One of the common questions students ask me is this: “How hard is nursing school? What did you think was the hardest part?”
In this article and video, I’ll outline the things I thought was most difficult about nursing school.
Nonstop Assignments and Studying
One of the things that I found most difficult about nursing school was the constant workload, which can feel suffocating. It sometimes feels as if you can never get ahead.
One week, you have to study for this test. Next week, you have to do that certain project. Then, there’s the stress about passing NCLEX, HESI, TEAS, or whatever.
It feels as if it is never going to end, and you feel as if you never can take a breather and just relax. And if you do relax, you’ll probably feel guilty about doing so and feel even more behind.
However, it is important to take some personal time and engage in things that are fun or relaxing so that you can prevent burnout. A French philosopher once said, “I have so much work to do today that I simply must sleep.”
The Material Can Feel Overwhelming
Nursing school covers a lot of material in one semester, and it can be overwhelming. You’ll have some easy classes and some tough classes (see: hardest and easiest classes in nursing school). You have to cram so many concepts into your mind, and it gets very exhausting. I would feel as if I would never really learn the material, or that I’d forget it after the semester ended.
For example, in a maternity class, you’d probably learn material that would take someone an entire lifetime to fully study and understand. Yet, you’re required to memorize or learn it in a short time.
I’d often feel stupid for forgetting things, or I’d fear that I’d forget nursing concepts or rules on the job and kill one of my patients. It can be very stressful to think like that.
However, even though you might forget some things, much of it will come back to you once you start working as a nurse. You’ll be able to apply the “real-world” experience on the job to the theory you learned in school. Also, you’ll specialize and master the nursing concepts for your specialty over time. You don’t have to know EVERYTHING about every nursing specialty–just the one you practice.
The Stress of NCLEX and Proficiency Exams
Nursing school is different from other majors because you must pass the required proficiency exams each semester to advance. Furthermore, obtaining a degree still isn’t enough. You must then pass the NCLEX exam before you can become licensed. This, of course, can add a lot of stress and worry to your life. That’s why I always advocate studying for the NCLEX as much as you can throughout your entire nursing school career.
I’d sometimes feel so bogged down and frustrated when I’d have to study for the dreaded HESI exams. However, those proficiency exams will help you pass NCLEX because they get you into the habit of thinking critically. And once you pass the NCLEX, you are DONE! So, in hindsight, they aren’t that bad.
Nursing school is like a rollercoaster ride. You can have a bad test grade or a bad semester, and this can cause you to question whether it’s worth it. Furthermore, the amount of time students spend studying can lead to burnout. I know that I’d feel burned out some days and never want to read a textbook again.
However, you have to hang on to the dream. You have to say to yourself, “I’m almost there. I’m going to keep working as hard as I can until I get this degree.”
Nursing school is a season in your life that will soon pass, and your life will be much different once you’re done with nursing school. Working as a nurse is different from studying tons of notes and textbooks.
Although Nursing School Is Tough, It’s Totally Worth It
Nursing school is overwhelming at times, but it’s worth the struggle. Nursing school will be over before you know it, and you’ll be so glad that you stuck with it.
That’s one reason I created my YouTube channel and website. I know that nursing school can lead to stress, anxiety, depression, and so forth. I know that you can have doubts as to whether you’re smart enough to make it, especially if you have a bad test grade or poor semester. You might even question whether you’d make a good nurse. I had many of those same struggles and doubts.
The good news is that you can make it, and you’ll be so much happier once it is all over. You have to hang in there and never give up. Keep fighting and keep studying.