32. EXPERT TIP #7: Should you đź› work a jobđź—„ while in nursing school? Guest Expert Devon Taylor of “Memoirs of a Murse” gives us his take!

Welcome to Episode 32 of Navigating Nursing School with Your Nursing Tutor. Today, you’ll be hearing from Student Nurse Devon Taylor, who is in his last semester of nursing school and preparing to launch a podcast called “Memoirs of a Murse” (A “murse” is a male nurse, if you didn’t know that already). 

Anyway, Devon is offering his advice about a question I get asked ALL the time by new and prospective nursing students…should you work while in nursing school? He’ll give you his definitive answer, plus his rationale, along with some bonus advice for how to make yourself look good to all the other nurses, nursing faculty, and various healthcare personnel you’ll be working with throughout nursing school.

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Links from Episode 32:

Devon’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/MemoirsOfAMurse 

Devon’s YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCw2vmG1zcqS1GK7PiBLe22Q 

Facebook Group “Black Nursing Students”: https://www.facebook.com/groups/662343510843225

LIVE Tutoring Membership: www.YourNursingTutor.com/VIP

Transcript for Episode 32

Before Devon shares his tip, I wanted to let you know that this is the seventh in a series of expert tips for new nursing students. Although honestly, most of the tips in this series can be used all throughout nursing school, and many even after you’re a new grad working your first nursing job, too. 

So be sure to subscribe to the podcast and get notified when each new tip is available, and also go back and listen to this series from the beginning, at episode 26, so that you don’t miss any of the other expert tips for new nursing students. 

Also, any links or resources that I mention today, including how to connect with Student Nurse Devon outside of the Navigating Nursing School podcast, can be found on the show notes page for this episode at www.YourNursingTutor.com/episode32

By the way, if you don’t already know me, my name is Nicole Whitworth, and I’m a Registered Nurse who failed my very first nursing school quiz in my Accelerated 2nd Degree Program…then figured out a new, BETTER way to study, and went on to do so well that I got hired as my school’s official nursing tutoring by the end of that very same semester. 

I’ve loooong since graduated with my BSN, worked as both a Pediatric Operating Room nurse and a Pediatric phone triage nurse, before going back to my first love: tutoring our next generation of nurses…YOU! 

Now I’ve been a professional nursing tutor for over 12+ years, and I specialize in training nursing students to study in a way that teaches you to think like a nurse WHILE you’re still in nursing school, so that you can spend less time reading, get better grades, and feel confident that you truly have what it takes to become a successful nurse. 

Now let me introduce you to my guest expert for today, Student Nurse Devon Taylor. Devon is a non-traditional RN student in his last semester of nursing school, so he is in the trenches with you and still vividly remembers what it was like being a brand new nursing student. He is simultaneously working as an ER tech while finishing his last 2 classes this semester, and will be graduating in December of 2021. 

As if attending nursing school while working weren’t enough, Devon is also a moderator for the Black Nursing Students Facebook Group, which has over 12,000 members, and provides a safe forum for black individuals to express themselves, openly discuss any challenges or experiences they’ve had, and truly vent around other people who look just like themselves…all without the risk of being misunderstood or misinterpreted by other groups, as is unfortunately so common in our modern culture. 

And even MORE impressive, Devon is launching a podcast called “Memoirs of a Murse” to showcase the unique challenges faced by men in the female-dominated field of nursing. The first season of that podcast is currently in production, and will soon be available on all major podcasting apps. 

In the meantime, I will update the show notes page with the latest information about the Memoirs of a Murse podcast as it becomes available. So if you happen to be listening to this at least a few weeks after this episode came out, you should check the show notes page to see if it’s available to listen to and subscribe. 

Here is Devon’s tip for you:

“Hi, my name is Devon Taylor, and I am a nursing student and in my last semester of nursing school. Currently going for my RN, and I graduate this December. So I’m very excited about that! 

I am also the creator and co-host of a podcast that’s coming up soon called “Memoirs of a Murse”, where we discuss topics and interview male nurses and get the day to day perspective for the general public what the life of a male nurse looks like, and what being a man in a women’s dominated field is like. 

And I’m here to give you my number one piece of advice for students coming into nursing school for the fall. 

The best thing that I can tell you to do from my personal experience is if you are able to, because not everyone is, see if you can get a job as a CNA or as a tech. Because that experience in the field and working is going to be one of the biggest tools that you can put in your pocket to get you through nursing school. Because it does two things for you. 

It gives you an environment for you to continue to practice your clinical skills because nursing is very hands on and it’s repetitive. So the more you do it, the more it sticks in your mind, and these skills stick with you when you get ready to do checkoffs, and then when you go to clinicals. 

And the second thing it does for you, is it allows you to be able to link concepts that you learn from school and translate that into practice in the real world. So you’ll be able to understand concepts, you’ll be able to have better critical thinking, you know, you’ll be able to think like a nurse because you work side by side by nurses. 

