Whether you’re navigating through difficult exams and demanding clinicals or just trying to keep your head above water, there is one thing I want you to know: You’re not alone. I’ve been exactly where you are now.
This is why in this episode, I’m addressing some anonymous concerns from students I’ve spoken to or from my QD Nurses Community and sharing with you my top 5 pieces of advice to come out on top during your nursing school journey.
The tips that I share with you today helped me thrive in nursing school, and I’m sure they’ll do the same for you!
Are you ready to learn more?
Let’s dive in.
“Hi Nurse Jojo, I don’t know what to do. I really hate everything about nursing. I don’t look forward to going to my classes. I hate going to clinicals. I don’t want to take care of patients. I’m not doing well in nursing school. I don’t know if I should continue pursuing this major or if I should just quit and pick another major. I’ve already put three years towards nursing school. What should I do?”
First of all, let’s start with a positive note. You survived three years of nursing school. It sounds more like you are burned out from the pressure of nursing school and you’re at a breaking point. We have all been there.
The question is, are you feeling this way about nursing school because of everything thrown on your plate? Did you genuinely want to become a nurse before it got hard? I ask because when I make a life-changing decision, I take a step back and make my decisions when I’m not at a breaking point. The last thing you want to do is have regrets.
It is important that if you do decide to walk away from nursing, you will not have any regrets and you’ll be going towards a path that you will genuinely enjoy. There are nursing positions where you don’t even have to deal with patient care, or at least, minimal patient care. I precepted someone who could not handle it at all, but she was absolutely thriving as a cosmetic nurse. Another colleague went on to be an insurance nurse. I have always wanted to be in I.T., but my mom pushed me to be a nurse. I went on to get a masters in Nursing Informatics and now I am dealing with clinical staff instead of patient care.
If you managed to get through and finish your last year out, know that you do have a variety of options that won’t make you feel like nursing school was a waste of time. If you decide to walk away, just be ready to start all over again.
Whichever new major you pick, the grass is not always going to be greener on the other side. I completely respect the difficulties and challenges other majors come with. As long as you do your research to find out what those challenges are and are willing to tackle them, then you’ll be ok. The last thing you want to do is jump from major to major because you encountered difficulties.
Either decision is the correct decision. Meaning, do what’s best for you. Should you choose to stay in nursing school, address your burn out. Prioritize self-care and take it one day at a time.
“Nurse Jojo, I have a professor who is always giving me a hard time. She is always calling on me 50% more than my other peers. I even kept track of this. If I get the answer incorrectly, she puts me down and embarrasses me in front of my classmates. It’s really giving me a lot of anxiety and I don’t know what to do. I am also non-confrontational so do I just put up with it until I don’t have to deal with her anymore?”
It seems all nursing schools have that one professor with a superiority complex. It’s hard to be told not to take this personally when it does feel personal.
Professors tend to call on someone that has demonstrated they understand the material less than the other students. I want to give the benefit of the doubt and say that it could be coming from a good place. Students not doing well in class reflect on professors so they absolutely do not want to see their students fail.
If you’re not willing to talk to your professor in person, then I’d highly recommend writing an email. It also helps that there’s actual documentation of you stating your perspective so the professor can’t say that you never told them anything. It also gives them time to reflect before responding on the spot in a defensive manner.
Your email has to be objective and unemotional, which of course is not easy when things feel personal. I would also use “I” statements and not “you” statements.
I’d write something like this:
I currently attend your class on Tuesdays and I appreciate the lectures and how you break down the materials to help us succeed. I noted that in comparison to my other classes, I have been called on more than my other peers to answer questions. My peers have also noted this as well. It’s getting to the point where I am feeling uncomfortable and I do not wish to address this in front of others. I believe your intentions are to see your students do well and to demonstrate our competency. I just have been feeling more anxious lately and wanted to let you be aware of my perspective.
Thank you for your time!”
You can rewrite this letter however you want. You can also choose not to say anything to the professor or send the email at all.
I’ve personally dealt with a nasty professor who told me that if I didn’t know an answer so basic, I deserved to jump out the window because I was taking the space of another nursing student who did deserve to be there. We were on the third floor.
Being a freshman who doesn’t have the courage I have today, I definitely did not confront her or even thought to send a letter. I did, however, just stay silent and passed the class. I moved on to the next class and never saw the professor again.
So should you decide not to confront your professor or send the email, just know that this experience is transient. Study harder, be ready to answer questions, and celebrate when you pass the class and know that you never have to put up with this professor again.
“Nurse Jojo, have you ever encountered a bully in nursing school? I thought this stuff would be in the past, like in high school. Why on earth am I dealing with a bully in college? Do I just ignore her or deal with her head on?”
