Tips on Surviving Nursing School
Nursing school is one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences a person can go through. Unfortunately, it is also highly demanding, both mentally and emotionally. So put on your comfiest scrubs and prepare for fifteen tips to help you survive nursing school and come out on top.
1) Stay Organized
Assignments and due dates will come quickly if you don’t stay on top of them. Use a calendar app with plenty of reminders to keep track of what’s due and when. This will help you stay ahead and avoid last-minute scrambling. Aim to complete everything three days ahead of time, leaving room for unforeseen circumstances or emergencies. For example, if a group member gets sick and you need to do a little extra, you’ll have the time for it.
2) Get Plenty of Rest
You’ll be busy with classes, clinical and studying, so make sure to get enough sleep. Fatigue can lead to mistakes, so it’s important to be well-rested. Around eight hours of sleep per night is the average for many.
To assist and maintain your body’s normal sleep rhythm, consider going to bed and getting up at the same time every day. Don’t sacrifice sleep for studying. Remember that the principle of diminishing returns applies here. Once you’re tired, your brain isn’t able to absorb information as well.
3) Don’t Procrastinate
Why do people procrastinate? In some cases, it’s because the task at hand seems daunting. If this is the case, break the task down into smaller, more manageable pieces. Then, set a timer for one of those pieces and work until the timer goes off. Once you’ve completed a few of these smaller tasks, you’ll find that the larger task doesn’t seem so daunting after all.
4) Find a Study Buddy and Accountability Partner
Studying on your own can be difficult, especially if you have other responsibilities that prevent you from staying focused. Having someone to study with might be beneficial. Find a buddy or classmate who is also in nursing school and form a study group with them.
You can help each other out when you’re struggling with a concept and hold each other accountable for studying. Have daily check-ins with each other, even when not working on a project together, to ensure that everyone is still on track.
5) Take Breaks
When you’re studying, it’s essential to take breaks. Consider using the Pomodoro Technique, an effective time management tool that involves working for 25 minutes and then taking a five-minute break. Then, after four Pomodoro sessions, take a longer break of 15-20 minutes. This will help your brain stay fresh and prevent burnout.
6) Create a Positive Study Environment
Your study environment can significantly impact how well you focus and retain information. Make sure your study space is well-lit, quiet and free of distractions. Consider setting up a comfortable chair and keeping healthy snacks nearby to keep your energy levels up.
7) Eat Healthy Foods
Speaking of eating healthy, you need to be conscious of not just snacks but your entire diet while in nursing school. Eating processed foods and sugary snacks will only make you feel sluggish. Instead, focus on eating whole foods that give you sustained energy throughout the day. Fruits, vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats are all great choices.
Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and improve your mental clarity. Even if you don’t have time for a full-fledged workout, take a few minutes each day to get moving. Go for a walk, do some jumping jacks or stretch. You’ll be surprised at how much better you feel mentally and physically when you make time for exercise. Don’t let sitting become the new smoking for you. Get up and move!
9) Participate in Class Discussions
Don’t be a passive learner or fade into the background during class discussions. When you’re actively involved in learning, you’re more likely to retain information. Not to mention, participating in class discussions is a great way to build relationships with your classmates and professors.
10) Get Involved in Extracurricular Activities
In addition to participating in class, get involved in extracurricular activities outside of class. For example, you might consider joining a study group or nursing club. These activities will help you network and make friends who are also interested in nursing.
Additionally, they’ll allow you to learn more about the field and explore different aspects of nursing. It’ll give you opportunities to chat about topics like the difference between women’s joggers scrubs and men’s and how to find the best prices on nursing uniforms.
11) Take Good Notes
One of the most important things you can do in nursing school is take good notes. Not only will this help you study for exams, but it’ll also come in handy when you’re working on projects and papers. When taking notes, be sure to write down key concepts and ideas.
Also, make sure your notes are legible and organized so that you can easily find what you’re looking for later. You can also ask your professors if it’s OK to audio record lectures so that you can go back and listen to them later.
12) Know Your Professor’s Expectations
File this tip under working smarter, not harder. Every professor is different and has their own expectations for students. For example, some professors may be lenient regarding assignments, while others may be stricter.
The best way to find out is to ask your professor directly or read through the syllabus. This will help you know what to expect and how to best prepare for each class. It also lets you determine how to prioritize work, which leads to better organization and less procrastination.
13) Seek Out Resources and Utilize Them
There’s no shame in admitting that you need help. If you’re struggling in school, reach out to your professors or a tutor for assistance. If you’re having personal problems, seek out a counselor or therapist. If you have any disabilities that need accommodation, make sure to request them from your school. There are also plenty of online resources that can help you succeed in nursing school. Use them!
14) Don’t Forget to Relax
Nursing school is tough, but it’s essential to take time for yourself and relax. If you don’t, you’ll quickly become overwhelmed and burned out. Make sure to schedule some downtime each week to do things you enjoy.
This could still be nursing-related like shopping for a trendy yet comfortable men’s scrub jacket. Or it could be watching your favorite TV show, taking a weekend trip to go camping or going to a concert with friends. You need time to unwind and recharge to be at your best when you’re studying or in clinicals.
Everyone’s experience in nursing school is different, but there are some universal truths. Nursing school is tough, but it’s also gratifying. It’ll test your mental and physical limits, but it’s worth it. These tips will help you survive nursing school, but don’t forget to have a little fun too. Good luck!