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.