5 Ways Partners Can Be Supportive While You’re In Nursing School

Gayle Morris, MSN
Updated May 18, 2022
    Nursing school can be stressful and leave little time for connection. Consider these tips to support your partner while they're in nursing school.
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    Partners are uniquely positioned to help support nursing students through a very challenging time in their careers. Although close relationships may experience some discord when nursing students are under significant stress, partners can take action to reduce stress levels and, therefore, improve their relationships.

    We interviewed a nurse and a relationship expert to bring you these five strategies to help at home.

    1. Practice Active Listening

    You may not completely understand all that your partner is experiencing in nursing school, but you can listen and let them vent. Each of the experts emphasized the necessity for partners to listen to nursing students so the student feels heard and supported.

    “It helps build the bond stronger and gives your partner the sense that you’re there for them, and they’re not alone in this journey,” says Callisto Adams, dating and relationship expert.

    2. Reduce the Load

    You can help your nursing student partner by picking up more of the household duties than you usually do. If you aren’t living together, consider doing more at their place, like dishes, cooking, grocery shopping, or laundry.

    It helps to remember that while nursing programs are challenging, they do have a stopping point. In other words, school will end, and your partner will have more time in their life.

    Remember, the extra things you’re doing for your partner now will pay great dividends later.

    3. Help With Studying

    Consider being a study buddy. Unless you have a medical background, you likely can’t explain the concepts. But you can quiz your partner while they’re in nursing school or study and work alongside them. Sometimes just having someone with you can make you feel supported.

    Registered nurse Amanda Lundberg’s husband surprised her with a study corner in their guest room, complete with binders, sticky notes, and other office supplies.

    “He also made a door tag that read ‘Testing … Shh!’ (Keep in mind we were the only two people in the house),” she says. “It was incredibly thoughtful and showed me that he supported my efforts in a way other than physically helping me study.”

    4. Learn to Identify When They Are Stressed

    It might sound silly, but sometimes nursing students are so engrossed in the daily grind of studying they don’t recognize when they are getting stressed. When partners can identify the signals that their nursing student is stressed out, they can take preemptive steps to help them destress before an argument ensues.

    Signs your partner might be stressed include:

    • Frequent headaches
    • Stomach aches
    • Sleeping problems
    • Changes in eating habits
    • An inability to concentrate

    Ask your partner how they like to decompress or what helps them feel supported and less stressed out. Attunement is deeply connected to emotional attachment and can help your partner know you’re there for them while they’re stressed in nursing school.

    5. Make Yourself a Priority

    That doesn’t sound like you’re caring for your partner! Yet, it is impossible to care for someone else when you haven’t taken care of yourself.

    If you’ve ever flown on a plane, you’ll remember the flight attendant demonstrating how to put on oxygen masks if they are needed. Each time they tell people to put on their own mask first before putting on someone else’s mask. Partners cannot take care of their sweeties if they don’t take care of themselves in the process.

    Prioritize your health and wellness by getting enough sleep, practicing mindfulness, exercising, and eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. Find at least one person outside your relationship with whom you can “vent” your feelings, and consider a professional therapist for extra support.

    This doesn’t mean that you stop communicating honestly with your partner, but it gives you additional support systems with whom you can share your stress.

    Meet Our Contributors

    Portrait of Amanda Lundberg, RN, BSN

    Amanda Lundberg, RN, BSN

    Amanda Lundberg has been a registered nurse for over 10 years in just about every department: family medicine, pediatrics, geriatrics, emergency, dermatology, cardiology, orthopedics, management, and urgent care triage. She now runs a copywriting and content marketing company. Locksley Content focuses on health and wellness brands, and Lundberg uses her nursing background to create content with a clinically educated framework.

    Portrait of Callisto Adams

    Callisto Adams

    Callisto Adams has been a dating and relationship expert for more than six years. She is well read on masculine and feminine psychology, romantic connections, and the way that people give and receive the signs of them.