Nursing school is notorious for being hard. And nursing school should be hard because they’re preparing you to take on the massive responsibility of literally having people’s lives in your hands.
But I’m here to tell you from my own personal experience that your choices can either make your life so much harder than it has to be, or they can save you from unnecessary pain and suffering.
I’m going to discuss the 7 reasons I failed nursing school and as you read this list, I encourage you to ask yourself, “Does any of this sound like me?”
1. I didn’t ask for help when I needed it.
If I had to choose my one biggest mistake in nursing school, it would be this.
I’ve always been an independent person and I prefer to figure things out on my own. So asking for help didn’t exactly come naturally to me. But I desperately needed help and I wasn’t being honest with myself. I could no longer handle things on my own.
Let me tell you, nursing school is nothing like you’ve ever experienced before. And chances are, you’re going to need help.
If I had just gone to my teacher after the first test I failed, or the first time I didn’t understand something in lecture, things could’ve been different for me. Maybe I wouldn’t have failed.
But hindsight is always 20/20, right?
2. I sat at the back of the class.
If you’re someone who sits at the back of the class, you better be good at blocking out all the distractions, people fidgeting, and the computer screens of classmates who are online shopping and updating their Facebook posts…
You’ll need the self-discipline to fight the urge to check your phone and respond to those messages from your bestie. And you should probably have excellent hearing and vision… because if your lecture is given in a big auditorium like mine was, you’ll definitely need that too.
Better yet, just get to class early and find a seat near the front. Seriously.
“But what if the teacher calls on me to answer questions?” Well, that’s more motivation to pay attention and do well!
And guess what, there’s no one sitting in front of you, so you don’t have to worry about distractions. Instead, you’ll be able to learn as you’ll be engaged in the lesson.
And I promise you will thank yourself later!
3. I didn’t know how to study.
Quality over quantity, right?
The same is true with study time. You can spend hours reading a textbook, but if you forget everything you just read, or if you don’t understand the meaning behind the words, it does you no good.
Learn how to focus your study efforts. Most nursing schools require thick textbooks, detailed drug guides, and extra reading materials, and it’s simply not possible to read all that material in the time given.
Use the learning outcomes and your syllabus to guide you. Ask yourself, “What are the main points we went over today in class?”
Do you know your learning style? (If not, you can take this quiz to find out) Are you using different types of study methods to get a better understanding? Are you asking questions in class? Do you try to cram the material or do you review a little every day?
Be honest with yourself.
It took me years to figure out which study methods work best for me, so it’s ok if you’re still in the process, but let me say it louder for the people in the back,
If you need help, ASK FOR IT.
4. I didn’t try hard enough to make friends to form study groups with.
Life during nursing school is hectic. It’s also stressful, time-consuming, emotionally draining, you name it.
And I promise you, no one can relate to your pain better than your fellow classmates. It’s important to have that, “This really sucks but at least we’re in it together!” kind of bond.
Nursing is a team effort. We can’t do it alone. You need to have study groups so you can help each other. Teach each other. Learn from each other.
Have someone to practice your clinical skills with, take their blood pressure, and let them listen to your heart and lung sounds. You might even listen to each other cry sometimes, but you’ll be thankful to have someone to lean on!
Make lots of friends and grow your support system!
5. I wasn’t mentally prepared to give what it takes.
As much as I wanted to believe I was ready, I was far from it.
No one told me how much time and effort I would have to put in. No one warned me how many things would have to be sacrificed. Honestly, I wasn’t even entirely sure I wanted to be a nurse.
I encourage anyone entering nursing school to find your “Why?”. Write it down, hang it up, and never forget it.
Nursing school can sometimes make you question your why, but if you have your reason, your “why”, then nothing can stop you. You have your reason to keep going.
6. I had too much going on in my personal life.
Nursing school requires A LOT of your time and attention. And honestly, I wasn’t realistic with myself about how much I could handle on my plate.
I was a full-time student, part-time pharmacy technician, and athlete training for a competition in the middle of the semester. I was going to the gym twice a day, maintaining a very low-carb diet, and hating life.
And at the end of the day, my grades suffered because I wasn’t fully focused on school. My diet and low caloric intake made me feel tired all the time and made it harder for me to focus in school.
The point is, we’ve all got different things on our plate. It might be a job, kids, a family, or a number of other things. If you want to succeed in nursing school, do your best to limit the number of obligations in your life and then map out a plan to manage the rest.
And be honest with yourself.
If you’re not at a point in your life where you can manage all of your current responsibilities and attend school, maybe you should wait until you can.
Don’t waste your precious time, money, and tears unless you’re fully prepared to take on the beast of nursing school!
7. I doubted myself.
High school always came easy to me. I got good grades with minimal effort. And then I get to nursing school and all of a sudden I’m failing?! How can this be?
I was putting in the maximum amount of effort (at least that’s what I told myself), I was studying, going to every class, reading the textbook, doing the homework… I even felt confident during the tests, only to find out that I actually failed. Imagine how discouraging that was!
I would tell myself things like, “It must mean I’m not smart enough,” and “I can’t do it, I’ll never be a nurse.” “I’m not good enough.”
And sadly, I believed that for a long time. It took more than a year for me to be able to reflect back on my experience and finally see the truth.
It’s never easy to admit to yourself that YOU are the problem. But I’ve learned that me being the problem was the best news. Because I can change myself. I can change myself easier than I can change anything else.
And I did.
I learned from my mistakes and I grew from them. My mistakes cost me five years of waiting to be accepted into another nursing program. But you know what?
I did it.
And I found my “why”. Now nothing can stop me.
There you have it! The 7 things NOT to do in nursing school!
You are on your own unique journey, and you will have your own mistakes to learn from. But I hope that you can learn something from my mistakes and be more prepared than I was for nursing school.
By Darrien D. ♡