In this article, you will read about the major challenges nursing students face and how to cope with them. Competent care delivery in nursing practice is dependent on quality nursing education. As a nurse, you will need to bring your A-game in diverse complex situations within the clinical settings, which is where your critical thinking and decision-making skills come in. So you can say that it takes a whole lot to be equipped to render top-notch nursing services.

Nursing puts you at the forefront of meeting patients’ needs and making a difference in their lives. Although being a nurse has great advantages, studying to become one is surely not for the faint-hearted.

If you ask a student nurse how nursing school is, he/she would go on and on about it’s many challenges.

In a sense, these challenges can be overwhelming. Nonetheless, it shouldn’t deter you from pursuing your dreams.

In other words, as an aspiring nurse, knowing about these complexities beforehand can prepare you ahead on what nursing school entails. Also, the awareness will help you scale such hurdles, navigate nursing school and graduate successfully.

Major Challenges Nursing Students Face

This article throw light on 6 major challenges nursing students face and tips to cope with them.

Long-hours of Lectures

Students usually have to sit through hours of lectures with mind-boggling details in nursing school. Classes often involve complex concepts and their application to different care scenarios.

In most cases, nursing students would need to retain as much as possible and read massive textbooks/manuals for better understanding.

In addition, mandatory lessons on some prerequisite subjects such as Anatomy & Physiology, Pathophysiology, Microbiology, Nutrition and so on are challenging to many.

While this can seem like a daunting task, the knowledge and experience gained from these are vital for evidence-based practice and the delivery of safe and high-quality care to patients.

Tips To Make The Most Of Lectures In Nursing School

  • Always maintain a positive attitude towards each class as this will keep you interested and help you grasp as much information as possible.
  • Prepare ahead for lectures; skim through the lecture outline to get some information beforehand.
  • Be inquisitive: keeping your curiosity alive will help you learn effectively.
  • Ask questions whenever you don’t understand, do not assume you know everything.
  • Make notes during classes, it boosts your attentiveness which can assist you in getting as much information as possible.
  • Read through your notes after each lecture and attempt past questions related to the topics for better retention.
  • Apply lectures to different scenarios you could meet in clinical settings to develop better practice skills.

Demanding Clinical Rotations

Several students find clinicals intimidating. This is because they encounter real-life scenarios in diverse specialties that test their abilities to apply what they have learnt in practice.

As a student nurse, you will be posted to hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, public health agencies, and community or rural areas to get hands-on clinical experiences that can aid you in practice and likewise help you to meet up with the clinical requirements needed to successfully graduate from your nursing program.

Asides that, clinical postings assess your capacity to render care, professionalism and interaction with patients.

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Also, a lot of students find this challenging because they are occasionally scrutinized by their clinical Instructors, registered nurses, preceptors and so on. As a result, it creates anxiety, especially for those who find it difficult to work under pressure or close observation.

However, changing your perception of this experience can help you get the most out of your clinical experience.

Some Tips On How To Maximize Your Clinicals.

  • Be open-minded: consider your postings as another learning curve so that when you fail at certain tasks or make mistakes, it will not affect your morale.

Moreover, you have competent hands around, hence, be rest assured that they will only delegate responsibilities after proper training, and practice, and your ability to perform certain tasks has been assessed and they are certain of your delivery.

  • Always ask questions, don’t assume you know it all, especially when you are unsure of how things should go.
  • Leverage the knowledge and experience of your preceptors, clinical instructors, or registered nurses to get the most out of your postings. They are there to help you.
  • Read about new things/cases you encounter.
  • Show a sense of initiative, seek out opportunities to learn new things and put them to practice, that’s how you can build competence. Most of the clinicians you would meet will be willing to put you through things when they see your zeal for learning.
  • Network with people; in clinical settings, you will meet professionals from different walks of life, so this will be a great way to connect with them. Asides from that, this can grant you access to diverse career opportunities after nursing school.

