While all nurses face high levels of stress on the job, student nurses shoulder a particularly challenging load. Student-nurse stress contributes to substantial upset and career questioning.
Student nurses must cope with an incredibly rigorous course load of school work, often while juggling time-consuming clinicals as well. They have one foot in the door of academia and one foot in the door of the working world, but student nurses haven’t yet mastered either one.
Because they are students, they are still learning and studying to earn a degree. They are faced with the pressure to attend every class and keep top grades. Any kind of sickness or illness can lead to a setback big enough to push back a graduation date, so they keep plowing forward at any cost. If they are lucky, they have attentive, understanding, compassionate, and inspiring professors. If they are not, the process can be a grind.
While student nurses are putting all their efforts into school, they are simultaneously acclimating to real-life nursing situations and working relationships in their mandatory clinicals. They are faced with the newbie syndrome where they have to learn complex medical information and delicate patient interactions on their feet while trying to adjust to the fast pace of a unit.
How can you cope with student-nurse stress?
Take Time Off
Yes, it sounds pretty ridiculous to take time for you when you have a million things to do. But part of a professional nurse’s skill set includes self care. If you cannot take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take the best care of your patients either. Learn now what works for you and keep at it. Maybe it’s just one small thing that makes you feel good and doesn’t really take time. Listening to books or your favorite music on your drive is a big stress buster and easy to do. Care for yourself so you have enough left to balance everything else successfully.
Professional nurses also know this important fact – nurses know nurses. When you’re struggling with a tough patient, a demanding supervisor, or just the sheer workload you’ve got, another nursing student will get it. Join a group of fellow nursing students or even check out online forums for nursing success. Knowing you aren’t alone helps when things get tough.
You might want to plow through a brutally tough semester just to get some hard classes out of the way, but can you keep it up? If you can’t give it your best, you risk some real professional, academic, and emotional ramifications. You want to set the bar high, but you want to know what you can handle at your optimal level and work with that. Learning to set goals and limits can actually help you succeed because you are reaching high but not beyond what is realistic.
Professors, supervisors, patients – they are all people, too (even if they don’t always seem like it!). Get to know the people you work with and for. Chat with your professors about classwork and any area where you are struggling or where you are excelling. Ask your clinical advisor about working methods, improving your skills, or professional development. Talk to your patients so you can hear their stories and remember why you are getting into this profession. Feeling those connections will ground you and give you confidence.
Student nurses have a lot to juggle, but with a few tweaks here and there, they can manage student-nurse stress during this hectic and pressure-filled time successfully.
School’s back in session and that means lots of studying to make the grade for your ultimate goal of becoming a nurse. Maybe you need to brush up on your studying skills since it’s been awhile since you’ve been in school or summer break was extremely long for you.
Here are some study tips to make the transition back to school easier.
Read and then summarize. After reading your study materials (books, class notes, etc.) summarize them by highlighting the important points and then copying them in your own handwriting. It’s important to not only highlight, but to actually copy notes in your own handwriting- not typing them out. Why? Because when you write your notes your brain absorbs more of the information if you have to form the words instead of mindlessly typing them. I know this sounds time consuming, but you will remember so much more by writing your notes out.
Write your notes out in an easy-to-read format. During my grad school years I used a combination of techniques to absorb the vast amount of material. One particular method that worked well for me was to make study questions out of my notes. I wrote the notes out on notebook paper and also on index cards. This, again, is a lot of work but well worth it considering. I used the index cards to study while I was at work.
Take breaks. Pacing yourself when you are in study mode is important. I know some people like to pull all-nighters, but studies have shown you don’t retain as much information with long study sessions. Try to make it a point to alternate studying for 30 minutes and taking a break for 10 minutes. Use that break to walk, stretch, or grab a snack.
Take care of yourself. It’s hard to take time out to care for yourself when you have to worry about work, family commitments, and school. Now that you’re in school you have to take time out for yourself now more than ever. You shouldn’t neglect yourself because if you don’t care for yourself, no one will! Make it a point to exercise regularly, eat healthy and get plenty of sleep each night.
Get involved in study groups. Some people are solo studiers, but they may be missing out on benefits of group study. Meeting with a small group (3-4 people) at least once a week can boost your study progress simply by repetition and hearing the information out loud. Only meet with others to study after you have gone over your material on your own. When you meet, speaking to others will cement the information in your brain and others in the group may help you understand a concept you were struggling with or give you information you may have overlooked previously.
Hopefully these tips will make the transition back to school easier. What other study tips do you have for the new school year?
With the national push for more BSN prepared RN’s, many nurses are considering completing a RN to BSN program. For the experienced RN these programs can be pretty straight forward, completed online or on campus and in as little as 12-18 months.
Completing a BSN program is major decision that needs careful planning.
Before enrolling in a program there are some factors to take into consideration:
Make sure the school is regionally and nationally accredited by proper authorities in your state. The last thing you want to do is complete a degree and not have it recognized by your state’s nursing board. Accreditation is also important if you want to continue your education towards a master’s or doctoral degree in the future.
Take a close look at the course requirements to see if you are ready for the commitment and rigors of being a student again.
Look at the course formats and make sure they suit your learning style. Courses can be delivered in a variety of ways: online, face-to-face, or hybrid. Inquire about day, evening and weekend classes that would work with your schedule. Whatever you choose, remember that going back to school will affect your lifestyle.
Last, but not least, inquire about the costs of the program and incorporate school expenses; tuition, books, supplies, ect into your budget.
In addition to working as a FNP, Nachole Johnson is a freelance copywriter and an author with her first book, You’re a Nurse and Want to Start Your Own Business? The Complete Guide, available on Amazon. Visit her ReNursing blog at www.renursing.com for more ideas on how to reinvent your career
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