Expectations vs Reality…
Halfway through term 2 out of 4 in my nursing school trajectory and I am fatigued, with pain 2/10, HR is 60, BP is 125/80, and my LOC is A&O x 3. Going in I had all kinds of expectations and perceptions about my success. I expected constant support and guidance from my advisor, access to all kinds of cool events, and seamless lesson plans. What I didn’t expect was to have advisors that have never contacted any of my classmates, to have to advocate for events to be planned while I am not in class, and for teachers to be restructuring the class as we go.
I was also not expecting a 3.9 GPA following my first term, or even that I would pass my first term. This lack of confidence in my ability is entirely due to imposter syndrome. During my undergrad I had experienced this phenomenon but not to this degree. I often feel like a gazelle trying to pretend to be a lion. But after the last term I am finally coming to the realization that I am a lion.
You have to be ok with not being ok…
The thing is nursing school isn’t impossible or unattainable if you have academic struggles. The challenge is the mental strain that this pathway puts on you. You have to be ok with not being ok, with being loudly wrong, with bring vulnerable, and with asking for help. I have found that my success lies in having no shame with being vocal about what I don’t understand and doing something about it. Just yesterday I had to relearn what a glycemic index was because we were going over diabetes. Everyone has different gaps in their knowledge and that is ok.
For future nursing students…
I have also found that success lies with listening to the advice of others so I am going to share some advice that I have received, implemented, and found success with. This is for future nursing students:
- Ask the professor how to study for the exams, then do it
- Prioritize studying and then learn to prioritize patients (Who are you going to see first; someone
who can’t breathe or someone who broke their leg).
- Practice vital signs and assessments on your family, friends, and stuffed animals.
- If your school has open clinical times to practice your skills/procedures on manikins, go to them
with a partner so they can watch you and give feedback
- Create drug cards
- If the patient can’t breathe raise the head of the bed first
- Go to all the events you can, especially if they are about specialized nursing
- Learn what you need to pass the exam, this information may change for the NCLEX, and then
change again for standard real world nursing practice and that is normal among all nursing
- Get the Saunders NCLEX prep book and go through those questions before an exam
- Form study groups and create study guides together
- If you see something you don’t understand, stop and look it up before moving on
Finding the groove…
Nursing school has a lot of ups and downs. The first few weeks of each term has been the worst because they front load the information and I had no idea what the tests looked like. Once I took the first tests it got easier as I found the groove.
Currently I have 16 hours of clinical time each week at a Nursing care facility, which every staff member at said facility told me not to work at. I also have 11 hours of lecture time each week, not counting the hours I need to study, sleep, shower, and eat food. Like I said before, I am fatigued, but it is all worth it because in June I will be a real-life nurse.