No “Straight A’s” in Nursing School (Episode 72-Navigating Nursing School Podcast)

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In today’s episode, I’m going to tell you why I DON’T want to help you get straight A’s in nursing school…and I’ll explain 3 good reasons why I don’t think YOU should try to get straight A’s, either.

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Transcript for Episode 72

I’m sitting here right now, as I record this podcast episode, listening to the birds singing outside, listening to my kids singing karaoke downstairs, and enjoying the beautiful spring view outside my window. Although I do feel a little bit of pressure to get my to do list accomplished for today, to be a good mom and a good wife for my family, and to still find time to do a little bit of self care for myself. It’s not the kind of pressure that puts a weight on my chest or makes me feel overwhelmed and stressed out. And that’s exactly why I wanted to talk to you today about why I don’t actually want to help you get straight A’s in nursing school.

A lot of students and sometimes instructors are really surprised to hear me say this, because since I am a professional nursing tutor, they assume that I’m all about the grades. But the truth is that I’m not all about the grades, I’m all about your goals instead. And that’s not always the same thing. There’s a lot of misunderstanding about how I can help as a tutor as a result of this misunderstanding. A lot of people assume that I lecture my VIP tutoring members the same way that your instructors lecture you in their classes, just that maybe I do it in a way that’s easier for your brain to understand, which can obviously make you wonder why anybody would want to pay me money for this, because you can find lots of great nursing content lectures for free on YouTube.

However, why that’s definitely a part of what I do. It’s actually the smallest part of my job description. The much bigger part of my job description is more about providing you the best coaching and mentorship possible to get your brain thinking like a safe, effective beginning nurse as quickly as possible. But just like any good sports coach, I don’t expect you to become a pro athlete just by listening to me. Instead, I want to give you a training plan, motivation to go out on the field, you know, so to speak, and do the practice, complete the reps for yourself. And also give you the encouragement and the constructive feedback that you need to be constantly improving. And I’ll tell you that in my extensive experience as a professional nursing theater, that does not require you to earn straight A’s to accomplish these things.

In fact, focusing on straight A’s can actually hinder the process of learning to think like a nurse in a lot of cases, which is why today I’m going to share with you the three specific reasons why I don’t want to help you get straight A’s in nursing school, and why I think that you should stop trying to choose straight A’s to so let me know if you agree with me on these rationales, you can connect with me to let me know by going to my website, or the show notes page for today’s podcast episode at WWW dot year nursing tutor.com. Forward slash episode 72.

So here are the three reasons why I don’t want to help you get straight A’s in nursing school. First reason, I would rather help you focus on your most important goal, which is not getting straight A’s, but it’s becoming a nurse, I don’t want to help you focus and waste your time on a vanity metric. And I call getting straight A’s a vanity metric, because you’ve probably heard that old saying that C equals RM. And it’s true. Okay, C does equal RN. When was the last time you’ve talked to a nurse and asked her what her grade point average was, you don’t care about what her grade point average was in nursing school? What you care is Does she know what she’s doing now?

Does she understand what she’s doing? Does she know how to critically think and can she think like a nurse. Those are the important things to learn in nursing school. And what you actually got like your grades, your GPA just becomes a vanity metric. So something that it’s nice to brag about, but it’s not really going to get you what you are trying to earn. It’s also the thing about straight A’s and being clear on what your real goal is, is that this is actually the first thing that I always work with students on when they want help with time management.

Yes, that is another thing I work with students on as a professional nursing tutor is time management, especially in nursing school. Because before you can effectively manage your time, you have to be super, super clear on what your goals are. If you don’t know what your goal is, then you have no measuring stick to use to measure and decide what tasks you should make a priority. And which ones you need to wait until after you graduate or even just wait till next month. And that is why I say you have to know what your goal is so that you can decide what tasks are most important for you to focus your time on. Now when I say not getting straight A’s is something you know that we don’t really care about or getting straight A’s. It’s not something we really care about.

Please do not confuse that with understanding the material. Those are two separate things. I think that’s like one of my main points here. It is that you do need to understand the material clearly, in order to pass nursing school become a safe effective beginners. But just because you get an A doesn’t mean you understand the material. And just because you don’t get an A doesn’t mean you don’t understand the material. So I actually on my tic toc channel I had posted something about this topic about how people are surprised to find out that I am not interested in helping you get straight A’s in nursing school. And some of the content comments I got were quite interesting, but one person was saying that she agreed with me and said that she does a lot of people who get straight A’s and are done as a box of rocks.

Now why I don’t necessarily agree with her way of putting that. I do agree that there is a definite difference between what I call street smarts versus book smarts. You can have book smarts and get straight A’s. The book smarts do not always translate into St. Mark’s smarts of actually being able to think like a nurse of actually being useful on the floor and knowing what to do in a real patient situation. So we definitely, there’s nothing wrong with having book smarts. But we need to make sure that translates into street smarts. And if we can only pick one, I’d say let’s pick street smarts.

