38. EXPERT TIP #13 – The most ⚠️dangerous⚠️ thing you can do as a new nursing student – and how to avoid it! With guest expert Nurse Ashley, co-founder of FB Group “Nursing Meme Only Page”

Welcome to Episode 38 of Navigating Nursing School with Your Nursing Tutor. Today, you’ll be hearing from Nurse Ashley, who is the founder of the “Nursing Meme Only Page” Facebook Group, which has over 11,000 members. She will be telling you the most dangerous thing you can do as a new nursing student…and what you can do to avoid it. 

But before Ashley shares her tip, I wanted to let you know that this is the thirteenth 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.

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Links from Episode 38:

“Nursing Meme Only Page” Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/555957861582128/

LIVE Tutoring Membership: www.YourNursingTutor.com/VIP

Transcript for Episode 38

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 that it would NEVER happen again. And it didn’t! In fact, I did so well that my school actually 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 worked in several different nursing roles in the meantime. But I always wanted to return to my first love, which is tutoring, mentoring, 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 Ashley. As I mentioned before, Nurse Ashley is the co-founder of the Facebook Group “Nursing Meme Only Page”, a place for nurses and health care workers who need a laugh. Off of Facebook, she has over 5 years experience as a BSN Nurse on a Med-surg and telemetry floor. 

Here is Ashley’s tip for you today:

“Hi, my name is Ashley. When I was in nursing school, my instructors would say that nurses eat their young. The only place I found this to be true was actually in nursing school. 

Once I started working, I found that most nurses were willing to help the new ones. So don’t be afraid to ask questions, ever. You might find a nurse or two that’s cranky, just like in any profession. But the only thing more dangerous than a rude work nurse who won’t help you, is one who will not ask for help. 

Even though I’ve been doing this for over five years, I am still learning. There’s always something new coming out that you need to learn. Even if you’ve been doing this for 20 years. 

Two more things. One, keep a sense of humor. This job is frustrating at times, sad at times. Most nurses I know have a wicked dark sense of humor. 

And two, those care plans that your instructors obsess over? You’ll barely ever see one in real life. Just hang on. You can do this!”

Thank you, Nurse Ashley, for your perspective on what truly makes a dangerous nurse, and your willingness to share that we should always be learning ourselves, no matter how long we’ve been a nurse. 

Now I’d like to add a few thoughts of my own about Nurse Ashley’s tip that she shared today. 

First off, as a tutor, I DO feel the need to clarify that while Ashley is 100% correct that you’ll barely ever see a care plan once you graduate and become a nurse, that doesn’t mean they’re not a really useful learning tool right NOW while you’re in nursing school. She wasn’t implying that in her tip, but I think some people could interpret her comment that way, so I wanted to explain something about care plans that even a lot of your nursing instructors may not fully understand.

Care plans are mainly useful as a learning tool. That’s it, pure and simple. It’s ONE way that you can use to model how a nurse thinks in clinical situations, in an attempt to help you learn to think like a nurse as you go through nursing school. 

The reason why you might hear experienced nurses, even including some instructors, say that care plans are “a waste of time” is because they already think like expert nurses! And research shows us that experts are notoriously bad at remembering what it is like to think like a beginner. Which is where you’re at, as a new nursing student. Because of this, it’s also really hard for expert nurses to predict which concepts a beginner nurse will find easier or harder to learn and understand. 

This can lead to a lot of frustration on the part of the expert nurse, who may feel like something is “obvious”, and assume that if you have difficulty understanding it, then you must be lazy or dumb. 

In fact, that’s the number 1 reason that your professor doesn’t always know how to really help you when you’re struggling in nursing school. And instead, will offer the same old, generic advice, like “study harder” or “you need to practice more NCLEX-style questions.” 

And then when you follow her advice and try studying harder and practicing more NCLEX-style questions, but you continue to have difficulty on your exams? Well, now you’re going to start wondering if your professor was right after all! 

But the truth is that you’re NOT lazy, OR dumb. If you were, then you would not have made it into nursing school. The problem is with HOW you study. 

See, when you’re a beginning nurse, you need to study in a way that mimics how those expert nurses think. Care plans help you do that a little bit in a clinical setting, but they’re not enough to carry you through your academic classes as well. 

