Things nursing school does not prepare you for


As much as the nursing curriculum tries to cover all areas you’ll deal with once you graduate, there are some things you will simply learn on the job because no school will have time to teach you.

I don’t want you to get surprised when some of these things happen to you, so I’ll discuss them in this article.


Event planner

Depending on where you work, you will find yourself taking on the role of the event planner. Particularly during the holiday season like Christmas. You may be required to prepare a Christmas event or plan the Christmas carol service. Your employer may even expect you to perform a skit for the residents in a nursing home, or for patients in a hospital.

If you say you don’t have the skills to act, or aren’t a good singer, your supervisor may say to you; “But it’s our yearly tradition.” This will make you feel guilty because you don’t want to be the one to break the tradition. Your supervisor will also look at you disapprovingly if you refuse to participate, and so you may decide it is easier just to do it and get it over.


Maintenance person

The specialized hospital bed will occasionally not work. The head part of the bed may not rise as expected, or the air mattress will not fill with air. When the maintenance department staff is away, like in the evening or weekend, your coworkers will look to you to fix the problem.

Another common problem is; the air conditioning in the patient’s room may not work, and the patient will not accept an answer like; “Our maintenance guy has gone for the day.” It will become your job to fix it somehow.


Bathroom break

In nursing school, I doubt there is a course on how you can go for an 8-hour shift without a bathroom break because you are too busy. The reality is this will happen a lot of the time.  A bathroom break is almost a luxury on some units.


Parking assistant

A few months ago, our unit held an event and invited lots of outside guests. The regular parking space was full, but the owner of the neighboring building allowed us to use their parking space. Three of us could not believe it when we were told to help with directing the guests to the neighboring parking. When we asked why the security guard could not do it, we were told he had some other urgent matters he was attending to at the moment. We decided to have fun while we direct the cars because we had no choice anyway.


 Fight mediator

I know what you’re thinking. “Nurses don’t get into fights.” True, I’ve not seen any nurse get into a physical fight, but boy! The verbal fights are very frequent. They go something like; “My assignment is not fair!” or, “You took more than 30 minutes for break, and I had to answer all the call lights and take your patient off the bedpan!”

How to mediate fights is not part of the nursing curriculum, but you’ll have to solve problems among nurse assistants, physical therapists, housekeeping staff, and any other person working on your unit that’s having a bad day.



The truth is, you’ll find yourself multitasking and doing all sorts of things. Things you never signed up for. Take it positively and maintain a positive attitude no-matter what unexpected task you find yourself performing. If you remain positive, you’ll enjoy your career.


Posted in : Nursing
About The Author
Joyce Fiodembo is a nurse and author. You can find plenty of resources on her blog;, where she writes to inspire and uplift nurses to thrive. Joyce is the author of “The Foreign Nurses Guide to Settling in America” and “How Nurses Cope with Difficult Coworkers” found on Her other book "Reflections and Prayers for Nurses" can be found on She started her career in Kenya where she worked as a travel, ICU and operating room nurse. Joyce works with nurses who may be struggling with cultural challenges, equipping them to settle down easily. She is also a career counselor, helping nurses with interview skills and resume writing among others. Currently working in Ohio, she enjoys volunteering for mobile clinics abroad. Joyce is passionate about writing and currently has a website with a goal of inspiring nurses worldwide. You can visit her website at
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