Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Student-itis

Yesterday during our clinical conference our instructor discussed our assisgnments that we turned in the week before. Some of my classmates didn't do very well. One person confided in me that she got a C on hers and she felt so bad she went into the ladies room and cried.

This is an example of what I call "A Student-itis." That is a student with straight A's and gets a B and feels like she is a complete failure.

This phenomenon happens because nursing school is so competitive now that people who get accepted usually have the best grades and highest test scores of the huge pool of people competing to get in. If you are an average person, like me, getting accepted means you have to knuckle down and work extra super hard to get your grades up and do well on the entrance exam. At any rate the majority of my classmates have a 4.0 GPA. I don't, but I managed to make it in because our school has a point system, and I put my effort into getting high grades and test scores in areas that would get me the most points.

Another part of the phenomenon is the nature of nursing school. It's not like anything else a person could do. I've had debates with people who insist that nursing school is just like any other kind of college. It's not. One of my instructors worked as a legal nurse. She has a law degree and said that nursing school was much harder than law school. All our faculty have master's degrees, and many of them have said that going to graduate school was a breeze compared to nursing school.

A lot of nursing students start nursing school with plans of keeping their 4.0 GPA. Then comes the first test and they quickly find out that it's next to impossible. I said NEXT TO impossible; some students manage to do it, but they are serious freaks of nature. The average student is doing well if they can keep a C average. The super-achievers wind up getting their hearts broken and their confidence shaken when they don't do as well as they expected. Even though the faculty tells them that this is okay, many of them beat themselves up - hard - because their grades slip.

Some recover and manage to either get their grades back up, or learn to accept the lower grade. I think the ones who accept it go on to succeed because they've learned to ease up on themselves. They suck it up and move on to the next thing. Dwelling on the bad grade, wondering where you went wrong, arguing with the instructor about the test takes precious time and energy away from studying for the next test. It helps to talk to actual nurses who've been there. They say that no one will ever check out your GPA when you look for a job. The fact that you graduated and got your license is enough for the hospital to know that you are smart enough and safe enough to be a nurse. If a person can focus on just getting through and letting go of the goal of having straight A's, then nursing school isn't quite so harrowing.

A couple of years ago I started nursing school at a different school than the one I'm in now. I was quickly bounced out by a bad math grade, and it was devastating. Somehow I managed to find the courage and keep trying. It took another 3 years before I got in to a different school, but I got in and lived to tell the tale. I was pretty stressed out at first, wondering if I would go through that again. Eventually I settled down and learned to put my energy where it would do the most good.

The bonus for me having this experience is that I got comfortable with failure. I still stress out from time to time, and I feel a little down when I don't do well, but that's only when I know I didn't try hard enough. If I know I did everything I possibly could to get ready for the test; that I read the material, took good notes, reviewed the material before the test, then I let up on myself. I know that there isn't anything more I could possibly do.

Even if I don't know everything on the test, there is one thing I know for sure. Now that I am in nursing school I know there is no such thing as a stupid nurse.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this. I'm a 3rd year BN student who entered the faculty with a 4.15 after first year. I nailed my anatomy and physiology, answering a total of about 5 questions incorrectly for the entire course . . . And now, I get an endless parade of B's and B+'s - rarely do I see an A. And I've been feeling awfully stupid about it. Your words have given me a new perspective. Let's finish this degree and get out there!