Starting nursing school on the right foot

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A Gap Medics student brings a smile to the pediatrics ward in Tanzania Starting nursing school can leave you feeling excited and a bit nervous, which is completely normal. Even if you did well in high school, you might still feel a little apprehensive about nursing school—but there are several things you can do to increase your chances of having a great experience and doing well.

Starting out on the right foot in nursing school means developing good habits right from the start. Consider using a planner to keep track of all your tests, assignments and exams. Avoid falling behind on projects.

Although you are a student, you still should be professional. This means being on time for classes, being prepared and dressing appropriately. As a nursing student, you will be expected to hand in assignments by their due dates and show up for clinical assignments on time. If you are going to miss a day of your clinical rotation, make sure to let your instructor know.

Right from the start, you should also accept that nursing school will take up a lot of your time. You may be busier than you were in high school. That may mean having less time for socializing and other activities. Informing yourself beforehand about the time and effort that it will take to complete a nursing program may help you handle the commitment.  

Another way to start nursing school on the right foot is by putting your nerves aside during your clinical assignment and making the most of it. Although you may be a little nervous about going into the hospital and taking care of patients, now is not the time to shy away from opportunities. During clinical rotations, ask questions, volunteer to do procedures and observe nurses in action.

It’s also a good idea to learn how to accept constructive criticism. You will not do everything perfectly. As a student nurse, you have a lot to learn about procedures, patient assessments, communication and handling difficult situations. No one expects you to know everything. If you are corrected by a nurse or instructor during your clinical assignment, consider it an opportunity to learn. If you are corrected, don’t take it as a personal attack. Instead, view constructive criticism as a chance to improve your skills. 

When you start nursing school, keep your eyes open and be open-minded. For example, you may start school thinking you want to work in a certain specialty, but as you are exposed to other areas of nursing, you may find something else sparks your interest.

Another thing that will help you succeed in nursing school is using the resources around you. Keep lines of communication open between yourself and your clinical coordinator, student advisor and instructors. They are all there to work with you and help you achieve your academic goals.

Regardless of how enthusiastic and focused you are on nursing school, it’s important to maintain a little balance throughout your program. If you are all work and no play, it can cause stress and your school work and performance can suffer. Everyone needs some time off. Allow yourself breaks to relax, have fun and recharge.  

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