• Marion, Indiana

News for IWU’s Campus

Nursing Students Manage Mental Health Struggles

Nursing school is known as one of the hardest four year college degrees to get in the United States. Along with this degree, comes stress and mental health struggles among students.

Sophomore Faith Carlson said she experiences these struggles as a nursing student.

“There is a lot of stress in nursing school,” Carlson said. “The deadlines are crazy and that can be super stressful to balance along with exams, papers, learning a new skill in one week and being tested on it during a comp.”

Jennifer Galan, a member of the lab staff for the nursing division, said she has also seen stress among students that come in for a competency pass-off.

“I see them struggling trying to manage their time,” Galan said. “They have a lot on their plate and they don’t know how to get it all done.”

Galan was a nursing student herself and said she understands the struggle.

“Unfortunately, there is no time for extras in the semester,” Galan said. “All of those hobbies and extracurriculars do not necessarily fit into your schedule.”

On top of the exams, quizzes, and competency pass-offs, there is the emotional impact that a clinical shift can have on a student.

“It is really tough to know that as students we are going to school and we are preparing to see patients struggle every day and we have to take care of these people and have a strong face,”
Carlson said.

Being a student nurse means observing all sides of things, both positive and negative. Sometimes patients cannot be cured and there is an emotional effect that comes along with that too.

“We have to know all of the good and all of the bad about our patients,” Carlson said. “Some of
these people have wonderful lives and wonderful stories to tell, but their bodies are shutting down.”

Nicole Johnson, a clinical instructor for IWU, said she has noticed these changes in her students’ mental health following a heavy or demanding clinical.

“I believe that it is imperative for clinical instructors to be intuitive and pay close attention to their students,” Johnson said. “Often students will tell their instructor that everything is okay when it is not.”

However, Johnson said that there is hope for students who feel like they are struggling.

“Naviating nursing school (didactic and clinical) can be very difficult but it’s manageable with the proper support system and the knowledge that tears will be shed from time to time,” Johnson said.

Johnson also said that nursing school grades do not have anything to do with how smart you
think you are and your esteem in that area.

“I believe that more transparency should be provided on how hard nursing school can be and that it has nothing to do with how smart you thought you were prior to,” Johnson said. “Nursing school requires your brain to think differently; therefore, nursing students must learn the balance of challenging themselves and having grace for themselves during the learning process.”

Johnson goes on to offer advice for that student who feels inadequate.

“Students need to know resources that are available to them in regard to mental health,” Johnson said. “In addition, I would ensure that I have a diverse support system…a group of people that I can trust to check on me, support me, pray for me, make me laugh, and hold me accountable.”

Finally, Johnson offers advice on maintaining spiritual balance.

“I would make sure that I am in constant contact with God…building an intimate relationship. God is our creator and He knows how to fill our cup like no other. Staying close to God is key,” Johnson said. “God is our peace.”

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