If you are considering nursing or are already in nursing school, you know it will be quite the task. What’s even more daunting is the thought of being on your own with all these challenges.
Having friends in nursing school can make a big difference. But how do you make friends in your nursing program? No worries. In this article, you will learn tips to establish these relationships, the advantages of having friends in nursing school, and the challenges of finding new friends.
How to Form Friendships in Your Nursing Program
It’s not always easy to make friends in an environment that can be competitive at times. You have to remember that your classmates probably have the same feelings as you. They don’t know either what to expect and how to approach other people. Why don’t you make the first move?
Introduce yourself in the first few days of school. This is a time in which you can get a feel for different people in your class. The beginning of the program is an excellent time to approach people and strike up conversations randomly.
Start with the people sitting next to you, in front of you or behind you.
You don’t have to start a conversation yet, but a simple introduction leaves a friendly impression on your peers and lays the basis for starting conversations later.
Come to class a few minutes early. There are always students that arrive to class early. This is a great time to start a conversation and to get to know your classmates better. You can ask questions about homework assignments or the upcoming lecture.
Try to ask open-ended questions, so your peers have to expand on their answers. With a closed-ended question, they can simply answer with “yes” or “no.”
Start your questions with “what,” “when,” “where,” or “how.” That way, the person has to elaborate on their answer.
Find more opportunities to talk to your classmates: expose yourself to many situations where you have to talk to other students. Interacting with peers is a skill; it comes more naturally to some, and others have to practice. Treat it like you were practicing any skill; you have to repeat it multiple times to master it.
The more you practice, the more comfortable you will become. There are plenty of opportunities in nursing school to talk to classmates and strike up conversations.
- In class during group projects
- In clinicals
- When joining a study group
- Waiting in line for skills check-off
- Before class starts
- After class
- During class breaks
As you can see, you have to learn to recognize these opportunities. Once you find them, you need to make it a habit to talk to people. It might feel awkward at first, but the more you do it, the easier it gets – just like any habit or skill.
Talk to one person at a time: set a realistic goal so that you can achieve that goal even if you are an introvert. Start with one person. That’s it—one person. Approach one student in your class and ask him or her a simple question.
Ask questions that relate to nursing school. Try to bring up a subject that is relatable for that person. For example, you could talk about assignments, upcoming tests, or your expectations for clinicals. Anything that is nursing school-related will work.
Doing this every day will make you get used to talking to other people and making you more comfortable. Soon you won’t be scared anymore to talk to any of your classmates.
Reach out for help and offer help: Ask for help if you are not sure about an assignment. Asking someone for help shows that you have confidence in that person solving your problem; that’s a compliment. Most students are glad to help and feel flattered that you asked them.
You can also offer your help to others if you have a good understanding of a specific topic. Students that struggle will be glad you take the time to make them understand the subject better.
Give everyone a chance. Even if someone does not look like you would typically befriend, at least talk to someone a couple of times before you make a final decision. Talk to peers that you usually wouldn’t talk to. Remember that everyone feels awkward and doesn’t quite know what to say. Don’t count too much on first impressions. It takes time to get to know people.
Give it time. It will take some time to form new friendships. With each semester, your classroom seating will change, your clinical group will change, students will leave the program, and others will join along the way. All these circumstances will change the group dynamic in your class and allow opportunities to bond with other peers.
Challenges to Making Friends in Nursing School
There are certain things that you cannot change about yourself, something that you might consider limitations that are holding you back in finding friends in nursing school. Let’s look at some of these.
Age: people change their careers all the time and at any age. So it happens that you might attend a nursing program way past your teens and 20s. A lot of older people feel insecure about being the oldest in the group. They fear that they won’t have anything in common with their younger peers. If that person is you, you have a lot more in common with your peers than you think.
Regardless of your age, you all want to become nurses and help people. Whether you are older or younger than most of your peers, use it to your advantage. All age groups can learn from each other.
Being introverted: students fear that they won’t make friends in nursing school because they are shy. Being shy certainly can make it more challenging to make friends, but it’s not impossible, especially if you are put together with people with the same interests and goals as you do. Introverts can be excellent listeners.
There is no common ground: some students give up making friends in nursing school because they think they have nothing in common with their peers. Everyone comes from a different background and has different stories to tell about themselves. People are at different stages in their life. Some are married and have children, and others have none of these responsibilities.
As mentioned earlier, it might seem like you have nothing in common with your classmates, when all of you seek a career in nursing and are passionate about helping others.
Benefits of Making Friends in the Nursing Program
Some students might argue that they are here to learn not to meet people. However, there are some definite advantages of making new connections with people you are going to spend a lot of hours with for the next two to four years.
You are going through the same struggles. It can be tough to explain the hardships and challenges that you are going through. You can pour your heart out to your family and friends, the closest people you know, and people who know you very well.
You won’t get quite the reaction and empathy that you need because it is hard to relate unless you are actually in a nursing program, experiencing the same things. It makes it much easier to talk to someone who can understand what you are going through because they are going through the same challenges.
Even if you are a perfect planner and organizer, it can be very risky to depend on you only when it comes to assignment due dates and test dates. To have at least one other person that serves as a reminder can be very helpful. Not only can you remind each other of specific deadlines but also study together and compare notes.
Having friends in nursing school can also open up a wide range of different study approaches. Not only the way other people study can be an eye-opener but also their entire approach to school. Seeing other people dealing with the same situations can be inspiring and help you improve how you approach particular circumstances.
Simply having to get along with different people prepares you for the real world of nursing. Some situations in nursing school are going to require a team effort. How much easier would that be if you would get along with some of your peers and really know them. Understanding some of your peers will make it easier to solve a problem and to ask for help. Once you work as a nurse, you have to be able to communicate with your coworkers and work together.
A lot of nurses build strong and long-lasting friendships from nursing school. Take this with a grain of salt because this is something you can’t force, but you can make an effort to try to get along with your peers, at least so much as to benefit you during the program.
With all that said, this is not to convince you to try to make friends. You already want that, otherwise you wouldn’t read this article. This is just to show you that it’s worth trying to communicate not only for making friends but also because it can benefit you in significant ways during nursing school.
Nonetheless, making friends in nursing school is easier said than done. Most students have doubts and concerns, holding them back from even trying to communicate with others.
It does not have to be that way. Just take it one step at a time and be kind to everyone.
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