NURSING.com is the BEST place to learn nursing. With over 2,000+ clear, concise, and visual lessons, there is something for you!
In 2011, my wife and I were actually living in Houston, Texas. I was working with Academy Sports at their corporate office as a retail buyer in the Sporting Goods department, and I hated it. I hated every single day of it. At the end of the day, all I was doing was helping people buy more golf balls. And I knew that and I hated it.
So I decided to quit my job and attend nursing school . . . it seemed like a good idea at the time.
However, the nursing school was in Illinois, so we had to pack everything up in, in Houston, move up to Illinois.
Sandi, my wife at the time, was five months pregnant.
I started nursing school with high hopes, but after my fourth semester, I dropped out. I quit nursing school.
I knew nursing school was going to be hard . . . I mean the whole point is to learn how to competently take care of a human being suffering from complex heath issues.
I expected school to be hard.
In fact, I had a meeting with the administration of my program at one point and suggested to them that they had made our program too easy and that we were not learning what we needed to know to be competent nurses on the floor.
He was born with a congenital condition that required a two-week stay in the NICU and 3 surgeries with subsequent week long hospital stays during the first year of his life.
I will never forget staying up late into the night studying for exams in his hospital room by the light of the Emergency Room signage below, then waking up in the early hours with him or going across the street to school and rushing back to baby Taz.
There were times I would bring him up to the school library during his nap time so I could attend a study group while he slept in his stroller.
Life wasn’t easy, but we were happy.
We were buried in student debt.
We were living on food stamps and WIC.
Our newborn was frequently in the hospital for surgeries.
We lived deep in the ghetto.
I was giving my all (what was left) to becoming a nurse.
The Semester I “Hit My Wall”
Life continued on and I began my 3rd semester.
At this point, I was feeling pretty confident that I could take on anything that came at me.
I was wrong.
Things began to build up this semester. Taz had his final surgery with complications. We were given a brand new nursing professor that had no business teaching . . . in any capacity . . . ever. And I really started feeling the pressure.
The professor mentioned above became more and more obtuse with her thinking and was clearly not in the game of educating nursing students but reaping vengeance on some past experience. She had an utter lack of understanding of education, clinical nursing, and general people skills.
I allowed all of this to weigh on me.
It got to a point where I was completely unable to think about or focus on anything other than the anger and frustration I was feeling. I wanted nothing to do with this class or this woman yet the anger I felt began to control my life.
That semester I ended with a C in that class. I lost my motivation. I hated nursing school and all I could think about was quitting nursing school.
My wife kept trying to get me to see past my frustrations. She kept me going at that point. The next semester I had great professors and experiences, but the drive and motivation were gone.
I was still a good student and loved every minute of clinical but I hated school, my school, so much. I couldn’t get past the frustration.
The point finally came when I was ready to quit nursing school altogether.
I spoke with Sandi and told her I'm gonna drop outta nursing school move back in with my parents, wife and son and . . . . start a lawn business.
She convinces me to not don't drop out, but to withdraw. So the difference there is I could come, I had a full year that I could come back if I decided to try again or come back at it without losing my spot.
So we pack up the U-haul and - I swear to God - I went to school to take my last test driving a U-haul.
And, we moved in with my parents, with our baby, and I buy some lawnmowers. The plan was that it was going to be the largest lawn company in the world, world domination.
You haven’t heard of the lawn company I started so you know that never happened.
Then came a warm October morning.
I wake up and Sandi says; “Jon, we need to talk.”
So I come downstairs and we go outside my parents' house, sit down, Sandi says; “I'm pregnant.”
At that moment, I felt like a huge failure.
I'm 30 years old living with my parents on Medicaid food stamps, WIC, $45,000 in student loan debt. And we're not making any money.
I'm trying to make money and it's not working at all.
I felt trapped. My back was against the wall. I could no longer sleep - depression hit hard.
What was I going to do?
It became very clear that I had to go back to nursing school.
I went and I unpacked my box of nursing school books. I dusted off, as I hadn't opened these in about eight months. In eight months, I hadn't even thought about nursing. My goal had been to forget it.
So here I was . . .
I had to return to nursing school in about two months. I had to pass that last semester and pass NCLEX and get all that knowledge that I tried to forget back in my brain.
And I had two months to do it.
My old method of cramming and everything just wasn't going to work. I had a pile of books that I had to be prepared to take a 75 question test on.
I had to develop a new method. Side note, that's where the Core Content Mastery Method, the pedagogy we use at NURSING.com was born. I had to make all that information clear, concise, visual, and understandable.
