5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting My Nursing Courses

Nursing students in a health assessment classroom.

The prerequisites and application process are now done and you have officially made it to nursing school. First off, congratulations! However, you may be thinking, “Now what?” 

Here are some things that I wish I had known before I started nursing school.

1. Practice makes perfect.

Lecture will teach you the skills and basics you need to know. Sometimes, reading how to do something step-by-step can be much more confusing than learning it in a hands-on manner. After learning a skill in lecture, make sure you go to lab to practice it (seriously practice, practice, practice!). Once you go to clinicals after perfecting a skill, you will have more self-confidence and reassurance in yourself to perform on a real person!

Don’t forget: be open to doing new things and advocate for yourself during clinicals. If you know that you can perform a skill set that is in your scope as a student, then voice it! The nurse will most likely be more than willing to help you.

2. Your only competition is you.

As a student, shifting your mindset from “I need to know this so I can ace my test” to “I need to learn this to be the best nurse I can be for my patients” can be hard. Learning becomes more exciting and rewarding when you know that someone’s life depends on the foundation you build now. Strive to be the best nurse and caregiver that you can possibly be and your grades will come. And remember: your GPA does not reflect your ability to care for others. 

3. Where can I find the answer to that question?

In nursing classes, you learn to apply the information  your prerequisites. There’s a lot of content to know, and honestly, sometimes you won’t know it all. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of information that you’ll have to memorize—whether it be lab values, what is per se normal, how to prioritize, etc. However, it is your job to be able to critically think and know where to find information when you hit a roadblock. 

4. Sometimes you just need to put yourself first.

Nursing school is time-intensive and demanding. It can be so easy to get lost in your studies and forget to take care of yourself. Set time aside every week to do something that helps you de-stress. Activities like working out, meditation, reading or daily walks can help your mind recharge so you can tackle the studying that lies ahead. Managing your time by using a planner and calendar will also help you avoid burnout and give you more motivation to learn!

5. Peers, professors and practice questions.

Everyone around you truly wants to see you succeed in nursing school. Your peers understand what you are currently going through, and your professors have been there before! If there comes a time when the going gets tough, lean on your classmates for support and ask your professors for help. Last but certainly not least, do loads of practice problems. Your textbook and ATI are great banks to NCLEX style questions. Read each and every rationale and it will help you to think like a nurse!

About Jessica Nguyen

Jessica Nguyen is a senior in the Traditional BS in Nursing program. She is also the 2020-2021 president of the SON Multicultural Nursing Student Association.

Published August 28, 2020