5 Things No One Ever Tells You About Nursing School

Debra Riley


If you are thinking of doing nursing as a career, first, on behalf of every patient and every patient’s family and friends, well done, because if there is one thing the world always needs it is more nurses.

But you’re not thinking about this just because you’re going to be well-regarded. You are probably doing it because you want to make a difference, and you can indeed do that, but only if you do it well.

There is more to nurse training than meets the eye, and here are five things to think about.

nursing school tips

It is Hard Work Physically

Yes, the training is hard physically, and so it should be because it’s a demanding job. Nurses spend a lot of time on their feet, which may not sound much when you’re young and fit, but it takes its toll and the practical side of the training prepares you for the real thing. There is heavy lifting involved, and much of that involves handling people.

Someone else’s body is hard to manage because it is long and has those limbs flapping all over the place, making it hard to balance. Even if a patient is trying to help you, they are a difficult load, and they can weigh in at 200 pounds or much more.

You will be trained in the art of lifting, and there are mechanical aids to make it easier, but the fact remains that many nurses, particularly as they get older, can suffer from a bad back, which may not be a very scientific term but is suitably vague to convey a broad range of strains resulting in the need to be careful.

It is Emotionally Demanding

Those who enter the nursing profession looking forward to helping people may be surprised to find there are disappointments as well as moments of elation. A nurse needs to have the emotional strength to help people.

Patients are vulnerable and often unsure and fearful, while their visitors can range from intense and concerned to suspicious and even hostile.

People get very protective when their loved ones are in someone else’s hands. Most of the time you will be regarded as something of an angel, but not always. A large part of mental health in nursing means you will need to be supportive and reassuring, knowledgeable but occasionally economical with the facts, and firm.

You’ve got a job to do and sometimes all is not sweetness and light.

school of nursing sign

Training Costs Money

Colleges are a vital component of the education system, but they are also businesses and therefore they need to make money. With educators to pay and premises to maintain, they must charge students fees, so nurses, just like anyone else, may have to get a student loan and look around for grants and scholarships to help with the funding.

With all that in place to get you through the course, at the end of it you will be out in the world, hopefully with a job, and the loan will have to be repaid.

Depending on your circumstances, though, you may be able to renegotiate, and it is worth looking up student loan refinance to see if a different lender might give you more favorable terms. Nursing may not be the best-paid career, but it is a respected one and relatively stable, so get out there and see what you can do.

You may want to pay the thing off early or you may need to borrow more. Just remember, everything is negotiable.

There is a Hierarchy in Healthcare

Just like any other group of professionals, nurses can be competitive. While there will always be a team spirit, everybody has strengths and weaknesses, specialties, preferences, and dislikes, and there are career ranks to be respected.

Depending on the school and hospitals where you train, you may find that in the cafeteria, certain categories of nurses sit together, and others must find another table. That’s life, and you will find hierarchies everywhere from government departments to building sites.

You will soon get a feel for the way your place of work and study operates. 

student nurses in class

There is Theory to Learn

As a nurse, you will be expected to know plenty. Even though it is the doctors and the specialists who dictate treatments, you will need a thorough understanding of what patients are experiencing to play your role in helping them.

Therefore, there will be a lot of study time during your training, poring over books and websites, attending lectures and tutorials, and taking in as much as you can of what are often complex and potentially confusing subjects.

The plus side of this, and it’s a big plus, is that nurses today are not merely smiling assistants, but professionals with a big fund of knowledge. Come the end of your training, and increasingly as the years go by, you will know things, and that’s a good feeling.

Sometimes what you study may seem to be unlikely to happen, but as a nurse, you never know what you’re going to be dealing with next, and that little nugget somewhere in your brain that you never thought you would use can suddenly come racing to the front as exactly what you need in a certain situation.