Have you recently applied to nursing school, and you are wondering what to do while waiting to get into nursing school?
First things first, congratulations!
It is such a HUGE accomplishment to even be able to hand in that completed application! You finished all of your requirements after so many months, and even years of hard work. But now what?
This is a super common question. Many prospective nursing students tend to be the “overachiever” type, so the advice in this article may be a tough pill to swallow for some, but we also hope it brings you some peace.
So let’s get straight into what to do while waiting to get into nursing school, by a second year nursing student.
1. Do Not Start Studying Ahead For Nursing School
That’s right. Do NOT start studying ahead on your own. You will be taught everything you need to know in the actual program and it is structured in such a way to ensure your best chances of success.
Studying and trying to learn on your own is only going to result in confusion and possibly even misunderstanding really important subject areas.
The last thing you want to do is go into your program thinking you have a grasp on some things and then realizing your particular school doesn’t even focus much on the things you studied on your own. Or worse, you learned things incorrectly.
It will be a waste of your time. So enjoy this break from school while you can.
2. Take Any Remaining Baccalaureate Pre-Requisites
If you have applied to an ADN program you should start researching what classes you need to take to get your BSN after you graduate. Therefore, it is a good idea to decide where you plan on getting your BSN as the first step.
Many hospitals are now requiring ADNs to sign contracts that they will have their BSN within five years of hire.
This is a good indicator that in the future, a BSN will likely be the standard.
So if you are on a wait list, or you were not accepted this go around, enroll in your necessary pre-reqs for your BSN and work on those in the mean time.
3. Get a Job In Healthcare
Instead of trying to study nursing content on your own, before nursing school even starts, getting a job in the hospital is going to serve you so much better.
Working as a nursing assistant, tech, or unit clerk is going to get you familiar with the medical terms that are used right away in the nursing program.
Almost every nurse you talk to will say the best nurses were CNAs and techs first.
As a CNA or tech, you will become proficient in the most basic nursing tasks. For example:
- Cleaning after defecation
- Feeding patients who need assistance
You will learn how to do these things in nursing school, but you won’t be able to apply it nearly enough to feel comfortable before your first RN job.
When you are promoted to the RN role, you will want to be able to mainly focus on learning your assessments, medication administration and higher level skills. The basic levels of care will go much more smoothly if you have worked in that role for a couple of years already.
4. Save Money Before Starting Nursing School
When it comes to what to do while waiting to get into nursing school, saving money is an obvious addition to our list.
Nursing school is expensive due to the specialized textbooks, nursing supplies, and the amount of time it requires. Many students have to cut back on working while in the program due to the heavy studying and work load.
Working as a CNA and a tech can not only give you the invaluable experience needed in healthcare, but many positions are starting to pay much better now.
If you can’t get a job as a CNA or tech, here is an article we wrote for other work ideas for nursing students.
Just putting aside $100-$200 a month, that will give you $600 to $1200 if you saved for six months before the start of the semester. This could buy your books and stethoscope, scrubs, etc.
5. Start Accumulating Nursing School Supplies and Resources
This can easily tie into our tip on saving money. The last thing you want to do is wait until the start of the program to buy “all the things”. It can really add up. While getting a student loan can sound like the easier option, you will thank yourself one day for planning ahead. Trust us, it is no fun working just to pay off huge student loans when you are a new grad.
Here is an article we wrote on the supplies you will need for nursing school and we kept it very simple without a bunch of “extras” and “fluff”.
You may already be scrolling nursing school social media pages and are feeling overwhelmed with all the “guides” and “bundles”. Being a 4.0 student myself, I can tell you that while those resources are super cool and can be a decent quick review, they have never actually helped me study for or pass an exam.
When it comes to “extra” resources outside of what your program offers you, my two favorite resources are:
Amazon Link To This Item (Be sure to buy the book NEW so you get the access code to the quiz bank which is the only thing that makes this resource so worth it)
Your Best Grade is another online quiz bank that will help you score crazy high on your HESIs and specialty nursing exams. But just bookmark it and wait to purchase it until you start the program.
6. Exercise and Get In The Best Shape You Can
This is one of my favorite tips on what to do while waiting to get into nursing school. Being a health and fitness nerd, I can tell you, nursing school is not health and fitness friendly.
You really have to schedule your time out and plan out your exercise and meals. It’s no secret. Many, many nursing students gain weight when they start the program.
This is why you should establish strong and healthy habits before hand. It will also feel really good to feel like you are in great shape when you start the program.
You Will Be Sitting A Lot In Nursing School
A study came out stating that sitting is the new smoking. I’m not going to lie, that gave me a lot of anxiety when I was stuck in my chair for hours and hours before huge and important exams.
If you do not like the idea of sitting more than you ever have in your entire life, they now have created sit to stand desk accessories, and under-desk treadmills to fight this problem.
Moving and lifting patients will be much easier if you are in decent shape.
When you start nursing school you may be surprised to learn that you will be starting clinicals pretty much immediately. Clinical hours are needed for every semester to qualify you to take the NCLEX and graduate nursing school.
You will be following your RN and helping them lift, transfer, bathe and ambulate patients. Your confidence will be much higher if you are feeling strong and healthy.
So if you have been on the fence about joining that gym or purchasing that workout DVD set you’ve had your eye on, here’s your sign. It will help you in your nursing career.
7. Do Your Favorite Things As Much As You Can Before Starting Nursing School
Go on trips. Visit with family. Hang out with your friends. Sit on the couch and watch your favorite shows. Read for pleasure.
When you start nursing school, these will be close to impossible for a while, sadly.
Instead of trying to pre-learn nursing school content, just enjoy your life and the things you love as much as you can, guilt free.
This time before the start of nursing school is truly a gift to slow down and get organized so you can have the best experience possible while in school.
So, what to do while waiting to get into nursing school? Do you!
Do all the things you enjoy, get some healthcare experience, save some money, collect a few supplies in a way that doesn’t hurt your budget all at once. Focus on your mental and physical health.
Nursing school will guide you through all you need to learn academically, but it will not guide you in how to establish healthy habits and in taking care of yourself. That is for you to take control of.
This is the time before the “rest of your life”. Here at Midlife Nursing we encourage you to enjoy it and nurture yourself through it.
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