Follow by Email

Sunday, January 11, 2015

How to Not Feel Overwhelmed by Nursing School

Whether this is your first semester of nursing school, or your last, it is most likely going to feel overwhelming. Here are a few of my tips to help ease those feelings:

Keep a Routine

If at all possible, keep a routine. It will make things easier for everyone around you. Do you have a dog? Do you have kids? They probably function better if you can keep some sort of routine going. Know that everyday you'll wake up at a certain time, you'll go to class/workout, whatever. Just try to stay consistent. Although, in nursing school you don't always have that luxury. Which brings me to my next tip....

Be Flexible

I can't tell you how many times my teachers changed things at the very last minute. It drove me insane and caused a lot of frustration. Try as hard as you can to remain flexible. My biggest frustration came from a lack of communication. If you can speak to your professors in a calm, respectful manner and explain that being notified of a change or that there was a possibility of a change would've helped decrease your level of frustration immensely. Sure, that may fall on deaf ears, but it may also open your instructors eyes to look at things from your perspective. 

For the most part I wasn't too upset at any last minute changes because I'm single and live near school, but I would feel empathetic to my classmates with children that now needed a babysitter or had to cancel appointments, etc... Speaking with many different students from many different nursing schools I've come to the conclusion that all will have many last minute changes. 

Sometimes there are very good reasons why there are last minute changes. The school may think that they had a preceptor picked out and then she has a personal emergency and goes on a leave of absence, someone may quit unexpectedly leaving the class without a teacher, or a clinical site may burn down... All of those things have happened to me in the past year. Initially it is upsetting but when both parties communicate (the student and the school/hospital) typically you both walk away with a better understanding and appreciation for each other after the discussion. 

Be flexible. Always.

Be Organized

This is HUGE! You must be organized to be successful. Keep your notes organized. If a messy desk is indicative of a messy mind then by that logic an empty desk is indicative of an empty mind-- you'll need an organized desk because you need an organized mind to retain all this new material.  

In my previous post I showed a tutorial in making motivating binders to organize your notes. You can access that post HERE. I love having nice pretty binders to store my notes in. I equally like having organized notes. 

This is a stack of notes that I had for just one, ONE, test. (It would've been nice if I had ruler next to this, but I didn't.) If this is your first semester, get ready to buckle up and ride this wild ride. I wanted to show you that just so you know what you're going up against. 


I wish I could bottle motivation up. Some days I have it in abundance, and other days I'm lacking. Find what motivates you and keep it around. Personally, I am motivated by music, pictures, sunshine, and quotes. I use Pinterest a lot (but be careful! Don't let it suck up too much of your precious time.) I'm also motivated by nature so I run outside a lot.

What's important is to find what motivates you, and keep it around you. 

Expectation for Grades

I'm sure you were a top student in your other classes, otherwise you wouldn't have been accepted into nursing school. However, nursing school is tough. It's a lot of material on a short amount of time. You're juggling a family, class time and clinical hours, so it is hard by nature, not because you can't do it. I always strive to make an A but I don't always get to make an A. I think it's great to aim high, but don't beat yourself up if you don't get a perfect score. Chances are it will be ok. And if it's not ok, talk to your teacher, talk to other successful classmates. Talk to them as soon as you can. 

Work as a Team

Don't go into this seeing your classmates as competition. See them as teammates. I cannot tell you how important it is to have this outlook. My class made our own Facebook page and we post announcements on there all the time. We're good about posting helpful resources and asking each other questions on it. 

Granted, not everyone will be a team player, but that's not you. You will be a team player. I study with classmates, we share resources with each other, we teach each other, we're family. It's important to have that mindset. I really hope when I graduate I can find a unit to work on that has this same mindset. 


So to reiterate: keep a routine, be flexible, find what motivates you, have realistic expectations of grades, work as a team, and stay positive.

You've got this.

Some other posts you might be interested in are:

Test Taking Tips and Strategies

How to Pass Pharmacology

Leave a comment with tips on how you manage feeling overwhelmed!




  1. There are several ways in which you can acquire your nursing certification. There are organizations that can help you attain a certification. This certification can add authenticity to your nursing education. BVP certification online