Why you should look forward to the bad days in nursing school (REALLY!)

A Nurse’s Guide to Good Living
By: Sean Dent


Nursing school is a tough cookie. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, someone or something throws you that curve ball.

I always find it interesting to hear the “war stories” from current and previous students. The quality of the story stems from the description of how they were treated by the instructor and preceptor, or the staff nurses, or the physicians, or maybe even their fellow nursing students. The story is given a thumbs up or a thumbs down as a conglomeration of how the experience panned out for them.

If the preceptor was mean, then it was a bad day. If the physician was friendly and a good mentor, then it was a good day. So on and so forth.

Here’s the rub. A good day does not always equal a good learning experience. And a bad day does not always mean a failed learning experience. Remember, you are not there to have “fun;” you are there to learn.

Just because your preceptor was a jaded, burned out staff nurse doesn’t mean they didn’t pass on some important pearls of wisdom for you to take with you when you move through your career. And just because the physician was friendly and made attempts to educate or teach you doesn’t mean it will translate into important information at the bedside.

For me personally, the worst days I’d had as a student have taught me the most. I learned invaluable information from bad experiences, bad people and bad situations. I learned a great deal about myself, the type of nurse I want to be and the subset of skills I strive to possess.

Don’t hope for the “easy street” every day when you’re in class or at clinicals. You need to be challenged, you need to be stressed and you need to navigate through the badness. The badness is something that never goes away once you become a nurse. It will test your mettle when you least expect it.

If you get to experience the badness while you are a student, you will be that much more prepared to take it head-on when it shows up later in your career.

Some of the worst experiences will teach us the most. Any experience, whether good or bad, will teach you something. Be sure to pay attention.

“Don’t ask for a lighter load, ask for a stronger back” (adapted from Phillips Brooks).

Do you agree? Have your worst days at school or on the job taught you the most?


5 helpful study habits – straight from nursing schools!

A Nurse’s Guide to Good Living
By: Scrubs


We all know there is nothing easy about nursing school, but even the best students often are shocked at just how intensive a program can be. In addition to all the time you must devote to actually being in school and clinicals, a big part of your success depends on how you manage your study habits.

Regardless of how you’ve done in your educational career up to this point, you’ll likely find it necessary to brush up on those study habits and refine your process. Fortunately, many nursing schools themselves offer tips to help student nurses succeed, and we’ve put together some of the best advice here.

Additionally, be sure to check out our 10 great tips for nursing school students (which also has some study advice), and if you’re still looking for a school, you may want to visit our Guide to Nursing Schools.

1. “Be Prepared to Be Overwhelmed” – Learn Time Management Skills

Okay, that’s not the most assuring statement to start this list, but it’s the exact advice Rhode Island Community College gives its future nursing students. Fortunately, the school offers some tips to help overcome this.

The first is that before you can properly manage your study habits, you need to first manage all of your time. The school offers ahandy chart to chronicling what you do with the 168 hours you have in your week. The chart is a good way to realize where all of your time goes, and how you can carve out enough for effective study.

2. “Plan It!”

Texas Tech University Health Science Collegeadvises you to plan out the specific studying you’ll do each day, pointing out that random studying leads to random grades. In addition to planning out the time you will study, be sure you have a place picked out that is great for studying. Choose a place that has as few opportunities for distraction as possible.

Another important piece of advice that may be a little less obvious is that you’ll want to plan your breaks as well. Particularly if what you are working on is reading intensive, you’ll probably want to take a break every 30-45 minutes to do something physical, like taking a walk (even if it’s a walk to get a snack!).

3. “Don’t Do It Alone”

Mid Michigan Community College offers some very interesting statistics that illustrate why you should always have at least one buddy with you whenever you study. On average, you’ll retain 20 percent of what you’re taught if you just rely on hearing it once in class, and you’ll retain 60 percent if you go over the information on your own again on your own time.

However, that retention rate jumps up to 90 percent when you study in a group and share the information with others. The article points out that there are other indirect benefits from group study, including encouragement and moral support.

4. “Don’t Be Disorganized”

Villanova University states that nursing students “receive an almost constant flow of information while completing their degree.” This is certainly true, and part of that flow is the materials you will be studying.

