Nursing School Doesn’t Have to be a School of Hard Knocks

Nichole Weaver: Welcome to the NRSNG podcast, providing those who care for the world with the tools and confidence they need. And here’s your host, John Haws.

John Haws: What’s up, guys? John Haws here with …

Nichole Weaver: Nichole Weaver.

John Haws: And today, we wanted to talk about something that we think about a lot and really was the basis of why NRSNG started. When we started a few years ago, there wasn’t a lot of helpful nets for nursing students to go to, like safety zones. Instead, what we saw, and I saw this as I started to talk to other people, as NRSNG was beginning, was every time I would say, nursing school doesn’t have to be so hard. Learning anatomy and physiology, learning MedSearch, that’s difficult, but we’re making it unnecessarily complicated. And one of the responses people would give me was, it was hard for me, so it needs to be hard for them. Or that’s the school of hard knocks. If they can’t hack it, they don’t deserve to be nurses.

Those conversations never ended well …

Nichole Weaver: No.

John Haws: … with those people, because I disagree with that wholeheartedly. Nursing is hard already, emotionally, physically, mentally. It’s really hard to learn even just how to do an IV. It’s hard to think back as you’re a nurse practitioner, an experienced nurse, how terrifying it is to start an IV and how scary it is and how complicated it is to get that vein on a dehydrated 90-year-old woman. And learning all the ins and outs of heart failure and how it works and what the medications are, that’s difficult already. But what we’ve seen, I think, is this trend of, nursing’s just hard. I used to have 15 patients, and it was hard. It was different. We shouldn’t be making it unnecessarily hard for people. We shouldn’t be saying, just because it was hard for me, it should be hard for you. We should be looking at, how do we improve this and make it so nursing students aren’t hating themselves and wanting to drop out.

Nichole Weaver: Yeah. I just think about students trying to learn in an environment where they feel completely helpless, completely alone. No matter what you’re trying to learn, not even just nursing, but trying to learn in an environment where you feel degraded all the time. How? We even say that about our patients. We talk about making sure the patient’s ready to learn, and if they’re in this really bad emotional state, then they can’t learn. And then we tell our nursing students that half of them will fail and that they’re not gonna have a life, and life’s gonna suck for the next two years. And we expect them to then be able to learn effectively. It’s crazy, because even outside of education, nurses eat their young like nobody’s business. And it’s just this idea that, that’s what I went through.

John Haws: Totally.

Nichole Weaver: Somebody ate, quote, me when I was started, and it was bad. So it’s weird to me, I think, to see people who think, I had it really bad, so I’m gonna make it bad for somebody else. That seems so counter-intuitive to making things better.

John Haws: And this profession.

Nichole Weaver: Yes!

John Haws: As you were saying, I’ve never thought of this before, but imagine you go in to take care of bed five, and the wife of bed five is like, I’m worried about my husband. And you’re like, last dude here, it was really hard for him, and he died. So it’s gonna be hard for you, too.

Nichole Weaver: Oh my gosh!

John Haws: Imagine that. It was hard for him, so it’s gonna be hard for you. Sorry.

Nichole Weaver: That’s crazy.

John Haws: I’m gonna go pass meds now. Yeah, it’s crazy to think that … I just don’t know why it’s been allowed to …

Nichole Weaver: … continue. Yeah.

John Haws: … continue in this profession, ’cause we wouldn’t do that to athletes. We wouldn’t do that to accountants. We wouldn’t do that to any profession. To teachers.

Nichole Weaver: It’s like every other profession works on, how do I make it better for the next person.

John Haws: How do we improve? Yeah.

Nichole Weaver: And for whatever reason, in nursing education, it’s not that way. And I really can’t put my finger on why, except that there’s a lot of … what do they call them … the good old boys. That kind of old-school …

John Haws: … fraternity style …

Nichole Weaver: … thinking, and that old-school school of thought around nursing that, I think, still perpetuates. We’ve still got administrators and deans and professors that have been nurses for 50 years, so they were here when it was really like that.

John Haws: It was a very different time. Yeah.

Nichole Weaver: And it was a totally different time.

