Nursing is a rewarding career path for people who like helping others. As you prepare to learn what you need to become a nurse, you will need to learn how to prepare for nursing school. This guide will help you understand what to expect, from when clinicals will start to how you will rely on your fellow nursing students to get you through.
Why Go to Nursing School?
If you love helping people and have a passion for healthcare, then a career as a nurse could be a good fit. As a nurse, you will go into work every day knowing you play a role in helping people feel their best. This career path starts with nursing school.
Nursing school provides the education, hands-on training, and practical skills you need to effectively provide patient care. It is a rigorous program of study that will prepare you well for the fast-paced world of nursing.
Nursing can also be a financially rewarding career path. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average pay for RNs in 2020 was $75,330. That can vary significantly, with much higher paying options available for specialty nurses. That income starts while you are still in nursing school.
Finally, going to nursing school means gaining a skill set that has quite a bit of job security. As long as there are people who need healthcare, there will be a need for nurses.
What to Expect in Nursing School
If you are ready to start your career and dive into nursing school, you need to be prepared. Here is what you can expect in nursing school.
You Have to Pass the NCLEX Exam
To become a licensed nurse, you will have to take and pass the NCLEX exam. This nursing exam determines if you have learned enough in nursing school to safely practice as an entry-level nurse. It is a complex test that covers the care environment, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity, and physiological integrity.
Clinical Rotations Do Not Start Right Away
If you are excited about nursing, you are probably excited about working with patients, which means clinical experiences are something you are looking forward to starting. Know that clinicals do not start at the beginning of your nursing education. In most programs, clinicals start in the second semester, so focus solely on in-classroom instruction for the first semester.
Your Study Habits Will Change
Nursing school means learning a lot of material. You are going to have to learn your best study techniques and apply them every day. Give yourself grace as you learn how to change and adapt your study habits to the course load of nursing school and know that you may need to make some updates to what worked for you in the past.
The Important Role Classmates Will Play
Nursing school is hard. You are going to need the help and support of your fellow nursing students as you get through it. Many of your classmates will become life-long friends, and your nursing school friends can lead you to job opportunities in the future as well.
Attendance Is More Than Mandatory
Skipping classes during nursing school will lead to disaster. Not only will you miss vital information, but attendance is not considered optional. You have to clock your clinical hours, for instance, in order to graduate, so you have to be physically present as often as possible. Sure, illness and life events will happen but strive to be in class whenever possible.
You Must Find a Work-Life Balance
It is easy to get so caught up in school and the work that comes with clinicals that you forget to have fun. If you can learn how to strike a work-life balance now while you are in nursing school, you will be better off in the future when you are working as a nurse. This type of time management and overall balance is a skill that will follow you throughout your career.
Know You Are in Demand
The medical world needs qualified nurses; you will be in demand when you finish nursing school. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates a 9% growth in demand for RNs and LPNs between 2020 and 2030, but the pandemic has created even more demand since that statistic came out. Once you graduate and pass the nursing exam, you will be in demand.
Medical Shows Will Be Ruined for You
Love Grey’s Anatomy? Not after going to nursing school. You will see all the glaring errors that they make or the wacky diagnoses that do not make sense. While the reward of being a nurse far outweighs this concern, know that medical shows are not going to be binge-worthy for you anymore.
You Will Be Overwhelmed at First
Do not get discouraged if you feel completely overwhelmed during the first few weeks of nursing school. There is a lot of work and information to take in. You will get the hang of it as you go about your studies.
Always Remember to Keep Your Eye on the Prize
When rough days come, and they will, remember your goal. You want to be a nurse! Keeping that goal in mind will help you push through the rough days.
Failing a Test is Not the End of the World
No one wants to fail, but it is possible you will have a failing grade on occasion. Perhaps you simply did not have time to study for that test, or maybe you are struggling with a particular bit of information. Over the course of your nursing school career, one failed test or course (or even two or three) will not end your chances of becoming a nurse, so pick yourself up and move on.
Make Sure You Are Up to Date with Immunizations
Nurses must be fully immunized, both for their own protection and for the protection of their patients. Before you can even start clinicals, you will need to be current on your immunizations. Check with your doctor to see if you are due for any boosters or if it is time for your flu shot. Also, in the current medical world, make sure you are up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations, which most hospitals require for their staff. This will ensure there are no delays in starting your clinical training due to missing immunity.
What Do You Need for Nursing School?
So, what do you need, practically speaking, when preparing for nursing school? Comfortable shoes and scrubs are a must because much of the day will be spent on your feet working with patients once your clinical experiences start. A nursing watch, which is a special watch you can clip to the pocket of your uniform to count seconds while taking a pulse, is helpful. Many nurses benefit from a day planner that helps them map out their schedule on paper or a digital planner with alarms to help keep them on track, so they never miss a class or clinical.
The right school is also important. The American Sentinel College of Nursing & Health Science at Post University offers nursing degree programs to get you started. Our RN to BSN program is a popular choice for nurses who are ready to take the next step and take on an advanced degree. Reach out to our admissions team today to learn more about how you can get started on the path towards a nursing degree with our program.
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Please note jobs, career outcomes, and/or salaries highlighted in this blog do not reflect jobs, career outcomes, and/or salaries expected from any Post program. To learn more about Post’s program and their outcomes, please fill out a form to speak with an admissions representative.