The medical field, in general, can be a challenging field to work in and although many people might think that going to nursing school is the easy way to pursue a medical career, they may find that nursing school is actually pretty tough. Nursing is a profession that takes immense amounts of knowledge, dedication, and time and the same can be said about nursing school. Making sure that you are prepared for what to expect during nursing school is a great way to help give yourself a leg up in nursing school.
In this article, we’ll be discussing why nursing school is so hard, why nursing school is so competitive, what to expect from nursing school, and why nursing is such a great profession. Nurses are valuable members of the workforce who have worked tirelessly to be the medical professionals that they are today. A lot goes into becoming a nurse and we hope this will give you a little insight into what to expect.
What to Expect in Nursing School?
Making sure you know what you’re getting yourself into with nursing school is a great way to make sure you know that nursing school is right for you. Nursing school is a general term to describe a variety of programs that ultimately allow you to become a practicing nurse at the end.
You can get a licensed practical nurse (LPN), a registered nurse (RN), or an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). Each type of nursing school has different requirements, but there are some commonalities.
Nursing school will generally take anywhere from one year to upwards of five years, depending on the program you are a part of and which certification level you are going for. The amount of time you are in nursing school will also depend on if you are a full-time or part-time student since many nursing students work and attend nursing school at the same time.
Regardless of the type of nursing school, you are attending, you should expect nursing school to be intense. You will be required to do a lot of work and learn a lot of information. Being a nurse is not a career choice to be taken lightly, so you should be prepared for lots of hard work.
What Do Nursing Schools Require You to Have? What are the Chances to Get Accepted?
Nursing schools are going to have their own set of prerequisites that are specific to their school, but you should expect most nursing schools to require you to have a good background in science, math, and English. You should also expect to need a GPA of at least 3.0, but a higher GPA is always a good thing.
Since nursing school is a style of college, you will also need to take some tests to get in. While some nursing schools use the ACT and the SAT as their primary entrance exams, others use more nursing-specific entrance exams to gauge your readiness to enter their program. Make sure you take all the entrance exams that the schools you are applying to require and get good scores on each exam you take.
There are a few other things that nursing schools don’t require you to have for admission, but these things can help your chances of getting into nursing school. First, you can get any medical-related certifications that you are able to. This means that having your basic life support (BLS) and your CPR certifications when you are applying to nursing school, can be super helpful.
Another thing that can make you stand out on a nursing school application is volunteer time. While volunteering anywhere is good, many nurse programs really like it if you have volunteered in a medical facility before. If you think you want to be a nurse, volunteering at a medical facility or becoming a certified nurse’s assistant (CNA) can not only help you get into nursing school, but it can also help you determine if becoming a nurse really is the right path for you.
Unfortunately, even with all those things going in your favor, you still might not get into nursing school. It’s estimated that over 70,000 qualified candidates get rejected from nursing schools every year, despite the US being in desperate need of nurses. One of the biggest reasons that so many people don’t get into nursing school is that there just aren’t enough nursing schools available for people to attend.
Generally, nursing schools have decently high acceptance rates compared to many elite institutions, but this can be deceiving because accepting 50% of an enormous application pool is still really hard to get into. This means that you can do everything right and still not get into nursing school, so just make sure that you are prepared for the stress that can come from the application process alone and remember that nursing schools are competitive, so give yourself some slack.
What is the Hardest Thing About Nursing School Compared to Other Degrees?
One of the main differences between a nursing school degree and a regular college degree, such as a bachelor of arts (BA) or science (BS), is the intense pressure of school won’t go away once you get into the workforce. Part of the pressure of nursing school is there to help you prepare for a career of pressure and stress. You will be taking care of people’s lives, which is not something to be taken lightly. This intensity of both nursing school and nursing as a career choice is what makes it stand out from other degree choices and career choices.
Unlike other science degrees, you will be expected to take a more well-rounded curriculum, which can be another thing that can add more stress to your plate. This is to help you work on communication skills and the interpersonal skills that will be required of you as a nurse, but this part of nursing school is often the most challenging since many nursing school students are science students at heart and love the science of it all.
5 Common Challenges of Being a Nursing Student
It’s pretty common for nursing school students to start to feel burnt out sometime during their time in nursing school. Not only is nursing school pretty intense in terms of the course work that you will be required to complete, but it also has a tendency to take over your life. It can begin to feel like your whole life revolves around nursing school and the people you know and interact with at nursing school. This type of day can lead to people feeling burnt out.
