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10 Things I Didn't Learn in Nursing School

Posted by Ashley Bails Thursday, May. 16, 2013

superhero nurse rectangle magnetLet’s face it. You finished nursing school and now you got your first big job.You’re feeling good about yourself... on top of the world. As the weeks start to pass, you start thinking that you missed the "survival skills" class during your college career.

We've rounded up a few Nebraska Methodist College grads to give some (humorous) input about what they didn't learn in nursing school.

1. How to survive the night shift.

You never knew how little sleep you can survive on until you work the night shift. Sleep schedules are constantly being turned around. You do a ton of “snacking” all night to keep yourself awake. It’s not all about giving people their pills and tucking them in—crazy stuff happens at night! It’s bizarre to want to go get a nightcap with your co-workers at 8 am.

2. “Gross Story” Etiquette.

Unless you are surrounded by other nurses or healthcare professionals at all times, it is typically not okay to discuss all the gross things you see at work on a daily basis. We just assume everyone else thinks those gross things are acceptable dinner conversation.

3. Never buy white shoes. Ever!

I still think it is crazy they require nursing students to wear white shoes in the messiest profession around. When you are dealing with the kind of “clean-ups” nurses deal with daily, the last thing you want is a pair of bright white tennis shoes. The all white uniforms still baffle me!

4. Bladder control.

It is not unrealistic to hold my bladder for 6-12 hours a day. Seriously… a nurse never has time to pee. There should be bladder training programs in nursing school. 

5. How to eat on the go.

Nurses don’t get to eat or drink either- which is good for the above bladder issues. You have to learn to eat a bite here, a saltine there- just to keep your blood sugar up. 

6. It's dark in there.

Often times you need a flashlight when putting in a catheter.

7. Nurses eat their young...kind of. 

It's not really true in the sense that everyone thinks. Nurses don’t have TIME to eat their young. We have time for working as a team, caring for our patients and a whole lot of charting. If other nurses can’t keep up, well, the ship is sailing without them.

8. Gas Mask Etiquette.

Often times when you're inserting a suppository, a patient will pass gas in your face. It took me awhile to figure out how maintain my composure and not let my gag reflex take over.

9. Personality Disorder.

It's just general knowledge that you're going to deal with different people with different personalities. But being able to work with grouchy doctors with multiple personalities is something that takes fine practice. You have little contact with REAL doctors in school so I was quickly surprised by the working relationships I would form with them.

10 Making a Difference.

We all know that we will make a difference in our patients' lives. But until you really feel that and see it in their eyes, you just can't teach it in a classroom.  

No nursing school can teach students what it's like to live nursing every day. Nurses are lifetime learners and continue to build on their knowledge base. Nurses see it all but it takes a career to do it.


Thank you to Jillian Plymesser, BSN, RN, Kristin Markel, BSN, RN and Annie Bowman, MA, BSN, RN for contributing.

nursing degrees online

Topics: nurse education, just for fun

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