Tons Of Projects And Assignments

In nursing school, you also get loads of time-consuming projects and assignments. These can be care plans, case studies, case presentations, lecture simulations, thesis, creating models, organizing workshops and health camps, health education in community settings and so on.

These tasks coupled with lectures and clinicals can be draining, therefore, nursing students find it difficult to meet these demands.

Some Advice On Scaling Through Projects And Assignments

  • Ensure that you work on tasks as early as possible, rather than close to deadlines. This will prevent feelings of overwhelm and help you deliver effectively.
  • Prioritize each task especially when you have a lot to cover, and break complex tasks into smaller bits for ease.
  • Make use of available resources on the school campus or from senior students for guidance.
  • Your projects/assignments might be graded and added to your overall grade, so do an excellent job on them.

Tests And Exams

Your knowledge and skills will be tested at some points in nursing school through tests and examinations.

Nursing exams usually come with a foreboding feeling as students need to cover a wide range of topics within a limited time frame.

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Additionally, students find licensing examinations gruesome as they need to put in all their efforts to pass because of the high expectations placed on them during this period.  Although each country’s licensing examination differs, the feeling is still the same among nursing students everywhere.

Tips To Pass Nursing Exams

  • Don’t leave your reading to the last minute, cover as much as possible at every opportunity you get. Reading when exams are close can set you up for failure due to lots of difficult things you need to read in a short period.
  • Don’t overstress yourself. Have regular study time, this way, you would have covered the majority of your courses well ahead of your exams.
  • Practice past questions, most examinations are set from previous exam questions. Additionally, practicing old questions can help you familiarize yourself with the patterns of setting questions by the examining body.
  • Forming a study group, and studying with your peers can help gain insights from different sources and seek clarifications.
  • Study smart; Ask questions whenever you don’t understand.
  • Know your learning style, study habits, your strengths and weaknesses so that you can know when and how to seek help to complete your program successfully.
  • Use mnemonics and abbreviations to remember things easily and learn faster.

Difficulty Balancing School With Social Life

It is extremely difficult for aspiring nurses to balance school life with social life, especially with the various demands of nursing school.

In fact, some students would have spent most of their school years before realizing that they have made just a few friends.

Tips On How To Navigate Your Social Life In Nursing School

  • Don’t work in isolation, one of the beautiful things about nursing school is that its challenges push students together for bonding, team spirit, and becoming support systems. Therefore, it is important to get along with your peers because you need all the support you can get from them to successfully achieve your career goal of becoming a nurse.
  • Take time out for social gatherings, attend events and meet new people.
  • Network and connect with people at every opportunity you get.
  • Attend picnics with friends, classmates, or study groups.
  • Make the most of your study group by engaging in fun activities.

Time Management

While you need to do a lot of things to stay atop your game in nursing school, the inability to manage your time can limit your effectiveness.

You need to be intentional about how to spend your time and what you spend it on. So you would need to limit unproductive activities and focus on things that matter.

At the end of the day, what matters is graduating from nursing school, so maintaining a balance in the allocation of your time for activities and studying is necessary. In other words, you would need an effective time management strategy to meet the huge demand of nursing school.

Tips On How To Manage Your Time Effectively In Nursing School

  • Stay organized, plan and keep to your schedule.
  • Be flexible whenever necessary.
  • Limit the time you spend on social media so you can be more productive.


To conclude, the challenges of nursing school are inevitable. However, you need yourself to successfully graduate from nursing school. Therefore, you should not neglect yourself at the expense of your nursing program. Seek help whenever you need it, and don’t become too overwhelmed with activities to limit mental breakdowns.

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Ensure to eat well, rest well, and create time for recreational and self-care activities.

Take mental breaks, seek out support systems and make the most out of your experiences for that is how you can make nursing school count and likewise achieve your goal of becoming a Registered Nurse.

Written By: Mayowa Racheal Popoola [RN, Content Writer]


Abdullahi Suleiman a Certified Registered Nurse based in Nigeria, an Entrepreneur and Also a Blogger, passionate about Community Development and Cosmetic Nursing

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