Welcome to Episode 34 of Navigating Nursing School with Your Nursing Tutor. Today, you’ll be hearing from Nurse Chelsey Rodgers, a Critical Care nurse and founder of Tribe RN, who is joining me to share her genius method for staying motivated and preventing burn out, even when nursing school gets so tough that you’re ready to quit. And I’ll tell you, this is something that you’ll find useful during that first, difficult year as a new nurse, and even throughout your entire nursing career, as well.
But before Chelsey shares her tip, I wanted to let you know that this is the ninth in a series of expert tips for new nursing students. So subscribe to the podcast to get notified when each new tip is available, and be sure to go back and listen to the beginning of this series, starting at episode 26, so that you don’t miss any of the other expert tips for new nursing students.
Some links below may be referral links…purchases made from referral links don’t cost you any extra, but may provide a commission that helps support Your Nursing Tutor’s free content, so thank you!
Links from Episode 34:
Chelsey’s Facebook Group: www.facebook.com/groups/TribeRN
Chelsey’s Instagram: www.instagram.com/tribern_official
Chelsey’s YouTube Channel: youtube.com/c/TribeRNOfficial
Chelsey’s Website: www.Tribe-RN.com 15% off COUPON CODE: THANKYOU
LIVE Tutoring Membership: www.YourNursingTutor.com/VIP
Transcript for Episode 34
I also want you to know that any links or resources that I mention today, including how to connect with Nurse Chelsey outside of the Navigating Nursing School podcast, can be found on the show notes page for this episode at www.YourNursingTutor.com/episode34
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 an Accelerated 2nd Degree Bachelors Program…then went on to discover a BETTER way to study so it would NEVER happen again. And it didn’t…in fact, I did so well that my school hired me as their official nursing school tutor by the end of that very same semester.
It’s been a loooong time since I graduated with my BSN, and I’ve gone on to work as both a Pediatric Operating Room nurse and a Pediatric phone triage nurse. But I always wanted to return to my first love of tutoring and supporting the next generation of nurses…YOU!
Now I’ve been a professional nursing tutor for over 12+ years. I’m the founder of Your Nursing Tutor, which features the VIP Tutoring Membership, 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, and to do it in a way that doesn’t require you to put your entire life on hold until graduation.
Now it’s time to introduce you to my guest expert for today, Nurse Chelsey Rodgers. As I mentioned before, Chelsey is a Critical Care nurse who has also spent several years as a travel nurse, and she is also the founder of Tribe RN.
Through her Tribe RN website, which you can find a www.tribe-rn.com, Chelsey’s mission is to create the best resources, tools, charts, and diagrams for nursing, so that she can help everyone in our field, whether you’re a nursing student or a seasoned nurse. Her vision is to build a community of nurses that will band together to share ideas, focus, resources, laughs, and stressors, so that we can create unity within our profession and improve patient care.
Personally, I love this mission and vision, and feel that it’s also 100% important for the larger goal of changing the culture of nursing so that we’re no longer seen as a profession who “eats their young.” And I’m so glad to work alongside someone like Chelsey towards that ultimate goal.
You can also find Nurse Chelsey on both Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook, where she has an active, supportive community of over 23,000 members.
Here is Chelsey’s tip for you today:
“Hi there, Chelsey here with Tribe RN. I’m so thankful you’ve chosen the profession of nursing.
Nursing takes a lot of work, just like any relationship. I’ve been a nurse since 2005, and believe me, there have been plenty of peaks and valleys, good days and bad days.
When you have good days, I’d like to challenge you to reflect. I’d encourage you to start a happy box, binder, or notebook. Start your book with Why…Why did you choose nursing?
This is a place where you can write down positive experiences, good co-worker relationships, positive patient interactions (be sure to keep them HIPAA compliant), and positive family member interactions.
You can refer back to your happy box when you need to retrieve a pick me up. It’s definitely a tool that’s helped keep me coming back when the relationship with nursing got hard.
Whether you’re a student or a 20 year veteran of nursing, I’d encourage you to start your happy box today. Happy nursing everyone! Reach out to me anytime.”
Thank you, Chelsey, for your advice about creating our own personal “Happy Book” to help us remember all the good things, and also to carry us through our bad days.
I’d like to add a few thoughts of my own about Nurse Chelsey’s tip that she shared today.
It’s incredibly easy to fall into a dark place mentally and emotionally while in nursing school. Unfortunately, I think every single nursing student feels this way at some point, and while it’s not right, it’s also the way it is right now. So it’s important to be proactive and take steps to avoid it when we can…or recover quickly from it when we can’t avoid it.