That’s why I created the Silver Bullet Study System, which is an easy-to-follow, 4-step method that guides you through how to think like a nurse while you’re in nursing school. It’s a way of studying that will make it easier to get through your reading, help you confidently identify the most important information, organize that information so that it makes complete sense, and remember it for the long-term. In fact, the more you use the Silver Bullet Study System over time, the easier nursing school will become for you. 

If you’re interested in learning more about the Silver Bullet Study System, I train all of my VIP Tutoring Members how to use it as part of their membership benefits. As a matter of fact, I also have another included VIP Tutoring resource that will help you quickly create Nursing Care Plans in a way that maximizes your time and learning as well. If you’d like more information about the VIP Tutoring Membership, you can go to www.YourNursingTutor.com/VIP.

All that to say, if an experienced nurse tells you that you won’t see Care Plans anymore after you graduate, like Nurse Ashley said…go ahead and agree with them, because they’re 100% right! By that point, you should be able to independently think like a nurse without the learning tool of a care plan.

BUT…if they tell you that care plans are a complete waste of time, and they should no longer be required in nursing school? Then you should probably nod politely, but don’t be fooled. You now know that their true purpose is as a tool to help you, as a beginning nurse, get to expert nurse status. 

That being said, let’s move on to Nurse Ashley’s tip about asking questions. Because it’s true: it’s more dangerous not to ask a question about something you need to know or learn, then it is to ask a question and get a rude response. 

Getting a rude response can be embarrassing, but it’s only unsafe inasmuch as it means you didn’t get the information that you needed. And unfortunately, it can happen a lot during nursing school.

As Ashley personally experienced, the concept of “nurses eat their young” can be alive and well in many nursing schools. I talked about some real-life examples of it happening in our previous 2 Expert Tips, which you can go back and listen to in episode 36 and episode 37. 

But I think it’s also very encouraging to hear evidence that the culture of nursing truly is changing, as Ashley has not experienced the “nurses eat their young” phenomenon after graduation. I really attribute that to the growing movement of nurses who want to prioritize ending that sort of negative culture. So that can be a reassuring thing when you are working with a preceptor or in the clinical setting, that the nurses you work with are probably likely to take your questions seriously and answer them accordingly. 

But what if they don’t? Or what if you’re asking questions about the academic side of nursing school, and don’t feel like you’re getting the answers you need?

First of all, that is exactly what the VIP Tutoring Membership is here for. I am always happy to answer your questions honestly, respectfully, and in a way where you know exactly what you need to do next to see success. You won’t get any of that wishy washy, “study harder” or “practice more NCLEX style questions” type of advice from me. 

But another way to solve that problem of not getting the answers you need, is by first reflecting to make sure that you aren’t accidentally doing anything that might contribute to someone treating you that rude way. 

One common issue that I see in nursing students is that sometimes you will accidentally ask your professor a question that you could have found the answer to somewhere else. It’s a super easy mistake to make, because it might feel like a small question to ask, and your professor obviously knows the answer, so you figure it would be quicker to ask her than to look it up for yourself. This can be related to anything from a grading question that might be on the syllabus, to a topic about something on your next exam. 

But the problem, is that while you’re looking at this “small” question from your perspective, you may not be thinking of ALL the “small” questions from your professor’s perspective. Have you ever read the children’s book, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie?” Because it’s a LOT like that. One thing leads to another, and before you know it, your professor hasn’t been able to accomplish anything besides answering all the little questions. 

If you’ve never read the book, then another analogy would be simply to tell you that I have six kids. And it’s not a big deal if the first kid comes and asks if he can have a snack. But then when the second kid sees the first kid with a snack, she comes and asks for a snack, too. And so on…by the time the 4th or 5th kid comes asking for a snack, I’m already so annoyed and wore out with the constant interruptions and questions that I’m much more likely to SNAP at them, instead of calmly answering their legitimate question! And honestly, it’s the same way with your professors. 

Which is why it’s a really good idea to ALWAYS do these 3 things when you approach your professor to ask a question. 

First, check 3 sources to see if you can find the answer for yourself. The reason that the professor creates a syllabus is to save herself time so that she can answer a common question for everybody all at the same time. Think of it like a “Frequently Asked Questions” section. Classmates are another great resource to ask, because they may have looked up the answer for themselves already, too. And checking your Canvas or Blackboard resources is a great third place to check. 

