If I were to give my freshmen self advice it would be: Smile. Laugh. Love. Enjoy the journey. In the moment it will feel like you are burdened with countless amount of things, everything is due, it will feel like the end of the world. Take a step back and enjoy the journey. Take a step back and appreciate the world and the beautiful people in it. I can’t tell you the amount of times I have laid on my bedroom floor after a nursing exam and planned out my life as if I didn’t make it through nursing school because of that exam. There will be so many late nights studying for multiple exams, while also finishing assignments and I ask myself “Why in the world do I put myself through this?.” Success does not come easy. There will be early mornings and late nights. There will be times when your alarm will go off at 5:00am for clinical and you lay there just physically and emotionally exhausted from working the previous day and studying for an exam. Sometimes, you will feel like the work, tests, clinicals, etc are just too much. There will be times where you feel like giving up. When you feel this way, just remember your why.
Remember why you want to become a nurse. There will always be others there to support and guide you. I remember distinctly my freshmen year after taking my first Intro to Nursing Exam. I tanked the exam and felt defeated. I met with my professor, came up with a plan, studied, studied, and studied. Then took Exam Two. I took the exam, got the results and found out that I also tanked this Exam. At that moment I felt absolutely defeated and broken.
If I could not learn from my mistakes, and improve, how will I survive in the School of Nursing? I actually was so distraught that I considered switching majors, I thought these exam grades were a sign from the heavens that Nursing was not for me. I met with my Nursing Freshmen Orientation leader and explained to him what happened and how I am considering switching majors. Immediately he squashed those thoughts. He gave me the advice above, told me that he believed in me and asked me to think of “my why.” I walked away from that conversation with a newfound empowerment and inspiration.
I was determined to succeed because I want to make a difference in this world as a nurse. I want to be there for people who are in a dark place, medically or emotionally unstable. I want to be a nurse and be that light in these patient’s life. I want to advocate and heal these patients with evidence-based medicine, emotional and spiritual healing. The world is full of darkness, hurt and pain. If I can combat that darkness even just a little, even just through one patient every day, I have succeeded. I want to be that difference in the world. This is my why. Know your why.
The best advice you received (related to nursing school):
Both of my parents have given me endless amounts of advice regarding nursing school, from “Enjoy the ride and don’t forget to have fun” to “Maybe you shouldn’t share all the gory details to us over dinner.” Oops. Nonetheless, there’s one piece that my dad shared with me when I first started my freshmen year that has continued to stick since. In fact, it has been reiterated in numerous forms throughout my studies, classes, and clinical experience. He told me to never be a “Yes Nurse” that agrees with all that is told to me, but to question everything. He told me that when a physician places an order, question why. When medications are being given, question why. When a specific intervention is being made for someone’s care, question why. He emphasized this because he felt that there were times where nurses just agreed with others without critically thinking the purpose. When that occurs, mistakes can happen. Nursing school teaches us a remarkable amount of medical concepts, and we should not cut ourselves short when it comes to our knowledge and impact in the clinical setting. I am now constantly running through my brain why I am doing what I am doing, because these are human beings I am working with. And they deserve thorough critical thinking skills in favor of their well-being.
Study smarter, not harder! While I am content with my work and study ethic now, I think past-me would have greatly benefited from more efficient studying habits. Self-care and smart studying y’all, the wonderful balancing act of college!