Ok, I am a few days away from finishing my junior year of college, and my first year of nursing school. Let me tell you, I heard a lot of things when I decided on nursing. Everything from "nursing school's really competitive"
to "that is such an easy major" to "you're smart just be a doctor instead" (we'll address that one later) to "you're going to rake in the big bucks" to "have fun living in the library, I did" to "well you'll study really hard" and everything else and it's mother you could ever hear.
Do you truly want to know the hardest part of nursing school? There's several. Let's go in order shall we?
1. Applying. Ok so if you aren't blessed enough to get a seamless transfer into a competitive nursing program you spend the last 3 months of your sophomore year breaking out in night sweats and panic attacks waiting for "THE LETTERS". These are the letters that inform you if you are a. accepted, b. waitlisted, or c. declined. I was one of the unfortunate ones to transfer into my school who, therefore, needed a letter. The day they came out people were running to get their letters. Opening that letter was one of the MOST awful moments of my life. It didn't help that there were (in my mind) a million and a half people running around either jumping for joy or crying. You see, nursing pre-requisites are completely different than ANY other major, so if you don't get into your program you either wait and re-apply or you do extra classes and change majors. However, one of the greatest feelings was seeing Dear Kristin, CONGRATULATIONS!. No one knows what the letter said after that, because after the first CON- you don't read any further you just jump up and down thanking Jesus you got in.
Next hardest part, quarters, namely the first. That's right, most college programs are in semesters, 16 glorious weeks to learn material. Not nursing school. Your first eight weeks of school are spent in a few very key classes: Foundations of Nursing, Health Assessment, Pharmacology, and (in our case) Nursing Roles and Development.
The picture of those books is all the texts required for the first QUARTER. Anyway, the first quarter of nursing school you learn all the basics of nursing care: IV's, moving patients, how to assess different systems (all of them), commodes, bed pans, catheters, skin care, dressing changes, ted hose, legal stuff, communication types, neuro, cardio, pulmonary, x, y, z... it seems insane. Then in addition to that you learn DRUGS, lots and lots of drugs. You go through almost a quarter of your pharmacology book in 8 weeks. Oh my lands, so much to learn. You have NO free time. But the ABSOLUTE hardest part about the first quarter is that you go from thinking like yourself to thinking like a nurse. Your entire paradigm changes, and that makes your brain cry.
Alright, I'll stop my ranting about the first quarter. It was busy, and tiring and hard. Having now almost finished my first year, I can say the hardest part of nursing school (besides clinicals before you've even had the first class in some cases)is the pace. You have 8 weeks for the basics, then 8 weeks for OB and labor and delivery, then 8 weeks for medical/surgical 1 (aka adult 1), then 8 weeks for mental health. You are taking other classes in addition to these and working 8-12 hour shifts as a nurse for part of the week. The material isn't extremely difficult (luckily, if you think logically you can guess right more often than not) but it's that there's so much. In this school year I have learned the basics of nursing, pharmacology, child-bearing, general nursing, geriatric nursing, mental health nursing (which is a whole different animal) and so much more. Your brain becomes so suddenly full it feels like it might burst!
Then add the usual stressors of tests, finals, papers, projects (which are ALL group), reading assignments, a social life (ha), not enough sleep, working and everything else. Then please tack on being responsible for people's lives in the hospital, having screaming patients and patients' families, body fluids on your shoes (and hair and clothes and skin and anywhere else it can get), infectious diseases, terminal illness, HIPAA, assessing/observing/charting (which may mean someone getting life saving care or not), the emotional stress of the job... And then return on Monday to start all over again with your week. Not to mention the added stress of the NCLEX looming over you AT ALL TIMES, and finding a job in a crappy market (for those of us in Denver)...
So there you have it, life as a first year nursing student. Wouldn't have traded it for the world, because even after all the tough stuff, it is the greatest decision I've ever made. It brings me so much joy to be making a real difference (even as a student). So yes, it's very hard (don't let them tell you otherwise) but it's so worth it!
And as always, it wouldn't have happened without God and coffee!