The biggest thing is that nursing school teaches you how to pass the NCLEX, but you don’t learn how to be a nurse until you’re being a nurse. But if you’re working beside nurses, you get that experience and you add to that. So I highly recommend that you get some work experience, if you’re able to. 

And when you DO land a job, three things: 1) be a team player, 2) always be willing to help, and 3) always ask questions, because it makes you look good to everybody around you when you ask questions because it lets them know that you have a thirst for knowledge, and that’s attractive. 

So my name is Devon, and that’s my advice on what you should do coming into nursing school.” 

Thank you, Devon, for your advice about whether to work a healthcare-related job during nursing school. It’s a question that a LOT of nursing students stress about, and you provided some great perspective. 

Now I’d like to add a few thoughts of my own about Devon’s tips that he shared today. 

Like he said, not everybody can work while in nursing school. And that’s okay! Before you start crying because you can’t imagine how you could ever add one more thing to your plate, let me reassure you that I didn’t work during nursing school, and I turned out fine. MORE than fine! So don’t worry if you hear this tip, and you’re in a situation where you just can’t work a healthcare job because maybe you already have another job that pays more, or you’ve got kids, or maybe elderly parents to take care of, and you just don’t have time. It’s okay.

But IF you’re in a position where working a healthcare job IS an option, and you’re trying to decide, Devon definitely nailed the major benefits. 

Getting a healthcare job while you’re in nursing school is different than working long-term in healthcare and then going to nursing school, though. I have to throw this caveat in real quick, because you’ve probably heard that “NCLEX world” is different than the “real world”. And that you have to answer NCLEX questions based on that ideal, not what actually happens in real life sometimes.

Which is why you’ve also probably heard that it can be harder for LPNs to make the transition to RN, or RNs with their Associates Degree to make the transition to BSN. Not because they don’t know how to be good nurses, but because they have a hard time making that mental shift from “real world” to “ideal world”. 

But (and I think this is one of the really cool things about Devon’s tip), when you go into nursing school or into a new job knowing in advance that this can happen, and it could potentially be a problem for you, then it actually helps you out because you get yet another opportunity to use your critical thinking skills to differentiate between the 2 worlds. And that can also trigger you to think about WHY it’s done differently in the real world versus what you read in your textbook. And as he said, going through that critical thinking process WILL make you feel much more confident when you finally graduate and get out there in your new nursing role later on, too.  

In fact, let me tell you a story about an LPN who joined my VIP Tutoring Membership this past summer. She’s been an LPN for about 10-years, and decided to go back to school so she could change roles to become an RN. Now, when she joined she told me that she didn’t know about this challenge of real versus ideal. In fact, she thought that her previous healthcare experience as an LPN would make nursing school a lot easier for her. 

But then, near the beginning of her classes, one of her nursing professors started making her really nervous by telling her how much HARDER it is for nursing students with previous healthcare experience, and how she had seen so many struggle. So that was enough of a warning for her to seek out more help BEFORE she needed it, to try and avoid any of those serious problems that can happen when you WAIT to seek help and end up in a situation where it’s harder to avoid failing a class.

That’s how she found Your Nursing Tutor, and joined my VIP Tutoring Program. And that’s also how she learned about the Silver Bullet Study System, and how her professor was both right AND wrong about how her previous experience as an LPN would be a challenge instead of an asset for her. 

Because the truth is, this student already WAS really good at thinking like a nurse…she’d been doing it for 10 years as an LPN! She IS an expert nurse. 

But the problem is that once you’re an expert at something, it can be really difficult to think back to the way you thought about things when you were still a beginner. And that’s where the REAL challenge of having previous healthcare experience comes in. Because NCLEX wants you to be a safe, effective, beginning nurse. And when you have a lot of previous experience, especially previous nursing experience, then it can be tricky to make those changes in your brain to think that way. 

Luckily, I was able to explain the Silver Bullet Study System to her, which is a method of studying that mimics the way experienced nurses think, so that she could start to understand how her own brain was already thinking, and really use that as a strength instead of a weakness. And so far, it’s working great for her.

So anyway, that was a bit of a tangent, because Devon’s tip was more about getting a new healthcare job when you don’t already have loads of previous healthcare experience. But I think it was an interesting discussion anyway, and now you can understand a little more about the differences between going into a healthcare job as a beginner, versus going into nursing school as an experienced healthcare provider. 

So back to some of Devon’s other great advice, about being a helpful, positive, team player. This is soooo key. Whether you are able to get a healthcare job during nursing school or not, you can use this advice in every single clinical setting you go into in nursing school, too.

And I also want to take a second to remind everyone that the CNA and tech roles are NOT simply a “stepping stone” to a (quote) “real” nursing job, just like the LPN role is not a “stepping stone” to the RN role. Yes, if you decide to take Devon’s advice and get a healthcare job to gain first-hand experience during nursing school, then it might be a stepping stone for you, because you already know that you’re planning to go on to become a nurse.  

