Nursing Student Perspectives: What Do You Really Need for Nursing School?

Written by Caitlin Kretschmar, Student Nurse

As you prepare to begin your journey toward becoming a nurse, you're likely thinking, "What am I going to need to make it through nursing school?" It's an important question and the sooner you get it answered, the better off you will be.

In college you don't get the list of school supplies like you did in high school. Instead, you end up with a long list of really expensive (and heavy) textbooks. The first rule when it comes to text books is this: Don't buy them all brand new. You can buy used books, share a text book with a roommate or borrow one from the library.

You'll need the obvious things like pencils, pens, notebooks and numerous highlighters in a rainbow of colors. You will also need notecards, a stethoscope and good comfortable shoes. You will need an alarm clock that you can't sleep through, penlights and a watch with a second hand. These are all things that you can find pretty easily at the local five and dime store or online.

There is, however, one thing you will need for nursing school that you won't find at any office supply store or on Amazon. This one thing, this essential supply, is the single most important thing you will need to make it through nursing school alive (yes, alive).

The most important thing you need for nursing school is a solid support system.

You will need friends and family who are willing to listen to you rant and rave about school. People who acknowledge how hard you truly are working, and who tell you it is okay to take a break once in a while. Your family can help remind you of this, and won't let you forget to keep things in perspective.

There is a preconceived notion that when you're in nursing school you will lose all of your non-nursing friends. I can tell you, from experience, that this is not true. Not all of your friends are going to be willing to listen to stories about your patient with c-diff (don't worry if you don't know what this means yet…you will), but that's okay. Those are the friends who send you that "Good-luck" or "Let me know if you need coffee" text just when you need it. Keep these friends close, and stay in touch. And never turn down an offer for coffee!

Another vital part of your support system is the group of friends you will actually gain after you begin nursing school. You will have nearly every single class with the same fifty-something nursing students, all of whom understand what you are going through, and are simultaneously going through it with you.!

Your nursing classmates will become your school family. These are the people who will understand your crazy pre-test rituals, and know that when you say "I'm going to to throw up," you aren't actually going to throw up, you're just nervous. You will spend almost every waking minute with some of these people, studying together, getting coffee together, and even grocery shopping together when you have time.

These are the people that will listen to your story about that patient who had c-diff, and will have a rebuttal story about their patient with Crohn's. It is amazing how these people can make you laugh, when what you really want to do is cry about a test grade or about how stressed you are.

Your support system: Your family, your friends and your nursing classmates. These are the most important things you will need to make it through nursing school.

Being a junior I can't say that I have fully survived nursing school yet, but I can say that for me - my support system and classmates are the reason that I have made it this far.

Finally, don't be afraid to reach out to your support system if you need help. They are always there for you. Let them know when you need them.

Caitlin Kretschmar just completed her junior year of nursing school at the University of New Hampshire. In high school she planned to go into business after graduation, but she found her plans changed suddenly, when a ruptured arterio-venous malformation landed her in the Children's Hospital of Boston for weeks. It was there, surrounded by amazing nurses, that she began to re-evaluate her plans. During her recovery, she realized that she truly wanted to be a nurse, and that everything happens for a reason. is grateful to Caitlin for sharing her story and perspectives on nursing school.