You’ll be surprised, but bullies are everywhere. They’re in high school, college, on the internet, and even at work! Just when you are dealing with the stress of nursing school as it is, you’re now also dealing with extra stress that is affecting your college experience.
I dealt with something like this. I had a classmate report me and four other classmates for being on Facebook during class. She stated that this was very distracting. However, she really also went out of her way to report us for every tiny little thing and even stated that we were bullying her. The funny thing is, we didn’t even know her name and have never spoken to her at all. I honestly didn’t even know she was in my very large class. Every time she reported us, the professors just dismissed it because they knew there were no grounds for these claims.
I spoke with the Director of Nursing and stated that the only reason we were on Facebook was because I am partially deaf in both ears and wear hearing aids. The professor had a strong accent and I was grateful to have a study group to tell me what the professor was saying without interrupting her lecture. So unless this bully who likes to make things up can prove that we were using Facebook for other reasons (we weren’t), the Director of Nursing can’t go based on her word alone. She also asked us why would someone report that we’re all bullying her and just randomly make this up. I really have no clue why someone would. The five of us did not even hang out. We were just trying to survive nursing school.
I did confront her in person and she was shocked. I said this is the first time we’ve ever talked and if she had any issues, please let me know. She was also welcome to sit in the very front row if me being deaf and getting assistance from my classmates was distracting to her. I told her I’d report her for discrimination if she couldn’t handle me getting assistance from our generous classmates. She was very embarrassed when she found out that I have hearing loss and I just couldn’t hear her.
She also needed to look up the actual definition of bullying, considering that we had never spoken before. Turns out, she just wants to feel part of a group. I told her she’s welcome to my nursing notes, but the five of us weren’t even friends. Also, reporting us on a daily basis wasn’t going to make us friends. I offered her my notes, but I never heard from her again.
For you, I don’t know why your bully is acting the way they are. You can build up a case and document the dates and times with statements of what your bully is saying or doing to you. You can bring this to the Director of Nursing. You can choose to confront them and ask what their intentions are.
Or you can do what everyone says and just ignore the bully outright. I completely understand how an individual can bring you distress while you’re just trying to get by. It’s definitely hard to get them to stop, but you can analyze the situation and determine which course of action is the best way to get the best outcome, which is to be left alone.
“Dear Nurse Jojo, I failed my nursing class. My school’s policy is that I can take the class one more time. If I fail again, I get kicked out of nursing school. Should I continue trying or should I just switch majors to something easier, like accounting or computers?”
I came across this very decision myself when I failed Pediatrics Nursing. I was going through a very tough time. Unfortunately, no matter how “understanding” the professor may be, she just wanted to send me to counseling and have me retake the class again. My school also had the same policy so I was faced with a decision in my junior year of nursing. I was so tempted to switch over to accounting. This wasn’t because I thought accounting would be easier, but it was because I looked up to my sister-in-law who has a degree in accounting.
I don’t know your financial circumstances or how much you desire to get through nursing school. I’d assume that you do want that nursing degree and that if you had passed, you’d be on your way to the next class. Don’t let failure define you and the path you’re on. You’re given another chance to try again. You may look back and regret not taking that class. The accounting or computers path will still be there for you, if you still don’t make it in nursing. But once you walk away from nursing, you may have to start all over again if you regret it. They do not give second chances if you change your mind.
“Nurse Jojo, my mom wants me to go to a community college to save money, but I am better than that and got accepted into a private school. My friends are all going to be there and I don’t want to stay home anymore. I want to dorm and have a real college experience. How can I get my mom to change her mind?”
There are pros and cons to both paths. Let’s start with, even if you believe that those who attend private school are better than those who attend a community college, it doesn’t make it easier to get a job or have a better salary.
In fact, my colleagues were able to accelerate in life from attending a community college, because student debt wasn’t holding them down. They had the same salary as me so it really didn’t make a difference in the end. In fact, they were able to start work two years before I did because they graduated from a two-years program with an ADN while it took me four years to graduate with my BSN. Of course, there are more opportunities with a BSN, but having one definitely did not make me better or higher than my peers who went to a community college.
Looking back, I really do wish I went to community college in the first place. While I had my scholarship, it didn’t cover my entire tuition since tuition increased every year. By the time I graduated, I ended up with student debt while my community college friends had none.
If you really want to go to a private school, then tell your mom that those who attend community college, still have to get accepted into nursing school afterwards, in order to pursue a BSN. You could also try to find some colleges that are more affordable than a private college. Don’t let your friends be a factor towards this decision. They are not going to be paying off your student loans. You will make awesome new college friends along the way.
I discuss all of this in more depth in the episode above, so make sure to give it a watch when you can!