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5 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Nursing Education

5 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Nursing Education

Hollis Forster, RNC-NP

Anyone who has completed nursing school can tell you where they have floundered in their education. These could be big mistakes, the school they chose, or small mistakes, “boy, I didn’t read that instructor very well.” But, here are five possible pit-falls that, in my experience, might be worth side-stepping…

Gain some first hand knowledge of the field before choosing it as a career path

Having experience with the nursing profession through volunteering, knowing friends or family involved in the field, reading, etc. This will help avoid disappointments about the basics of the career (what, how and when). When I finished nursing school, there was a couple in my class who graduated with wonderful grades, passed the RN exam and within weeks opened a nursery (as in garden) in their community. Well, nursing-nursery, it’s a common mistake. Did they know what they were getting into?

Make a careful assessment of your career goals, short and long term

Look at your goals, to choose a direction that will most effectively work for you and your family. It’s becoming easier to complete the A.D.N. (Associate Degree in Nursing) and certification programs of nursing, because of the advance of on-line courses and other flexible alternatives to traditional class work. This makes it possible to complete one rung of the educational ladder and then work while traveling to the next, but knowing your goals and tailoring your education to the ultimate goal will save time and probably money in the long run.

Go straight through to higher degrees if your goal is set there

If floor nursing is not for you, if you have your heart set on administration work, or other avenues of nursing that demand a Master’s degree, then begin a program that will get you there directly. Starting as an LPN and working your way up may only be frustrating. If you must work (and most of us, must) during the time it takes to achieve a Master’s degree, consider arranging an assistant position in the field you really want to pursue instead of working in a local acute care setting or physician’s office. Although, I recognize that experience on the Med-surg floor of a hospital or as a medical assistant in am ambulatory care setting can add value to any career you plan to enter.

Avoid changing schools and leaving too much time between achieving goals

This “pit-fall” may be very similar to the one above, but I feel it is worth mentioning separately. When, or if, you change schools during an educational path, there will be classes that the new school will not accept, work experience that you might get credit for in one school may not be accepted by another and most schools (even if you are two classes from your degree) will insist that you take a minimum amount of credits from them before you graduate with a degree in their name, so be careful about choosing your school and diligent about completing a degree or certificate before moving on to the next.

Accept that nursing school will be a MAJOR part of your life

On the first day of nursing school, my instructors said, “Don’t expect to work, or have a relationship while you are in this program.” That was many years ago, and programs have become much more “user friendly.” However, it is safe to say that nursing school is incredibly intense and very time consuming. Between the clinical and didactic hours and the out- of- class studying time, it is, to say the least, demanding. Of course, there are everyone has family obligations, and many people work while going to nursing school, but take care not to expect too much of yourself during this period. Don’t let “burn-out” affect you before you have completed your education.

To pay the bills, look for a flexible job that allows you to give the hours you need to class and study time. If you can get a position in the nursing field, you may get some credits for job experience from your program, but if not that, you can get the experience you will need to go right into a job after you complete your degree.

There are probably many other “mistakes,” or “pit-falls” that are not mentioned here or that you can imagine, write your thoughts on this subject as a response to this article and help others avoid these issues on their way to their nursing niche.

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    LatinaMTate

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    Graduate Level general entry programs are also an option for those with a bachelors degree or higher in a non-nursing area. Many schools across the country offer these programs, and financial aid to go along with it. If you ever really wanted to be a nurse but got discouraged and sidetracked, here is your chance again without all of the undergrad headaches.

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    ToxicShock

    over 6 years ago

    18 comments

    I think the most important thing to know about Nursing school is to make sure that you are doing it for the right reasons. Everyone says that there is a huge nursing shortage. While that is true, what we need even more are nursing instructors. If you want to be a nurse because of the money, because they are in high demand, or because you don't know what else to do, STOP and do something else with your time. That nursing instructor shortage makes getting into nursing school even tougher because there aren't enough teachers to teach! Please, if your heart isn't truly into nursing, do not do it. Be courteous and leave room for those of us who actually have a passion for it.

