Nursing school is no cake walk! Even for students who are used to making good grades. Most of us aren’t really prepared for the curve ball that gets hurled our way. Not only is there a massive amount of reading, there’s lecture, lab, simulation, and clinical assignments. It’s a lot to take in. While I was going I noticed there were certain things that those who were unsuccessful consistently did. So here it is. The list of what not to do.
#1. Don’t Rely Solely On Lectures and Power Points.
Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of people in my program who did just this and passed… But, there were also plenty of people who did just this and didn’t pass. Do yourself a favor and do the reading. The instructors will lead you in the right direction, but they can’t instill you with the knowledge required to practice competently with just a few hours of lecture content a week.
I’ve found that the biggest benefit of lecture is not to learn content but to find out what content I need to focus on, and what content I can braze over more quickly. Lecture will let you know you what topics you need to have an understanding of but it doesn’t provide you with that understanding.
To get A’s through nursing school, you’ll have to do more than record the lectures and read the power points, you’ll have to actually read the book.
#2. Don’t Ignore The Resources That Go Along With Your Textbooks.
It took me until the end of my first semester to catch on to this one. So glad I did though! I know that different schools use different texts, but many these days have online companions or paperback study guides that go along with them. Take advantage of these options.
Most instructors test off of what is in your assigned reading, the study guides consist of questions that are aimed at helping you better understand the key points presented in the book. This means that if you know all the content in the study guide, it’s likely that you’re going to rock that test!
Below is a picture of the med-surge study guide book by evolve. This is one of the most common texts nursing schools use. If you’d like to check it out on Amazon you can use the following links: 9th edition, 10th edition. Personally, our school used the 9th edition, and it was a huge help! If you get it though, make sure you read the rationales in the back of the book. It’s just as important to know what makes wrong answers wrong as it is to know why right answers are right. Many of times I’ve noticed that the wrong answers are actually referencing other key concepts, but are off by a word or two. See if you can identify what key concept their referencing and how the question can be reworded to be a correct statement.
If you’re lucky enough to attend a school that uses evolve, first off, good for you, secondly, take advantage of their adaptive quizzing! This is a great resource. Basically how it works is you enter in the chapter you’re studying, pick the topic you’d like to focus on in the chapter and it will run you through questions and provide rationales. What I particularly like about this program is that it goes through levels that get progressively more intense. I’ve found that the “mastery” level or “level 3” questions were significantly harder than most of the questions on my exams. At this level many of these questions are alternative format that consists of select all that apply, ranking items, and fill in the blank.
If you’re stuck using a text that doesn’t have an online companion or a study guide, which in today’s age I really hope is not the case, but if it is, beg your teacher to make one for you! That or storm out in protest and demand they switch texts…. If this tactic fails as well, the only advice I can think to recommend is to purchase a study guide from another book, or even adaptive quizzing from Elsevier Evolve, and just do your best to focus on the topics your instructor is testing you on.
I know it may sound tempting but I don’t recommend quizlets. I know this is a really popular platform, but the information is not always accurate. A lot of times it’s also really vague. I think that this can lead to a false sense of reassurance. People have a way of convincing themselves that they have an understanding of material because they memorized some facts or definitions, but this is only a basic level of understanding. This level of knowledge will not get you A’s in your courses and it’s not enough for you to pass the NCLEX-RN and get a license.
#3. Don’t Be a Loner
Nursing is a team sport. Turns out, studying for nursing school is something that is also better done as a part of a team. Find your team, create your team, do what has to be done for success. Don’t be a loner and isolate yourself. Break out of your shell and reach out to new people.
Prior to nursing school I had always preferred to study a lone. Personality wise I’m more of an introvert, so getting out there with my classmates was something I really struggled with at first but it was critical to my success! You need to make yourself uncomfortable to grow as a person. Growth as a student in no different.
