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Carrington College Blog

3 Tips All Nursing Students Should Know

May 9, 2016

It’s a rewarding career, but being a registered nurse or a practical or vocational nurse can be challenging. On top of all the medical information you have to learn, there are a bunch of emotional elements to the profession. It’s so important for people considering a career in nursing to learn how to cope with the emotions they might face, and the earlier you learn how, the better. Here are three tips you should keep in mind.

Control Your Emotions

Between working with patients, doctors and other nurses, it’s easy to get caught up in the emotions that go with working in the medical field.

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Whether you’re helping a patient through a health-related hurdle or getting involved in heated debates between staff members, it’s important for nurses to learn how to handle those emotions. [1] In a report published in the journal Nursing Standard, a student said disengaging was the best option for her. [2] When she put her emotions aside, she was able to focus on her responsibilities. Another student said he needed to absorb what others were saying to be able to function. [3] That student found he did best focusing on positive emotions. It’s important for you to find your own balance and stick to it as early in your career as possible.

Make a Little ‘Me’ Time

If you’re going to school for nursing, you know that takes up a lot of time. A 2013 survey by AMN Healthcare found that while the average nurse works 42 hours per week, 13 percent work between 45 and 50 hours and eight percent work 50-plus hours. [4] That’s a pretty intense schedule, and it can be easy to get burnt out. According to report by the University of Akron Sociology Department, most nurses feel burned out because they’re so committed to helping others they forget to spend time on themselves. [5] That’s why it’s so important you learn how to take time to shut yourself off from work and have a life without your scrubs. Maybe you want to schedule a brunch date every week with some friends, or you feel like having a weekly Netflix binge session on your day off.

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No matter what works for you, find something that takes your mind off work. Nurse Together suggests nurses need to say “no” more often, and limit their schedules to just 12 hour days. [6] Not only will that give you more time to do your own thing, it can also reduce some of the emotional strain that comes with the job.

Change the Way You Think

While you’re going to school for nursing you know you’re going to have a mountain of facts, figures and statistics thrown your way. That’s on top of learning all about human biology and tough topics like end-of-life care. Packing that much info into your brain can be exhausting, but nurses need to know how to absorb it all and use it effectively.

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As Top Universities noted, nurses need to have practical knowledge, a thorough understanding of medical concepts and expertise in how they apply to patient care. [7] It’s one thing to know about a paralytic ileus (that’s a specific obstruction in the intestine), but how does that affect patients? What will they feel? Is this going to be painful? What kinds of side effects could they have? All of your nursing knowledge should be used to help the patient. If you understand this early enough in your career, you’ll be able to make extra space upstairs to learn new things!

Getting an education in nursing is such an exciting step toward your future. With these three tips, you’ll be able to handle the facts and emotions that come with this rewarding career.

[1] “7 Expert Tips to Survive Stress and Get Through Nursing School,” Rasmussen College. January 28, 2014.

[2] “Disengaging can be a way of maintaining professionalism,” Nursing Standard. July 27, 2011.

[3] “Starting out – Patient’s appreciative words taught me to look for the good in others,” Nursing Standard. May 8, 2013.

[4] “2013 Survey Registered Nurses,” AMN Healthcare. April 2013.

[5] “Nurses Driven Mainly by a Desire to Help Others Are More Likely to Burn Out,” University of Akron. August 19, 2014.

[6] “Simple Strategies for Nurses to Balance Work and Family Life,” Nurse Together. April 2, 2012.

[7] “10 Study Tips That Will Make Nursing School Easier,” Top Universities. July 28, 2014.