USA Nurse Licensure Exams | Does nursing school prepare you for nursing?

It’s the age old question. Does nursing school prepare you for nursing? Before we answer the question let me paint you a picture….

Ha-haaaaaa! Finally graduated nursing school.

I’m the best new-grad that’s ever walked the face of the planet. I’m the king of the world! I’m the greatest! I’m the ….

The sad truth of the matter is that nursing school can only prepare you so much for what’s to come after graduation. Feeling like Sandra Bullock untethered? You’re not alone. You’ve been blasted with mountains of info and you’ve distilled it down to application in hopes of passing the NCLEX-RN.

Does nursing school prepare you for nursing?

The short answer: generally no

The longer answer: yes and no

Let’s reminisce about the good, the bad, and the ugly.

3 things nursing school does NOT prepare you for

Complicated Scenarios

No amount of school can get you completely comfortable with complicated situations. These moments require teamwork, rapid assessments, and timely interventions. When executed properly and appropriately, it’s the highlight of a nursing career.

However, new grads don’t have a body of experience to draw upon. This precipitates second guessing, rushed decisions, and (potentially) patient safety issues. The team is there to help, but often times that can be daunting as well. Veteran nurses and physicians can be difficult to communicate with, and feeling incompetent in complicated scenarios causes new nurses to shy away from asking for help. But remember! These nurses and physicians were once newbies too! Pretty soon you’ll be on a first name basis with some of the greatest nurses and physicians in your hospital – heck…. might even be in a book club together……

So dive in, utilize the team, and get comfortable… You’re going to do great!


Working as a nurse is incredibly stressful. It’s one of the many reasons why nurses are so revered – they handle large amounts of stress daily. The health (and sometimes lives) of your patients rises and falls upon the actions and inactions of the nurse. Though physicians make the preverbal play calls, the


And let’s be real, this is a half-truth. Some schools teach to HESI while others teach to NCLEX-RN while others teach to something else. But in general, you def wouldn’t be able to pass the NCLEX-RN if you didn’t go to nursing school (let alone be eligible to take it). When you pass, and pass you shall, my young padawan, you’ll look back and thank you school faculty for all the knowledge they passed on to you…. And then right after you celebrate like this….

Safe patient care (aka how to NOT kill someone)

Rule number one is do no harm. If there’s one thing nursing school does a great job of is cramming the textbook answers for patient care down your throat. This is generally great because it’s the latest and greatest of patient care standards and infection control. You’ll find the “old school” RNs will continue to provide patient care the “way they’ve always done it” and they’re potentially setting YOUR patient up for a hospital acquired infection or some other catastrophe. Don’t be a dummy.

Remember what you’re school taught you and stick to the book. All we need to do now is remember – wash your hands, foley insertion is a sterile(-ish) procedure (most of the time), and wipe front to back. Follow these three goldies and you’re well on your way to safety stardom. Oh …. and follow the rest of the rules too.

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