2. Late-night study sessions
Most nursing school students will have at least one all-nighter, if not more. Studying late into the night is a common challenge of nursing school students for a variety of reasons including the large amounts of work and the lack of time to get it all done. This leads to many potential late-night study sessions for nursing school students.
3. Busy schedule
Nursing school students are known to have a busy schedule. On top of school and studying, many nursing school students continue to volunteer or work in the medical field in some capacity. This adds a whole different level of things for students to balance and think about while they are attending nursing school.
Relationships outside of nursing school can often be hard to manage. Finding a significant other or a good friend who can stay by your side and support you through the many ups and downs of nursing school is hard. Nursing school can take a toll on you, but it can also take a toll on those closest to you, so make sure you cut your friends, family, and significant other some slack when it comes to managing your nursing school life.
5. Exams are cumulative
Nursing school is a very cumulative type of schooling. This means that one test is likely to build on the previous test, making studying for each test super important. Making sure that you take enough time to prepare well for every test you take can really help you later on down the road in nursing school, even if it seems super stressful and extra at the moment.
5 Helpful Tips to Prepare for Nursing School
There are some helpful tips and tricks that can help you make sure that you are as prepared to enter nursing school as you possibly can be. Although each nursing school is different, these tips should help you prepare for most nursing schools.
1. Volunteer with a medical facility
Volunteering with a medical facility in high school is a great way to make sure that nursing really is what you want to do. It can also give you a chance to talk to nurses and see what their experience was. The best way to be prepared for nursing school is to know as much as possible about what to expect from your school before you go.
If you find an alumnus of the nursing school you want to attend, this might be a great person to go shadow for a day. Not only will they be able to give you insights into the job and what a typical day might look like, but they can also help you prepare for nursing school
2. Make sure you have a solid science background
Having good background knowledge of subjects such as biology, chemistry, and physics can be super helpful once you are in nursing school. Not having to review basic information all the time can save you a lot of time and help you feel immensely more prepared, especially during your first year or so in nursing school.
While a good science background, in general, is important, it might be super helpful if you have a good understanding of human physiology and anatomy. These subjects are the base subjects for most courses in nursing school, so already having a good foundation of knowledge can be super helpful.
3. Develop good study habits in high school
Taking some time in high school to develop and practice good study habits can make studying during nursing school so much easier. Studying in nursing school will never be truly easy, but being able to study efficiently and knowing how you study best can help you make your life much easier throughout your time in nursing school.
This could be as simple as going into nursing school already having your CPR certification. This can give you a bit of a leg up in terms of the fact that you have already had some experience taking a medical course and a medical exam. You have some idea of what might be expected of you on a base level. It is also a great way to make sure that nursing, or working in the medical field at all, is right for you.
If you want more tips on the things that you could study before you go to nursing school, make sure to check out our post here.
5. Develop a good self-care routine in high school
Similar to tip number three, we can’t stress enough how important it is to start developing and practicing good self-care habits in high school. Taking care of yourself becomes super important in nursing school since you will likely be spending long hours studying and practicing, so knowing what your body needs is very helpful.
Is a Nursing Career Worth It?
After all this talk about the stress of nursing school and the challenges you will face while attending nursing school, it is worth talking about the benefits of becoming a nurse. Many people strive to work in the medical field but realize as soon as they start doing much research into the field that it can be hard to be a doctor and have a family life. This leads many people who are interested in practicing medicine and having a family down the path of nursing.
Nursing is a great career path for those looking to help care for others and provide a valuable resource to their community at the same time. Sure, nursing can be a stressful profession, but so can every profession in the medical field. Being a caretaker is not an easy job and it certainly isn’t for everyone, which is why it is super important to take your time when deciding if nursing school and nursing are the right paths for you.
Nursing, as a career, will not make you as much money as say a doctor would, but you also don’t have as many educational expenses to become a nurse. Becoming a nurse is a great way to get into the medical field without needing the immense costs of medical school. It allows you to start earning your way much sooner than many other fields in the medical realm.
All that being said, nurses should not be overlooked. Being a nurse is a hard job and they provide an amazing service every day. To say that nursing is easy would not be doing justice to the amount of work that nurses put into their jobs. Nursing may be a hard job, but it can also be super rewarding.
Wrapping Things Up: Why Nursing School is Hard?
Nursing school can be a huge challenge. It can challenge you academically as well as in your daily life and relationships, but the sense of accomplishment that you achieve through nursing school and pursuing nursing as a career is what keeps so many people going through this rollercoaster of a career choice. Making sure that you are fully prepared for the stresses of nursing school is the best way to ensure your success both in nursing school and after nursing school during your career as a nurse.
Check out our ultimate guide to becoming a nurse here.