"Before anything else, preparation is the key to success."
Alexander Graham Bell
What I Wish I’d Known Before Nursing School
By Melanie Rzyski, Graduate Nurse

I was an LVN (LPN to some) for three years before completing my “bridge” in this past year to become an Associate Degree nurse. Because of the round-about way I went after my degree, I’ve been to nursing school twice. After watching some of my classmates struggle in both programs and, after struggling a bit myself, I asked my classmates what it is that we were missing. What information would have better prepared us for our nursing school experiences?

The first thing we determined is that we didn’t know ANYTHING when we first started! If you are already applying to nursing school, or if you have been accepted, then there is a good chance you have also already completed some core science courses (Anatomy & Physiology, Microbiology, etc.). These classes weren’t easy, were they? They may have challenged you a bit more than you’re used to. Well, get ready for an even bigger challenge. You only have a basic understanding of the body and a few of the disease processes. What you are about to learn and be tested over regularly is much harder than that. One of my classmates said this, and he is so very right: “If I could, I would go back and tell myself to focus. Think about your A&P and Microbiology classes and then picture something ten times more challenging than that – and that’s just to earn a passing score, let alone to master the content. It’s a struggle and a journey – a long one. Be as prepared as you can be.” So, the point is this. Know that it’s going to be hard. If you are one of those students who make an ‘A’ in everything without even studying, do NOT expect that same result in nursing school. You are going to have to put more effort into this than you have into anything in your life.

It’s also a good idea to get organized. You’re going to have a million things to keep up with at once. Don’t procrastinate, and make sure you keep a calendar of what assignments are due when, where you are supposed to be at any given time, and any other important things your instructors ask you to remember. This will be your lifeline to keeping it together through the program.

Another big thing we thought of is study habits. Studying for nursing school tests is not like any type of studying you’ve ever done in your life. It’s important to set aside time to study on a daily basis. Utilize any study tips you can find online as well. Nursing school takes up a lot of your time. Your life while you are in school consists of eating, sleeping, and breathing nursing school. It’s a huge commitment and a big sacrifice but just remember that it will be well worth it in the end! Give it the time and attention it needs or you will not succeed. Utilize the support of the friends you make in nursing school. These people are going through the same struggles you are and they’ll be your best shoulders to lean on and your cheerleaders when you get discouraged! Let them! At the end of the day, the number one, best piece of advice I can give is don’t lose focus! Sometimes you are going to feel overwhelmed and underappreciated. Do NOT let anything get in your way. If nursing is your goal, your dream, you can do this. Take it from those of us who have been in your shoes. Good luck!
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