Nursing school can be daunting if you are unaware of the daily responsibilities and requirements nursing students face. Most prospective students do not perform in-depth research about this career path. Hence, they often feel blindsided by the pressure and stress of the coursework once it begins in earnest. As a result, about 20% of nursing students give up entirely on this career and drop out.
You must understand the daily requirements and academic commitments of a nursing student if you want to properly succeed in nursing school. For example, many nursing students need to wake up early at 5:00 a.m. or 6:00 a.m. to start their rigorous day. Bianca Acosta, a registered nurse in Rio Rancho, starts her day at 4:30 a.m.
While a career in nursing is unpredictable, you can find flexibility in the chaos. Below I’ll detail the typical life of a nursing student and how to navigate it successfully. This will help you create a routine and stay on top of everything.
Why Do You Need a Routine in a Nursing Program?
There are two types of programs available in nursing school. One is an accelerated track, while the other one is a traditional track. The main differences between the two are the time it takes to reach completion and prerequisites.
For example, traditional tracks last about four years and do not require prior degrees. But accelerated programs last fewer than twenty months and require you to have prior non-nursing degrees.
You will need a proper routine and schedule, irrespective of the course you choose. For example, accelerated bachelor of nursing programs will be very stressful if you do not create a proper routine.
Why? Because these 16-month courses will give you 60 credit hours with 450+ clinical hours. Without proper schedules or routines, time management, and skills, you might not succeed.
Did you know that one in every three nurses will retire by the end of 2030? This will create a surge in job openings. According to Elmhurst University, about 60% of all registered nurse job postings require a bachelor’s degree.
Hence, you need to design a realistic schedule that will help with your daily commitments to succeed in this accelerated track. Doing so will help you stay organized, prioritize, and be flexible.
What to Expect in Nursing School?
To create a proper schedule or timetables, you will need to understand your daily commitments. Try to create a ritual at the start of the semester and stick to it for the rest of the year.
Yet, keep your schedule flexible because this preprofessional track is unpredictable and variations might occur. Either way, you can expect the following and be ready to include them in your routine:
- Online, offline, morning, or evening lectures, classes, and lab sessions
- The commuting time between your home, college, and clinics for rotations
- At-home studying or review tests, assignments, and study materials
- Self-care activities like home errands, cooking, exercise, and leisure
The time spent on each activity and responsibility will depend on the type of program you have selected.
Overall Schedule of Nursing Students
According to Mia Dilenno, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) graduate, nursing students should be up and about when the clock strikes six. She is usually at the campus by 6:15 a.m. to get a head start on the lectures.
After class, she focuses on building her professional skills at 10:00 a.m. and around noon she practices in the simulation lab. At 2:00 p.m., she heads for lunch and relaxes with her friends. By 7:00 p.m., Mia is done with her assignments and tries to go to bed by 9:30 p.m.
This scenario gives you some perspective on the daily occurrence in a nurse student’s life. Ideally, two types of routines can follow:
#1. Classes and Study Day
During study days, you will have classes and lectures. You can start by waking up early, going for a run, having breakfast, and leaving for campus. Once the classes start, you need to make notes of everything and clear your doubts.
After the classes get over, it is time for a healthy lunch and reviewing the coursework. Once you get home, you can start working on assignments with your study group.
#2. Clinical Rotations
You start your day earlier than study days so that you can reach the hospital with a full stomach. Once your shift starts, you should focus all your energy on learning practical skills from superiors and teachers.
During your break, you can have some lunch or snacks and get back to the shift again. When the shift ends, you can head back home, freshen up and start studying or working on assignments and homework.
For both cases, ensure to go to bed early and have a timely dinner.
8 Tips to Deal with Nursing School
Katie O’Sullivan, a nursing student, used to work a full thirty-six hours a week, which caused her to develop stress. Hence, you need to do the following to avoid feeling stressed:
- Focus on physical and emotional self-care activities
- Follow the nursing guides provided by the school
- Always be attentive in class and ask doubts without hesitation
- Ensure to study a few hours every day without fail
- Stay organized with your study materials and routine
- Create or join a study group with your peers and classmates
- Start journaling about your daily shenanigans
- Skim-read new materials and use outside resources
Furthermore, you need to take breaks from your routine to stay healthy and happy.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, nursing school is demanding and requires you to put in 100% effort. You will need to focus on coursework, clinical duties, studies, and more.
For that, most students start their day early. However, their routine depends on clinical rotations, classes, or study days.
Expect to perform duties at clinics, study hard at home or in dorm rooms, and perform self-care activities. At the end of the day, you get to learn about the clinical and theoretical aspects of nursing practice. With proper time management, study materials, and de-stressing activities, you can succeed on this academic path and hit the group running with this increasingly in-demand career.