From Failing Nursing School to Receiving an Academic Reward

Many people who know me as a nurse now, are quite surprised to find out that I failed a semester of nursing school. I used to be embarrassed about it, but it’s honestly one of the things that’s made me the nurse that I am. 

It was third semester, I had just gone through a heart wrenching break-up, and because of my mediocre performance throughout the semester, I had to achieve a certain score on my final to pass the course. I have no idea what the score was, but it was a fairly high percentage, higher than I had scored on any test thus far in the semester. In hindsight, I should’ve known my chances of pulling it off were very slim, but I arrogantly believed I would not fail. I had never failed a class ever before in my life, no reason to believe I would now. Well—I proved myself wrong. 

In my defense, our class had been handed a pretty raw deal. A brand-new instructor with a very narrow area of previous nursing experience. But, after a nasty battle with the school over my final grade—they failed me over .2%—it was apparent that I had to move on.

This failure happened at the end of the fall semester, meaning there were only a few weeks before spring semester to figure out how to get accepted to another program, which programs were accepting transfer students, and would I have to start all over or would the classes I passed transfer? 

My mom had recently graduated from Campbellsville University (CU), a small private university several counties away. They had a fairly new nursing program, but were accepting transfer students, and since my mom had such a good experience working with them, we decided to check into it further. Several phone calls, a trip to Campbellsville, and one test later I was accepted. Best of all I didn’t have to completely start over, but this did delay my graduation by three semesters. I was upset and felt like my whole life was being put on hold, but I didn’t have time to dwell on it, nor could I change it.

CU had a program they required all students that previously failed a course, or who transferred programs to participate in. As part of this program, I was required to log 5 hours of study time on campus each week. I initially thought I would hate this, but it was such a big help! That time was dedicated to studying and it eliminated my usual distractions. 

I experienced a lot of anxiety as my first test approached, I felt like I had to prove myself, prove to this program that I was worth being admitted even though I had previously failed. Test day came, and I knocked it out of the park! I only missed two questions on the entire exam. Fearful that this was a fluke, I had that same anxiety as test #2 rolled around. But I continued to be an A+ student throughout the remainder of nursing school. I was presented with an award at graduation for having the highest GPA in our class. 

So how did I go from failing, to killing it? My surroundings changed, my motivation changed, and my mindset changed.

I had moved to Campbellsville to attend this program to eliminate being on the road for 2.5 hours each day. This move came with a lot of additional costs I didn’t previously have since I was living at home. My parents and my grandparents helped me, but I also had a job and covered all my expenses that I could. I also didn’t know a single soul that lived there or that would be in my nursing classes, so having a social life wasn’t a factor anymore. 

I have always been a strong minded individual, very stubborn, & don’t like to be told what to do (or what I couldn’t do). So, I was determined to prove my previous school wrong. They had treated me like I wasn’t capable of being a nurse, that I wasn’t smart enough. My family, friends, and nurses that I worked with, all saw my potential and knew that I was going to be a great nurse; I couldn’t let any of them down, and I didn’t.

Five habits that I implemented:

  1. Increased the number of hours I spent studying

2. Found a study group

3. Started asking questions in class

4. Took homework seriously

5. Put my phone away during class