Nursing school is rigorous and demanding, but you can succeed by staying organized, managing time effectively, seeking help, and prioritizing self-care to avoid burnout.
Welcome to our latest blog post! In this insightful read, we’ll delve deep into the world of nursing education, addressing the burning question on every aspiring nurse’s mind: How hard is nursing school?
We know that nursing school can be an intimidating and challenging experience, but with the right guidance and determination, it is possible to not only survive but also thrive. Join us as we explore the difficulties you may encounter during your nursing journey and share practical tips, strategies, and advice to help you succeed in this noble profession.
Table of contents
Nursing school is like a long and challenging hike up a steep mountain. To deal with the obstacles you’ll encounter as you climb, you need the right attitude, equipment, and support system to navigate the terrain. Although the incline becomes steeper with each step, once you reach the top, the sense of accomplishment and ability to make a difference in your patients’ lives is worth the effort.
Nursing School Admission
Getting into nursing school can be highly competitive as the thousands of programs available get plenty of applicants each year. According to the latest survey data released by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), there has been an enrollment increase in nursing entry-level programs as more and more people become interested in the field. So, it’s crucial to understand the admission requirements in order to stand out from the competition and improve your chances of acceptance.
The first nursing school admission requirement you must consider is the GPA. Generally, each school sets a minimum GPA required for admission—most commonly a 2.5 or 3.0 GPA. However, keep in mind that some programs, especially the more competitive ones, may require a higher GPA. That is why it is also important to research the specific requirements of every program you’re interested in to find the one you would more likely fit into.
The next requirement for nursing school admission is completing prerequisite courses. Biology, chemistry, psychology, anatomy, and physiology are among the most common prerequisite courses. By completing these courses before applying to a program, you’ll demonstrate to the admission committee that you have a strong foundation in the areas related to nursing and are well-prepared for the academic challenges of their nursing program.
Although, once again, it depends on the specific school and nursing program you are applying for, you may have to submit your Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) scores. The scores from this standardized test help the admissions committee assess your preparedness for nursing school. Thus, they are among the most common factors used to determine admission decisions.
Application and essay
Last but not least, work on the application and essay component of the admission process. Take your time and carefully craft your essay, proofread it for grammar and spelling errors several times, as well as have someone else review it and provide feedback to ensure clarity and coherence.
At this point, you’ll have the best opportunity to showcase your personality, individuality, academic achievements, relevant experience, and passion for nursing. So make it count!
Competition for Seats in Nursing Programs
Competition for seats in nursing programs can be intense. There are many applicants seeking a limited number of spots due to the high demand for nurses, the students’ surge of interest in the field, and the rigorous admission requirements.
In recent years, the acceptance rate for nursing schools in the United States has been approximately 66%. Determining a precise average is challenging since acceptance rates differ significantly depending on the program and selectivity of the schools you apply to.
To increase your chances of being accepted into a nursing program, it’s important to carefully research the requirements for each program you’re interested in and seek out any opportunity for improvement in the field.
Nursing School Curriculum
The typical curriculum for nursing school consists of a blend of classroom lectures, lab work, and clinical experience.
Students learn the fundamentals of nursing in the classroom, whereas laboratory work enables them to practice several practical skills. Then, nursing students also have the chance to apply their knowledge and skills in a real-world setting during clinical rotations. In such cases, they work and learn under the guidance of experienced nurses in various healthcare facilities.
Nursing School Exams
As with most other fields, nursing programs also use exams to assess the knowledge and understanding of the course material. Exams in nursing schools focus on the theoretical and practical sides of nursing.
The exam questions may require students to write down information from books and apply their knowledge and critical thinking skills to real-world scenarios. On the other hand, practical exams typically assess the student’s ability to perform hands-on nursing skills through various nursing procedures.
What Makes Nursing School Hard
Nursing school requires a significant amount of dedication, hard work, and perseverance since several factors can make it challenging. Below we go through some of the main ones.
1. Extensive coursework
Nursing programs require significant work on courses like anatomy, physiology, nursing theory, and ethics. The coursework can be challenging for students who are not used to the volume and complexity of the material.
2. Clinical rotations
Nursing students must complete clinical rotations, which involve working in hospitals and other healthcare settings under the supervision of a licensed nurse. These rotations can be physically and emotionally demanding but necessary as students apply what they have learned in the classroom to real-world situations.
3. High-stakes testing
Nursing programs generally involve high-stakes tests, like the NCLEX-RN exam. Such tests can be stressful and require significant preparation and study time.
4. Emotional toll
Nursing students face a range of emotional experiences while caring for patients, including those who are critically ill or dying. This emotional strain can be challenging to process and is a major contributor to academic burnout and compassion fatigue.
5. Time management
Nursing students must know how to balance their coursework, clinical rotations, and personal lives. If they struggle with time management, their productivity and well-being can suffer.
Nursing School Tips for Success
Some essential tips every nursing student should know include the following:
- Stay organized—make a schedule, keep track of assignments and due dates, and prioritize your tasks.
- Stay focused—eliminate distractions in your study area and reduce multitasking.
- Follow the exam study guides.
- Avoid cramming before exams.
- Discover your learning style and use it to study more efficiently.
- Utilize tutors, study groups, and academic advisors.
- Take care of yourself—eat well, get enough sleep, and make time for exercise and relaxation.
- Ask for help when you need it—your peers, instructors, and clinical mentors are there for you.
- Get involved with extracurriculars—join various committees, research, or mentoring groups.
- Remember to take breaks in order to avoid burnout.
Is Nursing School Worth It?
Nursing school is definitely worth the investment of time, money, and energy required to earn a degree. In addition to the emotionally rewarding aspect of it, nursing as a career offers many other benefits too. For example, the average annual wage for registered nurses (RNs) in the United States is $97,828. There are also excellent salaries for various nursing specializations, such as:
- $225,555/year for Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists
- $152,548/year for Chief Nursing Executives
- $136,005/year for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit RNs
Additionally, the nursing school prepares you for a field full of opportunities for growth and advancement. The healthcare field is growing, with employment in nursing expected to experience a 6% increase from 2021 to 2031, with 203,200 openings for registered nurses projected each year.
Nursing school, while physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding, can be immensely fulfilling for those committed to the profession. By staying organized, focused, and effectively utilizing available resources, you can excel in your educational journey. This preparation will ultimately equip you to confidently face the diverse challenges that come with a nursing career in the future.
Nurse Luke is a CRNA who specializes in Nursing content and still enjoys a very busy career with Locum, Per Diem and Travel nursing in the greater midwest. He has over 25 years of experience in the healthcare field and received his CRNA masters degree from the Mayo Clinic School of Healthcare. He is passionate about helping nurses explore the options of becoming a travel nurse as well as spending time with his Family.