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Seven Highly Effective Habits for Nursing Students

Nursing school is challenging, whether you’re a new student or a seasoned professional in an RN to BSN. Between the volume of material to cover, the hours of studying to understand it all and learning to care for patients, nursing students have to work hard to stay on top of it all.

The good news is that it is possible to do a great job in nursing school and still have time for family, friends and fun. Making these seven habits a part of your life can make you a more effective – and successful – nursing student, no matter what stage you’re in.

Habit 1: Manage Your Time

There’s a reason this is the first habit to master: it’s the most important! Balancing classes, studying, work, family obligations and a personal life takes some serious planning.

Break each day into blocks of time and then decide what’s the most important thing for each block. For example, you know you need time to sleep. Will you manage to get eight hours every day? Or should you plan for seven? Proper sleep is the foundation for a healthy, stress-free nursing school experience, so don’t skimp on it.

Schoolwork is the next important chunk for nursing school students. Tests, papers, and important assignments all require a certain amount of study time. Plan ahead and block out sufficient study time every day. Try not to let it get away from you.

Working nurses who are studying for a BSN or MSN need to become experts at balancing school, studying and their shifts, often while caring for family members.

That’s where strict scheduling helps.

Enlist your family to keep a master calendar so everyone knows when you’re working, going to class and studying. And be sure to schedule some free time for the things you like to do, whether it’s working out, reading, listening to music or spending time with your family. That balance will help you get through the rigors of nursing school.

Habit 2: Study Smart

Some people can cram for a test and make it work. But in nursing, you really have to understand the material and how to apply it in real-world situations. You’ll be using your reasoning skills to apply the right choices to different conditions, and not choosing between answers “A” or “B” on a test. That’s why you need to study smart. Try these ideas to make your study time work more effectively for you:

  • Study effectively. Don’t spend four hours on something that should really take two. Try dividing a four-hour study block into four, one-hour study segments, and space them out a bit. You’ll probably comprehend the material much better and finish faster.
  • Avoid distractions. When you sit down to study, put away any books, materials and devices that you don’t need. Avoid the temptation to check your texts or social media.
  • Review classwork ahead of time. Read through text before you get to class.
  • Practice. When you finish a section of reading, run through some practice test questions. See if you can answer them without your notes.
  • Give yourself enough time. Most students underestimate the amount of time it will take to finish an assignment, study or write a paper. Be realistic.

Habit 3: Ask for Help

This is a tough one! For most of us, asking for help seems like a sign of weakness or failure, but it’s not. Seek out someone who’s been in your nursing shoes, and can offer advice or just listen. They’ll help you get through the difficult spots.

Habit 4: Focus

Now more than ever, nursing students are multi-tasking. It’s so easy to get distracted by a message or alert, and get way off track. The fact is that almost no one is good at multi-tasking. So try to focus on one thing at a time. Eliminate distractions by organizing your study space, and turn off your phone, TV and music. When you focus on studying, you’ll finish faster, leaving more time for catching up on social media and your favorite shows.

Habit 5: Make Realistic Goals

Keep it real, and you’ll be much more successful in reaching your goals. Sure, it would be great to study for eight hours over the weekend, but is it really possible? Can you aim for four and make that happen? How about setting daily goals like covering one major section and one smaller chapter? You’ll feel better about yourself when you make and reach smaller goals along the way to the big goal – your BSN or MSN degree.

Habit 6: Be Proactive

Planning ahead and staying on top of your assignments will save you lots of time, and prevent a rush to complete everything right before the end of the term. Also, take the initiative to ask questions of your instructors. Find out early about their standards and preferences, and you’ll complete assignments right the first time.

Habit 7: Reward Yourself

With all the challenges of nursing school, it’s not easy to do your best over the long haul. You will probably get tired of studying when you’d rather be spending time with your family or friends. That’s when it’s time to set a goal and reward yourself when you reach it. Getting into the habit of motivating yourself, controlling your behavior and doing something nice for yourself will take you far, both in nursing school and in your career.

These 7 Habits Can Make Nursing School Better

Creating good habits can make nursing school much easier, no matter how challenging it can be. Managing your time, being proactive, rewarding yourself, studying smart, focusing and asking for help will keep you happy and healthy while you earn that degree. Also, consider online nursing programs, which are designed for working professionals, and allow you to attend classes as your schedule permits.

Content shared from Daily Nurse.

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Nursing – New Innovations

Nurses have more career options than perhaps ever before. Here are the top Jobs on the Rise

Article written by Path to Recovery, a newsletter that delivers weekly conversations on how the health care profession will recover from one of the most significant crises of our time. 

This week, I’m covering some of the data from our annual Jobs on the Rise report. Check out our full coverage here.

Sharonda Davis never expected to leave nursing. But when the pandemic hit, her job working in intensive care and progressive care units in a South Florida hospital became untenable.

“I had never dealt with that much death in my career,” she said. “I didn’t realize I was becoming severely depressed. I lost interest in my husband; I lost interest in my children. And one day, I just quit.”

