A quick Google search of the question “am I smart enough to be a nurse” turns up a surprising amount of verbatim results, which means that a lot of people who are interested in a career in nursing are asking themselves this question. And that means that a lot of potential nurses are talking themselves out of pursuing their dream because of their fear of failure. But in the end, the question shouldn’t be “am I smart enough” but “am I willing to work hard enough”.
There is usually a GPA requirement of some sort at every nursing school, though that exact number will fluctuate by school, program, or whether you’re attempting to transfer credits (requirements for Unitek College, for example, generally land between 2.0 and 3.0 depending on your specific course or program). And it makes sense that certain GPA requirements exist… after all, your nursing school has to make sure you know what you’re doing before you take over the care of patients.
But here’s what’s important to remember. There will be nursing students who ace every test and nursing students who struggle to make that passing grade, but once the tests are passed and the scrubs are one, those grades don’t matter any longer… all that matters then is how hard you work, how much you remember from your training, and how much you care for your patients.
“When I first started nursing school, I heard from other nursing students who were above me how hard nursing school was and how all these people failed….etc,” writes Sarah at RegisteredNurseRN in her blog. “My advice to you is don’t listen to them….they are being negative… if you put the time and effort into it you will pass… I’m not any smarter than the average person and I’m doing just fine and if I can do it you can trust me!”
(Sarah gives a great pep talk on the subject here).
And the numbers back Sarah up. According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, the one-year retention rate for nursing students averages around 90% (the nationwide average for other programs and studies averages between 60 and 70 percent).
And the numbers are just as encouraging when you finish nursing school. The national pass rate for the NCLEX-RN ranges around 85%.
So does this mean that nursing school is easy? Nope. In fact, nursing school has to be challenging because life as a nurse is challenging (but rewarding). There’s a lot you have to know, and to really know something takes a lot of work, study, and practice.
“Nursing school is hard,” writes RN and blogger Stephen Bobulsky. “You won’t waltz through it. But, if you actually do all the homework/reading– and on time, not catching up- that’s even harder- and you sit attentively through the lectures, listening actively, not passively…..and God willing and the river don’t rise and interrupt your studies….You will have the mind and knowledge and skills of a nurse. You can make it.”
So don’t let doubts about whether you’re smart enough to be a nurse stop you from becoming a nurse. If you are willing to put in the work, there’s a very good chance you’ll be wearing the pin and the scrubs one day. And remember, your faculty is there to help! There will naturally be things you struggle to fully comprehend, but your teachers and lab instructors are there to make certain that you do.
Use your faculty, use your school’s resources, study hard, and make wise time-management decisions. You’re smart enough to do this. The only real question is, how much do you want it?