But the reality is that each type of position has its own, unique role, and they ALL play an important part of the healthcare team. So whatever role YOU fill on the healthcare team, make sure that you always project an attitude of humility to your co-workers, so that they all know that you respect and appreciate them. And that just because you’ll someday have a different role as a nurse, doesn’t make you any better, or any worse. 

And then also use that same job experience to KEEP that level of humility, respect, and appreciation for these roles even after you graduate. Some nurses, and I mean, even some nursing students, get to a certain point where they start to mistakenly believe that they are better than their teammates who work in different roles. But the truth is that everyone’s important, and you’ve always got to have each other’s backs. So that’s my soapbox speech about that!

That being said, don’t be afraid to share that you ARE in nursing school though. I mean, don’t do it in a bragging sort of way, but in a way like Devon described…to show that you have a thirst for knowledge. Because that IS appealing. And when your co-workers are aware, AND you are being helpful, being a team player, asking good questions, then you’re even MORE likely to get more hands-on experiences that your classmates won’t get in nursing school alone. In fact, you might be surprised at some of the things nurses have let students do in a workplace setting because of this fact alone! And it all goes to build up your confidence as you’re studying to become a nurse. 

And then let me tell you something important about when Devon pointed out the benefits of the “hands-on” experience that you get while working. Nursing IS a very hands-on profession. But lecture, and the academic side of things is not very hands-on. And that can create a HUGE disconnect for most students. Which is why I always focus on teaching my VIP Tutoring students how to study in a way that lets you be “hands on” with the information and concepts you are trying to understand. 

Because research shows that you will only retain 5-20% of what you learn from reading your textbook, listening to your professor’s lecture, or watching YouTube videos…but you will retain more like 75-90% of the information that you can immediately analyze or apply while you’re studying. If you’re looking to save time and study more efficiently, then obviously you’d want to retain more like 75%-90% of what you’re trying to learn, or else what’s the point, right?

Which is why I teach my VIP Tutoring students to study using the Silver Bullet Study System, because it also helps you both identify the most important information to focus on, AND guides you through the thought process of how to analyze and apply that information WHILE you study. Because as a nursing student, even if you have a job in healthcare, it can be pretty intimidating to just be left on your own to “figure out” how to think about this whole new world of nursing information that you’ve jumped into. So real quick, if you’d like some guidance on learning how to study that way, or getting some mentorship on navigating the process, then you can find out more about joining my VIP Tutoring Membership by going to www.YourNursingTutor.com/vip

But anyway, when you also have a job in a healthcare setting during school, then you get an extra layer of first-hand experience, working side-by-side with nurses as part of the healthcare team, and practicing that whole “analyze and apply” strategy for the topics you are learning. And then if there’s something you are learning that you DON’T have an opportunity to apply at work, then the Silver Bullet Study System, is available to use to apply the rest.

Now as I mentioned earlier, Devon’s tip is the seventh in a series of tips for new nursing students from over 2 dozen different experts. And here’s a sneak peek…Devon will be joining me again later in this series to share a second tip specifically for Male Nursing students, so stay tuned for that one coming up. 

But in our next episode, Nurse Jenny Finnell, a Certified Nurse Anesthetist and founder of the CRNA School Prep Academy, will be joining me to share the number one thing you should do as a new nursing student that will make it easier to get the nursing job of your dreams…even if you’re not quite sure what that dream is yet. 

So if you’d like to hear her tip along with other essential advice from other experienced nurses and nursing students who have been in your shoes (and lived to tell the tale), then make sure to subscribe to this podcast to be notified when the next episode in this series goes live. 

And while you’re subscribing, if you liked today’s tip and are looking forward to the upcoming tips as well, please leave a rating and review on iTunes or your favorite podcast app to let me know! A 5-Star review with 1-2 sentences of your honest opinion goes a looong way towards helping other nursing students find these tips, AS WELL AS motivating me to create even more useful resources like this for you in the future. 

One last thing…whether you are in a position to get a healthcare related job during nursing school or not, you can (and should!) still be hands-on with how you study. So if you’d like to study in a way that will keep you focused and awake, and increase your retention, then I invite you to try out the Your Nursing Tutor VIP Tutoring Membership with a free trial. It’s an affordable way to learn the Silver Bullet Study System, an easy-to-follow study method that will help you get through your assigned reading faster AND retain more information for the long-term.

The VIP Tutoring Membership comes with curated resources you’ll need to conquer all the common nursing school challenges, and also includes live tutoring sessions via Zoom, topical trainings, and a private Facebook group so you can ask questions anytime. 

So if you’ve still got 3 more textbook chapters to read, but you can’t even remember what you read one paragraph ago…then let me save you a lot of time by showing you a better way to study. I look forward to supporting you in nursing school when you join the VIP Tutoring Membership today at www.YourNursingTutor.com/vip

Until next time, good luck on your nursing journey!

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