Be sure to keep all of this as organized as possible, whether that means in paper form or in specific folders on your computer. After all, it’s impossible to study what you can’t find.

5. “Schedule a Little ‘Me’ Time”

While all of these tips are important, a huge part of your studying success will be ensuring you take enough time for yourself to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Jacksonville State University advices that using your downtime to “treat yourself” – whatever that may entail for you – is crucial to keeping “yourself healthy in body, mind and spirit.”

7 ways to deal with REJECTION!

A Nurse’s Guide to Good Living
By: Scrubs Contributor


So you made decent grades in your prereqs and passed the entrance exam. Yet that dreaded rejection letter from your dream nursing school managed to arrive in your mailbox. It “regrets to inform” you that you didn’t make the cut. Should you wallow in sadness thinking you’re not good enough? Of course not! Brush it off and read on.

7 ways to deal with rejection

1. Remember your true calling. Nursing is a calling, and those who are called know they have a gift. “You have a responsibility to share that gift,” says LeAnn Thieman, coauthor of Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul. “You can’t let a rejection letter get you off course.”

2. Keep reapplying. “The more your application comes across the admissions desk, the sooner they’ll figure out you really want this,” says Jeremy, an RN student who applied 13 times over the course of four years before finally getting accepted this year. He says, “Your goals may take a while, but keep applying and don’t give up.”

3. Don’t let the schools tell you no. It doesn’t mean “no.” It means “not now.” This is how Dawn Koehn, BSN, defines rejection. It took her 10 years to complete her RN while raising three kids (including a special-needs child). “For all the times you felt you weren’t going to get there and got turned down, it’s worth it,” says Dawn. “Success is the best revenge.”

4. Keep busy. While you are waiting to reapply, prepare yourself for the medical field by volunteering at a hospital or working as a nurse’s aide. Study the nursing courses in advance so that you will be ahead of your class when the time arrives. This is what human behavior specialist Dr. John Demartini suggests. Dr. Demartini was a dyslexic high-school dropout-turned-chiropractor who taught himself how to read. Before beginning chiropractic school, he read his textbooks months in advance in order to keep up with his classmates.

5. Turn to your support system. It’s normal to feel depressed and to question your self-worth when receiving that rejection letter. When you feel this way, turn to your support system. “Your friends and family are a part of your confidence as well as your shelter,” says nursing professor Margaret Hegge, RN, MS, of South Dakota State University. “They are the ones you can always go back to, who give you a hug and tell you it’s okay.”

6. Have a plan B. Don’t limit yourself to one school. Apply to schools outside your region or state. Didn’t get into a BSN program? Then apply to an ADN or LVN program instead. This is what University of New Mexico academic adviser Ann Marie Oeschler, BSN, MA, tells students. “The more programs you apply to, the more you’ll increase your chances.”

7. Know exactly why. What did the other candidates have that you didn’t have? Perhaps your GPA needs improvement or you’re still missing prereqs. Email the admissions counselor and find out. Afterward, work on your areas of weakness. Then follow tips 1 through 6. Got it?

Tiffany Le is a former journalist and Marine. After helping her sister-in-law recover from a traumatic brain injury, Le was inspired to become a nurse. She quit her job as a reporter and works as a caregiver at a retirement home. She is currently applying to nursing school.

10 great tips for nursing school students

A Nurse’s Guide to Good Living
By: Linda Xiao Kang


As an aspiring nursing educator, I’ve spent plenty of time in nursing school and around nursing students. As a result, I’ve collected some useful advice for students on getting through nursing school. Some of these may seem obvious, but they can be easy to forget when you’re in the flurry of the program!

1. Self-care is crucial. Get enough sleep, drink plenty of water, exercise and apply what you’re learning in nutrition class to yourself. You have to be able to take care of yourself before you can take care of someone else.

2. Work hard with a system that works for you. Different study systems work for different people, and even for different classes. For example, I make videos in which I pretend I’m teaching the materials that I’m learning. Other methods include making up songs using medical vocabulary and using flashcards and acronyms. Find study methods that work for you. Nursing programs are difficult, so ignore the scuffs from your pre-med friends and make sure you’re putting everything you have into your classes. Remember that what you learn will be used to protect and save lives later in your career, so don’t just study for the grades—study to learn.

