7 things my first semester of Nursing School taught me.

December 27, 2018

With exactly 7 days until I go back to school and "get back to business" I figured I'd compile a list of things my first semester of nursing school taught me:

  1. Time management: My planner is my best friend. If you don't have a planner or some form of daily accountability, what are you doing?  I pencil in time to do any and everything in my planner. If I didn't I would  1) forget to do things 2) be a super duper hot mess. I used to have the bad habit of over-scheduling myself. The best thing I did for myself this year: I learned to say "no" and prioritize my own time. Time management is the ONLY reason I was able to go to homecoming this year. Time management includes making time for what's important to you, not just things pertaining to school. For example: Seeing my friends is always important to me. So I will study ahead of time + load up on assignments in preparation for a dinner date with friends. In relation to school: I went to a State nursing conference in October and while it was tempting to come out of retirement and partake in Athens night life, I decided to stay in and study for an exam we had on Monday. On breaks during speeches  and meeting with other schools + recruiting delegates to vote for me I was studying in my hotel. I'll have all the time in the world to have fun when I graduate.  Athens isn't going anywhere and has miraculously managed to stay the same for the last 3 years. When it comes to nursing school assignments I will knock out easy tedious assignments weeks in advance just so I'm not stressing about them the night they're due. It's worth it, trust me. 
  2. How to step out of my comfort zone: I ran for State office in a Nursing Organization and won - Shocker number one. Then I went to a National Nursing Association conference and spoke in front of students and faculty from 48 states - Shocker number two. Before nursing school you could not pay me enough to socialize with people I don't know. I want to be a nurse, a very social profession filled with small talk and I hate socializing with people I don't know well, the irony. Nursing school has showed me a side of myself that I actually really like. I'm no extrovert but tapping into this extrovert behavior has opened many doors for me and allowed me to meet some pretty dope people. 
  3. The importance of SOLID relationships and finding "your people": My people ended up being my clinical group. I had no expectations when I started nursing school. Whether I made good friends or not I was there to get a degree, get good grades and learn to save lives. My sister and a number of other people told me "you're going to find your life long fiends and bridesmaids in nursing school." I rolled my eyes because nobody even holds a candle to my UGA best friends, Nobody.  I was pleasantly surprised when I realized I got along very well with all 6 people in my clinical group but also when I found myself texting them about non-nursing school things. A strong support system in nursing school will get you through some of the toughest days, and believe me when I tell you that there will be many tough days.
  4. Self care is not optional: I used to tell people that if I engaged in self care I would fail out of school. Nursing school greatly changed my idea of self care. Before nursing school self care was : a full blown spa day ( massage, mani and pedi), dinner dates with friends, going on weekend trips, buying clothes just because, you get the idea - lots of "over the top things". Self-care in nursing school: Waking up a little earlier and making myself a nice breakfast instead of eating apple cinnamon oatmeal, Taking a bubble bath while listening to that day's lecture, making flashcards of critical lab values while just getting a pedicure, going out for drinks after getting an "A" on an exam, making time to deep condition your hair and do a face mask while studying all of the cardiac medications. It is very easy to "let go" of yourself during nursing school, a little too easy if you ask me.   Knowing what I know now, I'm going to make an effort to schedule in weekly self-care. Maybe Sundays this semester will be my "Get your life together" day.
  5. Sleep is important: At my age I refuse to pull an all nighter. I will wake up at 4-5AM, go to campus early and study until lecture at 8AM before I stay up all night studying.  I will also sacrifice going out every/any weekend to study for a major exam instead of pulling an all nighter prior to said exam. Sleep is important. I'm not sure how it works for everyone else but I usually hit a wall when I'm studying. Once I hit this wall I stop retaining information. No amount of food or pep talks will help me focus. When this happens I'll usually get ready for bed, watch one episode of something on Netflix or read my Bible app and go to bed. One of the first things we learned when covering Neuro in PathoPharm were the functions of the brain. Sleeping supports memory and learning, so why on Earth would you knowingly skip sleeping?
  6. Do not procrastinate: I used to pride myself as the "Queen of Finesse". On the count of 3 let's all shake our heads and suck our teeth. 1...2...3! Falling behind in Nursing school is something I was warned about. The amount of reading you have to do will make your eyes bleed. Unfortunately, you have to read the book for many classes. If nobody else tells you, let me tell you,  Nursing school ain't nothing to f*ck with. *RZA voice* I went from being the girl who started studying 2 days before an exam and still made "decent" grades to cumulatively studying daily + carrying flashcards everywhere +  downloading and reading my textbooks on my phone at homecoming. Talk about a change. There's nothing like peace of mind + going into an exam feeling well prepared. If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Everything builds in nursing school so it's best to learn it well now and cruise through the remainder of your courses.
  7. Stop comparing yourself - not everybody is running the same race: Perhaps it's PTSD from growing up in a Nigerian household (*insert laughter*) but a recurrent thought this semester - "Sally Sue has 4 kids and a husband, works 2 jobs, and is getting 100s on every test. I need to do better." Not everybody has the same resources or obstacles to overcome on a daily basis. Full stop.  That's it. Seeing my classmates who have more on their plate excel was motivation to 1) Also do well. 2)Not make any excuses. Nursing school moves at such an accelerated pace you don't have time to feel sorry for yourself when you get a "B" on exam that you studied tirelessly for. Just take it on the chin and study harder next time. 

Fewer classes, more hours, more days of clinical this semester.
I'm excited and I've been assured that "it gets easier."
I'm closer to the end than the beginning - that's something to smile about.

Cheers to another great semester!
Registered Nursebae Nk, soon come!

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