In Nursing School, Its All About Attitude

By Nurse in Training Ashley Prince

My first few weeks of nursing school are in the bag! In these last few days I’ve learned a lot. Like what 5:30 am looks like. And how to drive to class with one hand on the wheel, the other holding onto my travel coffee mug for dear life. I’ve also learned how to take a person’s blood pressure and more about HIPAA than I ever wanted to know. But I think the most important thing I’ve learned is that what’s going to make or break this year is my attitude.

The days in any ABSN program are long. Our orientation lasted 12 hours. During our first week we had a few 10-11 hour days just of lecture. What we covered in one pathophysiology session took an entire month in my regular class, and it was way more in depth. We’re already studying, and feel way in over our heads. I mean really, what’s up with this “two answers are right, but one is most right” format?

Clinicals in contrast haven’t been too difficult yet. I’ve only had one day so far, and it was mostly just getting to know the floor and staff. The nurses look nice; I had some nightmares prior to the program that my nurse was going to eat me if I did something wrong, but so far everyone has been nothing but friendly and helpful. Ironically the thing that I was most looking forward to about becoming a nurse– talking to patients and creating a relationship with them- has become what I’m most nervous about! Small talk, especially in tense situations, doesn’t often come naturally to me, and my awful default mode is just to smile and say “everything is going to be OK”. Definitely something that I’ll need to work on.

But back to the attitude. First, try not to waste mental energy on things you can’t change. Every school or professor will have their quirks or policies that will irritate the crap out of you. You have too much going on to fight a losing battle; it’s best just to accept their rule, wear the damn itchy white scrubs (in my case), and get on to studying the important things, like how you’re going to pass this crazy patho class.

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Further, there’s only one way you’re going to make it through a program like this: as a team, and with a sense of humor. At a 7:00 am lecture or 6:30 am clinical everyone is tired and cranky. It’s easy to complain about how much it sucks that you have to be there, but don’t be that person. Instead, laugh about how you look like a troll who just rolled out of bed. Declare school a “judgment free zone” and crack jokes while you practice skills on each other. Buy Oreos for the guy that let you cut in front of him for the drug test because you literally almost peed your pants. Draw a minion face on the yellow PPE gown of your friend when the professor’s back is turned in lab. Be a friend to make a friend, and I promise those long days will seem so much shorter.

How are you other ABSN people making it through? Any tips for me on interacting with patients? Let me know in the comments!


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1 thought on “In Nursing School, Its All About Attitude”

  1. For me, interacting with patients comes with practice. I’m now focused on interacting with nurses and giving/taking report. I remember being afraid to enter the room to meet the patient. Three semesters later, my confidence increased. I got this and you can too. I know how to do assessments. What sucks is the paperwork, but like you said, it’s something I can’t change and it won’t stop when you become a nurse. You’ll get to know your systems-what’s right or wrong. You’ll have answers to some questions instead of saying you don’t know, but be okay with saying and admitting that you don’t know some things. You’re not expected to know everything! Of course, not every patient is the same. Some may be intimidating, but you’ll get through the day. Stay away from social media!!

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