How to Stay Motivated Throughout Nursing School

I have had so many students say that nursing school is “soul crushing.”

Well, that certainly doesn’t have to be the case.

It’s all a matter of perspective. In the scheme of things, 2 years isn’t really that long…but the two years that you are in nursing school can feel like the longest two years of your life if you are just plugging through without a few important things...


It’s not necessarily easy, but it’s not impossible.




School will certainly have to be a big priority until you graduate. But we know that it is most likely not the only important thing in your life. Ask yourself a few questions…

What are the most important things in my life?

What areas of my life if any will take precedence over school?

Which areas of my life will absolutely not take precedence over school?

Some students will have a tendency to put more emphasis on work than is necessary and it can definitely hurt your performance in school. I have seen so many students that were failing or just barely passing, because they were working far too many hours each week which left little or no time to study. You should be working as little as you can get away with during can always work more during breaks and over the summer if you need. 


Once you identify your priorities, you can use them to...


It’s a great idea to set a few goals each semester…and I only mean a few…as in 2 or 3 at most. The purpose of setting goals is to give you direction and help keep you motivated along the way.

So, set a few goals for the semester, and remember to make them SMART.

Set SMART Goals-2.jpg

They need to be:

S – specific

M – measurable

A – attainable

R – relevant

T – time-bound

Let’s say I am weak in testing. So, I won’t just say that I will study more. Instead, I say that I will complete 20 practice NCLEX questions at least 5 days per week throughout the entire semester. This is totally doable because I can easily do 20 questions a day even if it has to be during breaks or while I am getting ready…brushing my teeth, etc. It is relevant, because (If I am doing it correctly), It can certainly help with my testing, and it is time-bound in that it is for this specific semester of school. 

Take some time to think about what goals you would like to set for this semester.

NO more than 2 or 3. Just a few to keep you motivated .

Make them attainable, and then once you achieve them you can scale up each semester.

Let's say I reach my goal of doing 20 questions a day, 5 days a week for the semester. Maybe next semester I will increase that goal to say that I will do 35 questions a day for 5 days a week…or…that I will sit down and do 30 consecutive minutes of test questions every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the entire semester. Because as you will find, you have to increase your testing stamina as you progress through school so that you can easily endure your finals (which often increase in both question number and rigor with each subsequent semester) and NCLEX (which can be up to 265 questions and 6 hours long)!


Once you set your goals, you need to write out the specific action steps that will help you accomplish them.

So, back to my practice questions goal…my action steps that would accompany that might be:

1) Buy an NCLEX prep app or book with practice questions.

2) Set a reminder on my phone to alert me every day.

3) Ask a friend/family member to hold me accountable.  Send them a text each day as soon as I’ve complete my 20 questions.


So, identify your priorities, set some SMART goals (2 -3), and then determine the specific action steps to help you reach each goal. This will give you direction and help you stay motivated throughout school.

And don’t forget…

Reward yourself for every goal you successfully reach.


Check out this post for more time management tips.


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