When I think back on my nurse practitioner school days, I can’t help but crack a smile. Now that I’m far beyond anxiety-provoking clinicals and ever-looming group project deadlines, the experience seems like a blip on the timeline of my life, one that I took far too seriously. And, some of my classmates even more so. I certainly don’t regret studying hard and working hard, but much of the pressure and stress of my nurse practitioner education experience was oh-so unnecessary!
If you’re currently living the life of an NP student, chances are your stress level is all too high. Between work, family, school, and the internal pressure you place on yourself as a high achiever, you’ve nearly got steam coming out of your ears. At the end of the day your brain feels like total mush and it’s all you can do to drag yourself to bed. This lifestyle may be necessary during, say finals week, but most aspiring nurse practitioners would do well to take a step back and evaluate their stress level. Keeping your ‘Type A’ in check is in order.
There are a few characteristics universally considered to describe Type A individuals. If these traits could be used to define your personality, here’s how to keep them subdued for a more relaxed NP student life.
Time-Urgency and Impatience
If you see yourself as a Type A personality, you’re probably on the go, go, go. You cram too much into your schedule. You fill down time with activities. You attempt to multitask. Overall, you’re in a battle against the clock. As a nurse practitioner student, this propensity for busyness and a ‘get it done’ attitude can work to your advantage for a time. But, inevitably you will find yourself burnt out.
Make a conscious choice to slow down. When you notice a gap in your calendar, don’t attempt to fill it. Pick up a book and read for pleasure once in a while. Watch TV without your notes on your lap for once. Everyone needs a little downtime, even those who ‘do it all’.
Pressure for Perfection
Do you agonize over projects or get down on yourself for a less than stellar test score? If so, it’s time to get a little perspective. Life as a nurse practitioner student has so many moving parts that there’s no way you’re going to get it all right.
Next time you find yourself spending an inordinate amount of time on a project, paper or beating yourself up for a ‘B’, stop and take a deep breath. Live in an 80% zone of comfort. If you’re about 80% comfortable with the paper you’ve written or the project you’ve completed, turn it in. More than likely you will never reach a 100% comfort level with the finished product and getting from 80% to 100% takes wayyy too much time for the busy NP student. Sometimes it’s OK to be fine with ‘good enough’.
Type A types are prone to be competitive. Whether on the basketball court or in the classroom, if you’re Type A you’re unhappy being less than the best. In the interest of maintaining your sanity, it’s time to hang up this tendency. You can fall smack in the middle of your nurse practitioner class and still continue on to graduation and a kick @$$ career.
No, mediocrity shouldn’t be your focus. But, rather than comparing yourself to others, seek to do your personal best at the things you prioritize as the most deserving of your attention. Focusing on your hands-on clinical experience, for example, over making the top grade in the class on your nursing theory final better positions you for career success, your ultimate goal. Stop playing the comparison game and instead set your sights on your own personal goals.
Alright, alright, so you aren’t downright hostile, But, does your internal pressure to achieve drive you to lash out at others when they get in your way. This can manifest itself as being impatient or rude. Perhaps your spouse interrupts, for example, while you’re working on a project and you meet the intrusion with a glare or snappy comment. Maybe your professors scheduled back to back to back final exams sending you straight to your laptop to draft an angry email to the program director. Whatever the case, Type A’s tend to be easily aroused to anger. When you start to feel your jaw clench and your face tense, take a step back. Are you getting upset about something that’s not a big deal?
Curbing your Type A tendencies when they seem to get the best of you will lead to a much more controlled and enjoyable nurse practitioner education experience. Use these aspects of your personality to your advantage but recognize when they are counterproductive.