Starting any college program is hard, especially if it’s your first degree or you’re a first-generation college student. Looking back on nursing school, there are so many things I wish someone had told me. Working as an adjunct nursing faculty has given me a new perspective.  Now that I am on the other side of the curtain, there is even more that I wish I knew. My anxiety and stress levels would have been much more manageable if I had known these few tricks.

Talk to me!

          I wish I had known how much my nursing instructors and faculty wanted to have a relationship with me. I struggled nearly every step of the way of getting my ADN, but I didn’t have to.

          I juggled parenting two small boys, working as a nursing assistant, and my cousin’s death, all during the first year of nursing school. The worst part was I kept most of it to myself. I spent weekends traveling to see my cousin in between tests and hours on the phone with family. I got the news she passed away right before my final exam. I flew out a few hours after my exam. Thankfully I passed that semester, but I ran on empty and was only regurgitating material I had just read. If I had actually talked about what was going on, I would have had an easier time. I love it when students give me a highlighted overview of a stressor in their life. I can give reasonable accommodations (clinical patient assignments, for example) and spend more individual time helping them learn the material. 

Nursing Instructors really want you to succeed. 

          I had several instructors that were harder on me than my peers, and I never knew why. I didn’t know if they thought I wasn’t studying enough or too busy raising my boys or working to pay attention in school.

          Now that I am on the other side of the curtain and an instructor myself, I finally understand. Those instructors saw something in me that I didn’t see myself. They really believed in me and wanted me to be my nurse. Those instructors were pushing me on purpose. It was hard, but I am glad they did.


Go to office hours.

           The best part of my job is to talk with my students. It doesn’t really matter about what, I just enjoy getting to know students to help them learn better.  Office hours are there for students to ask questions. Faculty members have to be in their offices during office hours, so you might as well visit. I made relationships with faculty and, I keep up almost ten years later. My ADN faculty are now my mentors and friends. It all started by going to their office hours.


Ask pertinent questions during lecture time. 

          When I was in nursing school, I had a student in my class that LOVED asking questions about breastfeeding. Let me say right now; I wholeheartedly support breastfeeding. I breastfed all four of my babies that way, and I am very grateful I could. Asking about breastfeeding while talking about every subject is more than not appropriate. It’s downright annoying.

          Come prepared for class. If you can’t read all the material before class (who really can?), skim the reading. If there is a part of the textbook that confuses you, ask! Women are less likely to speak up and are interrupted more than men. If you have a question, there is an excellent chance five or six people have the same question, so ask it.


Nursing faculty will not voice their

frustrations to you, but they probably agree. 

          Test times changing, clinical sites, skills labs are all things faculty work really hard on. When it changes, usually, it’s not because your faculty wanted it to. It’s also their job to remain professional and a calm voice in a storm. If you heard your teachers, employees of your nursing school complaining, would you think about your school the same way? Probably not.


Nursing faculty are just as frazzled as you are.  

          Teaching during the Covid-19 Pandemic has put a huge strain on our educational system and instructors. We had to change how the material was delivered and assessed learning within two weeks. On top of that, we had to make it look like we weren’t flying by the seat of our pants at the same time.
          Online learning is just as hard for instructors as it is for students. We have to keep you engaged which is hard enough in normal times, let alone during a pandemic.