First year of nursing school

In the spring I completed my first year of my Bachelor of Science in Nursing. I thought I would share my experience of workload, enjoyment + anything else I found interesting or helpful. This is my honest + raw experience from my first year, and I wish I had got some perspective into what nursing school would have been like before I started. Everyone’s experience is different, and yours might have been or will be different than mine, and thats ok! I get a lot of questions over on my Instagram from aspiring nurses so my nursing friends and I will be filming a Q+A next week that you can go check out on Youtube.

If you still have any questions after reading this post, leave me a comment or send me a DM over on my Instagram + I will add them to the Youtube video!

I always knew I wanted to be a nurse, but getting into nursing proved a much harder feat than I had originally expected. It took me total of 5 years to finally receive my acceptance into the Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Little did I know that my journey was about to get a whole lot harder. Anyone who thinks nursing school is a breeze, is seriously gifted or totally lying..IMO they’re lyinnnngggg. Is nursing school impossible? No. But its definitely not a walk in the park. You have to dedicate days, weeks, months + years of having basically no life while you are studying, completing clinical hours and learning skills. I kept casual employment at the recreation centre that I work at and I was able to pick up shifts if I had time. I know some students kept a full-time job, but I honestly do not how they were still walking by the end of the week. Your physical and mental health are challenged every single day and resilience and self care are of the utmost importance – Seriously our curriculum included a whole week that was dedicated to resilience so if this is the first time you are hearing the word, and you are an aspiring nurse, just you wait!

Clinical Experience –

Clinical was one of my favourite learning activities during my first year. It is so eye opening, you learn so much in a short time + you finally start to understand and apply everything you learned in a class/lab setting into real practice. The experiences I shared with my patients humbled me, and made me realize that this was really what I wanted to do. It is sometimes hard to be motived to get up and go to school; however, clinical prep always excited me and never felt like a chore. It was a wild ride between emotions, nerves + organization. I always felt like the days went by so fast because I didn’t have a moment to breathe. I just ran around for 5-8 hours and enjoyed every minute of it. There can be a lot of anxiety surrounding clinical because your every move is being watched, evaluated + judged by your clinical instructor, your patients + other healthcare workers.I won’t lie, I was sick to my stomach every single day of clinical, and although most people won’t admit to it, I know I wasn’t the only one. Invest in ample amounts of Pepto Bismol, Imodium, ect if you know what I mean…LOL. Do all of your prep work and I promise, clinical will be your favourite part of nursing school.

I know nursing students/nurses always get the questions: How do you do it? How are you not emotionally drained? My response to that is simple, I do get emotionally drained. I experienced my first death as a student during my term 3 clinical and it shook me. As a student, or as a qualified nurse there are always going to be instances where the circumstances do not go as planned and patients do pass away, or you have to be strong and supportive to ease suffering. Nothing you read, nothing you practice + nothing you think you know already will prepare you for that. Everyone deals with things differently, but my advice to future nursing students is to make a friend or friends in nursing school. Your fellow nursing students can understand and provide support to you if you feel like you need it. Also find out what types of counselling services are available to you through your institution – these are a great free resource if you are struggling

Making friends + Nursing Cliques –

This is always a huge topic of discussion in the nursing community. Historically nurses are known for “eating their young”. Which is a ridiculously comical statement, but it still does happen. Think about high school mean girls except there are limited male voices to even out the noise – haha. In my personal experience, don’t waste time trying to be everyone’s friend, even if you are nice there are always going to mean people regardless of your career choice. My mum as well as three of my best friends are nurses – Tara + Sydney (the pretty little blondies with me in the photo) + Ellena a longtime childhood friend of mine. So I had a lot of support outside of school with them giving me advice + helping me navigate my first year which was super helpful. However, I met my ride or die in second term – Ashley (there is funny story with this that we may or might share in the Youtube video). I do not think I could have got through the rest of first year without her. From last min cramming for tests, to chugging mojitos – It is so important to have someone that gets what you are going through completely because they are literally living reality with you.

Workload + Tips that helped me –

The workload is entirely manageable as long as you don’t fall behind. Stay on top of notes and power points. Go to class (Ashley is secretly judging me for this specific piece of advice as I am known for not attending lectures sometimes..) I am not a huge textbook reader. I do have textbooks for reference if I feel as though I need more clarity on a subject; however, I rarely completed my pre-readings prior to class. I know that some students liked to read as they felt that it prepared them. It might be an unpopular opinion but I thought it was a waste of time that could be used to be doing other things.

I hand wrote condensed notes pages with all the essential diagrams for every unit. I colour coded everything as I feel like it helps with recall for me. Study times for me varied depending on the content so I don’t have an accurate timeframe for how much time you should put aside for studying material. The most time consuming prep work was for clinical so be prepared to spend at least two hours the evening before a clinical day – there is nothing worse than showing up to clinical unprepared. TRUST ME. Not only will you feel completely embarrassed when you are put on the spot and don’t have an answer, but it will be quite apparent to your clinical instructor that you didn’t put in sufficient effort.

Resources that helped me prepare/study/learn –

  • Nurse Labs – This helps so much when you are preparing your clinical care plans. There are so many free resources on this website for nursing assessment + therapeutic/pharmacological interventions.
  • Davis Drug Guide – This is a website + app that you have to buy, but it is so so helpful. When giving medication in clinical you will have to know so much information about the drug, mechanism of action, dose ect. This is impossible to memorize, even pharmacists look stuff up and you most likely will be asked to have a drug card made for the drugs you are giving your patient. Anyways this saves you A LOT of time!
  • White board – This saves paper and helps you memorize things, if you are someone that remembers by muscle memory like writing notes out you can write things out over and over, draw diagrams + then erase them and write/draw them again – great study tool
  • Erasable pens – Get these and thank me later – so useful and I got the erasable felt pens too. They are a dream for notes! Much better than a pencil or a pen and white out!

-xo, meg

Nursing

meg danielle View All →

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