Davis, however, didn’t go far from the hospital. Today, she uses many of the same skills she developed as a nurse in her work as a chest pain coordinator, a job that involves working with doctors and paramedics to develop protocols for managing chest pain patients. The role makes good use of her patient care skills as well as her background in communication and data science.

“It was a role that I didn’t even know existed, but I really love,” she said.

Davis is among the 18% of U.S. health care workers who are estimated to have quit during the pandemic, according to Morning Consult, a research and data firm. In specialties that work directly with covid patients, the numbers might be even higher; the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses found that as many as two-thirds of nurses have considered leaving. The situation is similar in Canada, where last summer the health care industry saw year-over-year increases in job vacancies that outpaced other sectors.

Nurses are in high demand, and there are opportunities to move not only across specialties but away from the bedside altogether. A nursing degree offers an advantage, nurses say, because it’s often easier to supplement health care training with communication or technical skills, rather than vice versa.

“A lot of nurses have awakened to the power of the position,” said Alice Benjamin, who is both an advanced-practice nurse as well as a podcast host and media contributor. And while those roles might sound very different, Benjamin points out that they all involve patient education.

“What are you passionate about?” she said, when asked about the advice she’d give nurses looking for a change. “Find what else you’re good at and marry that with your nursing license.”

When LinkedIn crunched the data on the fastest-growing job titles, it wasn’t surprising to see health care functions on the list. Two roles that made it to the top could be related to the pandemic: vaccine specialist and molecular biologist. But we’re also seeing rapid growth in nursing fields, particularly for surgical intensive care and postpartum nurses. And these two opportunities allow nurses to move beyond the pandemic crunch.

To calculate the fastest-growing jobs, we examined the increase in the number of professionals who added those job titles from Jan. 1, 2017 through July 31, 2021.

Health care jobs also featured prominently in the data we gathered for Canada, where our Jobs on the Rise include vaccine specialist, public health nurse, public health specialist and clinical data manager. The global public health space was gaining momentum even before the pandemic due to growing awareness of how societal and socioeconomic factors affect our health and contribute to rising rates of chronic diseases.

Jobs in public health also provide better hours than typical nursing jobs, said Toronto-based Sara Fung, CEO and founder of the RN Resume, who added that nurses are trying to transition into not only public health, but teaching or doctor’s offices.

“I’ve seen a big surge in nurses wanting to leave the bedside,” she said. “Most people, to be honest, are looking beyond hospitals.”

Burnout hasn’t been the only factor prompting nurses to make a change. Surgical specialties like perioperative care “took a body blow,” said Phyllis Quinlan, an executive coach for nurses, as hospitals canceled elective procedures during covid surges. Some nurses were redeployed to critical care; others were furloughed and still others retired.

At the same time, many countries are facing a critical nursing shortage, and nurses are realizing that they have more clout than perhaps ever before. There’s also hiring interest coming from outside of the health care industry, as non-traditional players like tech companies seek to enter the space.

“The new challenge for leadership is to understand that things are never going to be the same,” Quinlan said. “It’s not going to take a lot [for nurses] to say, ‘That’s enough, we’re done.’”

To keep up with changes in the industry, Rita Wise, director of the masters in nursing education and nursing administration program at the Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences, encourages nurses to seek out opportunities that build leadership skills, like serving on committees or training nursing students.

“You absolutely, as a nurse, have to keep evolving,” she said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean going back to school, but it definitely means increasing your skill set all the time.”

Like others, Wise suggests that nurses think first and foremost about their interests and passions before deciding on a career move — rather than jumping on the latest bandwagon. She also predicts continued demand for nurse educators as the field continues to add new specialties and technologies. And getting back into a classroom, Wise adds, could also help counteract burnout.

Toronto-based Marida Etherington is among the nurses who have made a career shift due to the pandemic. Etherington has a background in acute-care mental health, and she made a transition away from working in a hospital by first volunteering to provide online therapy to frontline workers. From there, she began offering psychotherapy to adult and pediatric clients as well as coaching services for nurses who want to make a career change.

While she misses her former colleagues and the camaraderie that comes from working night shifts together, it was clear to her that working in a hospital was too risky, especially with an immunocompromised husband and three children at home. Overall, she says she’s happy with the move.

“It really fuels me and I feel like I am giving back to the community,” she said.  “I’m doing exactly what I want to do, so you can’t put a price tag on that.”

Looking for a change?

Sara Fung and Amie Archibald-Varley, co-directors of The Gritty Nurse podcast, offer these tips to nurses:

  • Put yourself out there: don’t be afraid to apply for jobs even when you don’t meet 100% of the requirements
  • Don’t overload your resume with irrelevant experience, but call out areas where you can show hard numbers that speak to the impact you’ve had
  • Focus on translatable skills like information technology, certifications, critical thinking and communication
  • Seek out opportunities to join workgroups, particularly around quality or process improvement
  • Don’t forget about networking, especially in the small world of nursing

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