Tips to Surviving Nursing School: From New to Practice RN

Hello All! If you are getting ready to start, or have recently started nursing school, congratulations! Nursing school programs are highly competitive to be accepted to, so that itself is a great accomplishment. The only way to describe nursing school is like boot camp. I’m not going to lie it is tough, but it FLIESSSSSS by and is totally worth it in the end. I absolutely love being a nurse and could not imagine myself doing anything else. Don’t give up, there is a light at the end of the tunnel even if it is hard to see! I’m writing this post to give some insight and tips that I felt helped me through nursing school. I graduated Nursing school in 2016 and have been working as an RN on a medical telemetry unit for about 18 months now. Like I said I am a Nurse, so please excuse my grammar and writing skills 🙂

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TIP #1 : BUY A PLANNER

After I received all my syllabi (I think that’s the plural term) I went out and picked up a planner. I then jotted all the dates for tests, quizzes, projects, homework, ect. in my planner for the whole semester. This can be time consuming, but I promise it is worth it! There are weeks where you have multiple tests and multiple projects due, and this really helped me stay organized and on top of things. Its also a good way to plan non-school related activities (example: if you have three tests in one week, the weekend before probably isn’t a good time to visit your friend at school). I also used my planner to write in fun activities I had planned on days off (gives you some motivation).

 

TIP #2 : FORM STUDY GROUPS

Before nursing school I never studied in groups, and now I completely regret it. Studying in groups not only makes studying more “fun” but I found that talking about the information out loud really helped me understand it. There will be plenty of late night study sessions, ordering papa johns to the library, some unproductive moments where you spend twenty minutes laughing or complaining rather than studying, but I promise it helps (a VERY small part of me misses it). I typically would spend my first two study session alone. After I went through all my slides, read the book, and typed up or wrote out my study guide I would then meet up with a group in the library. We typically would go through each slide and talk about it out loud as well as additional information on the topic we found in the book. If you do not understand a topic or concept, chances are someone in your group does and they can help you out with it. Maybe this method is not for everyone, but I recommend trying it!

 

TIP #3: DO NOT OBSESS OVER YOUR GRADES

This is one is pretty straight forward. Whether you get a 100 or a 75, you will pass nursing school and receive the same exact degree as the person sitting next to you. From my interviewing experiences, no employer seemed to really care about my GPA. For certain nurse residency programs, yes your GPA may matter, but honestly don’t let it get the best of you! You will still become a nurse. To be honest, some of the best nurses I know were average to below average students, and some of the “not so great” nurses were top of their class.

 

TIP #4 : TAKE SOME TIME TO YOURSELF

I know this one sounds cliché but its true. There would be Saturday mornings that I woke up with plans to study ALL day. When I got to the library I just could not focus. Rather than wasting hours “half studying” give yourself a few hours or even a whole day off. It WILL NOT make you fail your test. Watch some Netflix, eat some yummy food, exercise, whatever, it will help you be more focused afterwards.

 

TIP #5 : WORK AS A TECH

Although I did not have a tech position in a hospital during nursing school, I’d say about 70% of my classmates did. There are so many advantages to working as a tech. 1. You get more comfortable interacting with patients. 2. The money is decent. 3. You learn how the hospital operates. 4. You get practice with giving report (tech to tech report that is) 5. You get used to 12 hours shifts. The lists goes on an on. You typically can work “per diem” which is very minimal yet flexible hours. Its equivalent to a couple shifts per month. You also now have a connection with nurses and managers. If you like your unit, it typically is pretty easy to be hired as an RN on your unit once you have complete school (if they have positions available). If your unit does not have positions at least you have your foot in the door at that hospital, as well as some hospital experience to put on your resume.

 

Hope this helps! Feel free to ask me questions in the comments!

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