Getting Over Embarrassment of Repeating as a Student Nurse

Written by Brandon L.
August 17, 202317 min read

The nursing school journey will always be different for everyone. Despite the struggle and intensiveness of the training, sometimes things just don’t work the way we wish them to work. And that’s perfectly normal given that even students who are top of the class find themselves in compromising situations where they have to repeat a course the following semester.

It is not about not putting in exemplary efforts, but some things are pretty unforeseeable. Retaking a nursing class is not one of the best encounters, especially when your peers, whom you started with, proceed to the next one, and you and a few others seem stuck.

Redoing the contents on the school portal for a second time can be traumatizing and nostalgic. Seeing new names on the class list can make you feel embarrassed; sometimes, anxiety also kicks in. And the fact that you might let some know that you repeated it worsens the situation.

Given that many nursing students have been through this, there is a general feeling that a hint on the coping strategies will go a long way in bringing you back on track.

First things first, you are going to be a nurse no matter how many times you repeat. Secondly, feeling this way is not self-deprecating. Let’s dive into the mechanisms of getting over the embarrassment of repeating a class or coursework.  

Ways to Tame the Shame and Embarrassment of Repeating a Nursing Class

We understand where you are coming from: most nursing schools have strict rules about repeating courses and returning to school. In a narrative inquiry-based study by Lisa Scandale Lewis (an Associate Clinical Professor in the School of Nursing, it emerged that repeating is quite an emotional journey.

However, interestingly, repeating too is the best thing that can ever happen to a student nurse. So, while looking at it from the point of embarrassment, you’d better look at the other side of the coin too.

Here are some strategies to overcome embarrassment about repeating a class.

Be Easy on Yourself

The news will never be any good to you, and the news is never anything one expects, especially when you have high hopes of progressing to the next class. However, there is nothing much you can do at this stage because you will repeat it either way. Therefore, you need to be easy on yourself.

Don’t waste too much time focusing on the negatives. Instead, stay positive because you will need gusto to persist and persevere through the class again.

Even if you fall behind a cohort, maintain your calm and do it as though you have never done it before. Assume you now have another chance to shine better in your nursing grades.

A self-care strategy, as you repeat, can be giving information only when asked, doing all your tasks and assignments on time, joining study groups, and planning well so that you can ultimately become a nurse.

Envision the setback as a chance for self-reflection and use the opportunity to correct all the wrongs. If you know someone repeating with you from the previous cohort, approach them because you can combine forces and understand one another better but don’t use that chance also to push new ties away.

Avoid comparison or feeling shameful. Use the energy from the negative feelings to fuel your zeal to achieve better goals with your peers. You can also seek encouragement from friends, family, or a mentor. You should also take time and wish your friends who are proceeding well in their studies.

Look at it this way; they will share notes and other materials with you, so you have not lost anything as yet. If you are selecting a study group, consider people from whom you will learn new things and do not loaf. Be a great contributor.

Create even more new friends and get over it as quickly as possible. Remember, repeating a class happens even to nursing students who are top of the class.

Don’t Panic, but Plan Instead!

Most nursing courses and nursing schools require a minimum grade of 80% for you to pass. Choices can be limited, especially if you have had a rough time through a semester with some classes or courses. If you notice that you are to repeat a class, don’t panic. Instead of sitting there and feeling sorry for yourself. You’ll best be planning for your next move.

Check whether you need to appeal the nursing grades, if there is a chance for that – unjust situations, etc. Although rare, it is usually something that’s open for consideration. And as you ask for the appeal, stay humble and only do it if you are dead sure that you need a remark on the coursework or exam.

If you’re past the appeal stage, you must appreciate the learning experience and let the anger disappear. You can then plan well and accomplish your goals.

If possible, you can also take some time off if you feel the entire situation is weighing down on you. Some circumstances, such as family issues, unaddressed learning disability, loss, or financial woes, can make you lag in your studies. The best thing you can plan to do is to take some time off from nursing school and address the issues first before resuming, of course, with the permission of your school administration.

