What are you struggling with in nursing school?
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The most fascinating conundrum of Nursing School is the innate feeling of being overwhelmed.
Anyone who has been in nursing school will agree whole heartedly that they were indeed overwhelmed.
The main reason that everyone is so overwhelmed is because it feels impossible to accomplish the vast amount of work in the amount of time given. It only seems fitting to ask how NOT to feel this way.
So, how do you get it all done sans a mental break-down?
Plan Ahead: Use a Planner!
This is vital.
- When you get your 90 plus page syllabi, go to the calendar and marry all of the assignments that are due to their prospective due dates.
- Write the assignment name down on your planner on the due date.
- Put a tab on the directions for the assignment and label it with a date.
- Write down on your planner when the tests are and what chapters they cover.
- Write what chapters are covered for each lecture so you can read the chapters before going to lecture.
At this point you are probably hypertensive and about to throw a stroke when you look and see that you have three tests and a paper due in the same week. This is why I did this in nursing school, it allowed me to step back and put my own personal due dates on things.
That paper? It needs to be done the week before.
Your multitude of tests? Assign priority to finishing the study material for each test (I usually based the priority on which test comes first, but you can also assign priority based on harder material or whatever you choose).
This doesn’t mean you study for your test and then don’t review before the test, it just means that you have learned all the material, understand concepts and have made flash cards. Always review before a test.
Re-think the concept of study time.
This is by far the most revolutionizing concept needed to help with time. It can feel like you don’t have any time to accomplish anything now that you are in nursing school. However, studying can happen in short intervals anywhere and give you a little more time for a relaxing bath or going to a movie, basically doing something that isn’t nursing school related.
- Have a Doctor’s appointment?
- While you wait for your appointment do the electronic flashcards that you loaded on your phone. What am I talking about? Check out this post to learn how to use google drive and gFlash+.
- Driving to school?
- Put the lectures you record on your iPod and plug it into your radio to re-listen while you drive.
- Eating breakfast?
- Read a chapter in your textbook.
- Need to work out?
- Get on the spin bike and peddle along while you read your textbook or do flash cards.
- Take laps around the track with flashcards that you printed out. For every lap switch to a new flash card and memorize that flashcard while you take that lap.
- Do plank trivia and every time you get a question wrong do a 30 second plank.
Use Your Professor's Office Hours
Do not spend time pouring over concepts you do not understand. It will make you feel angry and overwhelmed. Instead visit your professors during their office hours. This gives you two advantages, the first advantage is that you will likely get an explanation that will help you understand the test question, and the seconds is you will get to know your professor on a more personal level, showing your professor that you are willing to do the work.
- Write down on a separate piece of paper the question and concept that you are trying to understandalong withpage numbers.
- Study in the same building as your professors’ office preferably during their office hours.
- After a test, go to the professors’ office and discuss any missed questions.
- Check in periodically on the status of your grades.
Nursing School Doesn’t Have To Kill You . . . (but it almost killed me)
The key to not becoming overwhelmed is to use your time efficiently, plan ahead with the information you do know, and not waste your time agonizing over the information you don’t understand. Do you have any other advice on managing your time?
So, I have anxiety and depression. In fact, to the point that this last summer I actually started on Lexapro, or a citalopram, which is an SSRI, which helps with the depression and generalized anxiety disorder. It can get so bad sometimes, and why I eventually started the medication, that I wasn’t able to get out of bed for nearly a week. I just stayed in bed for a week. My wife Sandy was really supportive, but I wasn’t really able to get out of the bed for a whole week. It felt so overwhelming. The anxiety became so deep that I couldn’t think about or focus on anything other than the anxiety, and the depression was so great that I didn’t feel like I could even get out of bed. So, I eventually, finally, got myself to go to the doctor, talk about it, and started trying to implement some healthy habits but eventually started taking Lexapro. It’s made an enormous difference, but on top of that guys, I sometimes experience what’s called Imposter Syndrome, and I’m sure a lot of you do too. I think it’s pretty common among nurses.
