C’s get degrees!

C Nursing StudentOne of the things that sends me over the edge is when I hear someone happily exclaim, “C’s get degrees!” in reference to their nursing school education. While it is factual and true, it is such a fundamentally wrong attitude that I shake my head every single time I hear it…and also hope the student who says it never works on my unit nor is ever my nurse.

Now don’t get me wrong. There is absolutely nothing wrong with brushing yourself off after a poor performance and getting right back up on that horse.There is nothing wrong with brushing yourself off after a poor performance. Click To Tweet I’ve known plenty of smart-as-a-whip students who earned a C on a test or even in an entire course and still went on to become wonderful nurses. Maybe they had test anxiety and didn’t test well, maybe a migraine made an appearance, maybe their dog died that morning…the list of things that can muck up your grades is endless. Regardless, they didn’t have the cavalier attitude of one who aims to just be a C nursing student, and that makes all the difference. Everyone has an off day, or even an off week. Some people even have entire semesters when they’re not at the top of their game…life happens and you can’t always plan it out in advance. But the point is, earning a poor grade despite your best intentions and earning a poor grade out of laziness (and then bragging about it) are two entirely different things. Which nurse would you rather have taking care of your family member? The nurse who studied their tail off for the exam and had an “off day” is going to be far more prepared than the nurse who didn’t study at all, because (say it with me) “C’s get degrees!!”

I have always said that “Straight A Nursing Student” isn’t as much about making a 4.0 throughout your program as it is about learning the material and taking excellent care of your patients (and yourself!). And yes, I have sat through countless arguments about how “C” students make better nurses because they are more caring and better at clinical and how “A” students are great at earning the grade, but lack the know-how to excel in clinical. To me, this is just a bunch of poorly-performing students chiding away at those who have put in the time and effort while they sit back with their 2.0 knowing they’ll get their degree regardless. And when you take into account that a C is the lowest grade one can attain in nursing school and still pass, you have to realize that in most cases, a C is very close to failing…I can’t imagine being comfortable with that, especially knowing that someday I would be responsible for people’s LIVES. Let that sink in. Nurses hold people’s LIVES IN THEIR HANDS. What we do or don’t do during a shift can make the difference between life and death. Now, how hard are you going to study for your next exam?

As to who does better in clinical situations, I am not one to say that C students can’t do fantastic in clinical and that “book-smart” students can’t flail when it comes to actual patient care…but to generalize so broadly is just plain wrong. I have even seen people making the argument that students who perform poorly in the classroom make great nurses because they infuse their care with the human touch. In my humble opinion, you don’t need to go to school for five years to learn how to be nice and caring to people. You need to go to school for five years to understand pathophysiology, pharmacology, electrolytes, homeostasis, microbiology, the Krebs cycle, cardiac electrophysiology, hemodynamics, biochemistry, assessment, and so on and so forth.

As we come to what is the end of the semester for many of you, don’t focus so much on what grade you earned, but how you got there. Ask yourself “What did I learn? How will I use this information to take care of patients? What do I still need to learn? How can I apply this knowledge to what I already know to understand the big picture?” By reflecting on these important questions, it doesn’t matter what grade you receive…you WILL be a thoughtful, conscientious and caring nurse. Yes, C’s get degrees, so if you work hard and still get a C on that test or in that course, I am immensely proud of you. But please don’t sit back knowing you can just “get by” without studying. Your future patients are counting on you.

And guess what? A’s and B’s get degrees, too (and in a tough job market, they also get the job).

As always, be safe out there!

 

12 thoughts on “C’s get degrees!

  1. Dana

    You can’t even get into the nursing program unless you are a straight A student but once you are in the grading scale changes. 79% is a D in the nursing program.

    Reply
    1. Nurse Mo Post author

      Excellent point, Dana…it’s tough to get in, and even tougher to stay in. All the more reason to study hard, focus on what you learned and know you’ve done your best!

      Reply
    1. Nurse Mo Post author

      That’s what I always say, too! Do your best and the rest will take care of itself.

