nursing student, nursing schoolEntering a nursing school can be easy but surviving is another story. Aside from the passion and calling to be a nurse, of course you need to gear up with the right point of view, equipment, and attitude to be successful.

For those who are heavily engaged in nursing school or are just starting your first year, there are six items you must have for success. They may not be what you think, but they are what got me through the program.

  1. A medical dictionary.

    Whether you have previously been in the healthcare field or are new to medical terminology, a medical dictionary is a must. As a nursing student, working on research papers, or participating in hands-on training, you will not always have a computer close by to look up medical terms. The smaller pocket type works well. You can carry it in your scrub pocket wherever you go!

  2. A good night of sleep every night.

    Nursing school is not for the student who would rather stay up late to have fun with friends or play video games instead of getting a good night's sleep. Because nursing school involves difficult classes, hands-on exercises, and working with real patients, you need to be as alert as possible every day! Don't underestimate the power of sleep for future nurses!

  3. An up-to-date drug guide.

    I say up-to-date, as new drugs appear on the market often. Like having a medical dictionary, you need to carry this drug guide with you. When working with patients or studying, you will not always have access to the internet to look up the drug information. Having a quick resource to look up contraindications or side effects can save a life.

  4. A sense of humor.

    Though not as tangible, this is a must have! If you are going to nursing school – and will eventually be a nurse – you must learn to find humor in nursing, in yourself and the situations around you. Nursing is a serious profession, but if you can't find humor in yourself, you can become too serious!

  5. A realistic attitude.

    By a realistic attitude, I mean that when you are in school for nursing students, you can't be everything to everybody. You can't possibly take care of everything by yourself like you did before starting school. You have now added in classes and clinicals to your already busy schedule!

    When I was in nursing school, I used to struggle to be a perfectionist until one of my nursing instructors woke me up. She was raising a family, working as a full-time professor and earning her doctorate. One day she said, "What difference does it make if you have four weeks of dust versus one week of dust on your coffee table?" From that day forward, I realized that I can't be everything to everyone and to not sweat the small stuff. I also realized that getting all "A's" – although very important to me – was not as important as allowing myself time with my two small children. I have never regretted that.

  6. Nursing paraphernalia.

    This might be obvious, but some words of warning – Do not go overboard on the nursing equipment! You just need a suitable stethoscope, a good pair of medical scissors, a couple of pens, and a small pad of paper. You do not need the $100 pair of designer medical scissors, the lanyards, the fanny packs, the most expensive stethoscope, or the huge backpack of "just in case" items. You are not going to Disney World, nor are you in the audience of "Let's Make a Deal." You only need the basics and will have access to the other items you need, either at your school or at the clinical site at which you are working.

What items you couldn't do without during nursing school?  Please leave a comment sharing your tips!