I’m sure you know by now that although nursing school is a fun, exciting journey, it comes with unique challenges and circumstances. For many, it is a balancing act to maintain relationships and outside priorities and juggle the everyday commitments of “adulting.” In this article, we’ll discuss some common challenges that nursing students face and how to overcome them.
Difficulty balancing life, work, and school
It’s no secret that nursing school requires a significant time commitment. For some, nursing is a second career; they may be parents and caregivers or working full-time. Students can quickly start to feel stretched thin between prerequisites to enter nursing school, coursework once in the program, clinical rotations, and studying for the NCLEX. Here are some ways to adjust the competing priorities of school, work, and life:
- Create a schedule: A daily and weekly schedule will allow you to visualize your projects and tasks. A schedule will also allow you to plan time to devote to school, work, and family commitments. Developing good time management skills now will help you navigate nursing school and benefit you tremendously once you become a nurse. If you’re interested in learning more about time management, be sure to check out more information from NurseHub here.
- Set realistic goals: Setting realistic goals is a great way to keep yourself on task and motivated. Once you accomplish these goals, tasks will be completed, and your self-esteem and confidence can improve! When setting your goals, focus on creating specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely goals.
- Stay Organized: Organization is key to maintaining balance while adjusting to the heavy demands of nursing school. Stay organized by creating a quiet, organized workspace in your home that is devoted to studying. Keep books, your laptop, notes, pens, and paper nearby for easy access. You can also invest in a simple schedule planner and note binders to keep notes organized for your classes.
- Practice self-care: Besides balancing school, work, and life, set aside time consistently for self-care. Use this time to do things meaningful and special to you, such as reading, enjoying hobbies, or even pampering yourself with a pedicure. Make sure to check out NurseHub’s blog about self-care here.
Learning a Fast and Varied Curriculum
While in school, you’ll be learning lots…and I mean lots of valuable information. You’ll learn about anatomy & physiology, pharmacology, critical care, labor and delivery, and even geriatric nursing, which can seem daunting for some. Understand that as a nurse, you’ll be a career learner, meaning that as you transition throughout your career, you’ll learn many different and unique skill sets. While you’re in school, make sure to set aside dedicated study time consistently. It may also be helpful to create a study group of a few classmates while in school. It will give you a chance to share study styles and help you form a support network that can help encourage each other.
In addition, understanding your adult learning style will also help ease any anxieties you may have about learning so much new content. Understanding how you best learn will allow you to develop successful study habits.
Feeling Isolated and Unsupported by Family and Friends
Although many friends and family can be excited and encouraging of your nursing school venture, some may be less than supportive of your new journey. Nursing school requires lots of time and attention and could leave family and friends feeling left behind.
To manage the limited support you may experience from friends and family, try the following:
- Schedule time to spend with family and friends consistently.
- Schedule a vacation with the family on a school break or as a graduation celebration
- Communicate with family and friends about your time commitments so they are prepared to spend less time with you while in school, possibly
Managing Anxiety and Stress Levels During Schooling
Stress can play a big part in the success of your journey during nursing school. Stress can have both positive and negative effects on you. Positively, stress can motivate us to complete difficult tasks, help us set realistic goals, and drive us to find solutions to our problems. On the other hand, stress can also cause anxiety and frustration and negatively impact our bodies. Below are several ways in which you can combat feelings of stress and anxiety.
- Words of affirmation
- Guided meditation
- Deep breathing
- Take frequent breaks.
- Talk to a counselor or therapist.
- Develop healthy coping habits to combat stress.
- Practice self-care routinely
- Join social groups for nurses, such as NurseHub, to garner support from other nursing students experiencing the highs and lows of school.
Maintaining Physical Health Despite Increased Mental Loads
While you’re in school, it’s vital to maintain your physical health. Maintaining a physical routine will not only help keep you healthy while in school, but it can also foster self-confidence and help you create a stress-relieving habit that you can use throughout your career.
You can also consider creating a workout group with your fellow students. Working out will improve your mood and physical health, and working out in small groups will allow you to meet people and develop new relationships.
Remember, nursing school is a temporary time in your journey to becoming a nurse. Also, remember to focus on your “why,” especially during the difficult days when you may feel the pressures of balancing work, life, and everything in between. Please understand that you are not alone in feeling anxiety, isolation, or unsupported. Nurses before you have all felt the pressures of managing school while also juggling the demands of everyday life.
Also, make sure you join our nursing 101 Facebook group. Benefits of this nursing student group include:
- Joining a community of future nurses in similar positions as you.
- You can ask questions about nursing school.
- Many nursing students in this group also share information about stress management, study habits, and how to learn in a fast-paced environment.