Making It Through Hell…I Mean, Nursing School

The most requested question I get from current nursing students is, “How do you make it in nursing school?”

Nursing school is tough! I will admit I had no idea how tough it was prior to attending school, and I didn’t believe it when my mom, who is also a nurse,  informed me that nursing school was a “pressure cooker.” I was rudely awakened when I received my first syllabus that was thick as a book. I had to learn on my own how to successfully navigate through nursing school, but I was fortunate enough to have met people along the way that gave me helpful tips and tricks. These tips and tricks helped me to be a great student and graduate with honors. I want to pass on these jewels of wisdom to others because we can all use a helping hand every now and then.

  1. Record your lectures. In nursing school, your professor will give you a 100-slide Power Point presentation, but the exam will only cover maybe 20 of those slides. Recording lectures are very beneficial because it will allow you to play back what your professor talked about. Here is a helpful hint: Your professor won’t waste time talking about something that won’t be on the exam. Therefore, you need to record the lecture and listen to it while studying. A tape recorder works, but I have a MacBook, and I downloaded the Evernote app. This app not only allows you to type notes, but it also had a recording feature on it. This feature works wonders, and you can also make notes while recording. It was a lifesaver in school.
  2. Bring snacks to class. Classes in nursing school can be very long—hours long. After sitting for 15 minutes, the mind starts to wonder. Eating snacks helps the mind to stay focused, and it supplies vital nutrients to the brain. Some of my favorite snacks included almonds, sliced bell peppers, and hard-boiled eggs.
  3. Read the notes before class. This doesn’t mean you have to read everything word-for-word, but it’s good to have an idea about what the professor will be going over. I would skim through the chapters and highlight important and/or information that I didn’t understand. I would also print out my Power Point presentation slides and make notes on them while skimming before class. That way I wouldn’t be totally blindsided about what was to come in class.
  4. Take breaks while studying. This is very vital; for, if you study too long, you study so wrong. I was never that person that could study for hours straight without breaks. NO! I would study for an hour, take a break, and then get back at it. During my break, I would do something physical such as go running or take a yoga class. When I was being lazy that wasn’t an option, I would watch inspiring YouTube videos by You Tubers such as Nurse Nacole. I would also watch funny videos such as this one. A good laugh cures just about anything.
  5. Do practice questions. Practice makes perfect, and that’s true about nursing school. When studying, I would always make sure to do practice questions. Doing practice questions embeds the material into your brain, and it’s good repetition. It’s also a great way to see where you are with the material. If you miss many questions, you need to review the material more. If not, then you’re good, and you can move onto something else. Some of the best books for review include the books in the Davis’ Q&A Series (Med-Surg Success, Pediatric Success).

Happy studying and much success in your nursing endeavors!

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