4 Terms Every Nursing Student Should Know

Chemistry, biology, pathophysiology… My head is spinning just thinking about all of the courses that nursing students have to take. The amount of content that a nursing student has to remember and recall during a test or clinical exam can be overwhelming. And still- we have nursing students successfully graduate from nursing school month after month after month.

How do the nursing students do it? And what are the “go to” terms that every nursing student must have at their fingertips?

Sure, the easy response is an acronym or analogy. Something that the nursing student can memorize and bring up during that final exam moment. However, this post is going to cover some unconventional terms that each and every nursing student needs to have in their toolkit for graduation time.

Here Are 4 Terms Every Nursing Student Should Know

1. I need help.
That’s right. As nursing students, sometimes we feel pressure to have all of the answers. I mean, we get tested on them, right! But one of the best ways for a nursing student to prepare for the real world nursing career is realizing that there it is not humanly possible to have the answer every single time.

One of the traps that nurses fall into when they get into their nursing careers is what I like to call “lone ranger syndrome”. The nurse tries to do it all… on their own! When a charge nurse approaches the nurse and asks if they need help, what is the likely response? “No, I am fine. I don’t need anything right now…” When in reality, the nurse may be barely keeping their head above water during the shift.

Nursing students who ask for and receive help will be ahead of the curve. They realize that there are others who they can delegate to. The student appreciates advice and input from their mentors. When you start to ask for help and allow it in your nursing career, things will get much easier for you shift after shift.

2. No.
Another good one. And another word that most nurses are afraid to say.

As nurses, we want to be team players. We help out when our coworkers need us. And when called upon, most of the time, our response is a quick “Yes! I can do more!!”

While this is a great attribute and something you will need as you enter your nursing career, you also want to balance your “yes” with your “no” responses. Sometimes you will be too tired to come into work an extra shift. Or you have your own patient charting to take care of before running down the hall to bring another nurse some supplies. In order to show up ready, energized, and as the best nurse that you can be… you will have to learn to say “no” from time-to-time.

3. How can I help you?
In order to balance out the “no” responses that you will feel more comfortable giving above, a nursing student who is eager to help a fellow nurse out will greatly succeed in the nursing profession.

Not only can you ask a coworker how you can help them, but a nurse needs to be mindful of how they interact and talk with their patients and families.

I can tell you right now that there will be a LOT of call bells in your nursing future. And if you are a nurse who barges into a room, turns the call bell light off, and says with exasperation “Yes” to the patient… that patient is not going to feel the compassion that they want and need from their caregiver.

Yes, nurses are not wait staff. I get that. And, the patient is vulnerable. They are often lying in the hospital bed, afraid and uncomfortable. The nursing student that can put themselves in the proverbial shoes of their patient, showing up with empathy, will be the nurse taking the best care of those in need.

Nursing students going onto successful nursing careers must be ready and willing to help their staff, the patients, their families, and the organizations that they work for.

4. Let’s find a solution!
That’s right… nursing students who search for answers in a curious way are going to do best as real world nurses.

Nursing is tough work. And often times, nurses complain about the challenges that we face. We don’t have the budget or there is not enough staffing. Nurse-to-patient ratios are unfair. How come we have to work overtime? The list can go on and on…

And what I have heard from nurse managers and others in nursing leadership positions is that they tend to open their ears up more when the nurse sitting in front of them with an issue also brings a possible solution.

As nurses, we need to stay solution-focused. Working with a beginner’s mind… one that has us asking curious questions or looking for new, innovative ways to do things… that will help us excel in our nursing careers.

Approach each challenge by asking yourself, “How can I learn from this?” Look to grow with each experience. Always be recognizing the positive. Treat every situation as an opportunity. This is a way to stay resilient as a nurse!

Let’s hear from you! What terms would you recommend to a nursing student? Be sure to tweet me @ElizabethScala to let me know. Thanks for reading!

Elizabeth Scala

Keynote speaker and bestselling author, 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 host of the Nurse’s Week ‘Art of Nursing’ program, 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 a playful pit bull.