3. Develop good study habits and be organized. I found it helpful to prepare for classes by reading assigned materials that we would be covering a day before lectures, and then reviewing them within a day after the materials were taught. There have been scientific studies that say this is helpful to retain information. Being organized is important for almost anything you do. Have a big calendar on your wall with all the exam dates and other important dates, and also a personal calendar (paper or digital) for the daily tasks you need to do. There are plenty of books out there that will help you with organization skills. Our school has a learning center that helps students get organized and develop great study strategies.

4. Form a study group. Nursing programs are unique in that the group of people you know will most likely be with you throughout the program and take the same classes as you. So make friends! Even if you prefer studying by yourself, remember that nursing is a cooperative career where you have to work with others to give the best care to your patients. Your study group of nursing students can also become your support system, since they’ll know what you’re going through when you get frustrated or discouraged.

5. Ask your professors for help when you have questions. In clinical courses, ask your clinical instructor for help when you’re not familiar with the procedures. Also make sure to practice until you’re confident that you can do it right by yourself. Be sure to ask plenty of questions in your classes. In fact, be like the child who continually asks why something works the way it does. One question that I always asked my professors in my nonclinical courses was “How does this apply when we’re treating patients?”

6. Talk to senior nursing students for advice and tips. Most of the time, they can offer you lots of insight into a particular professor’s teaching style or tell you what to expect for certain classes you have to take. Some schools will even assign you nursing student mentors in addition to nursing professor mentors. Mentor program at schools can be helpful even for such things as book hand-me-downs, class notes and tips, study guides that nurses won’t need anymore, and tips on clinical locations. It’s valuable information that only a person in the program ahead of you would know.

7. Get some learning experience during the summer. If you’re not taking classes during the summer, consider an externship at a local hospital or community clinic, and review your textbooks for classes you’ve taken or will take. Whatever you do, definitely continue learning during the summer, even if you have a summer job. If you’re passionate about nursing, this won’t be hard to do, and you’ll be a lot more confident when the semester starts. Working in the clinical setting is invaluable experience that can make you more comfortable when the school year resumes.

8. Get a NCLEX review book. I didn’t put this on the list of things you could do for summer because you should be doing this even when it’s not summertime.

9. Believe in yourself and don’t give up. I said this at my high school commencement, and it applies to this day. When times get tough, remember the reason why you wanted to become a nurse in the first place, and call on your support system for help if you feel you’ve forgotten or you feel too overwhelmed. You’re not the only one going through this, so talk to your fellow nurses.

10. Remember to relax. Have a good sense of humor, don’t forget to laugh and breathe even when things get hectic.

BONUS ADVICE: Be the kind of nurse you would want if you were a patient yourself. This is the nursing version of the “GOLDEN RULE.”



NCLEX Test Taking App


Release Date: May 2014
Available on Google Play & App Store

Price: FREE


1. 20 different NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN questions per category (Initial 50 questions are installed in the app).

2. Timed questions – timer is hidden and will measure the test taker’s competency in answering questions.

3. Random Questions and Answers.

4. Performance rating at the end of each test.

5. Reminder note for the NCLEX Exam date.

6. More to come…..

10 African-American Nurses Who Changed the Course of History!

Associates Degree Nursing in Guide


Nursing has come a long way over the years, and its evolution – at least politically – owes much to the exceptional service, advocacy and determination of African Americans in the profession. From the inspirational Harriet Tubman to the feisty Mary Eliza Mahoney, these 10 women stand as shining examples to any aspiring nurse. Through their dedication, excellence and strength of spirit, these trailblazing African-American women broke down racial barriers in the nursing profession and truly changed the course of history.

10. Susie King Taylor


Susie King Taylor was an exceptional woman with many talents. During the American Civil War, she worked as a volunteer for the Union Army, handling diverse tasks such as laundering clothes, teaching soldiers how to read and write, and making custard using turtle eggs. She also knew how to handle a musket and was a pretty good shot.