It’s where you feel that you’re not worthy or capable of doing the things that you are doing. That you feel like everyone is gonna find out that you’re a fake, that you’re not capable or worthy of doing what you’re doing. Somehow, it just happened to you. What happened to you was pure luck. It wasn’t due to hard work or skill, and everyone is gonna see you as a fake. Now, I think that that happens a lot to nurses, and I’m sure a lot of you feel that as well. I think it happens a lot because there’s a lot of really smart nurses, and there are a lot of really capable nurses, and we look at these skills and these grades, and we judge ourselves. We think, “I’m the only lucky person here. Everyone else is perfectly skilled, but I’m the luck one who ended up here.” So, I have that that sometimes comes up and haunts me a little bit too. It can become incapacitating at some points. It could become so much that I don’t feel like I can keep going.
I want to tell you guys what does keep me going, and I want to relate that to you, and to your journey in nursing, or to your journey in nursing school because I think it can be of great help. So, what keeps me going, guys, is in 2014-2015 when I started NRSNG, I started it with a big vision, a big mission that I wanted to change nursing education. That I knew that the experiences that I had shouldn’t be happening, and I wanted to change that. I didn’t know how, but I wanted to change it. So then, in 2016, we started NRSNG Academy and I could start to see how we were going to be able to change nursing education. Then this last summer, in July, we launched our new NRSNG Academy, and I began to see even more how we were going to change nursing education, and we changed our vision in the company to end the nursing shortage because that is a problem that is so big that the world is face, our country in the US especially is facing. There’s a shortage of healthcare providers and nurses.
The problem with it, I believe, is an education problem. We’re limiting who can get in because we don’t have enough educators and then when people do get in, we’re failing them out and we’re not teaching them in the way they need to be taught. We’re doing things like flipped classroom, where we’re not educating the students at all. We’re switching to concept based programs, and we don’t know what concept teaching is. All of those things are limiting the students’ ability to learn. So, over the last six months or so we’ve realized and we’ve changed our vision as a company at NRSNG to end the nursing shortage. So, it’s this big vision that I believe we can achieve. Now, what really keeps me going. I hear these stories, maybe some of you got it. I sent out a survey a couple days ago asking just for some general feedback on the academy, and I got over 8,000 responses. The last two or three days I’ve read every single one of them.
I really have, and I was at Starbucks last night until 9:30 reading through every single one, checking the feedback that I thought was gonna be helpful to us, and reading some of the stories from some of our users. We hear these stories a lot, but some of the stories I heard, guys, was one woman who is a single mom, on welfare, who doesn’t feel like she’s getting the education she needs from her school, and NRSNG is her life saver. It’s her lifeline, and she’s using the money she’s getting from welfare to help be a part of NRSNG and the NRSNG family. I wish so much that I knew who she was so that I could just give her the academy and help her, because this is about her achieving success and getting through school. It’s not anything else. So, we hear these stories from users all the time who they call NRSNG help. That’s what it is, it’s help. They call it their lifeline, they call it their savior. It’s hard that this small company of nurse educators and people with a big vision are able to create such an impact in the nursing field because what’s traditionally there and what’s set up, the system that’s set up, is failing so many of you.
That vision keeps us going, and it keeps me going despite all these things that tried to make me stop. My own mental health and imposter syndrome, and everything else. I want to give you guys a couple tips because I know there’s gonna be times for some of you, maybe not all of you, but for some of you some of the things I’ve shared might sound similar to you or might ring true to you as anxiety, depression, imposter syndrome, or just feeling overwhelmed. So, let me give you guys a couple tips, three or five tips or so, to help you if you’re feeling those things because I want you to know that you can become a nurse, and you will become a nurse. You can do this. So the first thing that you guys need to have is a vision that you believe you can actually achieve. An achievable, big goal or big vision. For some of you, that might be passing a class. For others, it might be becoming a CRNA. For some it might be passing the NCLEX.
