Since many nursing programs are impacted, some schools prefer prior experience in healthcare. Even if your program does not require experience, some student nurses like to get their feet wet in the healthcare arena while they work through their courses. Thankfully, there are many options available for nurses-to-be.
One idea is to volunteer. Hospitals have volunteer programs available for teenagers as well as adults. The time commitments are usually low, only a couple of hours a week are needed. Volunteers can choose from many different areas, but selecting an area where patient care is performed is probably best (as opposed to, for example, working in the gift shop).
Another idea is to work as a private caregiver. Sometimes jobs are available in privately-owned care facilities and for individuals with specific care needs, and sometimes prior experience is not required. Caregivers may be required to help with mobility, feeding/ dressing, transportation, etc.
For teenagers, internships through high schools may be available. The Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) is a national student organization that promotes career opportunities in the healthcare industry. There are many health-related internships available in many areas of healthcare, including nursing. Students can shadow or volunteer in specific care areas to gain experience, as well as determine which one is right for them. For example, some student internships allow the student to shadow in administration as well as clinical areas to see what type of nursing they are interested in.
Becoming a medical assistant (MA) or certified nursing assistant (CNA) is another fantastic way to gain hands-on patient care experience. MAs work closely with physicians and RNs and observe many types of diagnoses and illnesses, and some even administer vaccines and certain medications. CNAs provide hands-on care such as feeding, mobilizing, and bathing patients, and work closely alongside nurses. Along with clinical experiences, working in entry-level careers allows the student to earn money to help finance nursing school tuition and fees.
Taking Care of Yourself
Maintaining a healthy body, mind, and soul is important, although difficult during nursing school. The demands of didactic and clinical hours plus outside responsibilities may prove to leave little time for self-care.
Here are a few simple things the student can do throughout the busy day to maintain balance:
- 3-minute meditations, can be done during school hours on a coffee break, find a quiet place, maybe the car, close your eyes, and take slow deep breaths, setting the intention of clearing your mind
- Eat nutritious food, this helps to properly nourish all those overworked brain cells and keep you focused
- Take a daily walk, just a 10 minute walk around the neighborhood will improve brain function and cardiovascular health
- Limit alcohol intake, not only will this improve body but also the health of the student’s mind
Nursing schools now require high GPA’s and have strict admission requirements. Students who have been accepted already know the best ways each individual studies and learns. Most will have no problem balancing the challenges of nursing school while maintaining their outside responsibilities. And most will survive and graduate with flying colors, ready and willing to join the ranks of registered nurses. So what happens after graduation?
Getting Licensed as a Registered Nurse
The National Council Licensing Examination for Registered Nurses, or NCLEX-RN, is a nationally accepted and state-mandated examination. Nursing programs are designed to be as challenging as they are because the NCLEX-RN is challenging. The NCLEX-RN is challenging because it is the best way to determine if a nursing graduate comprehends enough about patient care to be safe! And, remember, nursing school teaches students how to be safe nurses. So, in theory, the nursing school graduate has learned enough to pass the NCLEX-RN simply by graduating the RN program. So, try not to fret. That being said, if the graduate feels like he or she needs more assistance with studying help is available online and in the classroom.
Upon graduation, the graduate must:
- Submit an application for licensure/registration to the state nursing board
- Meet the eligibility requirements to take the Exam
- Register and pay for the Exam on pearsonvue.com
- Receive eligibility from the state nursing board
The last step of receiving eligibility from the state board of nursing will render an Authorization to Test (ATT) via email. Once received, the graduate has about 90 days to take the Exam. Once the ATT is received the graduate can register on Pearsonvue.com and set a time and place.
Of these main categories the graduate will need to demonstrate an understanding of the Integrated Processes:
A scientific, clinical reasoning approach to client care that includes assessment, analysis, planning, implementation and evaluation.
Interaction of the nurse and client in an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust. In this collaborative environment, the nurse provides encouragement, hope, support and compassion to help achieve desired outcomes.
Communication and Documentation
Verbal and nonverbal interactions between the nurse and the client, the client’s significant others and the other members of the health care team. Events and activities associated with client care are recorded in written and/or electronic records that demonstrate adherence to the standards of practice and accountability in the provision of care.
The Exam is really testing critical thinking skills and the graduates thought process. Does the graduate understand basic nursing processes and how to arrive at a safe and reasonable solution to problems? Some items may be memorized, such as medications, but the main idea of the Exam isn’t to test memorization it is to test critical thinking skills.
For these reasons, studying for the Exam shouldn’t really be “crammed.” During the nursing program the student should be sure to pay attention, attend classes, and study. Nursing school has prepared the student for the type of thought process and critical thinking the Exam is testing.