Everybody lies. Yeah. Just go ahead and admit it now.
Your best friend DOES look fat in those jeans. Your mother-in-law’s casserole the other night WAS NOT the best you have ever eaten. You really ARE embarrassed to be seen with your boyfriend when he is wearing that super-fashionable “Big Dick’s Taxidermy. I mount anything” t-shirt [anyone? No? Is this just the winners I’ve dated?].
Anyway, some people lie by omission. They don’t give you all the information you need to be fully prepared for what you might experience. I, my dear readers, would never lie to you. (Well, actually, I would…but for argument’s sake, let’s just say I wouldn’t.) I want you to have all the information you need so you can be successful in your nursing school career.
Now before I start, let’s get one thing perfectly clear. Knowing what I know now…knowing how difficult it would be and how hard I would have to fight to get to where I am…knowing how much time and energy it would take…would I choose nursing school again?
Yes. But I am also a bit of a masochist.
Also, something else we should get clear. The advice I offer on this blog comes from my own personal experience from nursing school and I have no way of knowing what your program or experience will be like. So take everything I say with a grain of salt, okay? And maybe a shot of tequila.
So here we are darlings. These are the 50 things I wish I had known before starting nursing school.
1. Getting into the program really was the easy part.
2. You will spend a small fortune on textbooks, coffee, and gas driving back and forth to clinical sites.
3. Before you even start your program, friends and family will be asking you to make medical diagnoses of their problems. Be prepared for a 5am phone call where in someone describes their rash to you [true story].
4. You are going to talk about poop. A lot. Yeah. It’s gross but get used to it now.
5. You’ll ask complete strangers about their poop. And have them describe it to you. In detail.
6. You are going to see a lot of naked people. Most of them you would never want to see naked. The naked human body quickly loses its appeal.
7. You will meet some of the most amazing people you have ever met. You will also meet some complete assholes.
8. You’ll study more than you ever have in your life and it still won’t feel like enough.
9. Several people from your class will sleep with each other. If you are of the male persuasion and attending nursing school, your chances of getting laid go up by about 1000%.
10. It is a fucking HORRIBLE idea to hook up with one of your classmates.
11. It is next to impossible to concentrate during a lecture when you know what the person sitting next to you sounds like when they have an orgasm. [unfortunately, another true story]
12. Rumor in nursing school (about you, your classmates, your professors) spread faster than an STD at the Jersey Shore.
13. Do not wear scrubs to a lecture. I don’t care if you just came from surgery on the Pope. It makes you look like a tool.
14. Pick your coping method very carefully. Excessive alcohol and sex with people you barely know doesn’t work to relieve stress.
15. Look around your Fundamentals of Nursing class. Two-thirds of these people will not finish with you. Whether they finish a semester or two behind you or wash out completely, remains to be seen.
16. Everyone in your program will start out with a plan to go on and become a nurse practitioner or a nurse anesthetist. By the end of the second semester, those same people will just be glad to finish the program.
17. You will fail an exam. I don’t care if you have a 4.0 going into the program. It is going to happen. When it does, cry about it and then move on. Don’t be like me and have to be put on “suicide watch” by your study group when you fail to show up for the next two weeks of lecture because you are convinced you just flunked out of nursing school.
18. All the guys will want to do surgery or ER. All the girls will want to do L&D or pediatric nursing.
19. Hospitals smell bad. Even after you leave for the day, it feels like that smell is clinging to you. Keep some awesome body spray in your car to keep the yucky away.
20. A lot of your time during clinical rotation will be wasted. Thrown away. Down the drain. Mostly because the instructor is busy checking and rechecking everyone so that you don’t kill anyone.
21. More than likely, you won’t kill anyone.
22. Patients can be grumpy. They earn that right because they are in the hospital. It does not give them the right to abuse their nurse or student nurse, though.
23. Don’t ask a professor “Is this going to be on the test?” It wasn’t, until you asked. Now everything is going to be on the test…no multiple choice….all essay questions that have to be answered in either Greek or Latin.
24. Haggling over points on an exam rarely works. As a matter of fact, it usually just pisses the instructor off.
25. Don’t EVER tell and instructor, “Well that is just a bad exam question” because nine times out of ten, they came up with the exam question themselves.
26. If you piss off your instructor, he or she can make your life hell.
27. You will learn the joys of being questioned according to the Socratic method. It is like the nursing school version of “pimping” that medical students go through.
28. Be able to talk about something other than nursing school because “normal people” don’t always want to hear about it.
29. You’ll work with at least one nurse who hates you just because you are a student.
30. You’ll work with at least one nurse who you wouldn’t trust to watch your goldfish.
31. You’ll work with at least one nurse who reminds you of the kind of nurse you want to be when you graduate. Tell him or her that. Because people need to hear it.
32. At some point during nursing school, a stranger’s bodily fluids will most likely come into contact with your exposed skin.
33. Some nursing instructors are bullies.
34. Some nursing instructors who seem like bullies aren’t. They just want you to be the best nurse you possibly can be…because you could be taking care of one of their family members one day.
35. There will be days when you wake up and ask yourself is this really what you want out of life.
36. There will be days when you wake up and want nothing more than to quit school and get a job working at a coffee shop.
37. Always offer to help a fellow student with a difficult patient. What goes around comes around and people *do* notice.
38. As per pain scale protocol, you’ll start measuring everything on a scale from 1-10. Eventually, you will find yourself asking a friend, “On a scale from 1-10, how drunk are you right now?” [Bonus points if they answer “eleventeen.”] [another true story]
39. You’ll probably change your desired specialty at least 4 times, depending on your current rotation.
40. Get as much sleep as you can, whenever you can. Don’t feel bad about 4 hour naps on Tuesday afternoons when you don’t have class.
41. Giving injections really isn’t that scary. For that matter, neither are Foley catheters or IV starts. But NG tubes suck. :::shudder:::
42. Psych patients aren’t the ones you have to worry about. Generally, they are medicated and usually stable. It is the family members of the patient on the med-surg floor that need restrains and a heavy dose of Valium.
43. You are going to cry. Probably more than once. Probably over something simple like a highlighter running out. It isn’t that the highlighter was that special…it is that you are just so tired and exhausted from holding it all in.
44. If you are in it for the money, you are not going to be happy…ever. Trust me, there are things that you could be doing that are way easier and pay a lot better.
45. Learn anatomy & physiology the first time around because it sucks to have to relearn it.
46. There will be one person in your class who’s most laid back guy or chick you’ve ever met. They will sit in the back row of the class, listen to their ipod during lecture, never seem to study and then get a 99.99% on the cumulative exam at the end of the semester. You would hate this person except for they are the coolest person you have ever met.
47. At the beginning of the first semester, everyone is going to talk about how cool it’s going to be to help patients. At the end of the last semester, everybody will talk about how cool it’s going to be to actually be making money.
48. Nurses are notoriously hard partiers. Keep that in mind at the “End of Semester” bash. And if someone suggests calling the evil med-surg instructor that made everyone miserable all semester to tell her what ya’ll really think of her while you are all drunk, for the love of God, don’t do it. [also, don’t take a group photo of you all flipping off the camera and text it to her]
49. Ladies: Guys are unbelievably turned-on by the phrase “I’m a nursing student.” Be prepared for offers to help you brush up on your A&P, practice your physical assessment skills….blah, blah, blah.
50. Male nurses are amazing. :-)