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    motherhen1961

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I will reiterate that one of the biggest pitfalls is not knowing the field before you get in it. I would recommend to anyone who has not worked in the field to at least become a CNA. As a CNA you get up close and personal with patients, helping and facilitating daily activities, and can be a very good litmus test to find if this is for you. I have been accepted into a BSN program but before I spent time and money on that endeavor, I took my litmus test and found that nursing is where I want to be. I have no blinders as to what will be expected of me or the responsibility I will carry. I have worked closely with nurses in hospitals, home alcohol detox, hospice and rehabilitation. I will go on to get my master's and PhD to become a nurse practitioner. Even though I am accepted to a nursing program, I will continue to keep up my certification and licensure as a CNA and that means working. But for me, what I do is like breathing, a part of what I do, a part of who I am.

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    courage

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    Good information! I am currently in school doing my prerequisits and am on the tail end of it. I am re-taking one of my classes and hoping to be in the nursing program really soon. I've always wanted to be a nurse however, I also wanted to live my life. Well, I've lived my life and am now really ready to make a go at it. It just so happened that my mother had gotten very ill last year and being the patient person that I am, was able to take charge. According to the doctors I literally saved her life. I am focused and almost 50 years old and know that I positively want to be a nurse. I look forward to all the challenges ahead of me. Thanks again for the good readings.

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    cmmccaig

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    Well, I just failed nursing school by 7 tenths of a point and since this would be my second clinical repeat, I am not allowed to reapply for the sam e program for 4 years. That's right, 4 years. Just enough time that I have to repeat all of my A&P, and retake my ACT, all nursing courses, and who knows what else. It is extremely frustrating to say the least. I want to become a nurse, eventually getting into administration, but I have to get through the first hurdle to try and get through the others. I have enrolled in Excelsior to try and get my degree sooner but I have to pay per exam taken plus the final clinical that costs $1900+......better not fail that one or you have to pay for it all over again (if I understand how it works correctly).......I can't get financial aid because I am doing the ADN program instead of the BSN (which I am not eligible to take at the moment) so money is a BIG issue with me. I am getting tuition taken out of my account but can't take the exams because I don't have the money to register for them, which in turn doesn't help the motivation to study anyway and be ready when i do have the money. Needless to say I am not studying very much. I am not complaining about the program, it appears to be a great to get your RN as long as you have the money to do it. Now I am considering another route that may get me a position in the field quicker and can go from there. I had thought about a CNA, which I have been a Nurse Intern for a year before failing, which that cost me my job there also. CNA won't pay much I don't think, but I may be able to get help with school costs. I believe I could pass the CNA exam pretty quickly but I need to look back over the material. Any other advice or tips that I may not be thinking about. I am 37, married with 3 girls, 12, 10, 51/2 months. Thanks.

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    juhi

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    Hey... I'm 17 years old and I really want to be a RN. At first i was a little confused as to what to do in my life, but seeing as to how i really love helping people, i really want to be a nurse. I'm kind of having troubles with how to get started with this. I know it is going to be very hard but i want to make my parents happy and also everyone esle in my family. I'm the oldest out of my siblings and my cousins on both my mom's side and dad's side, so you can tell how much responsibilities i have. I would really appreciate it if any of you guys can give me advice on how i can get started and what i can do, such as what sorts of volunteering i should do and what sorts of books i should get and just other things that i should just do. I would really be thankful.

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    rhysjanus

    over 6 years ago

    12 comments

    To mel23: I'm currently a CNA and nursing student set to graduate in June of next year. My best friend in the whole world is a nurse with ADHD. While he had to learn to focus in school, ADHD is not a disability to him in anyway. It gives him an air of enthusiasm and energy that many nurses don't project and that reflects to the patients; they love and trust him.

    To everyone else: I work full time nights at my hospital as a nursing assistant. I get off at 0730 and have to be in class at 0900. We have class until 1200. I usually go home and hit the sack. I sleep to about 2000, get up, eat, study if I'm lucky then back to work at 2300. I divorced my nonsupportive ex-husband in December, suffered a major depressive episode in February, met a wonderful man in March, who just moved to Colorado in June. I'm taking summer classes so I don't get a break until August, then for only 5 weeks. That's a lot of stuff to handle. My grades have not suffered at all because nursing is my complete motivation. I have to do this, it's a calling for me. So to everyone that wonders how they can possibly do it, Frank Lloyd Wright put it this way, "The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen." If you can see it, you can be it. We do these things because we must, we can see the greater picture and want to be a part of its formation.

