Are you considering attending nursing school? You’re on your way to a fantastic career that will be rewarding, demanding, and always exciting. Nursing school, on the other hand, is famously difficult. Most nursing programs need high GPAs and strong math, chemistry, biology, psychology, and other difficult courses.
Choosing a career in nursing can be a fulfilling career. Still, the best part is, there are so many different specialties within the nursing umbrella that once you have finished your studies, graduated nursing school, and gotten some real-world nursing experience under your belt, you can head back to the books at any time in advance of your career or change directions. Of course, that is if you can find the time. Nursing school is notoriously time-consuming, and as such, any changes you want to make further down the line can be worth the payoff in the long run.
So, not that is out of the way. So, what can you do to maximize your time at nursing school and help yourself get ahead or even keep on top of the demands of studying in this rewarding profession?
Create a Schedule
This can be one of the hardest parts of nursing school. It takes up so much of your time that finding the right balance, especially if you have a family to care for, can be tricky. However, it isn’t impossible, and with some careful planning, you can semi-achieve a schedule that works for all the demands in your life.
Don’t just look at the week in advance. Instead, try to plan as far in advance as possible. This will give some idea of the upcoming restraints in your time, medical exams, mid-terms placements, etc. you can then look at anything else you have going on and the free time available. For example, if you know you have tests you need to study for one week in the month, you can avoid making any further commitments to detract from your study time.
The great idea is to fill in loved ones with upcoming changes to your schedule so they can be aware of what you have going on. Studying to become a nurse is hard enough on its own without family or friends, making it harder for you to study or catch a break. Be explicit about not making any plans on specific dates and be clear about your expectations so they can bear in mind what you have coming up and that you won’t be around as much.
There will be times when you need to study more than others, but trying to cram everything into one short block of time isn’t going to work. So you need to make sure you can set regular times to study through the course of a week. Every day if you can. Even an hour a day can be beneficial to your studies.
If you find you might be struggling with prolonged study periods, why not try breaking up your study time. Say, study for 45 minutes. Then get up, move away, have a drink or something to eat, or get some fresh air for the remaining 15 minutes of the hour. Then you can head back to studying. Be strict with yourself and remove any distractions such as social media, mobile phones, TV, etc., as this can lead to more procrastinating and less study time.
Sleep is important to help boost your memory and retain the information you are learning. As such, as hard it may seem, you need to ensure you are getting regular sleep. It may not be as much as you would like, but good quality sleep can really give you a boost mentally and physically. As much as possible, avoid late-night cramming sessions, but if you find you cannot unwind, then keeping a notebook by your bed to jot down any thoughts or issues you might have can help clear your mind for sleep. Using essential oils to help you relax and unwind can also be beneficial too.
Study Groups Work
Find yourself a study group. According to research, students who study with peers retain over 90% of what they learn, compared to only 60% of what they hear in class alone and just 10% of their reading. Not to mention, studying alongside others can provide moral support and encouragement. So put your head together with a handful of your fellow nursing students (research shows that groups of three are the most successful) to share study strategies and boost your performance.
Discover Your Learning Style
Everyone learns differently, and as such, you need to determine the best way for you to learn. This will take a little bit of trial and error to get it right, but when you get it right, make a note of it and try to incorporate this into your study time for the future.
This could be something as simple as studying first thing in the morning before you do anything else. Or it could be a more complex set-up such as a specific corner with a seat and lighting a candle or grabbing a specific drink that sets you up to learn efficiently.
Self Care Matters
Self-care isn’t indulgent. If you have a lot going on in your life, then pushing yourself to the edge of your capabilities and allowing yourself time to recharge is vital. If you find that you are becoming more and more frazzled, it may be time to stop and take a break.
Whatever works for you to allow yourself to stop and recharge your batteries is considered self-care. And self-care is essential when you are training in a new career that requires you to be at the top of your game all the time.
Do you need motivation to really knuckle down? This happens to everyone at some point, and it is only natural that you will feel the need to rebel against your workload and are sick of studying.
If you find this is something you are coming up against, try rewarding yourself. For example, if a new episode of your favorite show is released every Wednesday, then make it a “reward.” For example, if you finish a set of study questions, you can watch the episode today, tomorrow, or the next day.
Or maybe you can reward yourself with items you will need once you have finished your course. For example, passing this midterm, you can buy yourself new items such as Uniform Advantage socks for nurses and create a collection of items ready for you to put to good use as soon as you become a qualified nurse and start work.
Use Outside Sources
No rule says you have to learn exclusively from your textbook or instructor. Instead, supplement your classroom resources with other information; for example, if you’re learning about diabetes, visit the Mayo Clinic, WebMD, and American Diabetes Association websites for further information. As a kind of “preview” to your reading, do this before you read a chapter. However, keep in mind that your textbook and instructor are the final, authoritative sources.
Exercise and Diet Can Be Crucial
You need to ensure you are supporting your body by eating well and getting exercises each day to help your body perform as I need today out. Training to become a nurse is a full and frankly intense period, and being able to stay fit and healthy can help you meet these demands.
Invest in home exercise equipment to hop on and off throughout the day during study sessions if you don’t have time to hit the gym.
Use your breaks to fit in a quick workout session or a bit of cardio to give you a boost. YouTube has a great selection of indoor walking workouts1 that can be fitted into even the shortest time scales.
A healthy diet includes plenty of fruit and vegetables and fresh meat and fish to allow your body to get the nutrients it needs. However, relying on sugar to help you push through isn’t a long-term sustainable plan, and you will begin to experience sugar crashes as your body needs to consume more and more sugar to get the hit it needs—instead, try natural energy sources such as bananas, sweet potatoes, eggs, and apples.
Stay properly hydrated too. Your body needs water to maintain its functions and processes, and failing to drink enough water can lead to poor concentration, dry skin, lethargy, weight gain, to name a few.
In conclusion, you can do many small things to help you manage your schedule to get through your nurse’s training. Sure it will be hard, but it is worth working for, and the people you meet during your training and those you are studying alongside can become lifelong friends. After all, we all need someone to understand what we are going through, and leaning on those who are going through the same thing can help you train in a rewarding career and get the most out of your years studying.