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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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    nursejennie

    almost 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

    almost 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

    almost 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

    almost 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

    almost 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

    almost 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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    cchrist1

    almost 6 years ago

    18 comments

    Last thought: TAKE GOOD NOTES! My saving grace through out my whole program has been my notes. Not all teachers are exactly good lecturers, but since grade school...I have survived off lecture, and class notes. I am not exactly the best reader, and there is ALOT of reading involved. Lacking discipline...I pay close attention in class, take incredible notes, and use them to cram before every test. It works for me.....you will generally find what is important enough to mention in class, is going to be on the test. Take your notes, and sit down with your book and closely exam those areas or topics a little closer. I promise it will help!

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    cchrist1

    almost 6 years ago

    18 comments

    ccburkejm: In response to your comment - I just want to say that I understand totally were you are coming from. I personally am a very competitive person and always have been. However...as far as GPA - I would not worry about making B's! I say that, yet at the same time...cry if I do not receive A's - but some of the best nurses and best professors have said that grades are not everything. Some of the best nurses are nurses who went thru school with a "C" average. I don't know if I trully buy into that, but would only encourage you to be happy with what you get if it's passing! One of the first things our instructor said to us our first day of school was "Look to your right, look to your left, becasye one of those people will no longer be here by the end of the program!" Not exactly encouraging, but somewhat true. I think that nursing is a field alot of people think they want to pursue, but do eventually end up changing their majors becasue it is tough. From the begining, with pre-req's, acceptance, entrance exams, etc. Hang in there...if it is what you truly want -- DONT GIVE UP! You'll make it!

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    cchrist1

    almost 6 years ago

    18 comments

    Graduation day will be one of the best days of my life, as well. It seems as if that day will never come! There is an old poem "Dance like no one's watching" that I have to remind myself of from time to time -- the moral of it is...don't live your life, waiting to start your life! Basically, waiting until graduatione, until you lose twenty pounds, until your cars paid off, or the house, etc...the point is...so many people (including myself) think that one day their life will be so much better and that hapineess will eventually come. Guess what?! This is your life. Enjoy it now why you have it because from my own experience...I have sat around wating and hoping for so many things to come or to change, all the while...this is my life. And if your not careful, you'll miss it waiting for it! Nursing school is probably the most demanding program of all, and it definately takes faith, strength, and determination to get thru it. I am so lucky to have a good group of friends in school. That would probably be the best advice I could give anyone going into it..establish yourself with in a group because you will find that to be your most beneficial network and resource. I am fortunate to have the girls in my group...not only do we lean on each other and support each other when one of us thinks were losing it, or going off the deep end, but we rally together to study and help each other with assignments. This group has became the best of freinds and is so necessary becasue we have established bonds that will last a lifetime..and noone knows better what your going thru but those who are going thru it with you!!!

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    Carter28

    almost 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I feel overwhelmed and I pray and fast just to make it through. I'm a military wife and it seems like my time to shine always takes a back seat. Stay encouraged. I have 8 more classes before I'm done and that's going to be the best day when I walk down the aisle finally free, but make sure your taken advantage of the options your school may have that helps. I've already started working on my a&p homework before school starts CChrist1 thanks for your words of comfort, I even needed them. phiaalfred3026 your will make it, I'll be praying for you.

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    cchrist1

    almost 6 years ago

    18 comments

    To phiaalfre3026: DON"T GIVE UP! I to started nursing classes several years ago and never completed my program. Now, by the grace of God, I am a year away from graduating with my BSN in nursing. It hasn't been easy......thankfully I have alot of support from my family (my single mother). It definately takes a strong desire, motivation, ambition --and someone who is full of piss and vinegar to succeed in nursing school. I hope that you can find a way to get back in it if that's still what your heart desires. Best of luck........

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    phiaalfred3026

    almost 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I want to be a nurse. I started taking classes about 7 years ago. I had to drop those classes becase of family problems. It's so hard for me to get back on track and get back to school where I know I need to be.

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    dizzychick0201

    almost 6 years ago

    2 comments

    My advice would be not to be afraid of admitting when you are feeling overwhelmed. I work at a counseling office and I am in nursing school and many many nursing student have come in seeking help for anxiety. I have also sought help when I was feeling too overwhelmed, and I think its perfectly healthy to evaluate your time in nursing school and get help if needed.

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    ccburkejm

    almost 6 years ago

    148 comments

    I am currently in nursing school (after completing a Masters degree in Finance) and can't recall ever working so hard for a 'B' . This semester, I am taking Med-Surg I and more than 75% of the class dropped, and now I am wondering if I made the right decison to stay in the class, since it is 8 credit hours (20 contact hours - including clinicals), and this will definately destroy my otherwise perfect GPA if I don't do well...and I made two really bad failing grades so far, and they have destroyed my average. I thought I understood how to apply myself, but clearly there is something I am not doing right. I have since taken the time to reevaluate, and I am trying again for my next exam next week. Needless to say, I am somewhat apprehensive, and my self confidence is under the mat right now, BUT I will not give up. I am hanging in there, and will get out of this class in one piece (i.e. mind still attached to body!) with God's help.

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    cesteele

    almost 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I became a nurse at the age of 43. It was the greatest academic accomplishment of my life and some of the hardest work I ever did...and that was the studying.. but an a daily basis I thank the Lord that I did this. Every day I get to impact the life of someone in a positive way. Even on the bad days, and there are a few, I still make an impact and I still know that what I am doing is necessary and meaningful. Iwant to throw some practicality in here and suggest that you get a great pair of comfortable and supporting shoes. You will be living on your feet for the next few years, take care of them.

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