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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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Managing Your Time In Nursing School

Whether your semester has just begun or your classes are in full swing, it’s never too late to revise your strategy and give your time management approach a reality check. Nursing school can be overwhelming and push you in ways you didn’t know you could be challenged. Getting to the finish line will not be easy but a clear and deliberate plan of action will help you get there unscathed.

TIME EFFICIENCY

In nursing school, everything else becomes secondary to studying. Create a daily and or hourly schedule and stick to it to be the most efficient. An hour by hour plan will help tremendously in keeping you on track to hit your daily milestones. In addition, it will be helpful to get conditioned to studying first before everything else. On days when on site classes are held, commuters should consider staying on campus to complete studying for the day instead of wasting precious time in stop and go traffic. If you stay on campus, avoid trips back and forth between classes to the your room and use small breaks to stick it out in the library. Keep flash cards on hand for quick study breaks when your schedule allows. Downloading audio lectures can be helpful for learning on the go and can be accessed on your headset or in the car. Parents should try to maximize time when children are sleeping or at school and use this time to study also. Lastly use weekends to meal prep, do house chores, prepare for the week and of course study!

STAYING ORGANIZED 

Getting organized can drastically change your nursing school experience for the better and create more time for focused learning.. Allocating specific folders, binders and bags for each class or day of the week will help you tremendously. Printing the syllabi for each course, outlining major deadlines and noting all test and assignment dates can be lifesaving. Large calendars are also great for providing a monthly view of classes, assignments, tests and clinicals. Small planners  can provide a great weekly view of your obligations and phone reminders can be essential. Organization will allow you the space and peace of mind to study. Preparing class and clinical materials ahead of time can be lifesaving.

DEVELOP AN EFFECTIVE STUDY STRATEGY

Undoubtedly, studying is the most time intensive task in nursing school. There’s an exorbitant amount of info to read, digest and retain and seemingly not enough time in the day to tackle it all. Study at times that you are most energized and receptive. Create a dedicated area in your home that’s conducive to studying helps to set the tone and environment for optimal learning that’s free of distractions. It is also  important to master the skill of intaking and dumping information. Unlike your pre-nursing courses, being super detailed oriented could actually work against you in nursing school. After your first test, there should be an analysis of the materials you covered as it relates to what you were actually tested on. Let this information guide your future study habits per course. Your learning style may be auditory or visual; however, most people study best in groups and are able to grasp concepts from peers more concisely. Lastly, grab a few classmates with similar schedules to form a study group and test your knowledge by explaining and teaching one another.

KEEP SOCIAL TO A MINIMUM

“Do what you have to now  so you can do what you want later.” While cliche, the aforementioned expression holds true. Nursing school is no joke and is a real life commitment and sacrifice of time. Depending on the rigidity of your program, you may want to consider minimizing social outings for the duration of your program. This does not mean that you can’t have a life or shouldn’t see your friends and family; however, it does mean you should be doing so a lot less. Remember, self-care is a huge component of keeping your sanity during this challenging time.  Be sure to prioritize time for things that make you happy, recharge your energy and allow you to step away for mental breaks. Schedule your social time in advance to be sure your interactions are not becoming distractions to your focus and productivity. Also, it may not be a bad idea to limit time on social media as well. You can use various apps to track and limit your usage.

ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER

In nursing school you have countless assignments, deadlines, tests and obligations. In this environment a hectic schedule can get the best of them despite proper planning and time management. Therefore, having a human reminder  can really go a long way. Identifying a buddy in the program will be gold and in addition to helping you stay on top of all your deadlines, they can provide moral support and encouragement which can improve your nursing school experience drastically.

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