bsn medical

Starting out in nursing school: an updated guide.

So back at the end of 2014 i made a list of everything you’d need to start nursing school… the reality is that this list was made before myself had ever started. I knew i wanted to make an updated version after going to university so here it is 3 years later. It makes me laugh so much! 

2014 Vs 2017

Not in original: 

Sense of humor
Strong stomach
Crazy Curiosity
And immunity to bitch hierarchy BS!

But seriously….

Planner - 1 page per day.

Wall Calendar –for visualizing what is coming up each month.
Weekly to-do List – it feels great to be able to cross things off each week.

Household Schedule – for keeping school in perspective with life.

Paper -  pocket notebook for clinicals, loose leaf paper, printer paper and index cards 3x5 and 5x8.

Folders - 3-ring binder, display folders with plastic sleeves.  
Misc. - 3 holed punch, calculator, small stapler, staples.
Pens, highlighters and pencils– for note taking. Highlighting key ideas and for drawing diagrams for study aids.Technology/ devices.
Recorder – great for recording lectures and classes. Also comes in handy for recording any notes you make to so that you can reinforce concepts. It is important to make sure that your teacher gives permission for you to record as they may have a strict policy. More often than not they allow it for personal use and ask that you do not distribute it.   Most Lectures should be recorded onto an online system through your university where you can stream them or download to listen to as a study tools in your own time. Note: if your school does this, don’t think that you can get away with not attending as 9 times out of 10, the day that there is a system failure will be the day that your away.
Laptop/Desktop computer – important for accessing online content, doing assessments and checking emails. It is important to have internet access while completing nursing school, however if you are unable to have it at home, most public libraries and educational institutes provide computer labs to their students.
Printer/Scanner – for printing assessments and lecture notes. This is also convenient but not necessary, so if you are prepared to pay small fee at public libraries and other educational institutes they always have many on hand to access.
IPod/mp3 player – amazing for unwinding to your favourite music or even uploading recordings of notes and lectures for extra reinforcement while going for a run or walking the dog. I personally love listening while I’m cooking or washing up.  Nurse Stuff!!! 

Water proof watch – must have a second hand So a wrist watch is actually NOT ok! You’ll need a fob watch instead (hangs from shirt) as a wrist watch is a major health hazard and you’ll need to be washing all up in there repeatedly.

Stethoscope – 
Your school may have a particular one that they want you to use that is fairly cheap. If they allow other brands, Littman is very good and reliable and will definitely take you all the way through nursing school. However, make sure you have it engraved or don’t let it out of your sight as I have heard sooooooo many stories of them being stolen out of bags etc. Basically you can get away with not having your own …  most times you’ll need them will be in labs at school because everyone will be using them at once at it’s easier to just have your own, but out on placement there is always one with the obs gear and people aren’t running around with steths 24/7.       

Comfortable shoes – this is a no brainer. Nurses are on their feet all day and night so it is important to splash out where comfort and support is needed. Klogs, despite being some of the ugliest shoes to exist, are wonderful. Dansko are also really comfortable, as well as the brand Sanita which offers cute prints and colours. We just needed leather enclosed nurse shoes, something with support and durability.    

Durable bag - this one is also really important! A lot of people have said that a bag with wheels comes in good use when you’re lugging heavy books across campus. Please don’t use shoulder bags! You will wind up with an immense amount of strain on your shoulder, and they just aren’t practical. So I get away with my big ass handbag. I can throw my A4 notebook and bens in their as well as a snack and a bottle of water. Realistically you don’t have to take your textbooks with you to uni. They have them in the libraries do don’t break your body and cart the dead weights aound. 5.      
Scrubs – Scrubs are a bit of a grey area as there will be variations in what is required of students from school to school. Mostly blue are used I believe, but I may be wrong. NOT REQUIRED!!!!    

Student uniform - this will be something you purchase from your school. It is important for when you are on placement so that you are recognised as a student from your school. Make sure you have pockets in your pants!  Also I have three of the shirts and three sets of work pants. Note: get yourself a few sets of compression socks and save your feet and legs the pain.       

Long sleeve tops – nurses have early starts and finishes so it is important to stay warm. Hospitals often aren’t the warmest of environments so having a few long sleeve tops to layer up with is definitely worth it.  Yeah… no! Your not allowed to wear long sleeves. Its bear bellow the elbow in most facilities so buy yourself a singlet and tough it out!   

Penlight – 
penlights are like pens, you’ll start off the shift with a few spares but by the end you’ll be trying to trace your steps back to find one! They aren’t too expensive so whenever you, replenish your hoard! Haha Not really the case and only used for neuro obs. The first RN I ever worked with gave me his as a gift. He was lovely !     

Bandage/Dressing scissors – 
these will be your best friend. There’s no need to go out and by a ridiculously expensive pair. Just the basics that do their job! This is maybe one of the less important items you need when only starting out.    

Medical Dictionary – 
every student needs one. It is so handy for looking things up and often they have small diagram explanations. I actually picked up a seventh edition Oxford mini dictionary for Nurses which is great and it is the perfect size.    
Latest Drug guide – this is an important friend to the nursing student as there are so many drugs that we come into contact with. Make sure that you get an up to date one as there are new drugs out all the time. Try and get a hold of a mimms. Even if its an older edition they give you a great idea of different drug classes etc. buying an up to date guide is expensive and not worth it with the amount of annual changes made to them.

Thesaurus – this is just a helpful one for writing essays. I find myself looking for new ways to say something all the time and having a thesaurus gives you lots of options for words. Most computers have one built into their document writing system if you decide not to get one. Computer has this built in.       