You can also get a mentor to be your accountability partner or counsel you through the period. If you realize that you can’t thrive in the same environment, you could try a new nursing school. This pathway is tough to pursue, but sometimes it’s the only best option available. Check whether the new school allows credit transfer, but chances of that succeeding are limited, so prepare to start over again. After all, the ultimate goal is to become a nurse. And no matter what steps you take, starting over can be a blessing in disguise.

Think Contextually and Not Emotionally

Bad grades, and especially repeating a course due to failure, is a personal negative memory. You can’t just whisk it away quickly. According to a study by researchers from the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, remembering emotions during negative personal experiences, such as how embarrassed you feel, leads to emotional distress.

The last thing you want to do is to get into an emotional bog. Therefore, the psychologists suggested that thinking about the context of the memories rather than the feelings can efficiently and effectively alleviate the negative after-effects of these memories.

Given that there is a behavioural and neurologically proven strategy, you need to divert your focus to things that matter.

So, instead of whining over the poor grades and having to repeat the class, focus on how repeating the course will make you grasp the concepts, meet new faces, and become a good nurse.

Become an Observer

The fear of embarrassment is detrimental to all aspects of human life. However, a research study reports that seeing oneself as an observer rather than an actor can help overcome embarrassment-avoidance since it increases self-consciousness.

As such, you will have less emotional distress when encountering an embarrassing memory. Nevertheless, you must convince your mind and make efforts in the process.

You can laugh at the situation and avoid giving it a thought altogether but concentrate on the good that is to come with it.

You get to let it go and think that no one else knows about it, and even if they do, it is affecting you and not them and sooner or later, you’ll overcome it.

Own Your Failure

Failure is nothing to be embarrassed about. If and when it occurs, view it from the perspective that it is a learning opportunity for yourself and others. Life is rife with instances where failure comes even to the most successful people.

The key is to own the failure and run along with it. The fact that you are still in the program is a blessing and a chance for you to rework things in your favor. Even when compared to others, don’t let the thought of it disrupt your focus. You can only be steady and welcoming if you own the failure.

Once you accept that you have failed the class and have a chance to right all the wrongs, you will have the determination and focus on getting through it. While at it, assess your goals, re-strategize, and tackle the class again without fear. You can persevere through the course, remembering that it is a second chance at it than if you constantly whine about repeating despite the efforts in the previous class. Let bygones be because what’s done is done! Avoid blame games channeled to yourself. See it as an opportunity to start over, but with a more intelligent head start. All the success stories we’ve read have some aspect of failure, so never give up on yourself. Taking a detour does not mean you will never get to the destination. You will still become a nurse, eventually.

Imagine what would have happened if Steven King’s first book wasn’t rejected 30 times. We will probably never have him being the most-read author. What if Henry Ford had never spent 20 years trying to make an automobile? Maybe we would be walking and stuck in the stone age forever. Sir. Richard Branson has endured many failures and embarrassments being dyslexic, but that hasn’t prevented him from making Virgin Group soar in many domains. The list of awe-inspiring stories is endless, and then there is yours, which you need to build for your future.

Remember that our journeys are different, and so are our timed milestones. Therefore, find it peaceful to accept failure but use the energy to make good things for yourself.

That’s It, But …

If you are unsuccessful this semester and learn that you have to retake a class, you can feel impersonal, cast out, exasperated, unceremonious, and demotivated. However, the sooner you get over the fact that you can only give it your best shot for a second time, the better. Try appealing the grades if that’s an open option. However, if everything else doesn’t seem to come through for you, focus on yourself and your goals.

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Instead of getting embarrassed with retaking or repeating a class, use the chance to improve your grades to become a great nurse. Nursing school grades play a critical role in your career progress. Therefore, you need to speak positively to yourself, own the failure, plan well, take care of yourself, and build yourself up again, this time intelligently.

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