Crying in nursing school? You’re not alone. In fact, it’s pretty common for nursing students to cry at some point during the whole nursing school experience.
Few people like to admit that they have cried because it makes them feel weak or overly sensitive. However, the reality is that nursing students often feel extremely overwhelmed, and crying is one of the natural human responses to dealing with those intense emotions.
Reasons Nursing Students Cry
As a nursing student, you might cry during nursing school for many reasons.
- You might have failed a test, and you feel dumb. I’ve talked in another video about imposter syndrome and how so many nursing students and nurses feel as if they aren’t really smart enough. They feel like they have merely fooled everyone else.
- You might have made a blunder during nursing school clinicals, and you don’t feel cut out for nursing.
- Perhaps a patient, clinical instructor, or professor scolded you over something, and it really crushed your spirit.
- You might be exhausted and overwhelmed as you attempt to juggle all of your reading assignments, HESI or ATI exams, projects, papers, presentations, and clinical rotations. The sheer thought of all of the work you must complete stresses you out.
- You might even get kicked out over your GPA or some other issue, and you feel like your entire world is falling apart.
Any of those things can lead to intense feelings of failure, hopelessness, exhaustion, or inadequacy. Crying is one way that many nursing students deal with those intense emotions.
Did I Cry During Nursing School?
Some of you might be wondering if I (Nurse Sarah) ever cried during nursing school. Yes, I cried while I was in nursing school. I never cried in actual class or in front of anyone. I hate crying in front of people and will do everything I can to avoid doing so!
However, I would have moments at home where I would feel like there was no way I was going to be able to complete all of the assignments I had to complete, pass all of these HESI exams and proficiency exams, and juggle all of the tasks I had to complete while in nursing school.
I was just plain exhausted some days, and at least once or twice per semester my emotions would take over, and I’d cry.
I’d think, “How will I ever get through this program and do all of this work! I’m so tired! I can’t do all of this!”
And I’d bawl my eyes out and just vent all of my emotions about nursing school.
What to Do if You Are Crying in Nursing School
If you find yourself getting overwhelmed and crying in nursing school, here are some things to keep in mind.
Crying is Common in Nursing School
I would say it’s a pretty common thing for nursing students to feel really overwhelmed and cry about it. Just know that you aren’t alone in your tears.
Everything is going to work out. You’re going to get through this, and you are going to be so happy that you stuck with it.
Even though I felt those same things you’re feeling, I got through nursing school and achieved my dream of becoming a nurse.
Even if you failed a test, have to retake NCLEX, or whatever, DON’T give up. Keep pushing forward. You are going to get through this! Everything that you’re feeling is normal, and even the best students in your program probably feel the exact same way.
2. Although Crying Can Be Unpleasant, You Can Use It To Your Advantage
Crying helps you release a lot of those negative emotions that you have bottled up, so you can reset emotionally and regain some new perspective and energy after it’s all over.
Crying also helps you realize the seriousness of the situation, and you can use that as a motivational tool to really buckle down and get things done.
After I’d have a good cry, I’d pick myself up the next day, get out my planner and look at what I had to do. I’d then focus on one task at a time and complete care plans, or write on a paper, and then spend some time practicing some NCLEX questions or whatever else I had to do.
Nursing school does a good job of forcing you to learn how to prioritize and manage your time. I highly recommend using a planner or some system so that you know when each test is coming up, when assignments are due and so on. That will allow you to focus on the most important task at hand.
3. Don’t Waste Mental Energy Over the What-ifs
What if you fail the final nursing exam? What if you never manage all of the work and fail out of the program? What if you lose financial aid? What if you fail HESI or ATI exit exams? What if you’re not good enough? What if you do succeed but realize that you HATE the nursing profession?
All of those “what if” questions zap you of your energy and focus. When those thoughts enter your mind, don’t dwell on them.
Instead, shift your focus onto something productive. If you don’t feel like reading your textbook, watch a lecture on that topic online. If you don’t feel like watching a lecture, practice quiz questions. If you don’t feel like doing that, get a study buddy. Distract yourself from those thoughts, and keep busy.
Convert the worry into action, and keep your momentum moving forward. The next thing you know, the semester will be over. And soon enough, you’ll be graduating nursing school, too.
When Crying is Not Normal
While crying in nursing school is normal and even helpful in some ways, it could be bad a bad sign if you are doing it too often, especially if you find that you are also struggling with symptoms of something more serious such as depression.
If you are having sleep disruptions (insomnia or too much sleep), find yourself having thoughts of suicide (harming yourself), or are withdrawing from loved ones and no longer enjoy hobbies and things you used to enjoy, please talk to a doctor, pastor, or counselor as soon as possible.
There is no shame in getting the help you need so that you can get your mental health back on track, and we all need help from time to time.
Final Thoughts on Crying in Nursing School
In conclusion, I know so many nursing students get overwhelmed, but if you’re reading this article, please hang in there. It’s okay to cry, but know that you’re going to look back one day and be so thankful that you stuck with it.
You’re doing something great. You’re going to help so many people as a nurse and potentially save lives. I know nursing school is hard at times because I’ve done it myself. But you can do it. Don’t give up, and keep moving forward.
Have a good cry when you need to, but pull out your planner when you are done, and start tackling one task at a time. Before you know it, you’ll be clocking in for your first nursing shift, and those tears will all be a distant memory.