And other than that, as long as you’re getting a good enough grade to pass and take the next step forward on your nursing journey, then you’re doing just fine. And you should congratulate yourself, take a deep breath, kick back and relax a little bit. Now, quick sidenote, because I do get pushback on this sometimes from people who are they already thinking about doing some graduate studies in nursing eventually, especially my future CRNAs, that’s certified nurse anesthetists. The CRNA programs are notoriously difficult to get into, they are some of the most difficult programs to get accepted to. And so people, you know, not wrongly assumed that the better Gretz grades you have more likely you can get into CRNA school.

However, here’s the thing. So they assume that, well, I have to get straight A’s because I want to be a CRNA one day and if I don’t get straight A’s in nursing school, I’ll never be a CRNA. And that could not be further from the truth. There are so many factors that go into becoming a CRNA getting accepted into school CRNA school and your grades is only one of them. That would be pretty rotten, if you didn’t know in nursing school that you wanted to be a CRNA. And someday when you decided that that really was your dream, you look back and you were completely shut out from ever achieving being a CRNA status simply because you didn’t get straight A’s in nursing school. Now, there’s actually a lot of ways to get into CRNA school that you can do.

And I have a really great colleague, Jenny for now who was on my podcast last fall, she contributed a tip for new nursing students. So I’ll link that episode in the show notes for this for this episode, so that you can connect with her. But she has runs, she runs the CRNA Prep Academy, which is a membership for aspiring CRNA students. And she coaches people on how to get their resume together so that they can apply successfully to CRNA school. And she does have strategies for people who did not get straight A’s in nursing school, it can be done.

Now the second reason why I don’t want to help you get straight A’s in nursing school, is because most nursing schools have an adjusted grade scale. And this adjusted grading scale is not in your favor, it actually makes it harder to get straight A’s. So that means that you know the typical grading scale, probably your whole life has been that if you get anything above a 90, you’re gonna get an A. However, a lot of times in nursing school that gets adjusted up so that you have to get a 93 and 95. I’ve even seen some places you have to get a 97% or above in order to get a straight up a in a nursing school class.

And honestly, I think that’s practically unachievable, at least in terms of what I’m willing to sacrifice in my life to get there. And so that means that for the same amount of work and effort and knowledge that you did in like a previous prereq class, like anatomy, physiology, or microbiology or something like that, you might have earned an A for that. But now that you’re in core nursing classes, you can get that same exact score for the same amount of effort and only get an A minus or even a B plus.

Now, is that fair? Well, there are definitely conflicting opinions on that and but I’m not here today to talk about why they made this decision. The fact of the matter is This is common in many nursing schools, they do have a rationale for why they do it. But right or wrong, it’s simply a fact of life, it’s one of those things that you just have to deal with, you have to look around and recognize this is the reality of the situation. And you have to make decisions based on those boundaries.

Now, you might say, okay, Nicole, I just need to study a little harder, and I can boost my grade A couple of points, and then I’ll get my A that I really, really want. But in all honesty, I see studying harder doesn’t usually work. And that’s because it’s not a one to one correlation between how you study and what kind of grades you get. You know, if you study for an extra hour, that doesn’t mean your grade is going to increase by an extra hours worth of studying. We wish it were that easy. It’s not. And I think you know, that. Also, when you think, Oh, if I just study harder, I can get a better grade.

This assumes that you’re studying in the correct way that is going to be effectively training your brain in order to think the way you’re going to be tested. However, this is going to also leave you faced with a few decisions to make about whether you need to double down on your current study habits, do you really trust that they’re working as well as you think they are? And then you also have to decide, is it worth it to you to put in the extra time and effort and stress to get an unknown grade return? Is it going to work?

I don’t know, are you willing to sacrifice your time now, for the unknown outcome of whether you really will be able to increase your grade, there’s something called the 8020 rule that you might have heard of before. And it’s this idea that only 20% of the things you are doing will give you 80% of your results. And I definitely have seen this in nursing school, which is why I focus on helping my tutoring members to identify that 20%, which I teach them how to do that 20% In by using the silver bullet study system method. And if they only study with the silver bullet study system, they’re gonna get 80% of their, their goals, right, that’s 80% of what they really need to cover for nursing school.

Honestly, it’s probably more but we’re just recall, it’s called the 8020 rule for a reason, right? However, what this means is that if you want to get more than 80% of those results, then you’re going to, it gets harder to do that. Because now you have to do more like 80% of the work to get that last 20% of the results. So you can see that it’s it’s not a one to one correlation, it’s it’s gets harder, that last few percentage points that you want to increase your grade.

That’s why I would rather support students in getting that low hanging fruit in doing changing their study habits in the ways that’s going to bump up their grade. So that they’re you’re getting solid grades, so you feel confident about your place in nursing school, you’re not worried about failing, you’re not stressed out that you’re not going to make it through the semester. And then you can take that extra space in your schedule, to do the other things that are important to you in life, you know, the non nursing school goals, taking care of your family working, if that’s what you choose to do during nursing school, just relaxing, okay.

