Advice For Current and Potential Nursing Students

     Hi friends! It has been such a long time since I wrote to all of you beautiful babes, and I am so sorry for the delay! We have so much to catch up on...BUT do you know what season it is? Well, pumpkin spice season of course, but it also happens to be back to school season *cue the fake excitement*. I know I know, maybe not as thrilling as you were hoping for. However, this article may just be the one you have been searching for. Well, that all depends if you are a fellow nursing student like myself! This was my first week back to college as a junior in nursing school! It is such an incredibly exciting time for my classmates and I, and trust me, I am so eager to dive right into the semester and get to it. At the same time, this is also a very overwhelming and stressful transition period academically, socially, and physically. 

     I have been reflecting on my journey throughout nursing school thus far.. I am going to be honest with you, it absolutely was not easy, and I have felt defeated many times. Just like everything in life, success and accomplishments stem from hardwork and dedication, but also failures or mistakes. I feel as though I have learnt some valuable information and a considerable amount of advice when it comes to nursing school as a whole that I would have loved to know prior to starting college. If you are considering nursing school, currently applying, just starting your program, or simply looking for some peer advice...you have come to the right place. Everything I am about to tell you is based on my own personal experiences, and by no means does every student have the same experience. I hope that all of you can takeaway at least one thing from this article, and potentially implement it into your own experiences, or use it to educate other nursing students.     

     After generating advice that I wanted to discuss, I realized that it would be too overwhelming to have that much information thrown at you all at once. This means that this article is Part I of an ongoing series, so definitely stay tuned for the follow up articles! Having said that, let's not waste anymore time rambling.. here is a list of my first four pieces of advice for nursing students.

1. The Advantage of Getting a Job in the Field BEFORE College

     It is no secret that the healthcare industry is rapidly growing, and in constant need of new hires and dedicated students. I sincerely recommend that even before college, if you can land a job somewhere in health care- you will be at a huge advantage in a few different ways. Don’t feel discouraged if you are already enrolled in a program, because there are still plenty of opportunities to pick up a job at your current academic stage . 

     To start, a job early on in the medical field can help expose you to the type of experience you can only receive in healthcare. By dipping a toe in so to speak, you will be able to experience first hand how the hospital environment operates, and if it’s definitely the field you would like to be involved with in the future. Secondly, by holding a position in some kind of healthcare related field, you can gain notoriety and connections. These are both extremely powerful tools that you can definitely utilize later on. If you can get your name involved with a healthcare system or company, it could potentially assist your ability to get a promotion, or a better position once you’ve gone to nursing school. It is also easier to get involved with other students or nurses that can help guide you in the right direction later on if you form relationships with them at work. Additionally, healthcare professionals are a great source of advice and guidance that they have learned straight from hands on experience. Lastly, one of the most valuable takeaways would be on site, first hand experience. Trust me, it will be so much easier to grasp certain physical techniques if you have a fundamental understanding of them from work, or if you can even master a few skills prior to clinical, that’s even better! Examples of healthcare related jobs could be phlebotomy, CNA (certified nursing assistant), PCA (personal care assistant), EMT, and so on. Some of these jobs do require preliminary training or academic courses to learn the basics, but usually you can get a head start on them even before college. It is definitely something to look into! 

2. Financial Information: The Reality of How Much it will Cost

     No doubt, college is super expensive. Trust me, the dollar cup noodle budget is a constant mood. In all seriousness, some individuals chose to put off college straight after high school so they can build the funds to afford tuition and still have a nest egg just in case. It is truly a privilege to attend nursing school, and I know that all of you worked so hard to get an acceptance letter. However, something I didn’t realize early on was how much money this was all going to cost. Nursing schools, or colleges with specific programs have a tendency to be on the pricier side. This can really throw many families off, so I want to be brutally honest. When it comes to nursing programs, you will spend hundreds, and dare I say thousands, outside of tuition, when it comes to purchasing your supplies. Often times, your school’s tuition will not include all of your supplement materials. Textbooks, online programs, regular school supplies, stethoscopes, scrubs/uniforms… it all adds up for sure. I have definitely struggled when it comes to how to budget efficiently to afford everything. My amazon credit card is truly going through it right now. I just want to advise all future students to be careful when looking at schools. Find out exactly what your program offers, what tuition includes, and all the financial aid options available to you. Please do not make unrealistic decisions based on a schools reputation. Yes, of course research your program or school to make sure they are an accredited program with good reviews, but this doesn’t always mean attend a college completely out of your financial range just based on reputation. There are hundreds of nursing schools, and programs across the country and even study abroad programs that are fantastic. Don’t get caught up in unnecessary expensive fluff, and have a primary focus on academics. You will be successful wherever you go if you stay focused. 

