Nursing School

Grades matter but they’re not everything

There seems to be a great discourse going on within the nursing community of how grades and the ability of a future nurse are related. Of late, I’ve heard that it’s not all about grades (the famous C’s or B’s get degrees line) and that a great nurse isn’t defined by their grades. These things are entirely true. But I have an issue with the flip side of this portrayal which seems to imply that if you have good grades, you won’t be a good nurse.

Now, I honestly don’t think that’s the intended connotation. However, words carry meaning and when you repeatedly emphasize how a person being a B student or a C student can still be a great nurse, the other side of that argument quickly becomes A students aren’t good nurses because… well, the only reason I’ve heard is a lack of common sense. Seriously?? That’s just as bad as implying that a student with poor grades wouldn’t be a good nurse.

I will be the first to tell you that it’s damn hard to get A’s in nursing school. Those things should be celebrated for the achievements that they are. It’s terribly unfair to then turn that around and imply that because a person has a high GPA they must be a bad nurse.

Are there people who are bad nurses? Of course there are! But their grades have nothing to do with that. There are nurses who have straight A’s who are fantastic. There are nurses who barely make it through nursing school who are fantastic nurses. There are nurses who make A’s and are awful nurses. There are people who barely make it through nursing school and are awful nurses.

Let’s be real for a minute here. Nursing school is hard. This stuff is not for the weak of heart. There’s a ton of material, a lot of which is pretty complicated stuff because the human body is a pretty complicated thing. Then there’s the people side of it. Some people are just awful to try and deal with and nurses see people at the worst moments of their lives in many cases. And it’s not just the patients that nurses have to work with but their families too. It’s a job that requires both a huge quantity of knowledge and an ability to work with people. And that’s before you even start looking at different specialities within nursing which can be years of knowledge and still not even scrape the surface of what there is to know. Not every person in nursing school is going to be adept at both of those things. The best of us adapt and learn the skills that we’re missing. That makes us better. Some of us don’t adapt or learn new skills. But as in all things, sometimes people get jobs even when they’re not the best candidate.

So what’s my point? Be nice people! If someone is struggling, offer help. And sometimes there’s nothing that can be done. There are people who struggle with tests, especially the way these questions are worded. If someone is doing well, be proud of that accomplishment. If nothing else, they can be a source of help for you – they obviously know a few things. We need to spend our time lifting each other up, not cutting each other down. We will all be better in the long run if we support one another, in whatever ways we can. I mean, isn’t that what nurses do anyway?


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