After spending two months studying I pack up the Honda Civic and drive up to Illinois. Leaving my wife and two kids in Texas - they would follow me up there within a month - once Kai was large enough to travel.
I found the dumpster mattress and that's where we lived. We had to borrow $3,000 from my parents. We had to borrow $3,000 from my in-laws just to finish that last semester. We lived on Medicaid, food stamps and WIC.
For food, Sandi went to the WalMart in Texas, bought a heap of food with our food stamps and made a bunch of frozen meals. And that's what we ate. That's all the money we had.
Should You Drop Out?
So, right before my final semester (yes, just 10 weeks from graduation) I withdrew from nursing school.
You guys know the rest of the story . . . 1 year after quitting nursing school, I returned to complete my degree. Ending with a 3.89 overall GPA, landing a spot in a Trauma I ICU, precepting, charging, and starting NURSING.com , and now reaching literally millions of nurses and nursing students each week.
With that said . . . I want to offer you 7 tips that will help you stay mentally sane during nursing school.
Full disclosure . . . I DID NOT do these things during my program . . . and I nearly went insane and that is why I temporally quit nursing school.
They say hindsight is 20/20 and I feel that had I done these things during my program I might not have hated it so much and actually come out a better person. I do try to implement these 7 things into my daily life now.
You are more than “just a nurse”. You are a human with varied interests. Don’t drop everything when you start nursing school. Make sure to take time to still be you! NurseBass is a good example of this . . . he runs his YouTube channel for nursing students and he also focuses a lot of time on fitness and working out.
Realize that after nursing school is when you begin to learn in exponential leaps.
I was stuck on the idea that I had to know EVERYTHING prior to graduating from nursing school. I have since realized that learning becomes massively accelerated AFTER nursing school as you begin working on a floor and become specialized. I still encourage you to take school seriously and learn all that you can, but give yourself a break . . . you won’t know everything.
This is obvious, but can’t be overstated. If you are not taking care of yourself . . . your mind and body will become weak. One thing I have implemented with great success is something called the “Miracle Morning“, essentially, developing an early morning routine that includes some form of journaling, meditation, fitness, and reflection before anyone else wakes up. Sometimes just a short walk in the morning with your phone off is enough . . . please try it!
You are NOT your grades (dehypnotize yourself, radical acceptance).
Sadly, many students, including myself tie their self-worth to their GPA or how many questions it takes them to pass the NCLEX . . . this is sad! Your grades DO NOT define you . . . do not allow them to control your happiness or how you view yourself. Two books have really helped me understand this better: Psychocybernetics and Radial Acceptance. If I could force you to read one non-nursing book . . . it would be Radical Acceptance. If you have a few bucks download the audio book and listen while driving around town. The book had me in tears and opened up a new world of accepting myself at a level that I had never achieved previously. I am confident that had I found this book prior to dropping out of nursing school I would have gotten my RN a year earlier.
Deep work (set aside focused study time).
Deep Work . . . a concept outlined in great detail by Cal Newport in his book by the same title involves allowing yourself time to dive into deep mental states and accomplish great tasks by learning to get deep into your work. Applying this to nursing school, you can learn how to organize your life to allow sessions of deep work into your studies. One 3 hours deep work session is probably worth more than several unfocused days of meaningless study.
Find a good friend or start keeping a journal.
You have to be able to decompress and share your frustrations openly. I have been lucky to have my wife through this journey. I haven’t always been very good at listening to her but having a companion, friend, or family member that you can be 100% open and honest with is so key to mental health. A friend that allows you to share your frustrations unfiltered without judging is essential. If you do not have this person . . . buy a $0.79 composition book at Wal-Mart and start writing in it. . . just let your feelings flow.
Life is a journey.
Lastly, and most obviously . . . realize that life is a journey. You don’t have to achieve perfection TODAY . . . you have a lifetime to WORK toward it. You don’t have to pass the NCLEX tomorrow, you don’t have to get accepted to nursing school THIS semester . . . you have a lifetime. You are in this for the long haul. Relax.
You Should Dropout of Nursing School
I dropped out of nursing school. And let me be completely honest with you. I don’t regret it.
Nope, I don’t regret that I quit nursing school at all.
My mind was in such a bad place. I can’t imagine how tainted, angry, and just plain horrible I would have been at my first job had I started working at that point.
So . . . while I don’t really suggest quitting nursing school . . . I will say that in my case I am glad that I did. It wasn’t the end of the world . . . remember, life is a journey.