7 things you need to know about nursing school.

7) Not everyone gets in. This means you have to be better than other people. Yes this includes better grades. There are numerous pre-requisite classes and the more you have completed the better chance you will have of getting accepted into school. It is much harder to get into school and eventually receive a license with any kind of criminal record. If you have problems in this area then it is best to speak to a counselor or advisor to find out if you will be able to proceed with school before getting too far. Our first day of class our instructors warned us that even having been convicted of driving while intoxicated could prevent us from obtaining a nursing license.

6) Everything else in life becomes less important. Your family, loved ones, yes even the boyfriend/husband (or for you guys, the girlfriend/wife, though we are typically more understanding in general). They will all need to understand that nursing school is a full time commitment that has to take precedence over everything else in life in order for you to succeed at it. You will need a lot of support and assistance so that you can put all your effort into the program. This is a full-time commitment.

5) Be positive nursing is something you TRULY want to and can do. Nursing is not for everyone. Do not waste your time if it is not something you can do. In my first year of school we lost a student because the first time she held a needle to someone’s skin she passed out…..she had worked very hard to get to that point and realized it wasn’t for her. I’m not saying you should go around sticking people with needles to see if you pass out or not, just think about it and maybe volunteer at a hospital or nursing home to see if you are prepared for that kind of environment.

4) It is unlike any other classroom experience you have ever had. Nursing school is not like your biology class or English class of the past. This is serious stuff. I am not just talking about the clinical aspect. Nursing education is not in the black/white format of a math class. 2+2 is not always 4, sometimes it is 5 or 10, just depending on the situation. You have to learn a new thought process. You may have several “right” answers in front of you, but must choose the “best” right answer depending on any number of variables. Sure, any of the answers may get you where you need to go, but will the patient make it through your trial and error?

3) Clinicals are meant to scare the crap out of you. You will be forced to actually walk into a stranger’s hospital room and examine them from head to toe; this includes ALL parts by the way. And while doing this you must appear that you are totally at ease looking at strange naked people and behave as if you know exactly what you are doing. This is even more difficult to accomplish with the ever present instructor standing behind your back watching everything you do. But if you make it to your final semester, they essentially leave you to your own devices because at that point even the instructors are fooled into thinking you might actually know what you are doing.

2) There will be nursing students who are not married, do not work, do not have kids, and can totally devote their whole being to succeeding at school. You will hate these people. They will go above and beyond and impress the instructors with their knowledge because they can study 14 hours a day and knit all 6 instructors personalized stethoscope covers in their spare time. Again, you will hate these people. Don’t try to talk to them or get them to downplay their abilities because they will not listen and will only work harder to show you up!

1) It is extremely rewarding! Once you finish, and yes you can finish and graduate and pass boards, you will have joined a professional organization that you can grow and change with. There are so many possibilities for nurses to gain autonomy and become a valuable asset to any community. Nursing is not just a job; it is a career in which we change people’s lives. A very intelligent nurse once told me that if he (the patient) can lay there and go through it then I can certainly stand beside him and comfort him during it. Nurses are comfort to a patient; always remember why you are there and what you mean to the one you are caring for.

  • 19 Comments...Your thoughts?


  1. Carrie says:

    I feel like the part about hating people who can devote every second to their education was the funniest part!! I just finished my prerequisites and am getting ready for nursing school. There were those types in all my science classes – the type who has not family, or other obligations. I liked your point of view of not trying to compete with them. It makes you feel inferior because there is only so much you can do. I know I am in it for the right reasons – I just have to keep up my confidence because I get discouraged when I dont think I am catching on. Anyways I made it this far and thanks so much for your post – it was so true and I feel like I am not alone in hating them!!!

  2. Nat says:

    Firstly, I think some of your remarks are offensive. I am not trying to personally attack you, but I would think someone with enough schooling and responsibility to become a nurse would also know enough about the world today and sensitivity to not generalize and as you say “hate”. Some people, such as myself, knew from childhood that they wanted to be nurses and just because we haven’t gotten married and started families, and because we can devote every minute to our dreams, does not mean we don’t demand any more respect than someone who started school later in life. You should admire anyone with that kind of drive, they also worked hard.
    I feel for mothers and people who have other responsibilities. My mother just completed school and she quite frequently contemplated quitting because she was under so much stress, but she never ever felt hate or said one negative thing about anyone else in her class, even if they had an easier life than hers. If you were determined and responsible enough to get into nursing school, then count your blessings and stop envying someone else’s life and dedication.

  3. Jenn says:

    Very useful information! I have a bit of a different, although mostly the same, point on classmates & the nursing classes in general.
    Yes, there are people in there that don’t have children or jobs and this is all that they have going on. They will drive you insane with “Oh, the exam wasn’t that hard! You just need to study more/better!” There is also the “I’ve worked as a CNA and I know everything. Nursing school is just a formality for me. And, oh by the way, I’m going to grace you with a story about every single topic we cover so you can benefit from my vast wisdom, as well.”
    There’s the “My grandmother/child/father/distant relative who was in the hospital dying and they had the worst nurse ever!” type. You will want to scream at them “Hey, Skippy! If by some miracle you graduate, not every patient you have is going to think you’re the reincarnate of Florence Nightengale!” That’s not advisable, LOL!
    You will also encounter, “I must be in the middle of everything and must control every move that is made.” For me, this is the hardest one not to slap.
    And there will be several, “What if the patient is seeing purple elephants and dancing on the ceiling? What do we do?” “What if we stop at an accident scene and we don’t have gloves or a CPR mask?” “What if, what if, what if, what if!”
    If someone could invent earplugs that only allow certain voices to come through, they’d make a fortune off of nursing students!
    You will spend 15-20 hours a week with these people and most of them will get on your nerves. You go in expecting that the majority of the class will be intelligent because it is hard to get in. This is not the case. Lots of idiots test well.
    Try to keep your head down & roll with the punches, because there’s going to be alot of them!

  4. Leigh says:

    I graduated with a BS in Radiation Therapy a few years ago. I agree with the part about hating those who can devote all their time to school. When I started my child was 3 months old. I finished but failed the licensure. I decided not to pursue it further by restudying for the test. I went into it to help others deal with their cancer. What I discovered was we were only allowed 15 minutes for each patient. It was like herding cows. I discovered that it was more of a job without compassion. I now had 2 children and even more family responsibilities keeping up with them, although I don’t work. I am thinking seriously about nursing but am I going to be disappointed again in the end?

  5. sheria says:

    As long as you have support and willing to put forth the hard work and effort it will pay off. I have two friends who worked and went to nursing school full-time and made it. One is single with three kids and is now a RN and the other is married with one kid an a LPN. It can be done! But nursing is not for everyone. Failure is not an option. Not saying it was easy for them but they did the damn thing!

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