Saturday, December 18, 2010

Estelle's Guide to Nursing School: Part 1 - So, you were accepted into the nursing program. Now what?

Hello my darlings.

I was looking for inspiration for a new blog series and it just hit me like a baby grand piano dropped from the 57th story of an apartment building. Seriously. It has been right in front of me this whole time and I don't know how I didn't see it before.
A series of articles on how to survive and maybe even thrive in nursing school.
I am almost a little sad when I look back on my blog and realize that I didn't keep as good of a record of my nursing school exploits as I should have. Being that I am in my last semester (or will be when classes start in a few short weeks), I am feeling nostalgic and looking back over the past two years, I have come to realize that I really wish I had gotten some "no-bullshit/no-holds-barred" advice on what I was in for.
So here it is, my doves.
But let's start from the very, very beginning.

I received my nursing school acceptance letter in mid-June and classes didn't start until August. This time elapse offered me nearly two months to go stir-crazy while I counted the days until I could first walk into the classroom and get my learnin' on.
If I had realized at the time that I could have used those two months to prepare, my first semester would have gone a bit more smoothly.

That begs the questions, loves, after you have received your acceptance letter to your nursing program, what do you do before class starts?

1. Celebrate!
You just received great news. Nursing schools is the US have notoriously long waiting lists and incredibly high standards. If you were accepted that means out of all the applicants the school received, the board who choose them believed that you have what it takes to make it through the rigorous course set before you.

2. Don't Panic. Seriously.
If you got in that means you have probably spent the past few years of your life devoted to taking the prerequisites and jumping over various hurtles to get here. All of a sudden, it becomes real. It isn't just, "Oh, I am working on getting into the nursing program"-anymore. It's "I'm a nursing student." That can be a little scary. Just don't start doubting yourself before it even begins.

3. Fuck what the Haters say.
Word of your success is going to get out. It might be by a mass text message to all the contacts in your cell phone (including the Indian food restaurant around the corner), a Facebook wall posting ("ZOMG. Guess who just got their acceptance letter, bitches?!? You can suck it, Med school!"), or by your parents writing it on their car in those chalk marker pen things. Eventually, you'll start hearing "NURSING SCHOOL HORROR STORIES" (:::cue spooky music:::). It seems like everybody and their semi-literate cousin has gone to nursing school and has flucked out. You'll hear the stories about horrible instructors, going weeks without sleep, encounters with nurses that make your hair stand on end. Trust me, you'll hear it all. Just know that these people are trying to scare you. Because they suck.
Also, know that the people who have a difficult time during nursing school (I include myself in this), 4 outta 5x, they do it to themselves. In the end, YOU set your own path.

4. Clean house. Literally.
The time requirement of nursing school is, to put in plainly, a fuck-ton (yeah, I know, I am telling "NURSING SCHOOL HORROR STORIES" now). When you are buried under a mountain of assignments and projects, the last thing you want to worry about is dealing with a bookshelf that hasn't seen a feather duster in two months.
Not only will cleaning yo nasty, nasty house (or bedroom) provide you with a much needed distraction during the weeks leading up to the start of school, it'll also help make the first few weeks of class run a little smoother because it is one less thing to worry about.

5. Clean house. Figuratively.
We all have those friends. You know, those friends (or in my case, those family members). They seems to attract drama and discontent where ever they go and you cringe when you see their name come up on your caller ID because you know they only call or wanna be in your life when it is convenient for them.
It's time to pull the rip-cord on those toxic relationships. Seriously. End them once and for all. Time is a precious commodity in nursing school and the last thing you need is to deal with their crap.

6. Be in a stable relationship or none at all.
(Okay. So sometimes, I don't follow my own advice but, seriously, learn from my mistakes.) Your life is about to be turned upside down for the next 2 (or 4) years. If you are in a relationship, the person you are with needs to understand that. Be realistic and honest with them about what they can expect from you. You might miss date night because you have a paper due at 0700 the next day. You might not be able to celebrate your birthday (or worse, theirs) with them because you are at a coffee shop with your study group working on medication cards until 11pm the night before a clinical day that starts at 0630.
If you don't think that the relationship you are currently in can withstand the strain of what you are about to encounter, it is better to know that now and deal with it while you still have time than to find out the week before finals and end up failing the class (actually happened to a classmate of mine).

7. Don't get knocked up.
Girls: Get on birth control and be responsible about taking it. Not only will it keep you from getting pregnant, but your period will be more predictable (which it might not be otherwise because the stress may through your cycle off).
Guys: Buy some condoms and (if you are getting laid) use them.
Don't get me wrong. Babies are awesome. And I know several of my classmates who got pregnant during nursing school, took some time off, had their babies, and then came back to the program. And I understand that life sometimes happens and these things can't be avoided.
BUT, if it can be avoided, try. You really don't needed the added stress of a pregnancy (or a pregnancy me on this one) right now. And just think about how much better the quality of life will be for your future children after you graduate with your new, shiny degree.

8. Get your debt under control.
Ideally, this should be done WAY before you get your letter. Nursing school is expensive and you really don't want your hard earned $$$ going to interest payments when they could be spent on something more useful, like a sweet stethoscope or the new edition of Taber's medical dictionary (or a big-ass bottle of Excedrin Migraine...because you are going to need it).

