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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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    MsShirley904

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I was in the accelerated program and it kicked my butt!!! I took fundamentals and did pretty good in it but when it was time for phamacology I failed by 2 points and now waiting for the next available class to come up to retake the course. The class is offered only twice a year and the next two are full. I will be in January 2010. This caused a problem with my financial aid so what I did was stayed in school and changed my major to Medical Assistance I will be done in 3 more months because my gen classes was accepted this will also allow me to gain some hands on experience as well. At first I was embarrassed but then I came up with a this plan. This is a private college so I have to get something out of it. I will take that AS in medical assistant and come back and try to get my AS in nursing. While I am waiting I will take some classes and obtain my BS in Health Administration. Like the other post stated, please check the school out some of them are full of balooney. I thought that I would be able to go to the community college and take some classes and they suprised me with a huge NO...It's all about business here, but the good news is I will be able to go to another community college in the next county because it close to home and because I never been there before and they will accept my AS in medical assistan.,,,t so there is light at the end of the tunnel.

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    jorjasmith

    over 6 years ago

    10 comments

    I've done all the research possible with regards to choosing a nursing school. I previously obtained a bachelor's degree by going to school part-time and now the prospect of nursing school scares me to death. I'm a hardworker but I keep wondering if this will be enough. I've done the research to obtain the CNA license, and I'm seriously considering if I should go this route. The good news is that the programs I've applied to are only for one school year (3 semesters) but are very intense. I anticipate that once I obtain my RN license I'll definitely go for my master's degree in nursing (either administrative & financial or in nursing education). Has anyone else out there done an accelerated nursing program? If so what is your take on that program? As well as I have a choice between the BSN and an associates degree; the only major difference is that the associates program starts five months before the BSN program, does anyone know the pros/cons of having the BSN (other than more job opportunities)? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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    Account Removed

    over 6 years ago

    great info

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    CookieADO

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I am currently in nursing school and I have to encourage ANYONE who is thinking of going to college to become a nurse to try taking as many non-nursing classes as you can BEFORE you start into the program. I have all but one class done and found that, if I had tried to take all of these classes (A&P I & II, 2 psych classes, 2 English classes, 2 Chemistry classes, an Algebra class, Sociology, etc., etc.,) my brain would have EXPLODED!!!!!!

    I also must encourage you that if I can do it as a single mother of 2 working part-time, YOU CAN DO IT TOO!!!!!! You must be VERY committed and disciplined to your study time and most colleges require nursing students to get a B or better - so no sliding by with a low C or D just to "pass the class". Think about it though, would you want a nurse giving YOU an injection or starting an IV when he/she couldn't remember how to calculate the dilution of your IV bag or how much medication someone your size should safely receive? Even though the doctor writes the order, it is the nurse's responsibility to double-check him/her and be certain that the order was written correctly.

    Nursing school is hard, but will be VERY rewarding ,both personally and financially, in the end! I worked in an Cardiovascular ICU as an aide for 4 years and have completed 2 semesters of my actual nursing program and I cannot wait to graduate and start taking on some patients!!!!!!

    My other word of advise is to be SURE that the nursing school you attend is nationally accredited. I made the costly mistake of starting at one school and during semester #2, found out that they had lost their accreditation (only because they were upgrading their program from a Diploma to an Associates Degree) and I ended up dropping out and going to a different school that had a waiting list, but was accredited. If you graduate from a non-accredited school, you SERIOUSLY reduce your chances of getting hired ANYWHERE. My sister is a nurse and she said that is one of the first questions she has been asked at every job she has applied for.

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    tamikagirl

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    These comments are very encouraging!! I am in nursing school for the second. It gets nerve wrecking, it seems like something always gets in the way of what u want!!! Its good to know that i am not the only one out here that have doubts, but with reading everyone else's comments, I KNOW THAT I CAN MAKE IT.THANK U ALL

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    orrn64

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I have been an RN for almost 23 years. I cannot think of a more rewarding career. I have had a wide range of experiences and currently work in surgery. What I did not do when I originally graduated from nursing school, was obtain my BSN. I strongly recommend obtaining your BSN immediately unless you cannot swing it financially. Although I never had a problem finding a job, there are more doors open to you with a BSN, including management positions. I went back to school to complete by BSN 17 months ago, and am proud to say I only have 4 weeks left until I am done. My plan is to get my master's in nursing education next. I think the advice of continuing on until your goal is met is excellent. It took me 20 years to go back for my BSN! Like other people have related, nursing school is not easy. It wasn't easy the first time around, and continuing my education has presented other challenges like juggling family and work commitments. Desire, strong will, and perseverence will definitely pay off!

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    T_kj3

    over 6 years ago

    10 comments

    It's really encouraging to read the stories posted on here. I knew I wanted to go into the nursing profession the year my parents' got really sick. Not only did I lose my only sibling during a violent crime, my parents lives were hanging by a thread and I nursed them back to health. It was extremely rough. I had to manage diet, hygiene, medication, and doctor appointments as well as find time to study because I was taking classes and also managed my role as a single parent. Just when I thought it couldn't get worse my father was hospitalized three times during his illness and my mother twice. It goes on and continues to get better, but with occasional setbacks. I will continue to fight until I get what I want.

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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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