3. Inquire About PreRequisites, and Explore ALL Options

     Building off of my last point, almost all nursing programs will have a list of preliminary classes or prerequisite courses you will need to complete before you even delve into the courses solely focused on nursing or anything medical. If this is the case, it may be worth it to explore other schools, such as community colleges or online schools that will allow you to fulfill your requirements, and transfer them to a nursing school later on so you don’t break the bank. Most of the time, you will be taking “associates of science” related courses, which can include a basic math or statistics, basic biology or anatomy, engligh, and the list goes on. Full four year programs usually are broken down into the first two years being predominantly prereqs, and the last two years nursing focused. This is why attending a community college can be a great option if you are looking to save money without taking a gap year between high school and college. In order to do this most efficiently, make sure you are aware of all the nursing school requirement courses, just so you don’t waste money taking classes you don’t need, or fall behind because you didn’t take courses you will end up needing in the future. 

     While this is a great solution, it does come with a hefty disadvantage… or so you think. Most four year program acceptances allow you to start taking your prereq courses, and then seamlessly transition into the nursing dedicated courses without any additional testing or reapplication. If you are transferring into a nursing program from a community college or alternative college, 9 times out of 10 you will need to start an entirely new application process to the school/program and take an additional exam to gauge your progress academically. There are some students who express their frustration with the inability to gain acceptance into nursing programs. My advice would be to find a college or program that you are interested in seriously. Start an open dialogue with their admissions department, and go out of your way to speak with representatives, and possibly even set up a meeting to speak with admissions in person. If you can build a rapport with a school, they may be able to guarantee you some type of contract or rolling admission based on prior and future academic expectations. Keep all your options open, and be that “annoying” applicant. While you have to remember not to overdo it, show your dedication and intentions when it comes to your academics. This allows admissions to see what kind of student you will be, if you are a serious candidate, and if you are a good fit for their programs.   

     

     I know that all of you guys have probably reached the point in this article where you feel like you’re just about to combust with the amount of information I am throwing your way, but this is the last point for today I promise! Here’s a bunch of puppies just to lighten the mood a little bit..

Ok… now back to business 

      4. Form Good Study Habits Early On

     This probably comes as no surprise to many of you, but it tends to be one of the most crucial points many of us forget. When I started college, I was an average student with *ok* study habits. I was naturally an A+  student in high school, and that’s not meant to brag at all. However, when I got to college, while I did very well my first semester, I could have done better. As a junior today, I do regret not pushing myself to work harder and strive for the absolute best when I was a freshman. I treated my first semester kind of like high school, and while that got me about a 3.5 GPA, I had the potential to get a 4.0. Maybe a perfect GPA just isn’t your vibe and that’s totally fine, more power to you, we will all become, and grow into great nurses. However, when I entered the tougher courses in my nursing program, that extra cushion in my overall GPA could have really helped me out. 

     My recommendation, work hard in all of your courses from DAY ONE. Don’t slack off just because it is a prereq or if it appears to be an easily passable class. Strive to do more than just pass. Strive to excel, because I know all of you will be so successful. No doubt, the increased motivation is all part of the growth process not only as a student, but as we all get older. However, if you start from day one setting up a schedule, organizing set times to study and do homework and assignments, put in more effort, go to your professor’s office hours,  and just by spending that extra hour or two studying will seriously make all the difference when you advance in college. If you can learn to study efficiently, and develop excellent note taking skills, the higher level nursing courses will be a little easier for you. Maybe not so much content wise, because sis let me tell you, this workload is a whole other article, but it will help when it comes to the way in which you can handle and adapt to these courses.  

     

     Pheew.. that was so much information, but it really can make that much of a difference just by taking one of these points into consideration as a nursing student. Listen...at the end of the day, every student will have a different experience, even if they are attending the same program. As nurses, we have to be supportive of each other, and build our fellow classmates up rather than trying to compete and bring each other down. Lend a hand to your classmates, and be each other’s support, because as you can see, nursing school is a whole different breed of stress. It is so much easier to make it through and stay focused when you have someone cheering you on.  There is no better quality than compassion and positivity when it comes to nursing, so I ask all of you please put out this energy into your work and school environment. There are plenty of opportunities for all of us out there, and you will all be amazing nurses. I believe in all of you, and even though things might get tough, we’ll do it together! You got this :) 

 

Part II coming soon….