One piece of advice that I often see getting thrown around is to do better at self-care. You know, like “treat yourself” and make time for a bubble bath, that sort of thing. But let’s be honest here…if self-care requires ME to put ONE MORE THING on my “to do” list, then it’s not actually self-care…it’s more like “let’s feel even more guilty because now I feel like I SHOULD make time to take a bubble bath but realistically I know that I’m never going to because I have too many other things that I have to do”. And that guilty feeling ends up contributing to the burn out…not fixing it.
So side note…thank you to Chelsey and ALL the other experts who have contributed to this Tips for New Students series, because not a single one of them actually offered advice to go take a bubble bath. Because they have been in your nursing school shoes before, and they know first-hand that it is actually NOT good advice!
That being said, I think you can probably see why I like Chelsey’s advice to make your own little “Happy Book” so much better then “take a bubble bath” or other generic versions of common self-care advice.
First off, The Happy Book exists to remind you why you’re doing this. I think it’s easy to forget your “why” when you’re wrapped up in the day-to-day hamster wheel of studying, preparing for clinical check-offs, and cramming for exams. It’s easy to start to wonder why you’re doing this to yourself, especially if you also have kids or a spouse who you feel like you’re neglecting.
It’s also easy to feel discouraged when you spend countless hours studying, only to earn a test grade that doesn’t seem to reflect all of the hard work you put in to prepare. And it’s incredibly frustrating, as well.
That’s why it’s important to have a Happy Book that you personally create. After all, there are lots of motivational books out there, but they won’t be enough to “disprove” any negative thoughts you’re personally having on your worst days. What you need for those days is something that will directly counter your personal negative thoughts with something both positive AND realistic.
In fact, that’s a big part of how I teach my VIP Tutoring students to manage and get rid of their test anxiety. Because you have to be really aware of the negative self-talk that you are unconsciously speaking to yourself, and how it influences how you feel and how you act.
Like if you see a test question and don’t immediately know the answer, you might automatically think something like, “I’m so dumb, why didn’t I study better, I’ll bet everybody else knows the answer,” and you will respond by feeling MORE anxious. And here’s the truth: when your test anxiety turns on, your brain shuts off. And you’re going to get the answer wrong.
But what if your automatic thought in this situation was positive and realistic, instead of negative? Something more like, “Wow, I don’t think I studied this one. That’s ok, I worked hard studying, so I’m sure that I studied something about it that will help me make a good, educated guess.” Now suddenly your brain stays on, you’re more likely to breathe calmly, stop freaking out, and logically figure out the answer. And that makes a HUUUUGE positive difference in how you feel about yourself both during AND after the test…as well as your final exam score.
It can be harder than you think to even notice when you’re having those negative thoughts, though, because they’re so automatic. That’s why I created a simple behavioral technique that can use to get your Test Anxiety under control in 2 weeks or less. I developed it based on the same principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that I learned back when I was in graduate school for my PhD in Clinical Psychology. Now, this was back before I decided to go to nursing school, and I never actually GOT my PhD because I met my husband, got married, and dropped out of the program so that I could move with him instead of having a long-distance marriage for several years. But I completed my Masters degree before switching gears to go to nursing school, and my Clinical Psychology background has definitely NOT gone to waste as a Professional Nursing Tutor.
Anyway, if you’d like for me to teach YOU the easy strategy to remove your Test Anxiety so that your exam scores can finally be an accurate reflection of what you actually know…then I’d be happy to do that for you when you join the VIP Tutoring Membership. At the time of this recording, I’m offering a 7-day free trial to try it out. And even if you join only for the free trial, that’s more than enough time for you to learn the Test Anxiety technique. You can get more information at www.YourNursingTutor.com/vip . It will only take you about an hour to go through the Test Anxiety training, so if you sign-up for the free trial, then I’ll help you learn exactly what you have to do to get rid of your Test Anxiety once and for all.
Now, even though Chelsey’s “Happy Book” doesn’t get as “moment-to-moment” specific as my Test Anxiety technique does, it can play a similar and equally important role in helping you stay focused on all the positive things about your nursing school over the long-term.
One important way it accomplishes this is because you notice what you’re looking for. It’s that weird phenomenon where you buy a new car, and as soon as you do you suddenly start seeing the same exact make & model everywhere that you drive around town. If you are committed to documenting positive experiences in your Happy Book, then you are telling your brain to pay attention to those happy experiences…and you will be more likely to overlook some of the negative experiences, as a result.
And when you DO have negative experiences (because of course, that’s going to happen in nursing school no matter what), then you’ll find it easier to quickly learn from them and move on, because you have a notebook full of proof that you DO have positive, successful experiences as well to more than counterbalance them. So the occasional negative experience becomes less of a big deal.
