How to survive nursing school, pass, AND have a life

**Because some people think you can’t have all three!

After taking almost 7 months off in the blogging world, I’ve finally felt some sort of motivation to get back into writing. I’m always afraid no one will care about what I have to say, so at times it makes absolutely no sense to me to even think about logging on here and blabbing.

Anyway, I’ll post soon about all life updates, but as some of you know, a huge part of my day-to-day life is nursing school. I’m not one to post about it much because one of my pet peeves is student nurse complaining (I’ll get to that more later). However, that complaining also inspired me to write this post. I get that things in life are hard – especially the journey to achieve the dreams we really want to come to fruition – but that doesn’t mean we have to experience misery and depression along the way. Nursing school is an adventure that I’m still learning how to conquer everyday, but find the fun in doing so!

A few of us girls with our clinical instructor. So much fun!

With that said, here are my tips and tricks to surviving nursing school, passing, AND having a life. That’s right! This isn’t an and/or statement – you can have all three!

MAKE SURE THIS IS WHAT YOU WANT! Nursing is not for everyone and it’s not meant to be. That’s why nursing school is hard. Your life is so much easier when you like what you’re learning and when you have a passion for your career. It definitely shows when someone isn’t happy with their job. That unhappiness spills over into every other aspect of life. Just think about it, when you’re a nurse you need to be happy with yourself in order to help someone else heal. I’ve been in the miserable-job-haters-club. I have my Masters in marketing and worked in the field for almost eight years before deciding that nursing was my calling. It took me a long time and a lot of convincing by friends already in nursing school and nursing school advisors that I have what it takes (mentally, emotionally, and logically!) to succeed in the nursing field. Five-year-old me knew what I was supposed to be.

Dive in to your subject matter! This is a game changer for me. I know everyone doesn’t have the opportunity to work somewhere as a nursing aid or tech, but reach out to local hospitals or doctor offices and see if you can shadow for a day. Even better – take full advantage of your clinical! They are a time meant to learn and put the pieces together of what you’re learning in class and how it’s applied in real life. I’m a float nursing assistant at a local hospital and learn so much! I listen to what the patients are saying. I listen to their doctors. I watch procedures, take mental notes, make connections with what I’ve learned in class, ask the nurses questions, ask if I can participate in an experience with them. Reading about a disease or procedure and seeing the actual thing in real life are two completely different things!

Instead of taking five minutes to complain or post a meme on social media about how hard nursing school is…and then falling into the rabbit hole of useless trash about your cousin’s sister’s best friend’s ex’s life, STUDY! This one is so perplexing to me. I always wonder if the ones who devote all this time to social media see a correlation in their grades and time spent complaining/venting. Yes, we all need to vent, but it has to be productive venting. Find a solution to your problem instead of dragging everyone else in your nursing page into yours. Encourage one another online. Post helpful study tips or ways to remember something tricky. Use social for good. Don’t spread stress!

You have to find a way of studying that works for you. I know that’s easier said than done, but you’ll see your grades soar if you can do this! Whether it’s group studying, reading everything and anything, or visual techniques, you have to find your fit – not the technique that works for your friend who gets high scores every test. For me, I’ve found success in studying alone and during my travel time. Group studies tend to turn into social sessions and “well my professor said this” and “ATI didn’t answer that question like that.” Too many conflicting ideas and thought processes make me second guess what I already feel confident in. When I’m commuting to school, clinical, or work (an hour each way for me!), I turn on a Youtube video, podcast, or professor’s recordings and stream them over my car’s bluetooth. I have nothing better to do in my car, so I *try* to use that time wisely.

Sometimes I have to get creative in order to remember things

REST! I can’t say this enough!!! If I am tired, I stop studying. I do not stay up late to attempt and cram matter into my brain that I know I won’t comprehend the next day. It does no good. Nothing sticks. No rest = eventual sickness = more time lost to study.

Use all your resources! There are so many materials out there to help you achieve success. Some of my favorites are Khan Academy and RegisteredNurseRN. Both break materials down into simple concepts that help you remember what you need to know. I also love NCLEX prep books because they focus on teaching you HOW to answer a question and what to focus on.

Instagram: @bdavies227

Read rationales! Whatever system your school uses for class (ATI, The Point, Elsevier, Kaplan), utilize every source of information you have available to you! When you’re answering questions. Read all the rationales, even if you answered the question correctly. One of my professors urges us to do this because you may have answered correctly, but your process and reasoning behind the answer may be incorrect.

And finally…HAVE FUN! There is always something new to learn everyday in any healthcare field. That’s a huge reason why I decided to switch careers. I get very bored when my life is repetitive and I swear I develop some kind of ADHD because I just can’t focus if I’m not interested in something. Nursing school, clinical, and work have always kept me on my toes. If I’m not learning something new everyday, something is definitely wrong.

If you’re deciding to go to nursing school, in nursing school, or a survivor of nursing school, I hope the one thing this post brings to you is a peace of mind that it is achievable. Anything is if you have a fire inside and want to change something.

Instagram: @bdavies227

I’d love to hear from future, current, and past RN students. What advice do you have to make the journey easier? What are your fears entering nursing school? What are your favorite nursing school memories? Let’s all encourage and help one another become better people and great nurses!

**disclaimer: I completely understand that not every topic comes easy to everyone, but I do believe in the power of positive thought. A positive mindset can do wonders for you in anything! Go into nursing school with the mindset that you can and will do great! Don’t poison your experience with negative thoughts.

12 thoughts on “How to survive nursing school, pass, AND have a life

  1. Margaret says:

    Hi Brittany,
    Nice to meet you here and read such a refreshing post.
    I live in north west England, aged 64 yrs and started my nursing career as a cadet aged 16 yrs wanting to leave school as soon as possible & ‘get in there’. I never, ever regret entering the nursing profession going on to become a registered nurse and midwife, a public health nurse (Health Visitor). I worked full time with no career breaks until aged 55 years spending 29 years as a Health Visitor working in England & Northern Ireland. Your post helps me appreciate what I had & yes you can have it all. Thank you for making my day 🙂


    • Brittany Davies says:

      Thank you so much for the kind words, Margaret! I love hearing from other nurses who have led a career that they love(d). It gives me hope! I’ll stay connected with you on here so we can keep up with one another’s journeys! Hope you have a great day!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Margaret says:

        You’re welcome. Strange how sometimes it is only on looking back you realise how fortunate & blessed you have been pursuing your dreams.
        Look forward to sharing our respective journeys.
        Have a nice day slso🙂


  2. Margaret says:

    Reblogged this on Impossible Becomes Possible and commented:
    So refreshing to meet Brittany as she traverses the world of nursing.
    I retired from Health Visiting (public health nursing) aged 55 years in 2010.
    It has been my intention now for a long time to write a memoir and hopefully by exchanging ideas with Brittany I will be able to achieve my dream and offer support to Brittany along the way.
    I did have that fire inside and I like to think I helped people achieve change in their lives. I certainly feel that fire still burns and I try in various areas of my life to bring about change.


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