When you think of returning to school, you likely envision yourself in a classroom, taking notes during a lecture. And while you will do some of that in nursing school, as an educational program, it’s truly unlike any other. In a nursing school, you’ll get first-hand experience almost on day one. Many nursing programs switch between lecture and lab days; in the latter, you’ll learn practical skills like administering IVs or checking patients’ vital signs. In fact, some nursing schools start your clinical rotations during the first semester, which means you’ll gain experience providing patient care early on. That’s right! Attending nursing school allows you to jump right into the field essentially right away.
Of course, you’ll need great scrubs for school, but workwear isn’t the only key to success. Below, we’ll explain what your nursing student responsibilities will look like and how you can set yourself up for success from the start.
Things you’ll do as a nursing student
Being a nursing student can start to feel like practicing as a registered nurse (just with a lot more studying in your free time). During nursing school, you’ll work under supervision to provide patient care and learn the tasks you’ll someday have to perform solo. Here’s what you can expect to do on the days you’re not sitting in lectures or studying from home:
- Get patient assignments: Your supervisor or nurse practitioner in your clinical setting will assign you, certain patients, for the day, and you’ll have to get familiar with their cases and treatment plans.
- Administer medications: With your supervisor’s approval, you’ll administer medicines to the patients in your care. You’ll have to ensure patients receive their meds at the right intervals and dosages.
- Assist patients: You’ll help patients with everyday tasks like eating, bathing, and dressing.
- Charting: As a nursing student, you’ll start on your long future of charting, which is the art of maintaining comprehensive medical records for your patients. You’ll have to document your interactions day in and day out, including information about treatment, medication, symptoms, and the patient’s overall condition.
Nursing: an ever-changing job
As a nurse, you should always expect the unexpected. No two days on the job are alike, and you’ll learn this during the clinical experiences of your nursing education.
The ever-changing nature of your job in a fast-paced healthcare setting may keep things exciting, but it also demands that you stay on your toes. And, we don’t just mean that you’ll literally be on your feet a lot. It’s important to come to your shift prepared with all the tools you need—from stethoscope to medical shears to reference guides—so you’re prepared for whatever situation comes your way. This will help you in your professional development.
Tips for being a successful nursing student
Nursing school strikes a unique balance: Some days, you’ll feel like a college student, while on others, you’ll feel like you’re already on the job. Here are some tips for succeeding during your study time and clinical rotations:
- Identify your study style: Make the most of your time preparing for exams or the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) by determining how you study best. Do you like to study alone or in a group? Do you prefer flashcards or digital study aids? Do you work best in a completely silent place or like the challenge of focusing amid a few distractions? Everyone studies differently, and only you can identify what’s right for you.
- Get a nursing student job: If you have the bandwidth to take on a part-time job, try to get one in the medical field. It’ll give you an opportunity to gain more experience and network with other healthcare professionals. This will allow you to give your resume a boost by mentioning the initiatives or volunteer work you were a part of and earn a few letters of recommendation. Plus, you’ll make some extra cash to help you keep up with bills or pay down student loans. And, if you do need student loans, don’t forget to apply for nursing student scholarships and financial aid opportunities.
- Take breaks: Nursing school is intense, whether or not you have a part-time job outside of it. Don’t overbook yourself, and schedule time for breaks. You work more efficiently and feel better when you have time to recharge.
- Take care of yourself: Self-care is an essential part of any nursing student’s daily schedule. Nurses work in emotionally and physically demanding environments, and this takes a toll on their minds and body. If it feels right for you, talk to a therapist or join a support group. Make sure to take care of yourself by preparing nutritious meals, staying hydrated, and getting plenty of sleep. This will help you minimize stress and the risk of burnout. Plus, when you take better care of yourself, it translates to better patient care.
- Manage your time: This is a study skill that’ll also help you in your nursing career. As a nurse, you’ll have to arrive at the hospital on time and start the day’s work promptly. You can’t afford to get behind when you have several patients under your care and charting to keep up with. So, plan the day ahead and schedule a time to eat and rest. Don’t forget to consider other factors like your commute, time with the family, and social events. Managing your time well means factoring in all your commitments.
- Ask for help when needed: As a nursing student and even as a licensed registered nurse, you’re bound to have a question from time to time. Don’t be ashamed to speak up. If you don’t understand a concept or feel overwhelmed, get help. Doing so can result in a positive patient outcome (and help you avoid a negative one).
- Set realistic goals: Remember, there are only 24 hours in the day, and while you’re a superhero at the hospital, you’re still only human. Set realistic study goals and plan your time sensibly. You’ll gain a sense of satisfaction when you’re able to tick off the tasks you’d set out to do instead of getting frustrated when you can’t fulfill an amount of work you couldn’t reasonably get done.
- Be proactive: Being proactive is one of the most important soft skills great nurses possess. Think critically about patient care, and try to get ahead of any issues by promptly reporting changes in an individual’s condition. Also, stay proactive in your studies. Try to make time for your NCLEX prep.
If you’re about to start your nursing practice, we’re happy to welcome you to a life of wearing scrubs. The good news? Your workwear is pretty comfortable. We’ll be here to support you throughout your career—from your BSN to MSN and DNP—with performance scrubs that look and feel great. Even better news? You can wear scrubs to nursing school, and that too at a discounted price. Put your Jaanuu student discount to use today!