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  • Writer's pictureRnMindset

5 Ways To Stay Motivated In Nursing School

Updated: Nov 19, 2018

5 Ways To Stay Motivated In Nursing School

A common conversation I hear many nursing students have with other students in different programs is the topic of how stressful nursing school is. The tone of this conversation usually happens with the nursing student trying to explain and validate how hard nursing school is. Most nursing students themselves have no idea what they got themselves into until they have reached the first week of their nursing program. They got blasted with an amount of schoolwork with an exam load they had never seen before. The prerequisite courses do pretty well with preparing students, but there is still a certain stress that is found in nursing school that can’t be found in any prerequisite course, and it can be very easy for nursing students to lose motivation. Here are 5 ways to stay motivated in nursing school, despite the stress.

Number 1. Remember why you want to be a nurse.

There are many reasons why people would want to be a nurse. The job stability, pay, and benefits are descent, but there is usually something deep down in a person’s heart that makes them want to be a nurse. When instructors give you so much homework that you feel like you don’t have enough hours in the day to cram in all the information, and you feel absolutely stressed out, it can be very easy to forget why you wanted to be a nurse in the first place.

I have read several articles lately of new nurses who stated that they wanted to be a nurse their entire life. They just loved the idea of wearing scrubs, being in the hospital, and making a ton of money. They then find out that the scrubs get infectious diseases and body fluids on them, the hospital is full of politics and policies that annoy everyone, and at the end of the day, the paycheck is just a paycheck.

Remembering why you want to be a nurse needs to be the focus of everyday of nursing school, and eventually in your nursing career. If your main reason of being a nurse it to make money, wear scrubs, or fulfill your fantasies of nursing after watching Grey’s Anatomy, that is fine, I am not the person to say why a person should be a nurse. My point is that there needs to be a drive in your life that keeps you going through all the stress of nursing school. My drive comes from two things. I have always enjoyed helping other people, and I enjoy learning about the human body. When I need more motivation to get through my study time, thinking back on why I want to be a nurse helps me push through.

Number 2. Create good habits, and keep them.

Motivation is like exercise. Motivated people don’t become super driven overnight. They started with small steps, and worked their way into a motivated person. Having good habits early on in nursing school is key to success. The nursing students that I have seen that are able to push through their work and score well on their exams are the students who had good habits. We are bombarded with distractions with our phones and devices, that it is so easy to have bad habits that keep us distracted from doing our work and being successful in nursing school.

Your brain creates cues that form into habits. Something I have noticed at work is that when I go to the elevator to get to my unit, I pull out my phone and see if I have any texts while waiting for the elevator. I didn’t realize that this was a habit until I forgot my phone, and when I got to the elevator I realized how awkward it felt to not have my phone. When you are studying, have a routine that helps you know that it is time to study, and not do anything else. This routine will form into a habit, and it will be easier for you to study without distractions. When I am in the library, I know that it is study time, and I get right to my books. I have made a routine of how I study, and when I get into the rhythm, I am able to study productively.

Number 3. Take breaks.

Taking breaks could not be stressed enough in nursing school. Nursing students can get overwhelmed and so stressed that they make mistakes, sometimes big mistakes. It is very important for nursing students to study and put in many hours into their courses in order to pass their exams, but being overwhelmed will not be conducive to your learning.

When you study, find how long you can study productively. When you find that you are daydreaming and not paying attention to your study, take a break long enough for you to relax your mind, and then get back to your study. When you are about to take an exam, study hard, get to know your information, and then go to the testing center with a positive and relaxed mind. Getting worked up and stressed while trying to cram outside the door of the testing center will most likely hurt your exam score.

Have a day of your week that you can catch up on sleep, de-stress, and get your mind ready to pound through another week of nursing school. It is understandable that every students situation is different, and some students may have more time than others, but it is imperative that you have at least one day a week that you can build your mindset to be productive in another week of nursing school.

Number 4. Strength in numbers.

Trying to go through nursing school without a strong base of support is like rowing a boat by yourself upriver. Every nursing students situation is different, and there isn’t a single type of support group that will be best for everyone, but finding the people in your life that give you support on a daily basis is a must. When students have positive group discussions, motivation and productivity can skyrocket.

Number 5. Remember your goals.

Having goals in nursing school will help you keep your motivation high throughout your program. When creating your goals, focus on one or two main goals, then work everyday on your end goals. The goal should be simple enough for you to be able to realistically accomplish it, yet challenging enough for you to have to work on it every day. I had a goal to graduate from nursing school with high honors. I considered the end goal winning the war. All the daily goals were like battles and fights to eventually win the war. Every class I was in was affected by my main goal. If you focus everything you have on a goal that would basically be considered more of a battle, and you don’t have your mindset focused on the end result, you will find that your goals might be scattered, and you will struggle when the battle of nursing school is getting you down. Creating too many goals will complicate your end result, unless you have a goal that is concrete and one that will be able to tie in your battles through nursing school. If you have a goal to pass pharmacology with an A, and you devote all your time and energy to that class, and you put your med surge on the back burner and fail med surge, you failed nursing school, and your goal for pharmacology is also ineffective. If you can create good goals and remember them, your motivation will be high, and you will do well at all of the little things to help you accomplish your main goal.

  1. Remember why you want to be a nurse.

  2. Create good habits, and keep them.

  3. Take breaks.

  4. Strength in numbers.

  5. Remember your goals.


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