John Haws: And you wouldn’t … We love saying things like, maybe you’re not cut out for this, or it was hard for me, or those other … I don’t know. It’s something that really frustrates us, because … I know the problem’s big, because we hear from students from all over the world all the time …

Nichole Weaver: All the time.

John Haws: … about this, and I went through a similar experience, and I saw new nurses and nursing students come onto the floor, and that’s the first thing you’re doing is you’re scanning them to see if you can get them out of the ICU as a nurse. You’re like, yeah, they’re probably not good enough, instead of saying, how do we mold …

Nichole Weaver: … make them good enough.

John Haws: … this person into someone skilled enough and knowledgeable enough versus how do we brush them out, ’cause they’re not part of our crew.

Nichole Weaver: Yeah. And I actually, I see a physical change in my students when I start encouraging them and uplifting them. They learn! I’m not babying them. I’m not coddling, and here’s my little ducklings, and it’s okay. Just go sit in a corner. It’s encouraging, and it’s uplifting, and it’s, hey, you can do this. Then suddenly, they are doing it, and they can do it, and they’re excited about it, and they learn, and their confidence builds. And it’s insane to me, because I feel like the things that students … This happens with us, ’cause we hear this from our students, as well … students will be like, oh my gosh. You said I could do it, and that just changed my whole world. And I’m like, what?

John Haws: ‘Cause no one’s ever told them that.

Nichole Weaver: The fact that they haven’t or that or the fact that … I feel like what I’m doing is something so simple of just saying, you’ve got this.

John Haws: You can do this.

Nichole Weaver: You can do this. And it’s so simple, and the fact that it’s so life-changing, because no one else is saying it is very frustrating for me.

John Haws: Yeah, and if you guys aren’t going through that experience, good.

Nichole Weaver: Good!

John Haws: Kudos. And Nicole says her nursing experience wasn’t like that at all.

Nichole Weaver: No.

John Haws: We didn’t realize even the magnitude of this. We held a live event at the beginning of June here in Dallas, and people flew in from … Actually, I though it was going to be just local Dallas people. We had people from New Jersey …

Nichole Weaver: Miami.

John Haws: … from Curacao, from Miami. And one student emailed us after the event, and she was like, I had to fly 1400 miles to get the help I needed.

Nichole Weaver: And I would do it again.

John Haws: And I would do it again. Just like that, because she’s not getting that support that she needs. And another student said, in her school, in a small town in Texas, they can’t even get professors. They’re having to have professors Skype in from another city to teach them.

Nichole Weaver: That’s really impersonal.

John Haws: And then another one even said, they aren’t getting taught pharmacology, because they were supposed to have a pharmacology course, but then the professor only showed up for half the classes. And then they’re being told, if you don’t make an 80, you don’t progress.

Nichole Weaver: You don’t pass. Yeah.

John Haws: But they’re not being given the groundwork, the base to be able to build up and to have the skills they needed. Instead, it’s like, it’s just hard. Nursing’s just hard. Well, you didn’t even teach me! Nobody even came to class!

Nichole Weaver: Yes. The professors like, what do you want us to do, spoon-feed you? Well, yeah, because I don’t know any of this stuff. As John said, I didn’t really have this experience when I was in nursing school. I was really blessed to go somewhere that was very … I had maybe one or two that were just awful, but it was the exception. But then I started working in education. And I started seeing my peers, my colleagues, and the way they treated their students, and it broke my heart. I’m like, how in the world can you think that that is the right way to get somebody motivated? You tell somebody that they’re lazy, that they don’t want to … You just don’t want to study. You just want everything handed to you. You just want to be spoon-fed. You’re lazy. You’re not doing the work. Why would they even remotely try to prove you otherwise, because they know that you don’t believe they can do it.

John Haws: You’ve told them what they are.

Nichole Weaver: And it’s amazing what happens when you tell them the opposite, and you tell them, you can do this. You’re gonna be great. You’re a hard worker. And they’re like, yeah. And they want to prove to you that they’re a hard worker. So sitting here behind a microphone, we can’t change the way that your professors are, the way that your instructors are. We can’t change the groundwork at your nursing school just by …

John Haws: … talking.

Nichole Weaver: … talking, but …

John Haws: … we can give you a few tips. We can give you a few tips, because what we can do, and what we want you guys to do is we want you to become part of this NRSNG family.

