Persevering through nursing school

Faith Akinmade |

Nigerian-born Sigma member Faith Akinmade, BSN, RN, came to the United States of America at the young age of 16 to pursue her dreams. Her educational journey began at a community college where she graduated with an associate's degree in science. After transferring to the University of Texas at Arlington, she found her calling in their nursing program and graduated with Latin honors and an honors Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.

As a recent graduate, Faith provides us with her five tips for enduring the rigor of nursing school and the power of self-care. 

There are so many jobs in healthcare. What made nursing special to you?
I originally wanted to be a doctor and was going to use nursing as my springboard to medical school. Plans have since then changed as I have come to love nursing. While my parents may have been the ones who suggested nursing as a pre-med, I am glad I took it up. I have come to enjoy serving patients and being a part of their healing process. As a nurse, you get to have a more personal relationship with patients. Many of the words spoken to me by my patients helped encourage me to continue in nursing. They were really special words as these were people who did not know me the day before. That is what makes nursing special to me. In addition to that, I like the flexibility of working as a nurse. 

How did you persevere through the rigor of your undergraduate program?
Three things helped me persevere:
  1. My belief in God—Quoting scripture and speaking what I want to achieve kept my beliefs strong and helped me to endure to the end. 
  2. My family—They were always there for me, understanding when I had to miss family events, providing a shoulder when I needed one to cry on (because nursing school made me cry a lot), and my mom’s favorite saying, “The other students who have graduated as nurses do not have two heads. They have one just like you so you can do it.” 
  3. My “why”—I kept my focus on the reason I wanted to be a nurse, and for me, that was impacting the lives of all those I meet, whether patient or co-worker.

What are your tips for staying organized during nursing school?
Have a schedule! I did not believe in this until I started to scramble for the time I did not have. It may take some time trying to put together a schedule for yourself, but do it every Sunday. Include all your activities for the week on your schedule and follow it. One thing you should include that many nursing students do not is time for fun! When you do not do this, you start getting time stealers. When you schedule a time for you to take a break and just chill, you are less likely to want to do that when you are supposed to be reading for a test. Another tip is to give yourself a due date for all your assignments. I set a due date for myself that was two days earlier than the actual due date. I got this tip from a friend of mine, and it was very helpful. This helps you not miss an assignment due date, and you also get to stay ahead of the class.

Self-care has really come into the public consciousness in the last couple of years, especially for those in healthcare. What does it look like for you at this moment in your life?
Self-care for me starts with keeping to my faith and surrounding myself with a community of people who are doing the same. This helps keeps me mentally sane and focuses my attention on the good—not the bad. My self-care also includes taking vitamins that help with boosting the immune system. While this is not a cure nor does it prevent any specific diseases, it helps to be putting the right things in my body and ensuring my body gets all it needs to stay healthy. Eating healthy is also another one as well as exercising. I try to reduce stress as much as possible and that could include reading a good book, having some fun with my family, or sleeping.  

What advice do you have for those trying to fight through life’s unexpected curveballs and complete their nursing degree? 
My advice is to make the best of it. There is nothing you or I can do right now to change how things have turned out, especially with students not getting as much clinical experience as they should. In short, accept reality but do not lose faith. Take whatever you get and run with that. Do not see yourself as deficient, but a champion because you have been able to continue in nursing school despite the unexpected curveball. Hold on to that. It is not what happens to us but how we respond to it that affects us. Always keep that in mind and you will find your strength.

Faith Akinmade, BSN, RN, is a member of Sigma’s Delta Theta Chapter at University of Texas at Arlington in Texas, USA, and is a nurse at the University of Louisville Hospital in Kentucky, USA.


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