Is Nursing School Hard? 7 Key Considerations

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Is nursing school hard? Yes. Because nursing is a challenging profession, you can expect nursing school to be difficult, too. Earning your nursing degree comes with challenges like adapting to academic rigor and stringent time management, but knowing and expecting them will help you prepare for success.

doctor typing on laptop

Nursing is a fast-paced and high-stakes career. Nurses care for people in all stages of life with various medical issues, which is why nursing students need a solid educational foundation that prepares them for the challenges of the field. So, is nursing school hard? Yes, but the difficulties you face in nursing school will help you become a better nurse and excel in your career.

With these challenges comes great reward and fulfillment in your work. Nurses help patients in difficult times, giving support and care physically, emotionally, and mentally. Nurses spend the most time with patients out of any medical professional.

So, if you are wondering, “Why is nursing school so hard?” we can provide answers and context for the realities of nursing education. You will face many hurdles in your journey to becoming a nurse, but in the University of Mount Saint Vincent’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program, you’re not alone. You will have support every step of the way as you complete your BSN degree on an accelerated timeline.

To be successful in the nursing program, you must know what to expect. Let’s review seven challenges you will face in nursing school and what you can do to prepare in advance.

1. The Academic Rigor of Nursing School

Because nursing can require making snap judgments in literal life-and-death scenarios, the level of academic rigor in a nursing program must be high to provide you with the expertise you will need. This means coursework is challenging. In addition to prerequisite courses, such as Chemistry, Microbiology, and Anatomy & Physiology, you must complete nursing core classes. These include Pharmacology, Care for the Childrearing Family, Community Health, and Behavioral Health.

During your 16 months in the Mount’s ABSN program, you will focus on these core classes. This is possible by leveraging previous college credits toward your prerequisite course requirements.

nurse studying

Do you have questions about prerequisites? Learn more about ABSN prerequisite requirements.

Make sure you are mentally prepared for this rigor before beginning your classes. Speak with other nursing students to better understand their workload, study schedule, and what it is like to attend classes. Anticipating what is to come will help prepare you to work hard and learn.

2. Time Management Challenges

A heavier workload often accompanies academic rigor for students who are successful in the nursing program. Between coursework, labs, clinical rotations, studying, and other priorities in your life, time management is vital. Managing time well will help you prioritize. Knowing what to expect and what tasks you must complete on any given day can reduce stress levels.

Many nursing students manage their time by creating a detailed schedule, including daily activities such as eating, exercising, and coursework. You should also note weekly and other recurring activities like labs, clinicals, study groups, and in-person exams.

nurse in hospital with folder in arms smiling at camera

3. Hands-on Learning Requirements

Nursing is a hands-on profession and requires much practical experience before attaining licensure and beginning nursing practice. This experience is gained through skills labs, simulation labs, and clinical rotations.

Nursing simulation labs help students develop basic nursing skills and practice what they learn in their coursework in low-risk, realistic scenarios. During clinical rotations, students work in an actual healthcare setting, learning from practicing nurses and assisting wherever possible.

These learning experiences are an excellent opportunity to develop your skills and knowledge. Ask your instructors and nurse mentors questions wherever you can. Offer to jump in and help. Be an advocate for your learning in any way possible. Although it may be difficult, this will help you become a better nurse and feel more confident.

4. Planning Ahead

It’s essential to plan your daily, weekly, and monthly schedule. However, planning key dates until you complete your NCLEX-RN exam is equally important. Upon passing, you will officially become a licensed nurse. There are many steps to take before that happens, and there will be many goals you will have to set and meet with each step.

When meeting with your admission counselor, ensure you comprehensively understand your nursing school timeline. Plan the prerequisites you still need to take and when. Decide on your NCLEX testing date and create your study plan as soon as possible. Keep track of your clinical rotation and lab schedule to ensure you stay ahead of your learning experience. Many of these things may seem far off, but nursing school will come and go before you know it, so it is beneficial to plan for everything.

Nursing students practicing on a manikin

5. Commitment to Understanding Nursing Practice

Nursing is a highly interpersonal career with a holistic patient care perspective. Being successful in the nursing program and becoming a qualified nurse requires much more than completing your coursework. You must also develop your decision-making, critical thinking, and patient interaction skills.

You can expect nursing school to reflect this holistic approach. You will be challenged academically as well as practically. However, knowing what to expect in all aspects of the coursework will help you overcome the challenges rather than become discouraged.

6. Hard Work and Dedication

As you have likely gathered, you will need great dedication to nursing if you want to succeed. You will need a strong work ethic and endurance to finish nursing school. This will be a difficult season, but it will also be gratifying as you apply yourself and invest in a fruitful and long-lasting future as a nurse.

Structure your life to anticipate this level of hard work. Make sure that you have space in your schedule and priorities. Reach out to your support system and surround yourself with people who will remind you of your “why” when things get tough. This encouragement will help you push through the challenges.

Is it possible to work while in nursing school? Working can add challenges to your nursing program experience, so here are a few things to consider.

nurse sitting in dark room using laptop

7. Prioritizing Self-Care

Self-care is crucial to your success as a nursing student, but it’s easy to overlook when facing many other challenges. Self-care is an element of the American Nurses Association’s Code of Ethics and essential to prioritize during nursing school, ensuring you are fueled to finish strong and learn everything you can. Although it may feel optional, you should incorporate self-care into your daily life.

Make sure your self-care activities are on your schedule early on. This will help create a structure around which other calendar items will fit. Make time to take care of your body and emotions, whether by buying healthy groceries instead of eating out or reading a book instead of scrolling on social media. Treat yourself with the same care you would a patient.

9 nursing students smiling over a practice manikin

Nursing School May Be Hard, But It’s Worth It

For students with prior non-nursing college experience, a four-year degree may not seem worth the challenges. However, with the University of Mount Saint Vincent’s ABSN program, you can complete your nursing degree in as few as 16 months, starting your journey sooner than in a traditional program.

Is a nursing degree hard? Yes, but with the help of the ABSN program, you can fast-track your path to nursing, experience the flexibility of a hybrid program, and achieve your dreams of becoming a nurse.

If you have more questions like, “Is nursing school hard?” or “How difficult is the nursing program?” our team of admission counselors would love to help answer them. Contact us today to take the first step to becoming a nurse.