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Rules for Nursing Students

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Students, here is a list of suggestions for nursing students, originally compiled by another nursing student from Scrubs Magazine:

1. Type everything. Instructors prefer typed documents.

It’s easier, of course, to jimmy handwriting so that you take up the requisite five pages, which is why instructors prefer typing. It’s also nice to be able to read what somebody wrote without having to decipher hieroglyphics for hours. Contrary to popular belief, most nurses have handwriting just as bad as that of most doctors.

2. Handwrite everything. Instructors prefer to see your handwriting.

Or, as one particularly flaky instructor told me, “I like to get a feeeeel for what you’re doing.”

3. Concentrate on textbook learning; you’ll learn skills in your graduate internship.

Not a bad piece of advice, especially if you have an internship like mine: heavy on tests for the first three weeks.

4. Concentrate on skills; you won’t have time to learn them at your first job.

Foleys and IVs are all you really need to know. A trained monkey can do a dressing change. Really.

5. You will always have one instructor who is totally, completely, inarguably from Mars. Deal with it.

My “From Mars” moment came in a classroom discussion of ethics and the nursing shortage in our last semester, when one of the instructors on the team told us that the reason for the nursing shortage was that “we’ve aborted a third of our population since 1973.” Everybody, for some reason, turned and looked right at me. I said nothing, preferring to marvel at the clear transmission she achieved even while orbiting somewhere outside the Van Allen Belt.

6. One in 10 of your female classmates is looking to meet a doctor. One in 10 of your male classmates might be, too. Deal with it.

Not much you can do about that one, unfortunately. The most you can hope for is that she’ll leave the plum job she gets as soon as she meets a likely resident, leaving the position open for you.

Before anybody accuses me of stereotyping or downing young female nurses, may I present the following evidence? Out of 19 female classmates, one was in nursing school so her husband would “get off her back” about getting a job. She was pregnant at the beginning of our last semester. Another two were self-professed doctor-hunters. A fourth was admittedly in it for the money, and took a job at a pediatric clinic with the expectation that it would be low work/high pay (heh). A fifth was “drifting,” in her own words, and didn’t know if she’d actually use the degree or take up crystal healing.

Is it any wonder I was valedictorian of my class?

7. You will have no life for two to four years. Don’t worry. It’ll still be there when you get back.

I swear. Really. Honest. You’ll be able to sleep and get haircuts and go dancing and everything.

8. Everybody thinks they flunked the NCLEX. Few people actually do. Go ahead and get blasted anyhow.

9. Yes, you do look dorky in those whites.

10. No matter how bad things are now, they will end. You will eventually be a nurse. Of course, you’ll also redefine happiness.

I can’t tell you how much weight I lost the last six weeks of nursing school. The speculation on class ranking had really ramped up, and as immune as I tried to stay, I still felt the pressure to come in first. I think the under on me was something like 10 points.

But it ended. Valedictorian means s–t in the world, except that older nurses will expect you to be able to recite the latest information on disease X without pausing, like a computer.

And you know what? Being a nurse is infinitely easier than being a student. For one thing, being pushed out of the nest means not only the freedom to screw up, it means the freedom to make judgments. You’re not really allowed to do that as a student. For another, you’re finally done with those f&%$ingcare plans. For a third, you’re able to sleep without dreaming that you’ve missed a test or three. Instead, you dream of beeping IV pumps.

To all those poor sots out there who have three, or two, or just one semester to go before the NCLEX, I raise a toast. Nursing is not the hardest job in the world. Being a nursing student is.

Oh, I forgot one thing:

11. Comfortable shoes. Comfortable shoes. Comfortable shoes. Comfortable shoes. Comfortable shoes, fer Goodnesssake!

This post originally appeared in The Head Nurse blog


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