How To Be Successful In Nursing School?

How To Be Successful In Nursing School
Photo Credit: Wolters Kluwer

No matter what your reasons might be for becoming a nurse, it’s not something that’s easy to do. You can’t simply walk into a healthcare facility such as a hospital and apply for a nursing role without the proper qualifications, which is why you’ll need to attend nursing school to obtain your degree. 

It’s crucial for anyone who is thinking of becoming a nurse to understand that nursing school is hard work, and that is true for a number of reasons. Firstly, there is a lot to learn, and it’s important information that could even be lifesaving. Secondly, nursing itself is hard work; by working hard during your studies, you’ll already be on familiar ground when you start working and have a lot to do in a short amount of time. 

Nursing school is the first step towards having a very special kind of career. Nurses can enjoy their roles for life, and there are plenty of benefits that make the job a highly rewarding one. With that in mind, if you’re interested in becoming a nurse but you’re not sure what to expect or how to deal with nursing school, read on. Here are some tips on how to be successful in nursing school that should help you immensely. 

Set Realistic Goals 

One of the first things to consider when you are in nursing school, whether you’re working in the traditional way or you’ve opted for an excellent online program, is that you need to set goals for yourself, and those goals have to be realistic in order for you to achieve them. 

If you don’t set yourself goals, including your own deadlines (in conjunction with the ones the school will set), it can be easy to become overwhelmed. There is a lot to learn, and if you look at it all at once, it will probably seem like too much. You might get the feeling it will never get done, and that can start you off on a negative note; it might even cause you to stop what you’re doing and try something else. 

Although it’s true that there is a huge amount for nurses to learn, goal setting will make it easier. Rather than looking at the entire degree program, look at each module instead, and only focus on the one you’re currently working on. Even better, break that module down into smaller elements, and concentrate on one at a time. Not only will this make things easier, but it will allow you to truly get to know each aspect of nursing (and if you are working with an online school, you’ll have as much time as you need for each element) and therefore have a better overall in-depth knowledge. 

Something else that is good about setting yourself goals is that you can use them to prove how far you’ve come. If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed or you’re worried that you’re not going to reach the end, just look at what you have already achieved and the goals you have completed. This will help you feel more positive and give you the impetus you need to keep moving forward. 

Stay Positive 

Although it can often be easier said than done, staying as positive as possible as you study to become a nurse is important. It can be hard, as you will be juggling your studying with your other responsibilities, perhaps even with another job or a family – or both – but the more positive you can be, the more positive the overall outcome will be too. 

Everyone suffers setbacks in their lives and in their studies, so if you find this happens remember you’re not alone. The key is to look at what has happened and find the learning opportunity within it. If you make a mistake, you can learn from that, and you should learn from it. Dwelling on errors will turn you into a more negative person, and it might be hard to push forward. Overcoming these issues and even using them to help push you forward will keep you positive. Remember, you always have a choice about how to react to something; you can let it overwhelm you or you can find a solution and get past it. The latter is the better option when it comes to being positive throughout your nursing degree and will, in fact, help you become an even better nurse at the end of it. This kind of critical thinking is one of the skills a nurse will need to develop. 

Manage Your Time Well

You should be aware that there is a lot of work to do when it comes to nursing school, and there will be deadlines to think about – either your own or ones set for you. Therefore, it is crucial to managing your time well. Again, this is a skill that nurses will need to have, so learning how to do it well when you’re studying is ideal. 

The crucial thing to remember is that you need downtime, as well as to ensure you hit all your deadlines. Therefore, make sure you schedule breaks and time off, especially if you are working at the same time and studying an online nursing degree or a part-time course. The last thing you’ll want to do is burn out and become unwell. 

However, it’s also important not to procrastinate too much. It can be tempting, but this will lead to having to rush to complete your work, causing you more stress and potentially meaning that the work you produce is not to as high a standard as it would have been if you had taken your time. Therefore, a good balance must be struck. Try using an online planner or even an old-fashioned diary to ensure you know when you are meant to be working and when you can afford to take a break. Include time to get out and do other things, such as seeing friends and family, enjoying hobbies, and generally having fun where you can stop thinking about your studies and relax. If you can do this, when you come back to your course, you’ll be much more clear-headed and able to focus more easily. 

