If you’re currently working towards your RN, you may be asking yourself, “Why is nursing school so stressful?” Learning how to care for others while taking on complicated medical curriculum is no easy feat, leading to heavy mental and emotional loads. Nursing school stress management is essential for earning your degree, so let’s explore six ways to reduce nursing school stress.
Why is nursing school so stressful?
Most nursing students experience stress and/or anxiety while in college. Nursing school is stressful because students are learning how to care for people’s health and well being. This major responsibility requires developing both hard and soft skills, building up vast medical knowledge while also deepening empathy and compassion.
Being responsible for other people’s lives comes with mental burden. There is no room for error when it comes to monitoring patients’ medication, vitals, and needs, meaning nursing students must sharpen their attention to detail and never miss a beat. Working with those in a vulnerable state also requires increased patience and understanding, which can be draining.
Nursing school curriculum is also factually dense in scientific subjects such as microbiology, psychology, and more. Memorizing medical terms and systems and then putting them into action takes considerable practice, studying, and dedication.
There are also outside factors that contribute to nursing school stress. Many nursing students are also:
- Working full or part time
- Caring for children or other family members
- Jumping back into education after being out of school for a long time
In short, nursing students have a lot on their plates, making stress an inevitable side effect.
Is nursing school harder than being a nurse?
Nursing school and being a nurse both come with stress.
Different stressors between nursing school vs. nursing include:
- Studying, lectures, and theory vs. actually delivering hands-on, practical care
- Worrying about grades vs. worrying about real people’s lives
- Learning about many nursing specialties vs. becoming an expert in one chosen area
For many, being in nursing school is harder than being a nurse for several reasons:
- Learning new material and skills: Doing something for the first time is always stressful, and nursing school is constantly introducing new procedures and information to master. Once you’re in the field, you’ll develop a daily routine that will start to feel second nature, building confidence in your abilities.
- Homework, studying, and exams: Nursing school requires work both in and outside the classroom, whereas nurses can leave their work at the door. The pressure of grades goes away once you finish your degree.
- Paying for school: A major bonus of being a nurse is that you’ll be earning a higher salary. Even if you’re still paying off your education after graduation, nurses make more money which lessens financial stress.
Is nursing school worth the stress?
Many students may be wondering whether nursing school is worth the stress. While it may feel overwhelming in the moment, earning a nursing degree opens up a lifetime of possibilities.
The biggest benefit of finishing nursing school is the boost to your earning potential. Registered nurses earn significantly more than CNAs, LPNs, and other healthcare professionals. The advanced training, knowledge, and experience that comes with nursing school comes with higher pay, with RNs earning 50%+ more on an annual basis.
RNs earn an average of $92,702 per year in 2022. Compared to the average CNA salary ($44,067) and LPN salary ($59,916), this is a major increase.
Another benefit is job security and career opportunities. According to LinkedIn, registered nursing is the 4th most in-demand profession in the American workforce today. It's estimated that by the year 2030 the United States will need 1 million RNs to fill the increasing nursing shortage.
Registered nurses also have more opportunities beyond the day-to-day of nursing. Many advanced nursing positions and leadership roles become available once you have a degree in hand. Also, nurses who are interested in pursuing more advanced degrees such as a master's or doctorate will need to first earn an RN.
In short, going back to school can change your life.
Will nursing school be too hard for me?
Nursing school works to prepare students for a high-stress, fast-paced work environment. Students must learn how to balance the realities of the job with caring for their own mental and physical health.
If left unchecked, stress can make nursing school even more challenging. Feelings of sadness, pressure, and overwhelm can bleed into other areas of your life, carrying negativity beyond the classroom.
Without nursing school stress management, you may experience:
- Lower grades
- Strained socialization
- Increased illness
- Decreased self esteem
- Early burnout
There’s no way around it—nursing school is hard. It’s normal to experience regular bouts of anxiety. But stress doesn’t have to overshadow your entire education. By acknowledging the challenges at hand, you can stay ahead of what’s to come.
6 ways to deal with nursing school stress
If you’re wondering, “How can I stop stressing about nursing school?” there are many ways to address nursing school anxiety.
How to reduce nursing school stress:
- Get organized: Set a study schedule and develop good study habits. Avoid procrastination by staying on top of assignments and showing up for classes on time. Get the materials and technology you need to effectively complete responsibilities.
- Find support: School is more manageable when you have support. Whether that support comes from your family, friends, workplace, or nursing program, seek out people, systems, or tools that make your goals feel achievable.
- Ask for help: Your instructors are there to provide guidance and fill in any gaps. If you need extra clarification, it’s better to reach out than trudge ahead confused. You can also receive help from tutors or mentors to stay on top of your studies.
- Prioritize your health: Caring for others can leave you feeling too drained to care for yourself, but maintaining your mental and physical health allows you to perform at your optimal level. This includes exercising, eating healthy meals, getting enough sleep, and taking breaks whenever possible.
- Be kind to yourself: When you’re learning something new, you’re bound to make mistakes. If you’re struggling to grasp a challenging concept or perform a difficult task, remember that with practice, these things will eventually become second nature.
- Utilize test out options: Some nursing prerequisites are eligible for credit by exam, a system that allows students to earn credits by testing out of college courses. This helps save time and reduce workload, easing pressure and helping you get to your core classes faster.
Stop stressing about nursing school with Achieve
Achieve offers many supportive college prep services to help minimize nursing school stress.
- College planning: Find the right accredited nursing program and courses for your goals.
- Test prep courses: Learn how to test out of college courses and prepare for nursing licensure exams.
- Tutoring: Get one-on-one help from subject-matter experts.
- Flexible schedules: Fit courses into your busy home and work-life schedule.
- Ongoing encouragement: Stay accountable and motivated with help from our mentors.
Our RN Bridge Program was designed to support adult students at every step of their nursing degree journey. Whether you’re just starting out, in the middle of core coursework, or getting ready to take your NCLEX, we can help.