But primarily Taylor was a nurse – and a daring one at that. When some of the soldiers were quarantined after coming down with smallpox, she crept into their tents and nursed them back to health, even though this was not permitted. “I was not the least afraid of the smallpox,” she said. It was the men she cared about. As she stated years afterward, “All this time my interest in the boys in blue had not abated. I was still loyal and true, whether they were black or white.”

Later, Taylor wrote an autobiographical account of her experiences titled Reminiscences of My Life In Camp with the 33d US Colored Troops. In the book, she reflects on the bad treatment of African Americans and hopes for a time when different races might live together in harmony.

9. Mabel Keaton Staupers


Born in 1890, Mabel Keaton Staupers was no stranger to racial discrimination. She encountered segregated nurse training programs and found that African Americans were excluded from major organizations. Inexcusable as it was, Staupers didn’t let prejudice hold her back. Instead, she became an imposing figure in the fight for racial equality and played a vital part in the acceptance of all ethnicities into the US Army and the American Nurses Association.

The American Nurses Association website states that Staupers was “a leader of vision, determination and courage” who “helped break down color barriers in nursing at a time when segregation was entrenched in this country.” And thanks to her efforts, “black nurses were accepted into the educational, institutional, and organizational structure of American nursing.”

8. Betty Smith Williams


Betty Smith Williams grew up in South Bend, Indiana and says that she “saw very early on how activism and collectivism could impact change.” Williams took this philosophy with her into the nursing world and became the first black individual to wear the cap of Cleveland, Ohio’s Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing. She also went on to become the first black person to teach at either a college or university in the entire state of California.

But perhaps Williams’ most groundbreaking achievement was co-founding the National Black Nurses Association in 1971. The Association is dedicated to providing black nurses with the impetus to act collectively and to improving general healthcare for African Americans. Williams became the seventh president of the association and says, “What satisfies me most is that through my work, and the work of my peers, we have stimulated others to find avenues in nursing.”

7. Estelle Massey Osborne


Born in 1901, Estelle Massey Osborne became the first black woman to earn a master’s degree in nursing. But this isn’t the only fact that distinguishes her. Throughout her career, Osborne dedicated herself to improving the options available to black nurses across the country. Her goal was to ensure that black nurses received just as high-caliber an education as their white counterparts.

In 1943, Osborne became a consultant for the National Nursing Council for War Services and helped to get the color ban lifted from nursing in the US Army and Navy. She also assisted in almost doubling, within two years, the number of training schools that would accept black students.

Then in 1945 she became the first black member of New York University’s teaching faculty and used her position to continue to fight for black nurses’ rights. Osborne’s legacy lives on in the form of the Estelle Massey Osborne Scholarship for registered black nurses interested in studying a nursing master’s degree full time.

6. Lillian Holland Harvey


Registered nurse Lillian Holland Harvey is best known for her work in education. She became Dean of Tuskegee University School of Nursing in 1948 and held the position for nearly 30 years. During her time as Dean, Harvey was pivotal in establishing and offering Alabama’s first Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. The program offered students a strong education, complete with hands-on hospital experience – both locally and out of state.

Harvey believed that everyone deserved professional acknowledgement, regardless of his or her background. Even the harsh segregation rules of the 1940s didn’t deter her, and she went on to achieve a number of honors. Harvey’s graduates say that she impacted their lives strongly and led by example. She showed them the importance of advancing their education, striking a balance between work and family life, and finding ways to get involved with their local communities.

5. Hazel W. Johnson-Brown


When Hazel W. Johnson-Brown tried to gain admission to a local hospital, she was told, “We’ve never had a black person in our program, and we never will.” Fortunately, despite the racial obstacles in her path, Johnson-Brown persevered and did become a nurse.

She studied at the Harlem Hospital School of Nursing, where she graduated in 1950. She then joined the army, working in Japan and later Korea during her service. In the 1960s, she also trained Vietnam-bound surgical nurses.

Johnson-Brown’s abilities in the operating theater led to her climbing the ranks in the army. She eventually became the first black woman to be promoted to brigadier general and the first to head the 7,000-strong US Army Nurse Corps.

