How to Think Like a Nurse

8 Signs You’re Already Thinking Like a Nurse

Staff Writer
May 3, 2022

No one knows when it officially happens. One day, you’re just another nursing school student. The next, and your outlook and instincts just feel … different.

That’s the effect knowledge can have on you. At some point, all the studying and training to be a nurse suddenly makes you think like one. It might hit you during your first semester, or after you graduate, in your first nursing job. At Joyce, we always find this moment for our nursing students exciting, because it means the learning has sunk in, and the training is working. If you’re not sure whether or not you’re already thinking like a nurse, here are eight signs:

1. It takes a lot to shock you.

Blood? That’s natural. Bodily fluids? You see them all the time.

One of the first signs you’re thinking like a nurse is how you respond to wounds, messes, and gore. Needles don’t make nurses faint; neither does the sight of blood. If either did, nurses wouldn’t be able to do their jobs. Sometimes, nursing students begin school with experience in trauma care, or they’re naturally hard to faze. For most of the rest of us, witnessing wounds and injuries enough times will eventually desensitize us. If bodily fluids no longer shock you or make you queasy, you’re starting to think like a nurse.

2. 12-hour shifts seem less daunting.

Few nurses would say they love working 12-hour shifts, but even fewer are afraid of them. At some point, usually after your first or second clinical rotation, you meet enough working nurses and gain first-hand experience to realize you can work 12-hour shifts too. Some students begin to look forward to three shifts a week, but at the very least: You won’t be scared of them once you’re thinking like a nurse.

3. You’re very, very, very clean.

Practically from the first day, you’re told over and over again to wash your hands, and pretty quickly, it sticks. Good hygiene is essential to being a good nurse, and instinctively heading to the faucet to lather up—even when you haven’t just used the restroom—signals a change in your thinking. The knowledge has had its effect, and you’re thinking differently about cleanliness.

4. You’re suddenly good at multitasking.

The busyness and high demands of nursing school aren’t just to fit all the information you need into two years (though they’re also that). Your nursing student schedule is another means of preparing you to be a nurse, when you have to juggle multiple clients every shift, memorizing new information every time, while performing set tasks for each one, on a specific schedule. Nurses are renown in and beyond their workplace for being excellent multitaskers. You may feel exhausted every day of nursing school, but at one point, you’re going to realize you’re a lot better at juggling a dozen assignments and completing tasks than you used to be.

5. You talk about diseases—a lot.

Many nursing students enter school because they’re passionate about medicine and healthcare. That passion remains, but a part of it also tends to morph into fascination with illnesses of all kinds. Whether it’s a case study you read about for class or a patient you encountered or an anecdote you heard from a mentor, at some point, nursing students begin talking a lot about diseases to anyone who will listen. Don’t worry, this is pretty normal nursing behavior, and it’s a nice party trick, as long as the details aren’t too gross.

6. You’re also eager to diagnose.

Family members and friends will talk about aches and pains and symptoms. Usually, they’re just making conversation, but once you’ve built up enough knowledge and experience from school, you’re going to start responding like a nurse. “When did you first start feeling this way?” and “How frequently do you feel the pain?” will become your standard responses, as your mind cycles through the information you’ve accumulated over the past few semesters.

7. You keep a pharmacy with you.

Relatedly, you’ll suddenly realize you have aspirin, antacids, band-aids, and any number of other over-the-counter medicines with you at all times—for yourself, and anyone who needs it. If you hear a friend complaining about her headache and find yourself reaching for your bag, you’re probably already thinking like a nurse.

8. You’re constantly assessing the situation

Nursing requires an instinct, almost like a sixth sense. You know you’re thinking like a nurse when you begin to notice and assess every new environment you walk into. At a party, you’ll quickly realize who’s sad, who’s nervous, and who to watch out for. You’re also likely to be the first to spot and respond to an injury, whether it’s a little nephew falling down or a friend feeling nauseous at a dinner party. It’s something that comes naturally after a lot of practice and learning, and it may not happen until after you finish school, but once you find yourself with this instinct, you know you’re really thinking like a nurse..

At Joyce University we’re committed to preparing our nursing students for work as soon as they graduate, and our curriculum is designed to help students think like nurses from their first day of class. To learn more about our nursing program, read here, and please reach out with any questions. We’d love to hear from you!


Learn More


Learn More

Apply Now

Request Info