Nursing school prepares you for a lot of stuff. You’ve got to remember medications. What class of medication are the beta blockers? What do the lols do again? Then you’ve got to remember how the body works. The way that each system of the body interacts with the other. Now if your kidneys are malfunctioning, how does that affect the heart? And what do you do if they go into liver failure?
There’s so much to remember, and in the short time that you’re in school, information is being crammed into your head as fast as physically possible. Until you think there’s no more memory space left.
Then comes the day you take the NCLEX, the day that terrified me beyond anything else. Trying to recall everything I’d been taught for the past four years? Staring at up to 275 questions and hoping that I finish above the line? That’s the kind of pressure that nursing school prepares you for.
Here’s what nursing school doesn’t prepare you for: Time Management.
No one cares how well you did in your classes, or how well you did on the NCLEX. In fact, when I was doing my preceptorship, I remember sitting with my preceptor and her friend and they were talking about another nurse. She was really struggling, and she just couldn’t seem to get her work done on time. They commented on the fact that she was a straight A student, and they were both C students in school. The difference was that they knew how to manage their time and prioritize their work.
Grades matter very little in the real world, unfortunately. I remember when I was training a brand new nurse who was really struggling. I was in a facility where the nurse was in charge of twenty patients. That included wound care, medications, notifying doctors and assessments. There was a never-ending list. She couldn’t keep up, and usually, her morning med pass would finish right when she needed to start her noon pass.
I sat down with her and told her my biggest lifesaver. At the beginning of my shift, I look over my list of patients. I go through their medication times and then put them in order of who needs it first. Then I work down the list. Obviously, things change, but as long as I have a general game plan, it makes the day much easier to survive. That way, even if there’s an interruption, I know what goes next on my list once things have calmed down again. I also told her to cluster her care. Does she have a dressing change? Do it when she takes the pills in. She’s already in the room, and that way, she doesn’t have to backtrack to do all of her dressings later in the day. It takes maybe fifteen minutes to go through the list and write it out, but it saves so much time in the long run.
Now that I work in the hospital, I still do the same thing. It’s a little different, since I know that at any point, I could have a discharge or admission, but it’s the same general concept. I have to be aware of the time I’m given and what I need to do within that time. Then I make a plan and work toward it.