9. Take care of yourself.
If you don't already, start taking your vitamins. Eat "good-for-you" foods. Exercise.
Realistically, you probably won't do any of these things. Your diet will consist of whatever you grab in between classes from the vending machines and fast food on your way to or from clinicals. The most exercise you'll get is sprinting to class with a bizillion pound booksack and arrive only moments before the instructor locks you out for being tardy (talk about getting your heart racing).
But if you start now with some of these changes, who knows? They might actually stick.
Also, I am serious about the vitamin thing. Take 'em.

10. Take care of all that other crap.
In your excitement, you might not have read your letter closely. Read it again. Pay attention to dates. Do you need to send a letter back to the program accepting the spot they offered you? What about tuition payments, uniforms, drug screenings, background checks and all that other non-exciting/paperwork-type stuff they want you to do before you can actually start learning stuff and saving lives?
Do it early. You have worked too hard to let something like this derail your plans now.

Now it's your turn, my amazing readers.
What are you doing to prepare for the upcoming semester? Or what did you wish you had done?
Also, let me know what you would like to hear about from my vast knowledge of how to survive nursing school with (most of) your sanity intact.

The opinions and statements in the above article are my own and in no way reflect the thoughts and opinions of my educational institute, clinical sites, family, friends, pet goldfish "Gizmo," or any other person, place, thing, vegetable or mineral.
The above article is not meant to offend. But if it does, lighten the fuck up. Seriously.
The above article was written for this blog (Word Lust) by me (Estelle Darling). If you would like to share it with others, please feel free but also remember to credit. If you don't and try to pass it off as your own writing, you are just a tool.]


CaLLie.ANN said...

I can NOT EVEN TELL YOU how STOKED I am about this series.

I feel like sending you a card, or something.

Ugh. I'm in love.

Estelle Darling said...

Awww. Thank you, Callie.
Actually, you were a big part of the inspiration for it. ;-)

Jordan said...

I am not a nursing student, but still found this to be thoroughly awesome.

Zazzy Episodes said...

I am a nursing student and am totally excited for the actual start date of my classes. Thanks for all the advice! #1 YAY ME! #2 self doubting myself at times sucks. I know I've come this far, but I can't help but wonder if I should be a nurse or if I'll be any good of a nurse, #3 I even had a girl ask me from across a crowded room what my GPA was that got me into the competitive nursing program. I was like "really"; I didn't even know the girl. #4 This Tuesday is my last final of the current semester and I've totally got a list a mile long on what areas to clean first. #5 I pretty much pruned all the weeds outta my life to this point. #6 Praise the Lord my hubby is as supportive as he is, otherwise I'd be up a creek. Don't have to worry about #7, had my two kids, hubby is fixed, we're good to go. #8 has been a recent project for my hubby and I'm grateful he's taking that on. #9 is a work in progress, but I keep trying. #10 I think I've memorized each date and time from my letter. Haha, thanks for all of your good advice. I'll be checking back for more to read as time allows.

Anonymous said...

Just reading this stresses me out.


K. Reid said...

Thanks for this, I haven't gotten into nursing school yet, but just made a career change decision to go back to school and pursue an ADN then BSN. I wish somebody gave me a list like this before I completed my BA. Another thing to ask, does the school you attend really matter once you get your license? And is there any studying I should be doing to prepare for my first semester, or should I hold onto my free time while I still can?

Jamie Higgins said...

I know this was written 4 years ago but I just found this series on pinterest and I can not even explain how flippin excited I am that I found it. I start in the fall but am taking 1 class this summer and I have felt like I am drowning a bit. This definitely gives me some tools and some confidence. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

Estelle said...

OMG. I am so excited people still find what i say relevant. Haha.

Jessica Townsend said...

I was thrilled beyond words to find this blog, and this series. I received my letter back in the beginning of May (2 weeks later than everyone else, because it went to the wrong address), and had 3.5 months to freak out. I have been working through all of the things in the letter, and trying to get organized. This blog is going to be invaluable to me. THANK YOU!


Scared, anxious, but excited Nursing Student said...

Yes!! I am so glad I found this blog. I haven't found any good ones!! I even started my own just to document my experiences!

Jennifer said...

I am so happy to have found you!!!! Pinterest is awesome! I am a "non-traditional student" which is a fancy way of them saying that you are two days older than dirt and trying to reinvent yourself! I start school in January and your blog has helped me use the time productively and also to help me laugh through my nervousness! From your new dedicated reader, Jennifer Martinez

Elle said...

So I just found you last night on Pinterest and can I just tell you that I seriously think we're twins separated at birth? We have a similar sense of humor, you approached nursing school the same way I did (only much smarter - you made it through, I'm a repeat offender), and your blogger name is Estelle while mine is Elle. Seriously. It's like a bad Hallmark movie. Anyway, I am in love with your blog and all of your posts. As someone who is currently attempting nursing school again, you can bet your ass that I'm reading your guide to nursing school and as someone who has been there and done some of that, I'm finding myself nodding my head and chuckling quite a bit. Rock on girlfriend! You're awesome!

Tonji said...

I am SOOOOOO grateful for this! (As well as of few of my fellow 1st semester classmates) Not only is it entertaining, but it's imformative! I love to hear (read) different aspects of the journey I've chosen to take.

Jack Morgan said...

It’s my first time to visit this site & I’m really surprised to see such impressive stuff out there.JERRY

tasha garrett said...

thank you so much for doing this! I just found these and I'm so grateful! they are perfect!