I could make this the shortest blog post in the world and simply say, #@%&-ing hard. But, where’s the fun in that? I don’t want to scare you off by any means…but I definitely think this is a  “go in with your eyes wide open” kind of situation. So here goes.

How Hard is Nursing School? Exhibit #1: The Schedule

The first thing you’ll notice when you get your course materials from the school is that your schedule is whack. I promise you will be running from Point A to Point B pretty much nonstop for the next few years. Between classes, clinicals, clinical preps, group projects, study sessions, labs, check-offs and, oh yeah, actually studying, you will be Busy…like “capital B” Busy. Having a solid method for organizing your schedule is key…and oh, I just happen to have one right here.

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How Hard is Nursing School? Exhibit #2: The Reading

You will have a metric butt-ton of reading to do in nursing school. While I’m not one to say don’t read the text, I will suggest that you don’t always HAVE to read every single word. You’ll figure out quickly which classes pull obscure test questions from the text and which pull from lecture. I used my textbooks more as reference books…looking up things for which I needed extra explanation or just found super fascinating. Before lecture, go through and at least scan the chapter…read the headers, read the intro paragraphs to each section, check out the graphs and pictures. If you try to read every single word, you’ll cry. I promise.

How Hard is Nursing School? Exhibit #3: The Material

Boy oh boy, this should probably be up there at #1. The material is tough. And there’s just so darn much of it! The best thing I can say here is to find a study method that works for you, utilizes all parts of your brain and helps you retain information. I go into this in detail in my book (#ad), or you can get a taste of what it’s about here. The good thing about the material is that even though it’s a whopper, it’s fascinating enough to make you WANT to learn it.

nursing school


How Hard is Nursing School? Exhibit #4: Applying New Knowledge

Learning the facts is one thing. Applying them is a whole other ball game. You will be applying knowledge all throughout your program…in the form of NCLEX-style test questions to writing up your clinical preps to taking care of actual patients. The way to succeed at applying knowledge is to go beyond memorization…you have to strive to actually UNDERSTAND the concepts behind what you are learning. And yes, while you do need to memorize things like how to measure for an NG tube, knowing WHY will help you remember the steps. The more practice questions you do and the more patients you encounter, the easier this will be. Yes, really.

How Hard is Nursing School? Exhibit #5: The Volume of %#* To Do

This reason closely dovetails with Exhibit # 1 and Exhibit #3…the schedule and all the material you need to learn make for a super long “to-do” list. You’ll have something to do every single day, without fail. Discussion board postings, paperwork to turn in, assignments to do, pre-quizzes to take, post-quizzes to take, papers to write, group projects to do, patients to see, exams to study for, videos to watch, skills labs to attend and so on and so forth. Again, being organized is key. Coffee helps, too.

How Hard is Nursing School? Exhibit #6: The Responsibility

The responsibility of caring for actual people is one of the biggest stressors you will face as a student. It’s why your professors are so stringent, it’s why perfection (or near perfection) is required in your skills lab, it’s why your exams are so hard and why you are tasked with learning mountains of information. Recognizing that you carry a huge responsibility can be overwhelming for students and cause a great deal of stress. Reach out to your instructors, your classmates, your nurses. Ask questions. Prep relentlessly. Study your tail off. And, most of all, take care of yourself.

How Hard is Nursing School? Exhibit #7: It Can Be Lonely

Thanks to exhibits #1, #2, #3, #4, , #5 and #6, you will probably see your favorite people and do your favorite things far less frequently than before this whole circus started. Making time to see friends and family is key but you may find there’s not much spare time in your day. Do your absolute best to carve it out, even if it’s just a thirty-minute walk on Saturdays during a study break. Try to do something that brings you joy every single day…a soak in the tub, read a few pages of a favorite book, go for a run, meditate, pray, laugh, walk the dog…whatever it is, try to do something that makes your heart feel light. While you will make lifelong friends in nursing school (who else will understand what it’s like to save a life, touch a stranger’s booty, walk through body fluids and have in-depth discussions about poop…my friend Collie and I are “poo sisters” for life…I literally think of her every single time I administer a suppository…that’s love, my friends), it’s important to nurture the relationships that got you here in the first place.

What do you find to be the most difficult aspect of nursing school? What are you most excited about learning?  Let us know in the comments below…and to be sure you never miss a post, subscribe using the link to the right (because that’s what all the cool kids are doing).

Be safe out there!


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