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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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    cchrist1

    about 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........

  • Picture_8977_max50

    phiaalfred3026

    about 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

    about 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

    about 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

    about 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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    AlaskanRN

    about 6 years ago

    2 comments

    Getting the nursing degree is a tough accomplishment, but it is worth it. Yes you do have to put your life on hold until you graduate....or at least I did. You need to focus on what your goal is...and that is the degree you desire. Know what you are in for and get it done. Study hard and give your all to strive for your degree. I did this in the later years of my life after all my children finished getting their degrees. Working full time and studying was tough. But the degree in hand is the icing on the cake.

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    JoyceJDean

    about 6 years ago

    4 comments

    I am not yet in nursing school. I would like to know what is the toughest part about nursing education? Is it the science classes? The actual nursing courses? Is it mostly memorization? Any info will help me tremendously. Thankyou, J

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    glamgirlTN

    about 6 years ago

    2 comments

    AMEN!

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    teeteeblue

    about 6 years ago

    2 comments

    Great Advice,
    Keep in mind that you need a good support system, it is demanding and very competitive. I keep telling myself it will all be worth it. I have a toddler and finished 1st yr, husband active duty. So I took off the semester, too much too handle. Make sure u r mentally prepared. Good Luck to all.

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    classy04girl

    about 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I am starting my senior year of nursing school in August and I feel this was wonderful advice. I am currently pursuing my BSN but was debating whether to work a couple of years or go straight through to my Master's and I just feel this gave me some insight on planning my goals! Thank you.

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    ritathoma

    about 6 years ago

    4 comments

    Good enough advice. I started a 4 year nursing degree in 1992 while I was a 35 year old newly divorced mother of 2 young children. I chose a private woman's college to attend because of the small class size and because they had child care on site. I put in many long hours and alot of hard work. I supplemented my income by cleaning house for instructors and tutoring anatomy and physiology because this could work with my schedule between classes and after class. By the time I graduated my self esteem and determination had grown and I had a job that was flexible enough for raising the kids. I have never regretted my decision and still love nursing. I did learn that there is more to the nursing profession than hospital and clinics. I currently have a great job as a nurse at a juvenile center and would not trade the independence and patient contact for anything! My advice would be to really look at your talents and the career path that will give you the most happiness and success and then keep your eye on your goals!

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    Tacqua

    about 6 years ago

    260 comments

    Great advice.

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    perris

    about 6 years ago

    2 comments

    never give up. I gave up to soon and withdrew from the program. I was not progressing like I should be. I signed up again for the V N program for 2009. If not 2009 then 2010. I am trying to work as a CNA something I never did. I strongly suggest you work as a CNA before and during nursing school. Please don't ever tell yourself "I CAN'T DO THIS" because you will start to believe it and it will show in your performance. I am 50 years old, one is never to old to pursue your dream. Good luck to all

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    smifftee

    about 6 years ago

    10 comments

    This is very interesting. I am starting at a new school, because I felt that the previous school, I was attending was a mess (it really was, a hot mess at that!). I am taking some cores like A&P 1 and U.S History (I still do not get the relevance on this one), and GA government, and really it is hard. I am a working parent, and I still manage to make the grades so, now all I have to do is decide what i want to do with my degree.

  • Me_2younger_max50

    ruffjewel

    about 6 years ago

    126 comments

    very informative, recommend that all pre nursing students read makes you think about your career path

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