Understand Your Learning Style 

If you’ve ever wondered why some people seem to have an easier time when studying than others, it could be down to their learning style. Once you understand what yours is, you can tailor your learning in that way, ensuring you can take in more information. This is easier in an online course than in a traditional school because you can choose how and when to learn. For example, some people find that getting into their studies as soon as they get up in the morning – and potentially waking up earlier to do it – is best, whereas others prefer tackling their studies in the evening when everything else is done and they don’t have to concentrate on anything but what they are doing.  

It’s not just when you learn that’s important either. Everyone has their own learning style. If you are taking a direct entry MSN after already obtaining a degree in a different subject, you may already understand what your learning style is, and if it worked for you before, then it’s wise to utilize it again. 

For those who are just starting their learning experience, it can be harder. Essentially, however, there are three different learning styles to consider. The first is audio learning, where students find those discussions and asking questions, and even talking out loud to allow knowledge to register is the best way of learning. Visual learners prefer videos and other similar tools. They will often put what they have learned into images and diagrams, enabling them to remember more. Finally, there are tactile learners. Tactile learners like to move around while they learn and even act out scenarios. You might know immediately where you fit in, or perhaps you aren’t sure. Maybe you are a combination of learning styles. However, whatever the outcome, the sooner you can determine how you learn best, the better you can learn overall. 

Practice Self-Care

Self-care is crucial in life. Whether you are studying, working, or you are taking some time out of both areas, you need to look after yourself. If you don’t, you will become unwell, and you won’t be able to live life to the fullest. 

Self-care is something that can easily be forgotten when you are studying, but it is essential to incorporate it into your schedule. Here are some ways you can do it:

  • Don’t skip meals. It might appear to make sense to skip a meal because you have a lot to do, but skipping meals or grabbing an unhealthy snack to see you through is a bad idea. Your blood sugar will be affected, and your weight might suffer too. Plus, you’ll feel less energetic and essentially get a lot less done. Always make time for three meals a day and you’ll be a lot more productive than if you skipped, even if you lose some time. 
  • Cut back on caffeine. Perhaps you’re not sleeping so well, or you’re getting up earlier or going to be later to finish your work. Maybe that will lead you to drink more coffee, tea, or energy drinks, and consume more caffeine to keep you awake. However, this will make it harder for you to sleep, and so the cycle will continue. If you’re feeling tired, go for a walk or try drinking water instead. 
  • Stay active. Getting outside is good for keeping you alert, as mentioned above, but it’s also good for keeping you fit and healthy. Even if you have plenty of studying to do, you must always make time for some exercise, whether that’s walking, going to the gym, or following exercise videos online. Not only will this keep you fit, but it will release endorphins into your bloodstream that will make you feel much more positive and able to work well. 

Get Connected

When you are studying, it’s a good idea not to do it alone. This doesn’t necessarily mean working in teams, although sometimes creating a study group can be useful and ensure that everyone keeps on track, it does mean that if you have a question, you should ask it, and if you have an issue, you should get some help. 

It’s hard to do all your learning for anything, including nursing, entirely by yourself, and not only will forming connections be useful for your studies, but they could also be useful when you graduate as well, potentially helping you find work and helping you to settle in more quickly once you have a job.  

Remember Your Reasons 

Everyone will have had at least one reason, and maybe more than one, to apply for nursing school and to want to become a nurse. No matter what that reason might be, you need to remember it and keep it in mind as much as possible. This will help you stay focused and keep you moving forward, even if you find one particular element of your studies hard or you have a lot to juggle as you’re working. 

The more you can keep in mind your ultimate goals and passions and your reason for deciding to study to become a nurse, the more rewarding all your studies will be – you’ll truly be able to see that you are getting closer and closer to what you want out of life, and this is the most inspirational and motivational thing you can do. 

Final Thoughts

Nursing is a profession that will be rewarding, exciting, and will enable you to help many different people in many different ways. Gaining your qualifications can be the start of an amazing journey that allows you to explore your passions and enjoy your life to the fullest. It all begins with nursing school, and the more you can learn to be successful in your studies, the better a nurse you will go on to be.