And so this is why I say just take, take the 80% of the results that you get with the 20% and it’s going to be good. We just want you to get a good enough grade pass to be solid. It makes it easier for you to advocate for yourself when you’re feeling confident. So that is something you see in nursing school is not what you think should be going on, you feel more comfortable speaking up about it in a respectful way. And you can really get a lot of great leadership experience that way too.

Now before I share my third and possibly my most important reason why I don’t want to help you get straight A’s in nursing school. I quickly want to mention that today’s podcast episode is brought to you by my VIP tutoring membership, which is an affordable way to get tutoring, mentorship and the help you need to effectively navigate your nursing journey. I can guide you through any point of your nursing journey from pre nursing to current student to passing NCLEX or even getting through your first one to two years as a new nurse, all without getting eaten. We’re proud to include members from all ages and all walks of life.

Many are adult learners in their 30s 40s 50s or even 60s and others are straight out of high school. Some of some have previous healthcare experience. Others have no previous healthcare experience. Some students are working towards their LPN, others are pursuing RNs. One thing that every member has in common though, is that they are fully committed to becoming a nurse and doing it while surrounded by a positive and encouraging community. And they’re committed to learning an effective and efficient way of studying that helps you fit nursing school into your everyday life.

And that leads me to my Third and final reason why I don’t like helping you get straight A’s. It’s because true success requires reasonable expectations. And here’s what I mean by that. When you put unreasonable expectations on yourself, like getting straight A’s in nursing school while you’re working, and while you’re taking care of your family, and while you’re still trying to do literally everything else that you were doing before you added nursing school to your plate, then you’re constantly going to feel like a failure, no matter how well you’re actually doing. It’s all about the context. Okay?

So if you do not clearly define what it looks what success looks like to you, then you’re never going to feel successful. That’s why I want you to kind of determine right now, does success look like getting perfect grades? Or does it look like doing well enough, understanding the information to be a safe, effective beginning nurse, and being able to move forward with the next step of your nursing journey, whether that’s passing your nest next exam, getting through the semester, making it through clinicals, whatever it is, if you’re moving forward on your nursing journey, if you’re taking just a small step towards your final nursing goal of becoming that nurse, you’ve always dreamed of being than you are being successful, you need to recognize that for what it is. Or if you want your goal just to be straight A’s, then sure, it can just be straight A’s, even if you never become a nurse. But I think you realize how foolish that sounds right?

So let’s celebrate the things that are actually moving you forward towards your real goal, not your vanity goal. It’s also all about the context, you can’t measure yourself compared to other people. So I see this happen a lot with the returning students that I work with, and you’re never too old to go back to nursing school, just FYI. But a lot of the returning students that I work with, they have a lot of these other responsibilities, they sometimes have to work late sometimes have kids off, sometimes they have really young kids, you can’t compare yourself, who has all these other non nursing school responsibilities to somebody who does not have the same responsibilities, they might have that extra space in their schedule, to give that extra 80% effort to get the extra 20% result. And they can achieve straight A’s.

But you know what, it doesn’t matter. Because at the end of the day, you’re both still able to become a nurse. And you know what is equally important to your dream of becoming a nurse, your physical health, your emotional health, and your mental health. And all three of those things are way more important than a grade on your transcript. So we’ve got to stop normalizing the expectation that nursing school will inevitably break your spirit and leave you sobbing in your car at the end of a long and discouraging day. Why would anybody want to become a nurse if that’s what nursing is about?

And I hear professors trying to be encouraging at the beginning of the semester, but making comments about how it’s so hard, you’re gonna cry. Let’s not do that anymore. Okay, let’s set more reasonable expectations. Sure, you’re going to experience hard days in nursing school, it can happen to anyone you can, you’re going to have hard days no matter what you major in. But those hard days should be the exception, not the rule in your nursing experience. And it shouldn’t make you question every life choice that led you to nursing school in the first place. After all, you chose to walk this nursing journey. So that means you get to decide how much you want to torture yourself, or how much you simply want to take the next step forward on your nursing journey and enjoy the ride as you go. Now remember, if you’d like me to help you so that you can spend more time enjoying the ride on of nursing school, then I’d love to work with you in my VIP Turing membership.

I truly truly believe that nursing school should get easier, not harder as you go through each semester. And you can get more information about joining plus access more helpful resources on my website by going to the show notes for today’s episode at WWW dot you’re nursing tutor.com forward slash episode 72. Now before we finish, would you mind doing me a 32nd favor when you go to Apple podcasts and write a two sentence review for navigating nursing school with your nursing tutor. Simply tell me where you’re at on your nursing journey and why you like listening to this podcast. It’s one small way that you can support the mission of your nursing tutor by helping other nursing students discover that it is possible for normal people just like you to get through nursing school without completely sacrificing your family, your job or even your sanity. Until next episode.

Good luck on your nursing journey.

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