Things I Wish I Knew Before Nursing School!
I decided at 29 years old, when my son was 4 months, to quit my job that I had been at for 5 years and go to nursing school. Talk about terrifying. What if I don’t have enough time? What if I don’t do well? What if I don’t like it? All of these questions kept swirling around in my head as I contemplated this huge life change. These doubts and insecurities were some of the main reasons that I didn’t go to nursing school sooner. I didn’t know how to begin, where to start, what to expect, or if I would even be capable of doing it. So, in order to ease your mind if you’re having similar feelings, I wanted to share some of the things that I wish I knew before starting nursing school.
First, your age doesn't matter. I will be 33 years old when I graduate next August. I have had classmates who had just graduated from high school, and others who were in their 50’s (and KILLING IT), with ages spanning everywhere in between. It is never too late to follow your passions and continue your education. Investing in yourself is one of the greatest things you can do. I also feel as though I am more dedicated and disciplined being an older student, and I take my studies much more seriously. Having life and work experience has enhanced my communication, time management, and social skills in a way that I had not yet developed in my younger years. For others, going to college right out of high school or shortly therefore was the right time for them, everyone is different.
Second, there are many paths to becoming a nurse. There are programs such as LPN, ADN, BSN, and others in order to earn your title as “nurse”. When determining which path works best for you, it is important to consider multiple factors such as time, cost, salary, schedule, goals, etc. I chose to complete my prerequisites at a local community college and then apply to an accelerated BSN program at a private university. While I saved some money taking courses at community college, the higher cost of the BSN program was one of the drawbacks. However their evening/weekend option worked with our schedules and has allowed me to not have to pay for childcare. I also wanted to go straight for my BSN because I am planning to continue my education after I graduate and become a nurse educator, so it was important to me to strive for a Bachelor’s Degree in the shortest amount of time possible. Research is important and also examining your own goals and circumstances when deciding on a program that is right for YOU.
Last, do not compare your journey to others. Your path is unique and it is your own. Do not waste time or energy comparing grades, skills, or anything else while in nursing school. There is room for everyone to succeed and making sure that you stay focused on yourself and your own grades, clinicals, etc. will only help you to achieve your goals. Spending time and energy worrying about how you are compared to others can be detrimental to your self-confidence and mental well-being. Reach out for help if you feel that you need it, and remember that attitude and mindset are everything.
Nursing school is a roller coaster of emotions and known as one of the most difficult degrees to attain, with good reason. It requires hours of studying, unpaid clinical hours, a difficult grading scale, selfless care of others, and rigorous curriculum. But it is also an incredibly rewarding, and unique experience that I am so grateful to be a part of. There are days or weeks where you feel as though you are on top of the world, and others wonder how you will ever make it through. Allow yourself to feel all of those emotions and continue on toward your goal of becoming an amazing nurse.
Written by: Kym Wisniewski