Taking the first step in your nursing career, whether you’re fresh out of high school or you’ve been doing something else for many years before realizing that you’re not fulfilled and deciding that nursing is a better option for you, is a big milestone.
It’s something to be celebrated and to be excited about. However, nursing school is not an easy thing to navigate, and it’s well worth putting in the time to research what you’re going to need to know and do before it all starts.
Without proper research, it’s easy to become overwhelmed when you start your studies. The issue with this is that it can cause some people to decide not to continue, and others might push forward but not enjoy the process.
This is a shame on both counts because nursing can be such a rewarding job, and many people would make excellent nurses – it’s a pity if they don’t get that far due to their dislike of or confusion about their studies. With this in mind, here are some things that everyone should know before beginning nursing school to prepare you better for the journey ahead.
There Are Many Myths About Nursing School
You might already think you know a lot about studying to become a nurse, whether you opt for an online course (which for many is the ideal choice) or you decide to go to a physical school.
The issue is that there are so many myths around about nursing school that although you might think you have all the answers, or at least enough of them to be confident in your decision and the next steps you need to take, it could be that you’re looking at the wrong information.
We’ll take a brief look at some of the most pressing myths and debunk them to help you move forward with your nursing school choices.
The first and most important to consider is the idea that you can’t work while you study. This is not true, although you will need to think about whether it’s the right way for you to do things. It is entirely possible to work even a full-time job while you study to become a nurse.
This means that a lot of people who might otherwise not have taken up the challenge of nursing school because they can’t leave their jobs due to needing an income can actually study to become a nurse.
Of course, the only real way to do this is to study online or part-time; a full-time nursing course in a college that you have to attend in person is going to be extremely difficult to combine with a full-time job or even a part-time one.
Something to bear in mind, however, is that there is a lot of work involved in a nursing degree, and although you can work at the same time, it’s not always the best thing to do in terms of your studies. You’ll need to weigh up the pros and cons, and it’s a crucial decision to make early on.
Another big myth is that there is an age limit when it comes to nursing school, at some point, you just become too old to study to become a nurse. This is not the reality; nurses are needed everywhere, and colleges are actively encouraging all those – of all ages – who want to be nurses to apply and train so that the shortage can be rectified.
So, no matter how old you might be or how long it’s taken you to realize that you want to be a nurse, if this is the right thing for you, you can certainly attend a nursing school.
These are just two of the biggest myths about nursing school – there are others. Make sure you research everything thoroughly and that you have the truth when you ask questions.
You’ll Feel Overwhelmed
When you start nursing school, and perhaps all the way through your studies, it’s highly likely that you’ll feel overwhelmed by everything you have to do and all the information you need to digest.
This can be too much for some, and there is certainly no shame in admitting this; it’s unhealthy for your mind and physically to push on with something that is causing you any kind of trauma or pain.
However, there are ways to get past this feeling of being overwhelmed, and for those who have a passion for nursing and who are keen to gain their qualification, learning these techniques is very important. In that way, no matter how overwhelmed you might feel, you can keep moving forward.
The best thing to do is not to think about the big picture but to focus on the here and now. If you think only about the class you currently have or the assignment that’s due next, you won’t feel quite as overwhelmed as if you think about all the things you have to do and all the work that is ahead of you.
As you move forward, step by step, you’ll be able to look back and see how far you’ve come, helping you to gain confidence and achieve more.
Another important thing to do is to reach out for help when you need it. If you’re feeling stressed, don’t hide it away; ask for advice or at least find someone to talk to about how you’re feeling.
The sooner you do this, the better you’ll feel and the more you’ll be able to learn. This is also something that will help you when you graduate and are working as a nurse, as nursing is not an easy job and there may well be times when you have to talk about your feelings or get help.
Online Courses Are A Great Option
We mentioned online nursing courses briefly above, but if you’ve not thought about them before or you’re insistent that a traditional nursing course is the only option for you, it might be time to think again.
The fact is that the modern world uses technology in ways that can benefit many people, and online courses are just one of those ways. For many, it’s the only way they can study to become a nurse, especially if they have other responsibilities like a full-time job or a family to take care of.
It’s well worth your time and effort to investigate more about online nursing courses because, even if you can take a more traditional, in-person course, online learning might still be the best thing you can do.
It gives you much more flexibility and the chance to have a good work-life balance, which is crucial (we’ll discuss this is more detail later). Some of the advantages of taking an online course include:
- Flexible study schedules
- The opportunity to learn from anywhere you want – as long as you have an internet connection
- No commuting (therefore better attendance)
- You’ll learn more tech skills as a bonus
You’ll Need To Find A Good Work-Life Balance
As exciting as it might be to rush headlong into your nursing studies, it’s crucial that you take the time to work out a good schedule so that you can have the right work-life balance.
If you don’t do this, you run the risk of burnout even before you become a full nurse, and this can lead to mental and physical health problems, not to mention the fact that it is a major reason why some people won’t finish their studies.
Self-care when you are a nursing student is something that you’ll need to continue when you’re a nurse to enable you to make the most of your career and to help your patients in the best way. It pays to start early and having the right work-life balance that incorporates self-care is a good start.
There are many ways to practice self-care and to obtain a sensible work-life balance, and it will depend on you, your responsibilities, and how you’re learning as to what you need to do. Some examples, however, include meal prep when you have the time to ensure that when you’re busy, you have something healthy ready for you to eat (in other words, cook more than you need to and freeze the excess). Another important point is that you must learn to say no; if you don’t have time to do something because it would interfere with your carefully constructed balance, you need to say so. It’s also very helpful if you have your own space to study, away from other people. In this way, you can focus when you need to and shut things away behind a door when you aren’t studying.
Find Your Most Effective Study Methods
Perhaps it’s been a while since you last sat down and studied, or maybe you’ve never found it easy. This could be because you haven’t found your most effective study methods. Once you do, you’ll be able to work much more easily and retain more information.
Everyone works differently, so just because a classmate studies in one way, that doesn’t mean you’ll find the same route to be the best one, which is why you need to work it out for yourself.