This video goes over how to stay motivated during nursing school. If you don’t want to watch the video keep reading below.
Nursing school is challenging, demanding, and can be overwhelming at times.
Staying motivated throughout the journey is crucial for your success.
Here are tips and strategies for you as a nursing student to stay driven and focused from the first semester through graduation.
Staying Motivated in Nursing School
To stay motivated in nursing school requires several things.
For starters, you need to remember why you started your journey. You need to make sure you celebrate small victories. Set SMART goals and surround yourself with a good support system.
Below I’m going to dive deeper into some of these tips and others.
1. Remember Your “Why”
Why do you want to pursue nursing?
It’s important that you have a genuine interest in this field and that you are not doing it just because someone else told you to.
While nursing can lead to a rewarding career, without that initial drive to pursue it, things can take a turn for the worse. No one wants to spend decades working in a job they don’t like.
I’m not saying you need to absolutely love what you do, but you should have a real interest in it.
When you choose a career path that excites you, it’s that primary motivation that you can go back to time and time again.
This applies to all aspects of life! Whenever things get tough, remember why you chose to study nursing.
- Is it to help people feel better?
- To make a difference in other people’s lives?
- To contribute to the public healthcare system?
- Do you want to work with older people, children, or those in the oncology unit?
Think about what initially sparked your interest in nursing. Hold on to that motivation and remember it the next time you think about giving up.
It’s helpful to visualize where you want to be once you’re finished with your studies and rotations and become a licensed nurse.
What are you doing? How are you feeling? Who are you working with?
For example, if you want to work as a pediatric nurse, imagine yourself helping children and making their doctor’s visit less scary.
Maybe you’re the one who helps a child overcome their fear of needles or doctors. That’s an awesome goal and something you can keep in mind when things feel tough.
2. Celebrate Your Small Wins
This applies to everyone, but especially to nursing students who can easily feel overlooked.
While doctors and surgeons receive a lot of attention, nurses are the ones at the forefront of healthcare.
They are there for blood draws, routine checkups, and vaccinations, and they patrol hospital units to check on patients and make sure they feel comfortable.
They are often the first people you see when you go to an emergency room. Nurses are everywhere, and their contributions should be celebrated!
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks, and the daily grind can wear even the most optimistic person down. That’s why it’s so important to celebrate small victories because they add up.
Most great successes are just a series of small wins! With that mindset, it’s possible to power through even the most difficult days because you have more wins than losses.
Even getting into nursing school is a victory that should be celebrated. You had a goal, you took the required exams, and you made it into a school.
Successful steps like that lead to your ultimate goal.
It’s easy for people, both nurses and non-nurses, to get caught up in the idea that the path to success just happens. In reality, it’s more complicated.
People rarely have a sudden huge breakout success. Instead, they build up their strengths and make progress little by little every day.
Some days are more successful than others, but that’s okay. It all adds up!
3. Set SMART Goals
If you’re studying nursing, chances are you’re a motivated individual, at least to some extent.
You can use this to your advantage and set achievable yet challenging goals throughout your nursing school journey.
Goal setting may sound cliché, but it is something that many people never fully capitalize on.
Furthermore, when individuals do decide to set goals, they often establish unattainable ones or fail to give themselves a timeline.
This is where SMART goals can be beneficial. SMART stands for:
- Relevant and
When setting a goal, it is crucial to make it specific. How else would you know when you have achieved it?
For instance, you may want to become a nurse, but what type of nurse?
Making the goal measurable enables you to track your progress easily. Let’s assume you want to work as a nurse in the ER.
Perhaps you can measure your progress by tracking the relevant skills you learn one by one.
You could start by learning about human anatomy, then move on to taking blood, and eventually, you’ll learn how to diagnose trauma.
Each of these skills is a measurable benchmark that you can record as you get closer to your goal.
The most crucial component of a SMART goal is that it’s attainable or achievable. Setting goals that are unrealistic will only set you up for failure and disappointment.
Consider your geographic, financial, and other obstacles that could hinder you from achieving your goal.
Next, make sure that your goal is relevant, in this case, to nursing. Ensure that it’s something that you’re capable of and willing to work for.
Avoid stating that you want to be a lead nurse or nurse leader at an NYU Hospital if it’s not relevant to your desires and abilities.
Finally, your goal should be time-based; otherwise, you’ll keep procrastinating forever.
Set yourself a reasonable deadline, taking into account how much time you need for schooling, rotations, and other forms of hands-on practice.
It’s not just about setting goals; it’s also about checking up on your progress.
Have regular check-ins with yourself or recruit a friend or teacher to hold you accountable.
When you know that you’ll be reporting on your progress with someone, or even yourself, you’ll feel more motivated to push onward.
4. Find a Support System
Nurses need support, too! Don’t be hesitant about asking for an accountability partner or a study buddy.
You can even ask friends or family members who aren’t in nursing to regularly check in on you and motivate you to keep going strong.
Just knowing that you have a support system behind you is enough to make you want to try harder.
If you’re not sure how to ask someone to be your accountability partner or part of your support system, try saying something like, “I’m going to face a lot of challenges in nursing school, and I’d like you to check in on me every once in a while to see how it’s going.”
Not only will your friend or family member feel appreciated, but they might even ask to be your cheerleader, too.
Trust me, there’s enough motivation to go around!
Having a support buddy can be as simple as having coffee with them once or twice a month.
This gives you a little mental break and healthy social interaction, and it gives you the opportunity to let your friend know how nursing school is going.
Other ways to stay accountable to your support system include texting them when you have an exam so they can remind you to study while offering words of encouragement.
A study buddy might even be part of your support system, which is a double advantage.
5. Remember That Success Isn’t Linear
As we mentioned earlier, it is the small victories that add up to big wins. However, success is not just about the things that go right.
Even our failures have something to teach us. It is a difficult concept for many to accept, but there is a way to celebrate or appreciate failures.
This does not mean giving up or accepting mediocrity. Instead, it shows that you are human and that you are growing.
The only way to learn is by making mistakes; otherwise, there is no growth. Those who claim that they never make mistakes probably have not experienced much.
Success does not happen in a straight line; it twists and turns and dips.
There will be times when everything is smooth sailing and times when everything seems to be crashing and burning.
When you remember that any great success story comes with its fair share of failures and challenges, it becomes easier to face those obstacles with grace and determination.
Hopefully, you found this article helpful. Nursing school can be hard but remember it’s doable.
Do you have any other words of encouragement or advice for other nursing students?