Maybe you’re well-entrenched in nursing school or perhaps you’re getting ready to start. Either way, knowing what some of the (how should we say this?) annoyances are, can help you meet them head-on with some solutions in mind so you can avoid wasting time being frustrated. Here are the top six annoying things about nursing school.
#1: The know-it-all classmate
This is the person who sits in the front row (nothing against front-row people…I am a TOTAL front-row person) who has the book smarts and definitely wants you (and everyone else) to know it. They smugly announce their exam scores, argue with the professors and never offer to work in collaboration with their classmates.
The Solution: If you find yourself coming across a know-it-all, you can do one of two things. Ignore them (not as easy as you’d think), or try to understand them. Know-it-alls (or is it “knows-it-all…hmmm) are usually projecting from a place of pretty deep insecurity. If you come across one of these creatures, approach with caution (are we in a nature documentary?). Seriously…try to approach him/her with compassion and interact in a way that lets it be known you are interested in getting to know them as a person…and not as a walking encyclopedia. Once s/he realize you might find them engaging for reasons OTHER than academics, maybe (just maaaaybe) they’ll chill out. Note that some people have a complete lack of self-awareness…so this doesn’t always happen! In that case, ignore and don’t participate in gossip about said individual as that just breeds more negativity and we ain’t got time for that!
#2: The “This one time” person (AKA the Storyteller, AKA “My cousin’s friend’s mom’s dog’s trainer had that and…)
Ohmygosh…the storytellers come out of the woodwork in nursing school. Guys, I am NOT kidding. Every. Single. Lecture. While some of these stories can provide insight into the patient experience or a certain disease process…there are times when it just gets to be a bit much. Especially when you JUST WANT TO GET OUT OF THERE!
The Solution: If the storytellers start spinning their yarns and you don’t need the information they are providing, pull out your flashcards, review your notes, or plan your schedule. You’d be surprised how much planning you can get done in those few minutes of story time. P.S. If you think it’s bad in Med/Surg…wait until you get to Peds! Everyone’s kids have had ear infections…enough already!
#3 The last-minute changes and updates
There comes a point in every nursing student’s life when they stop writing things down in their planner in pen. Things will get changed, moved, adjusted, postponed and tweaked…it just happens. While big things like exams can’t typically be changed (they are on the syllabus which is basically your “contract” for the course), other things will be…locations of exams, supplies needed for lab, clinical conferences, when exam scores will be available…the list goes on. You may also be sad to discover that while many of your professors try to get the PowerPoint notes for a lecture uploaded in advance of the class…it doesn’t always happen. Sad face.
The Solution: Nursing schools are notoriously short-staffed, so you just have to accept the fact that your professors are probably absolutely overwhelmed and doing the best they can. While it may seem really unorganized, what you are witnessing is the nursing faculty shortage in action. Write your plans in pencil and be sure to check your email or web portal system (like Blackboard) regularly.
Pro Tip! If you find a little nugget of information on your school’s web portal system, I guarantee you that you’ll never be able to find it again (was it an email, a message post, a comment?) Take a screen shot of the nugget and label it accordingly. You’ll save SO MUCH time by not having to hunt all over for it again. Promise.
#4 Study groups that don’t study
If you’ve read my book, you know how I feel about study groups. But maybe you’re totally into it…after all, these are your new BFFs, right? The trouble with study groups is that they are a monumental waste of time…the bigger they are, the more time they waste. I tried studying with my nursing school BFFs in a big group, and while I LOVED the social interaction, I didn’t get much studying done. After I realized this wasn’t the best use of my time, I limited my study groups to me and one other person….and I chose those people carefully (basically goal-directed, busy students like me who wanted to get in, get out and get on with it).
The Solution: If you MUST study with others, limit it to no more than a three-person group (including yourself). Set goals for each study session and determine in advance how you are going to study. Are you going to quiz each other? Are you going to take turns taking the others through a difficult concept? Are you going to complete a case study together? Take online quizzes (if your profs allow this, of course). Also, set a time-frame for your study session…if you know you are only going to be there for two hours, you’re more likely to make those two hours count.
#5 Group projects
Ok guys, you’ve heard it here first…group projects are a HUGE annoyance in nursing school! Not only the sheer number (at least one EVERY class, EVERY semester) makes them awful, but the fact that there always seems to be one person who does not pull their weight. And, if you’re like me, you always end up being the group leader (Pro Tip: don’t do this!)
The Solution: First of all, DO not volunteer to be the project leader every time. Just take my word for this. Secondly, it helps if you organize your group project with clear expectations from the get-go in a Kick-Off Meeting. If you use my nursing student planner, you’re probably already in love with the Project Planning Pages in the back. Using a tool like this (or create your own) helps you keep project parameters and group members contact info all in one place. It’s also where you can outline the project and assign each person an equitable assignment ALONG WITH DUE DATES (forgive the all caps, but that part is super important). Discuss the timeline with all members in your kick-off meeting so that everyone’s ability to do their task in the time allotted is understood as there are times when things will need to be done in a sequential order.
If you are the group leader, DO NOT take on a significant portion of your own. Trust me, you will be busy enough keeping the project moving along. Instead, I found it works best if the group leader is the one who puts it all together at the end…edits the entire project and formats all the individual parts into a paper or PowerPoint presentation. As the leader, you will also trouble-shoot with members if they hit roadblocks and, guess what…pick up the slack if someone lets you down. It happens.
#6 The test-day freak out
Nursing school exams can be tricky, and if you have test anxiety or just haven’t gotten those darn NCLEX-style questions figured out yet…you’re going to be a bundle of nerves. So imagine walking into the building where your exam will be held to encounter a gaggle of your buddies frantically quizzing each other and basically freaking out about the upcoming exam. This is a recipe for disaster.
The Solution: DO NOT study the day of the exam. If you’ve been following my study techniques, then you won’t have to! Also, it is highly unlikely that you are going to retain any new information during a time of high anxiety, so just stop. But what about the gaggle? My advice is to simply avoid it…go somewhere else right before the exam (somewhere close by, but not so close you get involved in the festivities). Put in your earbuds and play some relaxing music. Do a crossword on your phone or play a game of Sudoku…something to keep your mind sharp and flexible while you relax a bit before the Big Show. You’ll do great.
What are your biggest nursing school pet peeves? How do you deal with them? Share them in the comments below!