Nursing school trains nurses. It is a simple goal. The challenge of nursing school is that being a nurse is incredibly demanding, and you are expected to know a large amount of information, meaning that nursing school will be demanding, and you will learn a lot of information. It can seem overwhelming, but hopefully, this article will give you some advice on how to get through it all.
What to Study Before Nursing School?
There are so many things that will be covered throughout your time in nursing school, so it can be beneficial to start studying some of the basics before you even enter your first day of nursing school. This will create a solid foundation of basic knowledge that will carry you through the start of nursing school.
Some nursing schools may have specific information that they expect you to come in already knowing, so if your school has information like that, you should start your studying there. If not, don’t worry; there is always some background knowledge that you can review.
We recommend starting out by reviewing basic biology and chemistry. Both of these are subjects that you will be expected to have a good working knowledge of the basics when you start, so these are a great option of where to start studying. You should also make sure that you brush up on your math skills as well since those will be very helpful throughout nursing school.
If you want a detailed list of things that you should think about studying before you enter nursing school and how you should prepare yourself for a nursing school student’s strenuous schedule, please check out our article on what to learn before nursing school.
How Many Hours a Day Should You Study for Nursing School?
While it might seem counterintuitive, the amount of hours that you study for doesn’t really matter if the studying isn’t good. The most important thing to think about when figuring out how long to study is to make sure that you aren’t overexerting yourself and making at least a little bit of time for studying each day.
In general, it is a good idea to plan out your study time so you can be most effective. Creating a good study schedule can help keep you on task, motivated, and from getting overwhelmed, especially near important exams. If you would like help creating a fantastic study schedule, please check out our article on creating a practical and useful study schedule.
A good rule of thumb is to study for about 45 minutes and then take a 15-minute break. This will give you a good amount of focused studying while giving your brain enough time to breathe and recover. Studying for a few hours a day is probably a good starting point, but this will change depending on your daily time commitments, how efficient you are at studying, and how many significant assignments you have coming up.
Don’t expect every day of nursing school to look the same. Understanding that your daily norm is likely to change significantly depending on how far through nursing school you are will help you create more realistic expectations of how long you should spend studying and reviewing each day. For example, while you are in your clinical rotations, you might not be spending as much time studying as you would when you are taking a more traditional course load.
What is the Hardest Part of Nursing School?
Nursing school consists of various parts, each very unique. This means that what one person finds to be the most challenging part of nursing school might be easier for someone else. The main components of nursing school are classroom time, lab time, and clinical rotations, and each section is a challenge in its own way.
Classroom time can be challenging if you don’t like to sit still. Classroom time is the most traditional academic part of nursing school, so this is likely the part that you are most prepared for in terms of teaching style. That being said, nursing school curriculums are rigorous and will take a large amount of studying to keep up in the classroom.
Lab time is always a huge adjustment, regardless of if you are going to a traditional college or a specialized nursing program. Labs are generally anywhere from two to five or six hours long in college, which can be quite draining on some. Some love labs because of the hands-on nature, while others really struggle with the more extended time frames.
Clinical rotations make up a good amount of nursing school and culminate the information you’ve learned in classroom settings and in lab settings. During your clinical rotations, you will be working with patients and putting your academic knowledge to use in a practical setting. Clinical rotations can be challenging for some because of how interaction dependent they are. Large amounts of human interactions can really drain some students, so just be ready for some long days.
Is It Possible to Get Straight A’s in Nursing School?
It is completely possible to get straight A’s in nursing school. Getting straight A’s is not going to be easy and is often not the best goal to go into nursing school with. The purpose of nursing school is to make sure you understand and know all the material that you will be expected to know as a nurse. Straight A’s often come from being able to memorize information well for a test-format, which isn’t always the same as real comprehension.
Although good grades are important, it is much more important to focus on your comprehension of the material. Comprehension will be most helpful for you in the long-run and will be expected of you in your chosen career field. Sometimes straight A’s and comprehension go together, but not always, so don’t neglect yourself in pursuit of an A over a B or C with good comprehension.
How Do You Survive Nursing School?
Surviving nursing school might seem like a long-shot, but with hard work, it is quite doable. Nursing is an intense profession that demands a lot of you physically, emotionally, and mentally, so it only makes sense that nursing school helps prepare you for these challenges. There are ways that other nursing students have gotten through it. With these words of advice from nursing students, you will make it through.
One of the most common things that nurses will tell nursing students is just how rewarding a job is, so one of the best ways to get through those long, challenging days is to stay focused on your end goal of becoming a nurse. Having something to work towards can help make the days seem more manageable.
How Do You Take Notes in Nursing School?
