Were you one of the many nursing students who failed a nursing class last semester?
It’s more than just the bad grade. Failing a class hits you emotionally, financially AND academically. And if you intend to try again and continue in nursing school, then it’s going to be essential for you to address all three of these areas.
If you’re currently at a loss for what to do next, let me tell you one thing NOT to do…and 3 things you should do instead to improve your chances next time around.
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Did You Fail a Nursing Class?
DON’T: “Hope” you’ll do better next time
Hope is supposed to be a good thing…and it is. But hope without a plan is more likely to leave you with the same disappointing failure next semester.
If all you do is hope you’ll do better next time, then you’re going to have exponentially higher general anxiety levels, higher test anxiety, more stress, and less self-care. That’s a recipe for disaster.
If you want to get different results next time, you need to do something differently. “Hope”, by itself, is not a plan. But here is how you can combine hope with a plan that will actually work.
DO: Put things in perspective and get your anxiety under control
What does it mean when you fail a class? Well, it means that you are human…and you failed a class.
It doesn’t mean the world is coming to an end. It doesn’t mean your friends will hate you, and it doesn’t mean that your family will disown you. And it certainly doesn’t mean that you’ll never be a nurse. When we’re disappointed and uncertain about the future, we have the tendency to assume the worst. And that often leaves us pessimistic and anxious. Not a good combination!!
Give yourself a bit of grace. Failing a class does not define who you are as a person OR as a future nurse. Instead, use this experience to mold you into a more compassionate, caring nurse. Spend time focusing on other areas of your life that make you feel good about yourself and get you refocused on the positive things.
It will also be imperative for you to come up with a strategy to manage your anxiety, especially any test anxiety that will be popping up next semester. Luckily for you, I have created and tested a super simple method for conquering test anxiety that WORKS!
DO: Consider spending a little money now, to save money later
I occasionally hear from students who think that tutoring costs too much, or they don’t want to spend money on the PASS Program, or they don’t want to purchase a review book or class.
But if the information and guidance gained from these resources will help you pass your nursing class next time around, wouldn’t it be worth the money?
Many nursing schools have a policy of letting you fail one nursing class. But if you fail a second time? You’re generally asked to leave the nursing program. And it can be really tough to get accepted into another nursing school after that.
It’s also going to be a LOT more expensive to start over.
Find a resource that matches your need and your budget. If you were really close to passing, then a few little tweaks might be all you need. But if you have a lot more ground to make up in your knowledge base, then you probably need to find a more individualized solution.
Luckily, there are general AND individual solutions for every nursing student budget. Here’s a list of effective ideas for different budget sizes, from free on up:
- Taking advantage of your professor’s office hours is free!
- Check out an NCLEX review book from your school or local library
- Buy a used review books can be cheaper, even if it’s an older edition
- Learn how to study more effectively by starting the PASS Program
- Check if your nursing department or school has peer tutors available
- Prioritize your money so that you can afford to hire a tutor to review with you before each exam
- Work with a nursing tutor to prepare before you retake the class
Choose one or several of these options, depending on your situation. They could be a great investment in your future nursing career.
DO: Study differently next time
Wishing and hoping to pass your class is not going to get you to graduation. If you approach your nursing class the same way, making the same mistakes, and worrying about the same problems…then you can expect to get the same result.
It’s simply not realistic to continue repeating the same behaviors, but expect a different outcome. In fact, some people jokingly refer to that as the definition of insanity…
If you think you failed because of a “bad” professor, or unfair test questions…it doesn’t matter. Those are things you can’t control in your nursing program. All you can control is yourself, so you need to focus on doing things that will make you more likely to succeed next time around. Join (or create) a good study group, review your A&P, improve your test-taking strategy, or change the way you study. These are all good examples of how to start setting yourself up for success next time.
Become a Great Nurse!
Failing a class does not have to mean failing to reach your dream of becoming a nurse. There are people out there that want to help, including me! But you are ultimately responsible for making the decision to change your nursing school strategy. And there’s no better day than today to get started 🙂
What are you going to try differently before retaking your next nursing class?
(Article updated August 13, 2018, Originally published Dec 27, 2013)