Top 10 Things NOT To Do In Nursing School

What NOT To Do in Nursing School

1. Lying

“Honesty is the best policy.” You’ve heard this cliche a million times, but it should never lose its meaning to you. Nursing has been ranked as the most trustworthy and ethical profession for 13 years in a row. Nursing is based on trust!

Nurses Most Trustworthy Profession

Lying puts you and your patients at risk.You must tell the truth to ensure the highest quality of care. Yes, you will feel bad if you make a mistake such as a medication error. However, you will feel much worse if you don’t admit your mistake and then the patient suffers because of it. If you own up to it then you have a chance of fixing it. If you hide it then you have a chance of seriously harming your patient, and your future as a nurse as well.

Also, never lie for anyone else! If anyone (classmate, nurse, etc.) makes a mistake and is trying to cover it up, talk to your instructor about it. Saving a patient is being a hero, not a “snitch.”

2. Assuming

You know what they say about assuming! Any wise nurse will tell you that the scariest students are the ones who think they know everything. ASKING QUESTIONS IS GOOD. This is one thing I had a huge problem with in school. I was afraid of looking ignorant. Remember this: every nurse you are working with was once at the same point in their education as you. There was a point in their life where they didn’t know what the term “IV” meant. Don’t ever assume you know everything. If you are unsure at all, ask a nurse. Trust me, most of them absolutely love teaching.

Also, do not assume that you won’t get sick. VRE, C diff, and MRSA don’t care that you are a young, healthy adult. You are around contagious diseases all day and you are at risk! Stay safe by washing your hands constantly and using protective equipment such as gloves.

Bonus: By asking questions you appear genuinely interested. If you look interested, nurses are much more likely to take you under their wing and let you see/do some really neat stuff!

3. Forgetting About the Patient

Everything is for the patient.” Every change of shift as I receive report I write this at the top of the page. It is really easy to get caught up in the madness of charting, communicating, and delegating and forget the reason behind everything you are doing. Everything is for the patient.

If you ever think you are “above” doing a task that benefits the patient then nursing is not for you. You will walk patients to the bathroom. You will pass food trays. You will wipe more butts than you ever thought possible. Just because a task doesn’t require specific nursing knowledge or critical thinking, it does not mean you are above it. Everything is for the patient.

Patient Tux icon
Remember that every decision you make affects your patients.

Read this to learn how to assess your patients quickly and accurately every time!

4. Arguing With Professors

There are two ways to discuss answers with professors. One, argue with them. Two, discuss with them.

Where will arguing get you? You will be on the professor’s bad side. Other professors/administration will likely hear about it and you will be on their bad side. You won’t learn anything. I almost guarantee they won’t overturn a confusing question/answer, and since the questions make you choose the MOST correct answer there is often a lot of confusion.

Where will discussing the answers get you? You can have an intelligent conversation that makes the professor see both sides of the question. They can explain why one answer is definitively better than the other, so you won’t make the mistake again. They may even decide to nullify it if the question is just poorly written.

5. Getting Involved with Anything Unprofessional

Leave your past in the past. If you use illicit drugs you need to stop. Don’t bully or use profanity on social media. Be responsible when drinking. Most schools have a zero tolerance policy. Even if your school doesn’t catch you, your background check for state boards will.

I read of a student that got a DUI while in nursing school. They only had a couple drinks and just barely peaked above the legal limit. After disciplinary meetings with the administration of their school, they were luckily allowed to remain in the program. Even though they had great grades and an awesome resume, they ultimately dropped out because they were afraid they wouldn’t pass the background check. It only takes one time, and it CAN happen to you! Don’t let your dreams crumble due to one silly mistake.

6. Wearing Your Scrubs Everywhere

Showing that you’re proud of being a nurse is fantastic! However, you should not wear your scrubs everywhere you go.

First, they may be contaminated. If you wear your scrubs to work and then go somewhere crowded before changing, you are putting everyone around you at risk.

Second, they represent your school and the profession of nursing. Both reputations will be damaged if you are caught in public drinking, smoking, gambling, etc. in your scrubs. You could also get in trouble with your school.

The one place you should be wearing your scrubs is clinical. Check out the Top 10 Expert Tips to Dominate Your Nursing Clinicals!

7. Overbooking Yourself

Nursing students are notorious for working hard and staying busy. We love being involved in a ton of organizations, groups, and extracurricular activities. When entering nursing school, you need to start out small. I suggest waiting at least a semester before joining anything. As you become acclimated to nursing school and realize how much free time you have for other activities, you can begin to add more in.

Nursing school must be priority number one. Find one or two groups or activities that you truly love and stick with them.

Read The Top 10 Tips to Overcome Stress in Nursing School for more tips on how to use your time efficiently!

8. Procrastinating/Cram Studying

If you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail. This should be your motto every single day in nursing school. You probably coasted through high school due to your intelligence and good memory. Unfortunately, that just isn’t possible in nursing school. Even if you’re ridiculously smart, nursing requires critical thinking that can only be honed by studying.

Preparing leads to:
– Saving time
– Retaining more information
– Less stress
– Less anxiety
– Better understanding of information
– Better grades
Procrastinating leads to:
– Wasting time
– Temporary knowledge
– Extreme stress
– Test anxiety
– Poor understanding of information
– Worse grades

Read Top 10 Study Hacks to ACE Your Next Nursing Exam for simple tips to boost your grades!

amanda bynes animated GIF

9. Listening to Naysayers

Any time in your life you are doing something positive there will be people there to put you down for various reasons. Your friends might say it’s taking up too much of your time. Your advisors might say nursing school is really hard. Your instructors may say nursing isn’t for you if you can’t deal with blood/vomit/etc.

All three of these happened to me. Not only did I pass nursing school, I thrived! How you respond to negativity is up to you. I chose to prove everyone wrong, and with hard work and determination I was able to.

10. Thinking You’re Not Good Enough

Nursing school will take you to new lows. Failing a nursing exam is a lot more stressful than failing a high school math exam. There will be classes you struggle with while it seems like everyone else is excelling in them. Remember this one quote that got me through nursing school: “Just give your best, because in the end that is all you can give.” Don’t compare yourself to everyone else, just make sure you are giving it everything you have every single day.

Maybe you don’t ace every test. Remember that they don’t test you on how compassionate you are. They don’t test you on how good of an advocate you are for your patients. They don’t test you on how good you can make your patients feel.

If you need some motivation to get you through the week, check out this video of a little girl with cancer “marrying” her favorite nurse!

BONUS TIP – Giving Out Personal Information

Never ever for any reason ever give out personal information to patients. You have a professional relationship with them. Do not give them your last name, address, phone number, email address, or social media usernames. In a nutshell, don’t give them any way to contact you or know where you are outside of the hospital. This is for your safety and privacy.

I had the privilege of caring for a patient that was actually enrolled in the same college as me. He saw the patch with our school’s name on it. When he asked to add me on Facebook I told him the school of nursing wouldn’t allow us to be in contact with any patients outside of the hospital. It was a little bit awkward, but it saved us both from potential trouble. Stay safe!

What else would you warn your classmates not to do in nursing school? Leave a comment telling us!

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Have a great day!


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