The Truth About Nursing School: Top 10 Myths

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The truth about nursing school is that many of the most commonly circulated myths, including that nursing school is difficult to get into and that it only prepares students for hospital-based roles, are false. Learn more from Mercer University’s ABSN track.

Mercer nursing student standing in hallway

If you’ve begun evaluating nursing as a second career choice, you may have started the research process to find out the truth about nursing school. Many misconceptions about nursing school exist, so if you aren’t already familiar with the field, many nursing myths may seem plausible. Through Mercer University’s Second Degree Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) track, students can participate in a supportive, accessible degree track that demystifies nursing school and prepares you for a career in nursing in as few as 12 months.

Read on as we examine some of the top myths about nursing school and shine a light on these topics for prospective nursing students considering a future within the field.

Myth 1: Nursing School is Too Difficult for Most People

The myth that nursing school is too difficult for most people pervades many conversations about this professional path. While nursing school presents an academic challenge, the notion that nursing school is limited to a specific group of academically gifted students is misleading. Individuals from diverse academic backgrounds have not only navigated nursing school successfully but have also gone on to have fruitful nursing careers. The blend of determination, hard work, and passion truly characterizes a successful nursing student.

Through its rigorous nature, nursing school is designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary for a demanding profession. Mercer’s ABSN track is built on a comprehensive curriculum blending online courses, hands-on labs and clinical rotations. If a student brings organizational skills, good time management, and consistent effort, they will have the tools they need to succeed.

Student studying at desk

Myth 2: You Must Have a Strong Math & Science Background to Enter Nursing School

Another commonly held misconception about nursing is that excelling in nursing school requires a strong background in science and math. While these subjects are essential components of the nursing curriculum, prior success in these subjects does not exclusively determine a student's success in nursing school or their effectiveness as a nurse.

Nursing is a multifaceted profession that values not only scientific knowledge and mathematical competency, but also skills in areas like communication, critical thinking, empathy, and leadership. A nurse needs to communicate effectively with patients of diverse backgrounds, make quick decisions in high-stakes situations, and show genuine empathy for patients and their families, among other things. As long as you take on and succeed in math and science-based prerequisites, you will have the necessary foundation to take on coursework based on these topics and earn your BSN degree.

two Mercer ABSN students sitting in class

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Myth 3: Online Nursing Programs are Not as Complete as Traditional Programs

Any current perception that online nursing programs lack the credibility of traditional, in-person programs is outdated, and does not reflect the modern landscape of nursing education. Online nursing programs like Mercer ABSN are fully accredited, providing an equally robust and high-quality education as their traditional counterparts.

Online tracks offer substantial benefits, particularly for those with work or family obligations that may make attending traditional classes challenging. The flexibility provided by online learning allows students to complete their coursework at a pace and time that suits their individual needs. The irreplaceable in-person experience gained by labs and clinical rotations round out the ABSN student experience to on-par with traditional programs.

Myth 4: Nursing School Teaches Everything You Need to Know for Nursing Practice

One prevalent nursing myth is that earning a BSN teaches everything you need to know to practice as a nurse. Mercer’s ABSN track provides a strong foundational knowledge base complete with real-world clinical experience, but no degree track covers every scenario or aspect of nursing practice. Real-world experience gained on the job is a critical part of a nurse's continuing education.

Nursing, in essence, is a lifelong learning process. As healthcare practices evolve and new research emerges, nurses are expected to stay updated and continuously improve their skills (especially if they want to specialize within a practice area). Employers, professional nursing organizations, and certification bodies often facilitate this ongoing professional development.

nursing students practicing skills in skills lab

Myth 5: You Must Know Your Specialty Before Starting Nursing School

Many people who consider a nursing career might set their sights on a specific specialty or practice area from the start, but when earning a nursing degree you do not need to commit to any one specialty. Clinical rotations provide the opportunity to explore multiple areas of practice while still a student, and students might find themselves attracted to a specialty that they had not previously considered or known about.

Additionally, almost every nursing specialty requires experience working as a licensed RN prior to further education or training. Absorb lessons from every practice area you encounter, and you will graduate ready to practice as a well-rounded nurse before entering a future specialty.

Myth 6: Nursing Schools Only Prepare Students for Hospital-Based Roles

While many nursing roles exist in a hospital-based setting, the reality is that nursing is a highly versatile profession, with opportunities far beyond the hospital bedside. While hospitals are major employers of nurses, many other career paths are available to nursing graduates.

For instance, public health nursing is an avenue in which nurses work within communities to improve overall health outcomes. Another option is occupational health nursing, where nurses work within organizations to ensure a healthy and safe work environment.

Nurses can also specialize in areas like pediatrics, geriatrics, oncology, or mental health. Each of these specializations can have roles outside of a traditional hospital, such as in outpatient clinics, specialized care facilities, or patients' homes.

Military nurse giving patient a vaccine shot

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Myth 7: All Nursing Schools Are the Same

A pervasive myth is that all nursing schools are essentially the same based on the degree you can access through them. However, the truth about nursing school is that they can vary significantly in their approach to education, resources, student support, and outcomes.

The quality and quantity of resources available to students can also vary. This can include simulation labs, tutoring services, and clinical placement support. Student outcomes, such as graduation rates, licensure exam pass rates, and job placement rates, are also crucial distinguishing factors. Mercer’s Georgia Baptist College of Nursing is the oldest nursing program offered in the state and has the robust institutional support you will need to get the most from your nursing education.

Myth 8: You Must Be Young to Attend Nursing School

nurse speaking to side camera

The notion that nursing school is only for the young is misleading and inaccurate. Individuals of all ages can and do successfully complete nursing school and launch fulfilling nursing careers.

Age can, in fact, bring a wealth of valuable attributes to the nursing profession, such as previous career skills, life experience, maturity, patience, and strong interpersonal skills. The diverse age range of students in nursing school can also enrich the learning experience, as students can learn from each other's varied life experiences and perspectives.

Myth 9: Getting Into Nursing School is Almost Impossible

The belief that gaining admission to nursing school is difficult may deter some potential applicants. While competitive, acceptance into nursing school is far from impossible. Admissions criteria vary by school but often consider a variety of factors, not just grades. Mercer University has created a supportive application process, with guidance throughout the process by a dedicated enrollment counselor.

Preparation is key to a successful application in general. This could involve researching the requirements of different schools, seeking academic advising, and gaining relevant experience. Finally, persistence is important. The journey to nursing school can be challenging but achieving the goal of becoming a nurse makes the effort worthwhile.

students sitting at table using laptops

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Myth 10: Nursing School Does Not Teach You to Think Critically

Contrary to the myth that nursing school imparts technical skills and rote memorization, critical thinking is at the heart of nursing education. Nurses must make informed decisions about patient care, often in fast-paced, complex environments, and this requires robust critical thinking skills.

Nursing curricula are designed to foster critical thinking through a variety of strategies. In Mercer ABSN’s case, this includes on-site skills and simulation labs. These labs encourage students to apply theoretical knowledge to practical scenarios, analyze situations, evaluate options, and make reasoned decisions.

Ready to Pursue a BSN Degree?

Now, having learned the truth about nursing school and with more knowledge about what it entails, you can confidently take on and succeed in an ABSN track. If you want to learn more about earning your BSN degree through Mercer University’s ABSN track, contact us today. An enrollment counselor will reach out and continue the discussion.