Referencing Guide
 ­– as soon as you find out what kind of referencing your course uses for assignments, make sure you get a guide on how to do it correctly. You may pick up on it right away without needing one, but if you’re like me, it’ll help to be able to look it up whenever you need to. Note: never leaving referencing til last. Do it as you go!     

NCLEX Q’s book – 
the earlier you get yourself acquainted with NCLEX questions, the better. There are so many of these books out there. My advice would be to ask someone at school in a higher year, or one of your instructors, whether they can suggest a good one to you and go by that.  Not useful until later on.      

Required Textbooks 
– you will either get a list of these given to you or it will be in your course outline under core texts. Buying textbooks brand new can be super expensive so I suggest you try and get them second hand. There’s is absolutely no shame in this, in fact it is the smarter thing to do.  Check textbook exchange pages for your school on Facebook, look at noticeboards, gumtree. EBay, craigslist and advertise on these that you are looking to buy. If you know someone the year or semester ahead of you, contact them and offer to buy them for a reasonable price. Unless the course changes dramatically year to year, you will be able to get away with having books a few editions behind. If you have the money and you want to buy them all brand new, then do so! There is something satisfying about accumulating textbooks… I myself have many!In your bag.   

– make sure you carry your student ID card, bus pass, drivers licence, cash cards and loose change for printing. Keep a photo of someone or something you love or that motivates you to keep going.       

Keys – 
don’t forget your house keys, car keys and if your school has lockers, get one and don’t forget to bring the key with you to school!       

Hand sanitizer – 
at nursing school lots of people turn into crazy OCD hygiene gurus, and for good reason! Travel size hand sanitizer is perfect to carry around with you whether it’s at school or on the floor!       

Lip balm/Moisturiser
 – because hospitals are cold and dry areas it good to make sure you have a chap stick or some paw paw ointment on hand to stop any wind burn, chapping or cracking. Moisturiser is a must. You will be constantly washing your hands and using hand sanitiser upon entering a room so it is important to put some moisture and life back into your poor little hand. Any vitamin E creams or aloe Vera based moisturisers will do the trick!       

Headphones -
 make sure you have a spare pair of ordinary headphones. Preferably not the apple ones as they don’t always work on school computers. Some computer labs or libraries at schools will sell these or loan them to students for a few dollars. Sometimes you’ll find yourself at university with a few hour between classes and you might want to re watch a lecture, but you don’t want to disturb other students in their study. You may simply just want to watch silly things on YouTube to cheer yourself up after a terrible day so make sure you are prepared.    

– make sure you have a travel pack of tissues. There may be day where you just feel like crap or have had very little sleep and just have a little melt down so tissues or face wipes can save the day!     

Water bottle – 
stay hydrated!! Try to stay away from caffeine where you can. We all know that the caffeine high is fast in reacting, but when you crash you crash hard. Just starting your day with a big glass of water can set you up for feeling good all day so carry it on through the day too! My university has refill places where you can refill your bottle without having to buy it or go to a bathroom.     

Lunchbox – Always pack lunch!! You will go through so much money buying lunch every day. If you don’t have time in the morning, prepare the night before or even cook for the week on Sunday and pop something into a microwave safe container to heat up at school. Make sure you have a few pieces of fruit, a handful of mixed nuts and some form of carbs and protein. Make sure you have a few muesli bars for back-ups, and I often freeze a little tub of yogurt for later in the day. ;��N�*�uA �uQ�

Current and Future Nurblrs

Recently one of my best friends graduated from Nursing school. We started out at the same university together when her dad had to take a new job. We promised to keep in touch and that was 4 years ago.

About two or so weeks ago she texted me and asked me to pray for her because she was taking the NCLEX-RN. Of course I was happy to do so. NCLEX-RN does not give you a score as soon as you leave. Therefore, you must wait 48 agonizing hours before knowing your score. I’m sure the anxiety is overwhelming.

Once she had taken the test she texted me that it was one of the hardest tests she’s ever taken. The test didn’t cut off at 75 like she wanted. At least a third of the test was select all that apply. Every other answer she had NO clue how to answer.

Now, I graduate in December so I have NOT taken the NCLEX-RN. But I’m going to give you the same advice I gave her. (I’m hoping I’ll be able to take my own advice when the time comes!!)

There is no way that you are expected to know EVERYTHING there is to know about nursing.

The purpose of the NCLEX-RN is to protect the public. It is designed to test that candidates are able to provide safe and effective nursing care.

You’ve literally has years worth of knowledge, experience, and research crammed into your brain in approximately 2 years time. If you have to retake the NCLEX, that’s the worst case scenario. Nursing is hard and there is NO WAY you have come this far and worked this hard to give up now.

After a little bit of talking I told her to text me when she found out. She was happy to talk and was feeling a little better about the test.

Two days later she texted me exactly what I expected: “I PASSED!!!!!”

I was so excited for her and so proud that she is now going to be doing the job she’s wanted for so long!

My purpose of posting this isn’t to scare nursing students or potential nursing students. I want people to know that you may have some bumps in the road. You’re going to experience anxiety. There’s a chance you may fail a test. You’re gonna have sleepless nights. Your “A’s” may turn to “C’s”. This isn’t going to be a walk in the park.

Your biggest enemy is yourself. You’re not stupid or dumb. You’re not “not good enough.” You’re not “never going to get it.” Knowledge comes with experience.

Don’t let negativity bring you down.

Think positive thoughts. Give reassurance to classmates. Give yourself a pat on the back when it’s deserved. Remind yourself that in a few years you WILL be working as a nurse. Keep your dream alive.

My hope is that this may be the message someone needs to get them out of a funk and remember the end goal!

My love goes out to all Nurblrs! You are all amazing and smart!!! Keep up the hard work!❤️❤️