Exploring Nursing as a Career: Nursing Student

By: Suzan R. Miller-Hoover DNP, RN, CCNS, CCRN-K
Nursing StudentCongratulations on your decision to enroll in a nursing program. You have applied to a School of Nursing and been accepted, now what? Now is the time to prepare yourself for the rigors of nursing school.

Like other professions, nursing school requires that you obtain knowledge and skills. The campus is not only at the school, but at various healthcare facilities, in varying units.

Unfortunately, many students will quit school before obtaining their degree because of family demands, work requirements, school curriculum schedules and just the day to day responsibilities. What can you do to ensure your success?
  •   Be committed
  •   Discuss the changes needed in your daily life to accomplish your goals
     o   Do you need to work, can you work part time, can you work per diem?
     o   Do you need to arrange childcare while you are in school and when you need to study?
     o   Do you have a support system?
  •   Set measurable, attainable goals throughout the year
  •   Have a buddy to study and commiserate with
  •   Make time for yourself
     o   Get plenty of rest
     o   Eat right
     o   Get some exercise
     o   Enjoy your friends and family
  •   Get organized
  •   Get help – don’t wait until the mole hill becomes a mountain
     o   Use all the resources that are available to you
        •   Teachers
        •   Counselors
        •   Clergy
        •   Tutors
        •   Fellow students
(RNprograms.org, 2015)

You can never fully prepare for the rigors of nursing school, but the hard work is worth it in the end. Don’t give up, you can do this.

Identify and fine tune skills that will help you in nursing school. Open your mind to learning
  •   Build computer skills – these are essential for school and work documentation
  •   If you speak English as a second language, fine tune your ability to be understood and your ability to understand English when spoken and written.
     o   Your native language will be an asset in your career, but English proficiency is paramount
  •   Examine your prejudices and preferences
     o   Becoming culturally sensitive will help you in the long run, but you must know what your cultural standards are and how they affect what you do
  •   Develop discipline, self-motivation, compassion skills
(RNprograms.org, 2015)

As you move through the stages of nursing school you will be introduced to the theoretical foundations of nursing as well as the skills necessary to become a competent nurse. Many people confuse these foundational components of nursing education. Throughout nursing school, you will be taught the reason behind the practice (theory). Most of these practices are now based on research evidence or evidence-based practice. Evidence is ever changing so it is important that you do not rely on last year’s theory but be open to today’s best practice information.

Evidence-based practice is based on taking the findings from research and putting it into practice based on the nursing experience of the staff, the population you care for, and patient preference. This means that not everyone will be implementing practice the same way. You will learn the basic skills in school, but you must be open to the fact that when you go into your first or subsequent jobs, that practice changes. Build on what you learn, be open to change, do not think you know it all because the “school taught you”.

If possible, choose an externship in the specialty that you are interested in. Often, this may open the door to a job if you show that you are willing to learn and practice in this environment. Be open to suggestions, build relationships with your preceptor and management team.

One final thought, begin to compile a professional portfolio. This document will represent who you are professionally. As a student, you can collect the following which will help you obtain your first job; as you attain experience, the portfolio will document your successes and growth.
  •   Resume
     o   Job experience related to healthcare
     o   Job experience not related to healthcare
     o   Community service
     o   Volunteer service
  •   Letters of appreciation
  •   Documentation of successful progress
  •   Posters
  •   Evaluations
  •   Reference letters

Regardless of where you want to take your nursing career it all starts with the successful completion of nursing school. Now that you have made been accepted into a nursing program paying attention to the tips outlined will contribute to your success.

RNprograms.org. (2015). Tips for handling the rigors of RN training. Retrieved from: https://www.rnprograms.org/articles/tips-for-handling-the-rigors-of-rn-training.htm  

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