Why Is Nursing School Hard? 5 Reasons It Is

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Before beginning a rigorous nursing school curriculum, you may be wondering, “How hard is nursing school?” and “Why is nursing school hard?” These are important questions; completing nursing school is no small feat, especially in an accelerated nursing program. Becoming a nurse requires hard work so you can learn how to care for patients in a safe and effective manner. Your future patients are relying on your knowledge and skills, so it’s reasonable that nursing school is built to challenge you.

close-up of nursing student working in sim lab

The Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program at Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) is designed to shape you into a competent and skilled nurse, which may come with some stress. But fear not; you’ll have the support and resources you need to succeed.

Now we’ll answer the question, “why is nursing school hard?” By understanding the common challenges, you’ll be better prepared to overcome them.

1. Robust Curriculum

The first factor rendering the Accelerated BSN program is a challenge is the nature of what you’re learning. Nursing school courses are science-heavy, with the curriculum covering anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, pathology, and more. These are notoriously complex concepts, and any nursing student will tell you that they take effort to master.

Nursing students working together in sim lab

Still curious about the ABSN program? Learn more about what nursing school is like.

2. Accelerated Pace

On top of challenging course content, the pace of an accelerated nursing program is much quicker than that of a traditional four-year nursing program. With PLU’s ABSN program, you’ll be on track to earn a BSN in as few as 16 months.

Because of the faster timeline, time management will be the key for success. You’ll need to balance online courses with skills and simulation labs and clinical rotations. It can take students a while to settle into a routine and find a study structure that keeps them on track with their busy, fast-paced schedule.

Remember that while the fast pace of an ABSN program is rigorous, it also means you’ll be able to save time and finish your degree faster than in a traditional nursing program.

3. Full Study Schedule

Another reason nursing school is hard is that your schedule will be booked with school activities and studying, which can be intense at times. Most ABSN students spend the majority of their waking hours on schoolwork. Prepare to commit between 40 and 60 hours each week to your studies. Because nursing school demands so much time, it’s ideal for students not to work during the program. This will allow you to focus on school and give you the highest chance of success.

4. Self-Directed Learning

Accelerated nursing school relies on your discipline and accountability to stay on track. You won’t be in lectures all day every day like in traditional nursing programs. Instead, you’ll rely more heavily on self-directed learning to retain the material. This is great for self-starters who prefer independent learning and are able to keep themselves on task well. However, it can be a challenge to have such a leading role in your learning, especially for those who benefit from a structure that is more externally-applied.

Pacific Lutheran University nursing students with instructor

5. You'll Need to Say "No"

Another challenging piece of accelerated nursing programs is accustoming yourself to saying “no” to social activities and extracurriculars. You may find yourself wanting to relax and spend time with friends, but you need to prioritize studying. Putting school above all else can be a challenging adjustment to make.

Because PLU’s ABSN is an accelerated program, you’ll be short on time and need to get used to saying “no” to things that would take you away from your studies. Just remember that the program can be completed in as few as 16 months, and once you finish, you’ll be able to start your career and spend your free time however you’d like.

How to Survive Nursing School: 3 Tips

After hearing all the reasons why nursing school is hard, you may feel a little overwhelmed. Just remember that students overcome these challenges every day, and so can you. Here are a few strategies for how to survive nursing school.

1. Refine Your Study Strategy

One way to set yourself up for success in accelerated nursing school is to ensure you’re studying efficiently and effectively. Each person learns differently, so your learning style will be unique to you. You may be a primarily visual learner, or auditory, reading/writing or kinesthetic. You’ll want to use study strategies that align with your ideal learning methods. If you’re unsure of your learning style, complete the free online VARK questionnaire.

smiling nurse with backpack walking up stairs

Need help preparing for nursing school before you begin? Here are a few ways to set yourself up for success.

2. Start a Study Group

Another great way to optimize your studying during nursing school is to start a study group that meets regularly to review course material. Study groups will allow you to teach and learn from peers and support each other’s learning. You’ll be able to keep each other accountable for staying on track and tackle challenging topics as a group. Additionally, through a study group, you’ll form friendships with classmates, which can benefit your mental health and help you feel more supported during nursing school.

3. Get Support from Loved Ones

Garnering support from those close to you is another great strategy for how to survive nursing school. Going it alone is never ideal, and having your friends and family at your side will help encourage you and keep you strong in challenging times. Whether it’s a phone call with your mom or a note or meal from a friend, having people in your corner will help as you face the challenges of accelerated nursing school.

Earn Your BSN at Pacific Lutheran

The accelerated nursing program at PLU will test you, but it will be worth it in the end. BSN in hand, you’ll get to start a personally fulfilling career with great job stability and competitive pay. If you have at least 60 non-nursing college credits or a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, you may be eligible for the program. With our three start dates per year, you won’t have to wait long to begin.

Pacific Lutheran University ABSN students looking at hospital equipment

Wondering how to begin a nursing career? Follow these steps for how to become a nurse.

Remember that many have come before you, and with dedication and hard work, it’s possible to achieve your goal of becoming a nurse. Our team at PLU is dedicated to helping you succeed and will walk with you every step of the way, from admission to graduation.

To learn more about PLU’s ABSN program at our Lynnwood learning site, reach out to our admission counselors.