It doesn’t matter, and it’s individual to you, but have a big vision that you truly believe is possible, that gets you up and gives you something to work toward every day. If that’s just reading a chapter, if that’s just getting out of bed, that’s enough. When I was experiencing a lot of depression, that was a big accomplishment for me one day, was getting out of bed. It’s individual to all of us, so have a big vision that’s big for you, and don’t worry what other people’s visions are. If someone’s vision is to become a hospital administrator, that’s good. That’s good for them. If yours is to just get out of bed and open a chapter and read, that’s enough, but have something that’s individual to you that’s a big vision that you truly believe that you can achieve. The next thing, guys, that I think is really important is that I have a team of amazing people surrounding me that help me, and support me, and guide me.
This is the people that I work with at NRSNG, and some of those people you know like Sandy and Anna who respond to your emails, or Nichole and Chance who teach, but there’s other people behind the scenes that you don’t really see. It’s that amazing team that believes the vision and trusts the vision that support me, and they trust me. When I have those down days, they trust me, and they support me, and they guide me, and they try to help, and they listen if I need to talk. So, surround yourselves with good people. Surround yourself with those that are going to lift you up and guide you, and help you, versus tear you down or criticize. If it’s a teacher that’s criticizing, if it’s a friend that’s criticizing, try to surround yourself with better people. One of the quotes I love to share all the time, if you’ve listened to the podcast for a while you know it, but it’s a quote by a speaker named Jim Rohn and he said that, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
Think about that. If you are going to be the average of the people who you’re surrounding yourself with, shouldn’t you surround yourself with people who are living a life that you want to live, or who are supportive of you, who believe in you, who trust you? So find those people, surround yourself with those people, and that will make an enormous difference. The third tip is to face the weakness. It takes a lot of humility to admit failure. It takes a lot of humility to admit weakness, and it can be really hard. It can stop you from doing the things that you need to do, or the hard things, but take a minute, face those weaknesses. Talking to a physician and admitting that this depression was now debilitating was very hard for me. It’s very hard for me. I don’t like to admit that I need help, so doing that made all the difference in the world. After about seven days or so, I’ve taken an SSRI, you have about a little period where all that serotonin is in there, but then it starts to take effect.
After about seven days or so, I started to feel the effects. I remember the first time genuinely laughing and I thought, “Wow, this feels good.” Facing that weakness or facing that trial, struggle, made all the difference in the world. The next, guys, is give yourself a break. Give yourself a break. If you don’t get the grade you want on an exam, if you failed the NCLEX one time, if you don’t get the job or don’t get the interview, or don’t whatever, it doesn’t matter. Give yourself a break. This is just life. It’s a long journey. You have time, and just give yourself a break. That can be really, really, really hard. Sometimes it’s just a mental break that you need to give yourselves. Turn off the computer, turn off the cell phones, go on a jog, go on a walk. Sometimes for me, it’s honestly just turning Netflix or turning on Amazon Prime, watching a Bob’s Burgers or something like that and just turning my mind off for a minute.
So, give yourself a break physically, mentally, or just emotionally. You know what? You’re okay. It’s okay. You’re gonna be okay. It’s just life, all right? The last tip guys, is you’re lucky. You’re all lucky no matter what your situation is. In some way, you’re lucky. If you can listen to this, you’re lucky. If you can attend school, you’re lucky. If you can read, you’re lucky. If you can see, you’re lucky. I don’t want to be all Pollyanna-ish about it but take moments to remember just how lucky you are, all right? I know that’s hard, but try it, and it will help. So, those are the five tips. Have a good vision, get a good team, face your weaknesses, give yourself a break, and just remember every now and then that you are lucky.
Some people recommend even keeping a journal, a gratitude journal or something like that. It can truly help. I’ve tried it different times in my life and it’s really helped. So, I think those five things have helped me immensely, and I think that they can help you as immensely too in your journey to becoming a nurse, in your journey as a nurse, and just in life as well. So, I think those things will help, guys. We as a team at NRSNG are here to help you guys. We want you guys to succeed. You guys deserve success, and if you guys need any help with nursing school, be sure to come check out NRSNG Academy, check out a trial and see if it’s something that will help and supplement your education. If you love the podcast, head over to the podcast stores and download our podcast app where you can get all of our different shows all in one place, and you can listen to them at any time.
All right guys, we love you. Now, go out and be your best selves today. Happy nursing.