Taking notes is an acquired skill. While some people may think that taking good notes is as simple as just writing down what you hear someone say or what you read, to take effective and useful notes, you will need to develop a style of shorthand that works for you as well as make sure that your notes are organized and easy to use later on. Note-taking is a fantastic study tool if you do it well, so it’s worth it to dedicate time to working on the skill.
The first thing to think about when taking notes is the material that you’ll be using. Generally, it is much better to take any type of notes by hand since the physical act of writing helps your brain pay close attention to what you are writing. If you need to take notes on a computer, make sure that you are as engaged as possible with the information that you are recording and aren’t distracted by anything else on the screen.
The next thing to think about is what information you’ll be writing down. It would be impractical to listen to a full lecture and write down every word, but pulling out the salient points to write down can sometimes be challenging. One of the best ways to anticipate the important points is by reading through the section in your textbook that you will be covering in class that day. This gives you a little bit of insight into what you should expect from the class that day and an idea of what areas will be most important.
After this, you will need to think about how you are recording the material. Some people prefer to take their initial notes in various colors or have highlighters ready to help color-coat their notes, while others find this distracting and like to take all their notes in a single color. Either way is totally fine. It all depends on what works for your brain.
Once a class is done, you should rewrite your notes. Not only will this give you time to organize the information better and think about adding symbols or colors if those will help you recall the information better, but it will also give you time to go over the information a third time. By repeatedly going over new information several times, you are giving your brain the best shot it has at remembering the information later on.
5 Effective Study Tips for Nursing Students
1. Learn to take good notes early on
Start learning how to take good notes as early as you can. The sooner you develop a good way to take notes that easily allows you to go back and understand the information later, the more prepared you will be for your upper-level classes. Try keeping a 3-ring binder with all your old notes so you can go back to them if you need any bits of information or want to see how you were able to memorize certain information.
Understanding that each person’s notes will look different is also something to get used to fast. What works for you to retain information and understand won’t necessarily work for your classmates and the other way around. This is why a great nursing school tip for success is to take your own notes and don’t rely on a class notetaker if there is one for your class. You will get so much more out of your notes if you make them yourself.
2. Start preparing for the NCLEX with plenty of time.
The NCLEX is the certifying exam that you will be expected to take at the end of your time in nursing school. The NCLEX is a large exam that will ask you to use problem-solving skills to work through challenges and give answers based on the information that you have learned throughout nursing school. Since it is an extensive exam, it is best to start reviewing early on.
The NCLEX website is a great resource to use throughout nursing school. It has a selection of study resources that can help you prepare as well as general information about the exam and what to expect. If you want to know all the categories and subcategories covered on the NCLEX and how best to study for the exam, the website has a test plan that will give you all the information you need to succeed on your exam.
We have some great articles on NCLEX study books that we highly recommend you check out. Investing in a good study book can be a great way to effectively study for the exam. Most study books will include at least one practice exam, many of which feature actual NCLEX questions from past exams. Overall, a good study book is a great nursing student study resource.
3. Utilize all available study resources
The biggest nursing school hack is to use your resources well. We know this doesn’t sound like a hack, but very few students take full advantage of the number of schools’ resources. Schools want their students to succeed, and providing their students with resources like organized study groups, review papers, and writing labs is a great way to do just that.
Many schools have organized study groups that are run by either lab instructors or upper-level students. Take advantage of these, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. The people running these groups want you to succeed, so take advantage of the fact that they are there and willing to help.
4. Take care of yourself.
One of the best nursing school survival rules is to take care of yourself. Taking care of yourself means ensuring you are getting a good amount of sleep every night, getting out for some exercise regularly, drinking enough water, and eating good food. Taking care of your physical body will help take care of your brain and allow you to study more efficiently.
Taking care of your physical body is only the first step, though. Ensuring that you have a good support system is crucial to taking care of your mental and emotional health throughout nursing school. Nursing school can be overwhelming and intense, so it is essential to keep yourself in tip-top shape to adequately help your patients and maintain good grades.
5. Study on your own and with others, mix it up and keep it interesting.
Knowing how to study on your own is great, but studying with others and being efficient while doing so is the real challenge. It is important to mix up how you study to keep it interesting. Studying in various ways will help keep your brain engaged throughout all your days of studying.
Wrapping Things Up: How to Pass Nursing School
While we’re not going to sit here and tell you that if you listen to use nursing school will be easy, it will be considerably more manageable if you use the tips we’ve talked about here. Remember that being a nurse is a rewarding profession, and that is what you are training towards. By studying well, taking care of yourself, and focusing on your goal of becoming a nurse, you are well on your way to succeeding in nursing school.
Check out our ultimate guide to becoming a nurse here.