As well as her Harlem diploma, Johnson-Brown achieved a nursing bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and an educational administration PhD. And to top it all off, she was awarded a number of distinguished military decorations in addition to being named Army Nurse of the Year twice.

4. Sojourner Truth


Isabella Baumfree – better known by her self-given name Sojourner Truth – was born into slavery in Ulster County, New York in 1797. And although she would later gain fame as an abolitionist and women’s rights activist, Truth was originally a nurse who served a family named the Dumonts. She was promised her freedom a year before the 1827 Emancipation Act, but when her owner changed his mind, she fled with her young daughter Sophia in 1826.

In her later years, Truth worked at the National Freedman’s Relief Association in Washington D.C., where she strove to improve the cleanliness and quality of care. But perhaps most notably, Truth used her strong voice and eloquent speeches to urge Congress to finance training programs for nurses.

In an age before any formal nurse training existed, Truth’s perception and advocacy of the need for such education remain truly legendary. And all this from a nine-year-old girl who was thrown in with a flock of sheep for $100.

3. Harriet Tubman


Harriet Tubman was an all-round inspirational figure who risked her life countless times to free others from the same slavery into which she had been born. But the 300 or so slaves she led to freedom weren’t the only people’s lives she changed. Tubman served as a nurse during the American Civil War and used her knowledge of herbal medicine to treat wounded soldiers on the island of Port Royal off the coast of South Carolina.

Using traditional remedies, Tubman cured many soldiers of dysentery and smallpox. And because she didn’t contract smallpox herself, stories spread that she had been blessed by God.

Tubman’s work was so outstanding that one Union general pushed for Congress to give her a pension for her efforts. After the war was over, Tubman continued to nurse others and helped found a home for the elderly.

2. Adah Belle Samuel Thoms


Adah Belle Samuel Thoms was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1870. In 1905, she graduated from the Lincoln Hospital and Home School of Nursing, where the following year she became acting director – a position she held for nearly two decades. During this period, it was extremely rare for black people to hold such high-level roles, but Thoms handled it with excellence. Even so, racial prejudice stopped her from officially being named director.

Thoms was a crusader who worked tirelessly for the rights of professional black nurses. She was instrumental in setting up the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses and strove for the acceptance of black nurses into the American Red Cross. She also worked for equal opportunities for nurses in the US Army Nurse Corps and even spoke to President Warren G. Harding regarding the issue – offering him and his wife roses and letting him know that 2,000 African-American nurses were waiting to do their bit for America.

1. Mary Eliza Mahoney


Mary Eliza Mahoney may have been small, but she was a force to be reckoned with. She was a pioneer who refused to succumb to the restrictions imposed by racial prejudice.

In 1879, Mahoney became the first registered black nurse when she graduated from a training program in New England. As a student, she had endured 16 hours of backbreaking labor every day, seven days a week. The program was so difficult that only three students out of the entire class of 40 graduated. And Mahoney was one of them (along with two white nurses).

Effectively, Mahoney proved that African Americans could not only become nurses, but that they could do the job with excellence, compassion and efficiency. The world of nursing would never be the same.

Mahoney went on to co-establish the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses in 1908. And in recognition of her contribution to the nursing profession, in 1936 the American Nurses Association instituted the Mary Mahoney Award, to be awarded to nurses who go above and beyond when it comes to integration and equal opportunities for minorities in the field of nursing.

Bonus: Mary Seacole


Although the term “African American” doesn’t usually apply to black people born in the Americas outside of the US, no list of trailblazing black nurses would be complete without Jamaican-born Mary Seacole.

With a reputation that rivals that of Florence Nightingale, Seacole certainly made history. Not only did she cope with prejudice and discrimination, but she was also a selfless nurse, dedicated to providing strong medical services to wounded soldiers.

After the outbreak of the Crimean War in 1853, Seacole traveled overseas to the British War Office, determined to serve as an army nurse. Then when she was refused, she funded her own trip to Crimea, started a hotel for injured officers (built out of salvaged materials), and braved enemy fire to nurse the wounded on the battlefield. Affectionately, she was known as “Mother Seacole.” And she is still remembered in Britain, where many buildings and organizations are named in her honor.