Personally, I had never thought to create a formal Happy Book, but there are several momentos that I have kept over the years that remind me of students I have helped, and what my help has meant to them. And on those really hard days, I still pull those momentos out and look through them. I still have end-of-semester evaluation reports written by students I tutored back when I was IN nursing school and working as my program’s Official nursing tutor. That first group of students even took the time to gift me with a very special, engraved music box that they gave me when they graduated. And I’m not going to lie, I cried when that music box finally broke 10 years later. But the memories remain, and I have a picture of it.
More recently, I’ve started compiling all the positive messages that my current VIP Tutoring Students send me so that I am constantly reminding myself of what my work as a Professional Nursing Tutor means to them. Just last week, one of my members, Jill, showed up for our Live Tutoring Session on Zoom JUST to tell me that she passed her required Dosage Calculations Exam with a 100%, and she wanted to take the time to thank me. In fact, she ONLY logged on to the live tutoring session to tell me that, and then got back off again because she still had to prepare for her clinical check-offs. It meant sooo much to ME that she had taken time out of her busy study schedule to show up live and tell me that face to face.
All this to say…wherever you’re listening to this right now, as soon as you get home, or maybe if you’re already AT home, go grab an empty notebook. You’re a student, I know you have one laying around somewhere that you can use. Then do what Chelsey recommended, and write WHY you decided to go to nursing school on that very first page. It will only take you 5 minutes, and if you don’t do it now, you never will.
Then keep that book handy. Carry it around in your book bag if you have room. And be on the lookout for those positive interactions that you always think you’ll remember…but you won’t actually remember unless you write them down.
Write down about that grateful family member who thanked you for washing up their elderly father during clinicals. That “aha” moment when you’ve been studying hard, and a concept finally makes sense. Each exam you successfully pass, because it’s another step forward on your nursing school journey.
The Happy Book will not only give you a way to remind yourself why you chose nursing in the first place, but it will CONTINUE to remind you every time you flip through the pages, for years to come.
I also wanted to mention that if you go to the show notes to get the link for Chelsey’s Tribe RN page, you can get a Coupon Code for 15% off your first purchase of Tribe RN gear, which includes everything from really nice stethoscope cases, to good quality pen lights, to CheatSheets you can fit in your scrub pockets.
Now as I mentioned earlier, Chelsey’s tip is the ninth in a series of tips for new nursing students from over 2 dozen different experts. On our next episode, Nurse Linda Bright will be sharing her number 1 tip for new nursing students, and she has a perspective that I know a lot of you will appreciate, because she was 50 years young when she decided to start nursing school as a second career after working as a public school teacher for 28 years. So if you’ve been wondering if you’re “too old” for nursing school, I know you’ll want to hear what Nurse Linda has to say.
You can hear her tip along with other essential advice from experienced nurses and nursing students who have been in your shoes (and lived to tell the tale), by subscribing 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.
And remember…the worst thing about Test Anxiety is that it makes you look like you know less than you actually know, because it will turn your brain off to prevent you from thinking logically and making an educated guess on exams. And if it happens on exams, how can you trust it won’t happen in an urgent clinical situation, too?
So if you’d like to learn how to completely eliminate your Test Anxiety so that your exams can finally be an accurate representation of what you REALLY know, then try out the VIP Tutoring Membership using the free trial option.
Not only will you learn how to eliminate Test Anxiety, but you’ll also get immediate access to other resources that target all of the most common nursing school challenges. It’s not intended to be “yet another thing for your to-do list” (you know, like that guilt-inducing, “self-care” bubble bath…), but instead it’s a library of trustworthy solutions you can use IF and WHEN you need them.
The VIP Tutoring Membership also includes live tutoring sessions via Zoom, topical trainings to help you learn faster and more efficiently, and a private Facebook group so you can connect with other students AND ask your questions anytime, day or night.
Stop feeling discouraged because your exam grades stay the same no matter how hard you work. Instead, learn the proven strategies that will have you confidently thinking like a nurse in no time by joining the VIP Tutoring Membership today at www.YourNursingTutor.com/vip
Until next time, good luck on your nursing journey!
Nicole is a Professional Nursing Tutor with over 15 years experience, and the founder of Your Nursing Tutor. She has a BSN, and an MA in Clinical Psychology. Nicole specializes in providing easy-to-follow, proven study methods (like the Silver Bullet Study System) that transform frustrated nursing students into calm, confident nurses! When she’s not helping students through her Live Tutoring Membership, Nicole loves spending time with her husband, homeschooling their 6 kids, and staring at sunflowers.