A nursing career comes with great rewards and responsibilities. To hold this important role, you’ll need to prepare yourself in the classroom and on the floor. It might sound like a lot of work, but take it from us: It’s worth it!
So, what is nursing school like, and why is it so difficult? In short, nursing programs are rigorous because they prepare you for challenging work. You’ll have patients’ lives on your hands, and they’ll be grateful to receive care from a highly trained professional.
In this article, we’ll cover all the basics: how to get into nursing school, how to pass nursing school and how to survive those tough moments and avoid burnout. You’ve got this.
What do you need to get into nursing school?
The road to nursing school is similar to many college application processes. Even though we call it “nursing school,” what you’re actually earning is an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Read on to learn exactly what the route to nursing school looks like.
1. Get your high school degree or GED: If you’ve completed high school, congrats! You’re already off to the races. If you haven’t, you’ll need to first earn your GED.
2. Research school-specific requirements: Once you have an idea of what school you’d like to attend, you’ll have to research this institution’s specific entrance requirements. These requisites will depend on whether you plan to earn an Associate Degree in Nursing or Bachelor of Science in Nursing. If you plan to specialize later on in your nursing career, a BSN is a way to go, as certain specialization programs won’t accept an ADN.
Not sure what to expect in the way of prerequisites? Here are some common ones:
- A grade of C or higher in one year of high-school biology
- A grade of C or higher in one year of high-school chemistry
- A grade of C or higher in one year of high-school math
- A minimum GPA of 2.75 (for ADN programs) or 3.0 (for BSN programs). The average GPA for nursing school entry will depend on the institution.
- SAT or TEAS (Test of Essential Academic Skills) exam results
3. Think about finances: Nursing school comes at a cost (and we don’t just mean all those long nights of studying). You’ll want to research financial aid options, scholarships, grants and loans.
4. Apply: This is the easiest step thus far. Read up on the admissions requirements for the schools you’re considering and fill out their respective applications. Write your personal essay from the heart, and let your passion guide your responses. Some universities may require an entrance exam, but don’t let this hold you back. You’ll be able to ace it with the knowledge you already have.
How hard is nursing school?
It depends on who you ask, but we’ll be the first to say, nursing school is no walk in the park. Nevertheless, getting your nursing degree is incredibly worthwhile, and the challenges—while many—are manageable. Plus, you’ll be supported by a community of colleagues in the same boat. Here are some of the top difficulties that nursing students face:
You’ll be taking on many courses to earn the credits you need, which means that you won’t be able to fall behind on preparing for tests or completing your homework. This requires not only stamina but stellar time-management skills. If you plan to work part- or full-time while attending nursing school, look for online programs or ones with flexible schedules. And don’t underestimate the level of effort you’ll need to put in. Nursing courses are challenging, both in long hours and hard work.
Nursing school can be costly, and if you’re taking out loans to complete the process, that may weigh heavy on you (and understandably so!). But before you stress, stop and take a deep breath. Remember that after graduating, you have a bright career outlook and can make a plan to pay off any remaining debt.
Hands-on experience can feel more demanding than hitting the books, but this work is essential, and it offers a good peek into what your nursing career may look like on a daily basis.
A strong nursing program will prepare you well for this exam, and you can even research universities’ pass rates before entering a particular school. But studying for and passing such a major exam can be a huge stressor. After all, this test will determine whether you can become certified as a registered nurse (RN).
Tips for overcoming challenges and having an enjoyable experience
Practice time management
If you’re stressing about your heavy workload, time management is your best friend. Study a little bit every day, keep up with your coursework and try not to cram or pull too many all-nighters. Make a study guide that prepares you for the NCLEX, so that you’re not spinning your wheels reviewing material that might not be covered on the exam. And remember that not all study time needs to be dedicated time. For example, you can make flashcards and leave them around your home to run through whenever you have a second.
Make a study plan
Not everyone studies the same way, and that’s ok. In nursing school, you’ll have to do what works best for you. Some recommend forming a study group to provide you with some moral support and help you bounce ideas and questions off your peers. If you prefer to go it alone, stick to a plan and find your personal studying style (skim-reading, recording, and re-listening to lectures or hand-writing notes).
Remember the importance of self-care
Don’t underestimate the power of taking a break. And never underestimate the importance of your own mental health. Self-care isn’t just about running a bath and lighting some candles (though we can definitely get behind that, too). You can also take care of yourself by attending a yoga or meditation class, taking a walk or talking things out with your therapist.
Why is nursing school worth it?
Nursing school prepares you for one of the most important healthcare careers out there. Your nursing education won’t be a quick or easy ride, but it doesn’t need to be. Someday, when you start out on the job, you’ll be glad that you spent all that time preparing yourself to provide great patient care.
Let us help keep you comfortable as you take on all those hours of studying and tough exams. You have our moral support and also a student discount.