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    girlbblessed

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I am a nursing student due to grad.. in May 2009... Yes the road is tough , but when your at the end you will enjoy your hard work... I have been at this literally for the past 4 years with all the prereq and stuff... I have learned over the years... I had to put my education first... I found a plan and stuck to it... I am not sure if any of you are religous.. but only God has seem me through theses years.... he kept me sane,,, help make money stretch... I can go on and on... I picked up the Sander- NCLEX review book..... that is my bible next to the King James Version.... I helped me get through that med- sur... with a breeze... If there is anyone out there that wants to persue your career do it.... don't hesitate... If you seek God... he will see you through.... Its not easy ... but it is worth it... God bless you all..

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    jgrace79

    over 6 years ago

    6 comments

    I have 2 semesters left until I receive my BSN. I will graduate (God willing) one week before I turn 30. The last 5 years (yes I said 5) have not been exactly smooth, but I am looking at a brighter future ahead. To pacwolfpack: if he was not supportive through school, then he would not be supportive in other aspects of your life. I had a similar problem with my ex-husband and ended up getting a divorce last year. (amazingly I did better in school after the divorce, less stress I suppose). my advice for making it through nursing school with your sanity intact is surround yourself with supportive people, even if it is mostly your nursing school friends. You will need eachother to lean on throughout school, and it doesn't hurt to have a huge party at the end of each semester either. we have done it for the last 3 semesters and everyone has a great time blowing off some steam and relaxing.

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    nursejennie

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I have wanted to be a nurse since I was 5 years old and I saw my baby sister being born. I have taken a CNA class recently and am about to take the state test. this information was very helpful to me. thank you for taking the time to write it down.

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    easydamsel

    over 6 years ago

    22 comments

    the most difficult parts of nrsg cld b different for everyone,depending on schools location nd clinical field of practice,

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    pacwolfpack

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    Just reading some of the comments, I'm so glad I joined this site. I will start my BSN next month and I'm a single mom of two boys(16 and 15), and I'm 40 years old. When I started this, I lost my hubbie and now I think that maybe he was wrong for me in the first place. So just knowing that it is possible to make it thru brings me hope. I saw a lot of class mates get pregnant or stop going to class. You feel you have to choose between your old life and the new life you want so bad. Thank you all for being real and God willing we all will make a difference.

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    Mel23

    over 6 years ago

    12 comments

    I was reading all the comments, and I have found a lot of wonderful advises! But here my headache...Im a young mother of a 2 yr old girl, and a wife of a law enforcement agent, who has rotating shifts every 4 months...A few months ago, I realize that I dont want to be a housewife for the rest of my life, and been only 21 yrs old, I kind of notice that i`ve become someone, that Im not... About a yr ago, I started considering going to college and make myself a professional, and i decided to go somewhere in the health dept; a few months ago I decided that nursing was what i wanted to pursue and my family, including my husband are 100% supporting my decision and they all say that I was born, to help people, specially oldies! (geriatrics). Well by reading here and by family nurses comments I know theres a lot of lectures etc...and is really difficult. To the point know, i have AD/HD and i would even say that is aggravated,(im waiting for my appt. with the neurologist to tell me how bad the AD/HD is in my case) Is there any advice, suggestion or someone knows about a nurse with the same condition. I dont know someone pleeeeeeeeease just help me!!!!!

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    teekay

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    Hey i just started nursing school as of this pass monday, I have heard that my life is now nursing i'm pretty much prepared for that but it also bothers me a bit because I have a two year old and a five year old and they are both very demanding not to mention a husband. my extended family said that they would help me out a lot do anybody have any advice that can help me organize my time

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    mexico24

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    on my 9th week of an accellerated BSN program (1 yr.) right now and it is the hardest, most stressful thing I have faced in my life, and I have faced some pretty stressful things! My original thought was to count down for next May (graduation), and I've changed to just counting down by which week has been accomplished! suggestion----You must make short term goals to survive. I'm very nervous about making it through and am AMAZED at how hard it has been! I thought that I prepared myself for the worst, but to my amazement, it is harder than I ever could have imagined. I still see the light at the end of the tunnel, although it is not quite as bright as it was when I started 9 weeks ago!!!! and I know that it will all be worth it when I'm finally able to help someone and can make a lasting impression on someone's life (and their family's life) when they need this the most!

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