How Failing Nursing School Made Me a Better Person and Nurse

Everyone faces failure at some point in their lives. It can be something that can make or break you. You can use it to grow, or to become a more fearful version of yourself. One of the times of greatest growth for me was when I spectacularly failed nursing school. Now mind you, I am generally a straight A student. Prior to that occasion, I had never failed a class in my life. I was one of those annoying people who could never have a high enough grade because I expected so much from myself. To be honest, a lot of my identity had to do with being that honors student because in my youth that was the only time I had attention, interaction and friends. It became like a monster hiding in my closet.

A Little History…

In my second quarter of nursing school I fell, and the back of my head was the first to impact the ground. Disoriented, I laughed off my clumsy moment and went home to sleep off my headache. The next day I got ready for class, and it started just as a headache. Dang it, I hope this goes away soon, I thought. I had always been prone to sporadic migraines. During class, however, my senses went out of control. The light was intensified to where the details of the room blurred nearly out of vision. The teacher’s voice echoed and felt like screaming in my head. I ended up going to the clinical instructor, and she took my blood pressure and listened to my symptoms. I left early that day to the doctors where I found out I had a concussion. My symptoms, including sudden extreme dizziness, would not go away until a year later.

Back to failing nursing school…

During the months following my concussion, I had a very hard time keeping up remembering anything long enough to take a test. Somehow, I passed second and third quarter with a 3.7 GPA each regardless of my struggles. I had to learn how to work with my brain since the way it processed, learned and expressed had changed after the concussion. Fourth quarter proved to be my kryptonite. It was the most disorganized mess of a quarter. The teachers had it so poorly structured that every student had issues with trying to find the information they needed, and there were places where information would greatly contradict itself. In my clinical, I administered medications under the belief that it was permitted during that particular clinical. I was wrong. In my nursing program that is an immediate failure due to liability issues.

At first, I was mad. I blamed the lack of organization and my concussion for my failure. After my initial reaction, however, I began to feel ultimately humbled. I had complete control over whether or not I passed. I needed to have organized myself better. If there were any questions regarding the contradicting information I should have been more proactive at getting a solid answer from the teachers about what the correct info was. I also had to look at the initial embarrassingly childish reaction of blaming everything outside of me for my failure. Although there may have been contributing factors towards my failure, I am the one who failed to rise above the challenge.

Looking at the way I handled my initial reaction, I decided that this aspect of my character needed to change. Not only would this hinder my nursing career, it is a terrible character flaw in my own personality. If there is one thing my mama taught me was if I didn’t like something about myself I have the power to change it. By being able to be honest with myself and to see my flaws in all its ugliness, I was able to take on that challenge. Therefore, it made me a better person.

By recognizing what aspects I lack in, in this case taking disorganized information and translating it into an organized system I could follow, I was able to begin incorporating new organizing strategies. I am continually trying new things to help improve my organization even more. I also lightened up and realized that although knowing the information was important, I did not have to receive solid A’s to be worthwhile. It was funny, though, because the only person I had that requirement of was myself. I was setting myself up to feel bad about myself, and I didn’t need to do that.

I passed nursing school the second time around, and I am currently working as a registered nurse. Due to my experience with failing, I have become more aware of my other shortcomings. By knowing these, I have enacted strategies to avoid my own personal pitfalls.

While failing anything can be a horribly embarrassing thing to go through, it is a chance to learn more about yourself and what you failed at. The perspective you have about failure will determine what you can do about it. All journeys have stumbling blocks that are actually opportunities to become greater: a greater person, a greater nurse, a greater writer… It is important to take the time to feel your emotions, but don’t stay there. Move. Failure isn’t something to be ashamed of, it is a step closer to you being the best version of yourself possible.

Have you experienced a failure that ended up creating a better life in the long run? Are you in the middle of having failed something? Leave a comment below to get a conversation going to support each other’s growth, or to be an inspiration for someone going through what you’ve already conquered!

24 thoughts on “How Failing Nursing School Made Me a Better Person and Nurse

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience. I failed my first chemistry test in university. It was my first year, I was unprepared and overconfident. The failure was a reality check for me, but after a few weeks of feeling low, I decided to look at it as a blessing in disguise. I worked really hard for the next 4 years and graduated with honours. Had I not failed the test, I probably would not have persevered to graduate with high marks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a great story! This is exactly what I am talking about. Thank you so much for sharing. I hope our stories can help someone who is going through this moment to turn it around and use the moment to become.


  2. I seem to be the master of failing then blaming others 😂🙈. I’m still in the learning process of life, does that even end! 🤷‍♀️
    I think I have recently found myself to be on the right path in life now, taking responsibility for where and when things go wrong, failure isn’t the easiest thing to take responsibility for so it will be a good process for me to go through.

    Thanks for sharing! 🌹

    Laura |

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Learning and growing never ends! I applaud you for taking responsibility and learning from these moments, it is definitely not easy! The easy thing to do is to blame and not look at what we have done to create our reality. Thank you so much for sharing! xo


  3. Thank you for sharing your story! In a different yet similar way, I had reached the place in my life (location, job) that I thought I was meant to be in pre-graduation. Once I was there, I dreaded work, I had a boss who struggled with handling his mental health and was verbally abusive to our team, I loved the city I lived in yet I still felt alone. I felt like such a failure. I was just really unhappy. I prayed about it and ended up taking a chance that was totally outside of my 10 year plan and THANK GOD I DID because I am 100x happier now. Sometimes failure is a blessing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is amazing how we can end up where we never saw ourselves. I never thought I’d go into nursing, but now I am a nurse! Sometimes when we are able to put our preconceived notions aside, we can find things that make us the happiest! Thank you for sharing your story, Katie! XO

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing! I failed the majority of my exams at the age of 16, I had to take a year out to catch up before starting my A-levels. It was horrendous at the time, but it ended up being a HUGE blessing because it just confirmed for me what I wanted to do in the future. And how determined I was to get there! Now I’m at uni, studying for an English degree & feeling more determined then ever! Great post! Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is funny how what seems like the worst thing in the world that can happen is sometimes the best thing that can happen in the long run! Attitude is definitely everything. Thank you very much for sharing your story. 😊


  5. Wow you have an incredible story. I was in nursing school for a while and I knew I was going to fail, it was just too much for me to handle and I got discouraged. So I highly commend you for what you did and still going back and making it through. I loved this post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Nursing school is definitely no joke and no one who hasn’t gone through it will understand, truly. Thank you for sharing! I’m so glad you loved this post!


  6. Thank you so much for your transparency and for sharing your story. I failed my first exam in my second semester of nursing school. What a great reminder that we can turn our failures into future strength, but only if we own them and take responsibility. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My favorite person on this planet once told me that it’s not about the mistakes we make. How we handle them is what counts. You are a shining example of exactly what he was talking about! I’m so proud of you for picking yourself up, learning, and continuing on to be bigger and better after that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much… It isn’t easy at first but eventually (if you allow it) it can become a great tool to help my/yourself and others to overcome life’s challenges and surprises.


    1. I hope you will find yourself a stronger person after everything settles down! xoxo I sure did, but during it I probably felt the weakest I had in my life up to that point. I wish you the best!


  8. How you have managed to take such a negative situation and turn it into a positive one inspired me greatly. That would’ve been such a blow to your confidence and yet you looked deeper inside yourself and found what you needed to find. You worked on yourself and now you’re better off for it, which is an amazing message to anyone who is scared of or dealing with failure. Truly inspiring and I am glad that you managed to take such a mature and honest stance on the situation. I applaud you truly!
    Alex x

    Liked by 1 person

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