of you all flipping off the camera and text it to her]
- Everyone in your program will start out with a plan to go on and become a nurse practitioner or a nurse anesthetist. By the end of the second class, those same people will just be glad to just finish the program.
- You will most likely fail an exam. I didn’t, but I came mighty close a time lot two. (I also have a lot to prove since I graduated from college the first time with a whopping 2.13 GPA, and have spent most of my adult life trying overcome that) If/when it does, cry about it (if that’s your thing…my thing is much more destructive than crying) and then move on. You really DON’T have time to dwell on it. Get over it, move on, and just know one failing grade (even if it’s on a final) does not mean you have flunked out of nursing school.
- All the guys will want to do surgery, cardiac care, or ER. All the girls will want to do L&D or pediatric nursing. I’m crazy one…I want to psych/ER/forensic nursing.
- Hospitals smell bad. I think the stuff they use to clean them smells just as bad. If you’ve ever been in a biology lab, especially a dissection, you know how even after you leave for the day, it feels like that smell is clinging to you. Plan to shower frequently. I like to use the swimming pool as a giant disinfecting tank.
- A lot of your time during clinical rotation will be wasted. Thrown away. Down the drain. You will feel useless. [You are] It’s sucks especially if you have an instructor who will not let you work on care plans or other other nursing stuff. Mostly likely the instructor is busy checking and rechecking all your work so that you don’t kill anyone.
- Most likely, you won’t kill anyone. [Although I did have a classmate who did an assessment on dead person and this person charted breath sounds, heart sounds, heart rate, ect. *This person had already been pronounced dead, but wasn’t covered up or bagged up.]
- Patients can be grumpy, mean, or uncooperative. They have earned that right because they are in the hospital. It does not give them the right to abuse the people who are trying to help them get better.
- NEVER ask a professor “Is this going to be on the test?” Most likely is wasn’t going to be, but now everything is going to be on the test…no multiple choice….all essay questions with diagrams that have to be answered in either Latin or Sanskrit.
- Haggling over points on an exam rarely works. As a matter of fact, it usually just pisses the instructor off. [Andoften times your classmates too]
- If you piss off your instructor, he or she can make your life hell [and not just for the length of that class]
- Some nursing instructors are bullies.
- Some nursing instructors who seem like bullies aren’t. They just want you to be the best nurse you possibly can be…because you could be taking care of one of their family members one day. [Jones, I’m talking about you]
- Be able to talk about something other than nursing school because “normal people” don’t always want to hear about it. [But be able to have something interesting–not just complaints about the workload–to say in case someone does ask.]
- You’ll work with at least one nurse who hates you just because you are a student.
- You’ll work with at least one nurse who you wouldn’t trust to watch your cat much less an actual human you care about. [Nicole, I’m talking about you]
- You’ll work with at least one nurse who reminds you of the kind of nurse you want to be when you graduate. Tell him or her that. Because people need to hear it.
- There will be days when you wake up and ask yourself is this really what you want out of life.
- There will be days when you wake up and want nothing more than to quit school and become a barista at Starbucks.
- Always offer to help a fellow student with a difficult patient. What goes around comes around and people *do* [eventually] notice.
- As per pain scale protocol, you’ll start measuring everything on a scale from 1-10.
- You’ll probably change your desired specialty at least 4 times, depending on your current rotation.
- Sleep when you can, where you can. Don’t feel bad about making your car into a makeshift camping trailer and nap between classes. Don’t feel bad about 4 hour naps on Tuesday afternoons when you don’t have class.
- All sounds sound the same when you are learning them. I still have a hard time with S1 and S2 heart sounds. They still sound the same to me.
- A lot of things that seems scary in the beginning really aren’t. It’s the things that seem easy that you need to worry about.
- Psych patients aren’t the ones you have to worry about. Generally, they are medicated and usually stable. It is the family members of the patient on the med-surg floor that need restrains and a heavy dose of Valium.
- Learn anatomy & physiology the first time around because it sucks to have to relearn it.
- There will be one person in your class who’s most laid back guy or chick you’ve ever met. They will sit in the back row of the class, listen to their ipod during lecture, never seem to study and then get a 99.99% on the cumulative exam at the end of the semester. You would hate this person except for they are the coolest person you have ever met.
- In the beginning, everyone is going to talk about how cool it’s going to be to help patients. At the end, everybody will talk about how cool it’s going to be to actually be making real money. Finally.
- You’ll study more than you ever have in your life and it still won’t feel like enough.
- You will learn the joys of being questioned according to the Socratic method. It is like the nursing school version of “pimping” that medical students go through. [I had this the other day when I had to be an anatomical dummy and point parts out on myself. It sucks if you don’t know the answer]
- By the end of nursing school, you will most likely hate most of your classmates. There are several reasons you may dislike them…from the real–they are scary in clinic, you had a group project with them and they slacked off to the petty–their voice is annoying.
There you go… just some of the things I’ve learned in journey to and through the hell that is nursing school.