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Top 3 Challenges for Nursing Students

Congratulations! You did it—you got into the nursing school of your choice. Are you ready to take on everything that could come your way as a nursing student?

Bear in mind that the coursework, homework, and clinical work that you’re about to take on as a nursing student are all designed for one thing: to prepare you to hold a patient’s life in your hands. In school, you will be taught how to make life-changing decisions, exercise quick decision making and critical thinking skills, as well as demonstrate expert clinical expertise.

Nursing isn’t a career for the faint of heart. However, many who pursue this field can attest to how rewarding being a nurse is. Beyond good pay and consistent job prospects, nursing provides the opportunity to help your community, share and contribute your knowledge, and deliver meaningful patient care and support. Before you get to this point, however, you’ll likely encounter some of nursing school’s biggest challenges. Familiarizing yourself with these challenges can help you navigate nursing school better and overcome barriers that could derail you from completing your education.

1. Inability to Manage Time Wisely

While this is a challenge for many students, it’s especially challenging in nursing school given the demands of the extensive coursework, clinical work, and the resultant dedication needed from students. Maintaining a good balance between your school work and personal life will help you avoid burnout and inspire you to keep up with your studies.

You may be hard-pressed to find the time to socialize. However, completely neglecting your personal life will negatively impact your studies and your social life. So, maintaining a balance between both is important. Put a system in place to manage your time, such as keeping to a schedule, planning your days, and combining social time with study time via a study group. This can help make it easier for you to manage your time wisely.

2. Getting Overwhelmed and Feeling Overworked

Nursing combines intensive theoretical instruction in the classroom and comprehensive practical training in clinical settings. In a lot of cases, once students begin their hands-on clinical programs, they start to feel overwhelmed at the new responsibilities and demands of the course. For example, the idea of having to demonstrate relevant clinical skills in front of mentors, instructors, and fellow students can be challenging for some students. For others, learning outside of a classroom setting can make them feel displaced and make it harder to concentrate on learning.

There’s no single answer that can address these challenges. Nevertheless, reaching out to other classmates for group study sessions, setting aside additional time to review key material, and maintaining a good relationship with your clinical program instructors and mentors all help to provide the necessary tools to manage school work better. Avoid cramming for tests. Bear in mind that being a nurse requires a full understanding of the material you’re working with and learning the scenarios being taught—and that takes time.

3. Passing the NCLEX

The NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) is a licensing exam that is meant to determine whether or not you have all the necessary skills to begin practicing as an entry-level nurse. Expect it to be completely different from any other test or exam you may have taken in school. The NCLEX combines testing your theoretical knowledge and your critical thinking skills through simulated scenarios that test your good judgment as a nurse.

The NCLEX is arguably one of the most challenging aspects of becoming a nurse, as it tends to put a lot of pressure on students. That said, it’s never too early to start prepping for your NCLEX. A lot of students have been known to start study sessions with friends and do regular reviews to keep their knowledge up to date long before the testing date. Don’t wait until just a few days, or even weeks, before the NCLEX to start studying. There’s a lot of material to cover and you’ll be overwhelmed at the volume of information to remember if you don’t have enough time to prepare.

Here’s another tip: Purchase an NCLEX review book and use it as you go through your course material. It will help you better understand the key parts of the exam. The practice questions can also help aid your learning as you go through your regular training as a nurse. Take advantage of getting your hands on this book early and study it throughout your program to stay one step ahead.

To learn more about earning an associate’s degree in nursing, visit the HCI College website.