Nichole Weaver: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Haws: Listen to this podcast. Read our blogs. And that’s all free stuff that you can do. Just get these motivational ideas in your brain, and burn them into your brain, because we do believe that you can do this. You’ve done, and I’ve said this before and people get mad at me, but you’ve done one of the hardest parts of becoming a nurse, and I would say the hardest part, which is getting into school. Passing all those classes. Beating out all these other people …

Nichole Weaver: … hundreds of people.

John Haws: There’s people who are retaking classes, because they got an A minus, so they can have an A to get into nursing school. Passing these HESI things to get into school. That’s so hard, and you’ve been accepted. You’re in. You can do it.

Nichole Weaver: Mm-hmm (affirmative). And you need to tell yourself that every single day until you believe it, because if no one else is gonna tell you, you’re the person who will tell you, but you have to believe it, too. So just keep telling yourself over and over that you’ve got this and you can do it.

John Haws: And one of the things, something like this might help you, too. You know in elementary school when you want to marry somebody, you’re like … well I guess it would have been different for me, but you write the boy’s last name. You’re like Kathryn Haws. You know? Let those letters, RN or LPN or whatever it is you’re going for, motivate you to not stop. You might be a month away from getting those letters. You might be a year away. You might be two years. You might be three years away, but that’s not that long.

Nichole Weaver: No, it’s really not.

John Haws: Life is long.

Nichole Weaver: In the scheme of things.

John Haws: You have time. I withdrew from nursing school, and I thought that year was gonna set me back so much. It didn’t. The class I graduated with, the job I was able to get, the people I was able to meet, was much better for me than what probably would have happened. And I don’t know, but it was fine. And here I am, 36, and it’s working out okay. My nursing degree’s been fine. Take the time and motivate yourself. See those letters after your name.

Nichole Weaver: Mm-hmm (affirmative). And realize that your professors are not the be-all, end-all of your success in nursing school. Don’t let anyone else determine …

John Haws: … you.

Nichole Weaver: … you and your life. You take control of that. You trust yourself. You boost your confidence, and then, you’re gonna be amazing.

John Haws: You are. So, we post a lot of motivational stuff also on Facebook and Instagram. Some of the videos we have on YouTube, they’re a little bit more educational, so I would say, follow us on Instagram. A lot of times, I’ll post just those little reminders of, you can do this. Facebook will have some videos up there. Listen to these podcasts. Read the blog, because we do believe this stuff. We’re not just blowing smoke.

Nichole Weaver: Mm-mm (negative).

John Haws: Become as much of this NRSNG family as you can. Help move this dial on nursing education with us, and be part of this group, this family who’s changing how things are done. And if you need to, you can always reach out to us. You can email us. You can talk to us on Facebook, Instagram. And for those that are a member of the NRSNG Academy, we have our private Facebook group which we curate membership on who’s part of the academy. And I like to call it the most supportive cohort on the planet, because it is. Some people will say, that’s the reason they joined the academy is for that group where they can share their struggles, they can be honest, and I’ve never seen anyone say, well maybe you should stop being a nurse.

Nichole Weaver: Nope. Never.

John Haws: It’s like, they’re giving tips. They’re giving advice, and we let those students talk to each other before we jump in and try to control the dialogue. We want people to be honest there. We want people to share there, because that’s important. A lot of people don’t have that person they can vent with.

Nichole Weaver: Or people to celebrate you.

John Haws: Or celebrate even. That’s as important. And people celebrate the big things. We’ll have people post, I passed the NCLEX! I got a job! Then, it’s like, I got accepted, or I passed HESI, or I did whatever.

Nichole Weaver: Or, they’ll post, I got a 90 on my pharm exam. Everyone’s so excited, and it’s so encouraging to have somebody there to be your cheerleader.

John Haws: So make sure you have that. If you don’t have it, if you join the academy, make sure you get into there quickly. If you’re not a member of the academy, use all this stuff. We’re gonna celebrate you.

Nichole Weaver: For sure.

John Haws: All right, guys. With that said, go out and be your best selves today, and as always, happy nursing!

Nichole Weaver: Happy nursing!

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