One of the ways that I went about finding a study group was I would go to the library, find people from my class that I recognized by face (not necessarily by name), and ask to join their group. I’ll admit, there were times when I’m pretty sure I wasn’t wanted but out of politeness was allowed to join. This made for some uncomfortable situations. But hey, I wasn’t there to make myself or anyone else comfortable, I was there to learn. I was on a mission, I had goals, and determination to meet them.
The biggest benefits I’ve found from group study are that it gives you an opportunity to verbalize what you know, get answers to questions that you don’t know, and stay in the loop. When I say “loop” what I’m referring to is that general knowledge students gain from word of mouth by asking teachers questions about the tests, assignment expectations, and different study strategies. This was the way that I actually learned about the med-surge study guide that went along with our book.
#4. Don’t Spend All Your Time On Social Media
During nursing school its a good idea to limit how much time you spend on social media. I know that a lot of nursing students will make a facebook page so that they can communicate as a group, but I think the majority of the time, this is a waste of time! Don’t get sucked in. What I found was the people that posted the most on these group pages often did the worst. Just worry about getting your studies done, not on how everyone else is doing, or what funny memes they’ve come across.
Remember its okay to give yourself a break from social media. It won’t kill you! Believe it or not but the mortality rate for account deactivation is still 0…. Shocking, I know…. And, although this may give you some social anxiety, maybe even a thumb spasm, just remember, all your friends and followers will be right there where you left them. After you’ve graduated and you post that nursing degree selfie, I’m sure they’ll all be eager to congratulate you. Although I do recommend deactivation if you’re not quite ready for this move at the moment, at least try to limit your use to certain times of day that won’t interfere with your study groups or reading time.
The exception to this deactivation recommendation, however, would be pinterest; that is as long as you are using it as a resource. The reason I give pinterest a “pass” is that it can be used to find blogs and articles that contain useful information. I also don’t consider it a super “social” social media. It’s kind of an antisocial media to be honest. Perfect for those who need to focus and not be distracted by constant comments and likes.
I also think that resources like Youtube and Khan academy are acceptable, again, as long as you stay focused. Youtube can lead you down a dark path if you’re not careful. If you’re easily distracted by the recommended video list on the right, maybe its best to stick with Khan academy.
#5. Don’t Start a Weight Loss Program
I remember the first day, in our first orientation, we had someone come speak to us who had just recently graduated. She came in to offer words of encouragement and tell us what it was like to go through the program. She seemed really nice and really excited to start her career. She was also little on the husky side, which makes no difference, only that when she asked if anyone had any questions the girl sitting next to me raised her hand and asked if it was true that people gain a lot of weight while in nursing school.
It was so hilarious because the question seemed so inappropriate and out of nowhere, but it was an honest question. I was able to keep from laughing, but I’m not sure my poker face was as good as it should have been. I was shocked but the bluntness of her question. The girl who asked the question though did so sincerely, and was genuinely worried about weight gain. The guest speaker, who fortunately was not offended, then went on to tell everyone how she had gained 50 lbs over the 2 year period.
Personally, I gained 15 lbs while in school and it wasn’t easy to see myself packing weight. To minimize the damage I did my best to eat healthy and exercise as much as possible, but lets face it, activity levels take a nose dive when you have hundreds of pages to read for your next test and assignments on due weekly. Just remind yourself its temporary. Do Not join a weight loss program! I know it’s difficult to see your body change, but don’t do it.
There were two girls I knew during nursing school who started intense weight loss programs while in school. One of them failed and had to repeat the semester. The other passed with a B, which is really great but she had gotten all A’s before that. I truly believe she would have gotten an A if she hadn’t joined that weight loss program and focused on her school work instead.
Remember, there will be plenty of time for weight loss after the program. That being said, don’t ignore your health. I’m not trying to give you the green light on Pringles. You definitely should exercise while in school. There are loads of benefits to cognition and stress relief. All I’m saying is put first things first. Don’t overwhelm yourself by committing to too much.
Thanks for reading! Hope this was helpful. Congratulations on nursing school, and may you pass all of your classes with ease!
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