*Original post released on 10/23/2022
Nursing school is difficult enough to apply to and gain acceptance into. It can be THAT much more difficult if your friends, family, and/or significant other aren’t supportive in your endeavors. Having an unsupportive loved one while in nursing school can wear on your mental and emotional health, add stress on your mind and body, and make it hard to put school first when necessary. In this article, I want to touch on how to help get your significant other, in particular, on board with nursing school so you have their support and are more likely to excel in your program.
First and foremost, the best thing you can do to help gain the support of your significant other is to open the channels of communication. This means communication needs to start even before you begin your program. Fill them in on the demands of each semester of your program in advance so they understand the situation better. Let them know your schedule for lecture/lab/clinicals as soon as possible, ask around so you can give them an idea of the time commitment necessary for studying for your current classes, and let them know when you have exams coming up. The more you tell them about your schedule and the demands of nursing school, the more likely they will be to understanding when your time needs to be focused on homework, test or clinical preparation, or skills practicing time.
Another thing you can do to gain their support is to get them involved. Nursing involves a lot of skills and eventually you will have to practice on someone or something. When you’re able to get them involved, do so. For example, take their vitals, walk through the steps of IV insertion or Foley catheter placement, practice patient mobility exercises, etc. There are so many ways they can help you practice. You can also have them quiz you on your study materials. And try to include them in the goals you set for yourself, as our goals are often shared with our significant others. When you succeed, they will feel like they’ve succeeded too. Inclusion helps them gain insight into just how demanding nursing school can be, thus improving their understanding in where your time and focus is often diverted.
When you get your schedule for the semester/month/week, try to sit down with your significant other and make time for each other. Pencil in date nights. Try to give your significant other a set amount of time where they have your undivided attention and focus at least once a day, even if it’s just an hour in the evening spent sharing a meal together. Reflect on your habits and hobbies and find an interest that you both share, which can help increase quality time spent together.
Whenever you go shopping for school or nursing supplies, take them along with you and ask for their input or opinion. This let’s them feel valued as a significant other in your life and shows that you appreciate their input. Similarly, when you attend your health compliance appointments for vaccinations, physical exams, and the like, see if they want to attend the appointments with you. This can, again, afford you a little extra quality time spent together while also providing them with more insight into the demands of your program.
Throughout the semester, share the grades you earn with your partner. Let them know if you did well, especially if they helped you study or prepare for that exam, because it can help them feel successful too or find value in the fact that you are pursuing a career in nursing. Even if you don’t score well on an exam or skill test off, still clue them in on how you did. This shows that you have trust in them enough to share something you may not be so proud of and it affords them the opportunity to console, uplift, and offer you constructive criticism if applicable. You can also have your partner meet some of your classmates and/or instructors. Introducing them to others in your cohort or program can make them feel included and as if you value them enough to introduce them to others.
Basically, it boils down to communication and inclusion. Make sure you’re asking your partner what they need from you. If you don’t ask, they may not be forthcoming either. Asking about their needs demonstrates that you value their feelings and mental/emotional health even if you are stressed out from the demands of nursing school. Asking about their needs/desires offers you the best chance to utilize your free time together in a way that brings you closer together. Nursing school doesn’t have to mean the end of a relationship; it requires sacrifice and determination to make a relationship functional throughout the duration of your program until there is more free time for each other. It is doable. So talk to your significant other, include them in your practice and goals, introduce them to others, and make time solely for them. Keep in mind that many of these suggestions can also be applied to other friends and family members too.
Until next time, happy studying!