      Reply
  2. Cocoa

    I just purchased your book from Amazon and I love it. I am already in the program and am now taking health assessment. In the book you suggest we skim chapters before the class and refine the knowledge like an upside down pyramid. Well I am in an accelerated program and we get at lest 4-6 chapters to read before the next class plus additional material to review. Do you have any tips for reviewing 4-6 chapters with massive amounts of information. I’m a thorough learner but it is impossible for me to read the entire chapters. My teachers reads from the power points with few examples from her own experience as a nurse. The tests usually consists of 3 modules (each of them having 4-6 chapters assigned). Any refined suggestions for someone like me still struggling to grasp all of this info?

    Reply
    1. Nurse Mo Post author

      If you’re looking at 4-6 chapters, then you have to skim a lot! Read the chapter headers and take note of any call-out graphics or photos. I usually would do most of my reading AFTER lecture as I typed up my notes and filled in any gaps. Good luck!!! You’re going to be one busy girl!

      Reply
  3. Destinee

    This is my first semester of nursing school and I am working my butt off, but I’m starting to feel rather incompetent next to my fellow nursing classmates. Except for Adult Care I, I do fairly decent on lecture tests in my other classes (mostly mid/high B’s, sometimes A’s). I thought I was finally starting to get it, but I just bombed my Care HESI. Is there hope for me as a nurse or should I choose a different career path? I want this so badly, but I’m not sure if I’m smart enough.

    Reply
    1. Nurse Mo Post author

      YES THERE IS HOPE! I wish I could reach out and give you a big hug and a big ol’ cup of herbal tea…take a deep breath and relax. Yes, nursing school is hard as heck so please don’t feel like you are the only one who is working their butt off. I guarantee you everyone is!
      The first semester is the most difficult as you get used to those super-tricky tests…do you feel like you know the material but are having trouble choosing the right answer? If that’s the case, do you have any NCLEX study books? Check out my post about study methods here

      This post might help, too!

      Or, if you need even more help, check out my book Nursing School Thrive Guide here:

      I hope this helps you Destinee! Hang in there! Don’t give up…you are amazing…if you weren’t, you wouldn’t have made it this far. Please check back in and let me know how you are doing!!!

      Reply
  4. Yuri Zeraus

    I am a straight C nurse with a few A’s and B’s in the program. I had repeated courses a lot of time but I studied a lot and no my material. I have no Idea why I struggle so much . Now I am an awesome Pediatric nurse practicing for two years and was promoted to charge nurse. So for all who struggle in nursing school and made C’s as well failed. If you really want it go for it but keep in mind your future patients review ,review ,review. Hope this Helps 🙂

    Reply
    1. Nurse Mo Post author

      Excellent, Yuri! It’s not the grade, it’s how you get there. Sounds like you worked hard so you could do what’s best for your patients…thanks for the inspiring message!

      Reply
  5. Kaoru

    A’s and B’s get a job? tough market? where? there is never enough nurses to go around. C’s do get you good jobs and good ones. I am an A or B student and I would never tell anyone that a C is failing or that it wont get you anywhere because this ain’t true. There are parameters to pass a class (scores) and the responsible is the education system, that decided a C would be the lowest grade on nursing school. I see A’s student performing terrible on clinicals, with attitudes that are toxic and not holistic at all toward the patients, they are after a paycheck and then you see those who struggle to be good nurses getting C’s even when they know the material.
    C’s get Degrees; Yes they do.
    Is that enough?: Yes it is.

    Reply
    1. Nurse Mo Post author

      Sadly, there ARE markets where it is extremely tough to get a job as a new grad. There were 5,000 people who applied for the new-grad program I was accepted into…5,000 applicants for a handful of jobs. That is not a typo. For those who do not live in such markets…then count yourselves very lucky.

      When it comes to applying for jobs in areas where new-grad positions are highly, highly competitive, then every little bit helps…and maybe graduating with honors is what helps a student’s resume stand out from a sea of others. Also, my point was more about the attitude and effort students put into their studies. I think we can all agree that the student who strives to learn the material is superior to the student who does not…regardless of grade earned.

      Thanks for sharing your experience with the job market in some areas being so robust…that is a hopeful prospect!

      Reply

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