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Study Tips for Nursing School

April 10, 2018
Posted by: David Sands

Studying for Nursing School

So, you’ve decided you’re ready to take the rewarding plunge and become a nurse. Congrats! Though you will have a few years of schooling ahead of you, there are plenty of steps you can take to set yourself up for academic success, even if you’ve struggled with time management or studying in the past.

Keep the End Goal in Sight

When you’re bogged down with daily work, it can be easy to lose sight of the reason you enrolled in nursing school in the first place. Reaffirming your end goal not only helps you maintain the motivation you need to complete your courses, but also lets you frame your schoolwork in a different way. For example, when you are a nurse, you will be working with patients one-on-one. How can you apply the current information you are learning to a hypothetical nursing situation? What would you say to a patient? Do you understand how your studies will apply in a practical setting? If not, you may want to ask your instructor about potential applications of the information or do some additional research on your own.

It’s also a good idea to keep your academic goals in mind. At the end of your studies, you will have to pass the NCLEX to become a licensed nurse. Knowing this in advance allows you to focus on understanding the types of questions that will appear on this test all throughout your academic career. While the NCLEX shouldn’t be your only focus, working toward passing the test can help you feel more confident as you go about your studies.

Think Like Your Instructor

Your instructors really do want you to succeed in your studies and chosen profession. For students who are struggling in class or those who want to exceed expectations, checking in with your instructor can be the best way to ensure your own improvement. They are highly knowledgeable and may even have information about opportunities of which you’re unaware. Plus, instructors are more likely to provide more attentive and detailed assistance when you approach them in a one-on-one setting.

Get a sense of what your instructor is looking for by:

  • Asking questions in class
  • Tailoring your studying to the topics and materials covered in class
  • Visiting your instructor during office hours
  • Taking advantage of the syllabus, rubrics and guidelines that are given to you
  • Clarifying the expectations for the course or assignment if you are unsure
  • Working with a tutor if your instructor is not available
  • Learning from a friend who communicates with the instructor and is doing well in the class

Break the Info Into Bite-Size Pieces

Plowing through entire assignments or reading whole books isn’t really the best strategy for learning. It’s almost always better to give yourself a few hours of study time a day than to try to cram all weekend (or only after midnight). If you struggle with time management, make yourself a realistic study schedule and stick to it.

When you’re ready to study, spend between 30 to 60 minutes on schoolwork at a time. Set a timer if necessary. When the time is up, give yourself a breather from studying by:

  • Working out at the gym or going for a walk
  • Doing the dishes, vacuuming the floor or starting a load of laundry
  • Taking a power nap
  • Making a quick meal
  • Meditating
  • Checking an item off your to-do list

Approach the Material From Different Angles

Even if you have a preferred method of learning, it is useful to approach new information from a variety of angles to better commit it to memory. If you are stuck in the same old humdrum studying routine, mix it up by:

  • Meeting with a study group every week
  • Making connections between what you are doing during clinicals and what you are studying in class
  • Asking for advice from people in the nursing field
  • Pursuing professional opportunities outside of class
  • Going beyond the scope of the assigned material and seeking out additional information online or in books or journal articles
  • Listening to audiobooks
  • Using an app or website to quiz yourself
  • Drawing pictures alongside notes
  • Using flashcards or mnemonic devices to memorize facts

Unfortunately, our brains don’t retain as much information as we think they do. It’s always a good idea to skim a chapter before reading to get a sense for what you are about to learn and before class to refresh your memory. You might also find notes helpful, as the act of writing can be a powerful memorization tool.

Cut Yourself Some Slack

It’s true: Nursing school can be highly stressful. Make sure you’re praising yourself for your achievements rather than tearing yourself down for less-than-stellar test scores. Self-degradation only saps your motivation and makes you feel like you “can’t” finish your studies, when really, you can!

This also entails taking care of your basic needs and taking time off from studying. Be sure you’re getting a full night’s rest, try not to live off coffee and junk food and set aside time to connect with friends and family. Feeling rested, well fed and supported will actually improve your academic performance in the long run.

Earn Your Nursing Degree at University of Maine at Fort Kent

If you are looking for a career where you make a difference in other people’s lives every day, a nursing degree may be the perfect next step for you. At University of Maine at Fort Kent (UMFK), we provide three different paths to your nursing degree, including:

  • Traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Online RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing

UMFK offers its students a quality education and access to professional opportunities as well as a unique learning environment. Not only are we located in the beautiful, rural St. John Valley, which is situated right between Quebec, Maine and New Brunswick, but our nursing students also graduate with the least amount of debt out of all other public universities and colleges in the United States. If you are interested in pursuing an affordable nursing degree and receiving personalized instruction during your studies, apply online or call us at (207) 834-7600 today.