Of course, if your question is more about content versus grades, then checking your textbook, google or YouTube, along with asking a classmate are all good options. IF you’re not a VIP Tutoring Member, of course. Then you could ask me.

Second thing to do is choose when to ask your question. If you’re asking in-person, make sure you pick a time that is convenient for your professor. She may have other obligations immediately after class, so that’s not always the best time to ask. Office hours are usually best since that is time she has already set aside to help you, but if you choose to send an email then make sure that you don’t expect an immediate response, especially outside of normal business hours. You MAY still get one, but consider it a pleasant surprise if you do, and be appreciative that she’s working extra hours to help you.

Third, when you ask your professor, make sure that you briefly share what you have already done to try and answer the question for yourself. This is key if you want to avoid a possible misunderstanding. Remember my example of how I can get annoyed when my kids approach me one by one to ask the Same. Exact. Question? Your professor may be feeling the same way, but if you start by showing that you are trying to be respectful of her time, then it will go a looong way towards diffusing any potential frustration on her part before it happens. 

Overall, if you’re a new nursing student listening to this right now, I hope that you feel encouraged by hearing Nurse Ashley’s advice, especially how “Nurses Eat Their Young” does not have to be the de facto experience for you. Because I know it’s very easy to go into a Nursing Facebook group and read ALL the horror stories about nursing school. I often say it’s a lot like when you get pregnant for the very first time…other moms congratulate you, and then immediately tell you all about their 37-hours of back labor where the epidural never kicked in. 

Hearing all the horror stories, and nothing else, is not exactly reassuring. Which is why I really want Your Nursing Tutor and the Navigating Nursing School podcast to be an oasis of both positive AND realistic information that you can trust as you go forth on your nursing school journey. 

So thank you to Nurse Ashley for sharing her positive advice and encouragement with us. And also for reminding us all that, at the end of the day, if you can do nothing else, ask questions and keep your sense of humor. Nursing school can be challenging at times, just like anything else that is worth doing. Keeping your sense of humor can help you prevent getting burned out. If you want some help with that, remember that you can get a regular dose of humor by joining Nurse Ashley’s Facebook Group, “Nursing Meme Only Page.”

Now as I mentioned earlier, Ashley’s tip is the thirteenth in a series of tips for new nursing students from over 2 dozen different experts. On our next episode, Senior Nursing Student Devon Taylor will be rejoining us with a second tip contribution for this series. His first tip was in episode 32 about whether you should work during nursing school. But in episode 39, he will be returning to share a special tip for aspiring male nurses, about how you can intentionally create quicker connections with your patients AND help them feel less anxious about working with a male nurse. Even if you’re a female student, I can promise that this is a tip that is worth listening to.

You can hear Devon’s 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 another thing…I work hard to provide valuable free resources to help you through nursing school, so could you do a quick favor in return? Would you please take a moment to go to Apple Podcast, and leave a rating and review for the “Navigating Nursing School with Your Nursing Tutor” podcast? It won’t take you long, and would mean SO much to me…in fact, you might even get a “shout out” on a future podcast episode if you do!

One last thing. If you’d prefer to learn how to think like a nurse sooner, rather than later, so that you can avoid having a nursing school “horror story” of your own, then I invite you to test out the free trial of the Your Nursing Tutor VIP Tutoring Membership that is currently available at the time of this recording. It’s an affordable way to learn the Silver Bullet Study System, so that you can study more efficiently, save time, AND feel more confident and secure in nursing school.

The VIP Tutoring Membership also comes with other curated resources you’ll need to conquer all the common nursing school challenges, like Care Plans and Time Management.  But it’s not all pre-recorded videos like other nursing school memberships! I walk with you hand-in-hand using live tutoring sessions via Zoom, topical trainings, and a private Facebook group so that you can ask questions anytime. 

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. And don’t risk embarrassment by accidentally asking a rude nurse, either! Instead, ask me your questions, and get honest and actionable answers that will help you reach nursing school success faster than you could on your own, simply by joining the VIP Tutoring Membership today at www.YourNursingTutor.com/vip

Until next time, good luck on your nursing journey!

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