What They Didn’t Teach Us in Nursing SchoolThink back to nursing school. (No matter how far that was for you, smile.)

What course was missing from the nursing curriculum? What class did you wish that the nursing faculty taught? When you think about it now, having worked as a nurse, what makes you say:

“Gosh, I wish they taught THAT in nursing school!”

Whether it truly is pure nursing school curriculum or just something you wished before working in your nursing career… let us take some time to talk about the topics that are not traditionally covered in any type of nursing education.

In fact, as you read the following list, see what else comes to mind. Then, when you are done, be sure to leave an additional ‘non-nursing course’ in the comments below. So here we go-

  1. What They Didn’t Teach Us in Nursing SchoolAccording to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, a mentor is someone who teaches or gives help or advice. While nurses are oriented to their new nursing roles, are they all mentored? According to the nurses who are out there working in the nursing profession and active on social media- new graduate nurses are not properly mentored. In addition to receiving mentorship from a more experienced nurse, the mentor who is actually doing the role-modeling can benefit from learning how to do this in a professional and productive way. So it may be a good idea to start up a course in nursing school about mentorship, if there is not currently one already.
  2. This is a good one. And while good, it is also a bit controversial. Some people do not see healthcare as a service industry. These people view it as a prestigious career that is backed by scientific evidence and nursing literature. While I do agree, there is also some amount of service provided in the healthcare environment. And- even if we do not agree- with recent healthcare reform and reimbursement policy, this is not going away. I recently interviewed an awesome nurse leader from the west coast on the Your Next Shift podcast (interview to be released in late October). He actually talked a lot about the fact that his time working in his mother’s restaurant growing up, taught him a great deal about being a nurse!
  3. Here is a good one… straight from a social media response: “Finding your Zen when the patient room looks like a slasher movie”. I loved this. Think about it. You get back to your patient’s room. And it looks NOTHING like the way you left it! Oh my!?!?! What the heck could have happened here? Well, you can get mad- which is often not a very helpful response. Or you can take a deep breath, let it go, and laugh about the scene that you walked into. I think this tip is about more than the patient’s room. It is about being flexible. Realizing that there will be good times and bad in nursing. Doing your best to view every situation in a positive light. Maintaining balance and doing your best to stay calm in the chaos that nursing can be!
  4. Student loan repayment. This topic can be certainly overwhelming. And one, that I can recall, was definitely NOT covered in nursing school. Then after nursing school, for my masters’ degrees- I was blessed to have my place of employment reimburse me for my bills. So while I do not have a ton of experience with nursing student loan repayment, I am pleased to share that one of my nurse bloggers colleagues does! (Yay for this.) Check out this post on Scrub-Ed that goes over financial aid options and how to pay for nursing school.
  5. Nursing school failed to tell most of us that nursing is a 24/7 operation. There will always be another shift coming in. Or another nurse taking over, when we go home. In the case of those nursing careers outside of the hospital- there are often on call pagers, support hotlines that patients can access, or systems set up so that you can unplug from time-to-time. Even as a nurse who is also a business owner, I have to practice what I preach here and put away my cell phone. Turn off my laptop. And avoid checking email for the length of one weekend’s time. Sure, you have to be responsible as a nurse. You also have to be accountable! For your own actions and for the fact that you do not have to do it alone. Nursing is not a profession where you will be completely alone. Be accountable for your work and then when you are not at work… let it go and allow someone else to be accountable for theirs!

What else? What did you think when you got into your nursing career? What course was left out of your nursing education? Share below and thanks for reading!

Elizabeth Scala, MSN/MBA, RNAbout the Author: Keynote speaker and virtual conference host, Elizabeth Scala MSN/MBA, RN, partners with hospitals, nursing schools, and nurse associations to transform the field of nursing from the inside out. As the bestselling author of ‘Nursing from Within’, Elizabeth guides nurses and nursing students to a change in perspective, helping them make the inner shift needed to better maneuver the sometimes challenging realities of being a caregiver. Elizabeth received her dual master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. She is also a certified coach and Reiki Master Teacher. Elizabeth lives in Maryland with her supportive husband and playful pit bull.


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Elizabeth Scala, MSN/MBA, RN

“I’m a Nurse, but I’m Not Sure I LOVE Nursing Anymore! Can You Help Me?”


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