5 Tips for Nursing School Success

Nursing school wasn't easy...but you can make it so much easier in 5 steps...

1. GET ORGANIZED!

During my first semester of nursing school I got a HUGE desk calendar, (I now have a dry-erase vinyl wall calendar) a paper planner and the app iStudiez Pro. After I printed out all of the syllabi, I went through each class and wrote on the calendar when major assignments were due, when all of my tests/quizzes were and any simulation labs. I then wrote all this down into my paper planner and then typed it into iStudiez Pro.

Although it seems like a lot, you don't have to use the app if you don't want to (I found by the end of school I wasn't using it as much), but this helps you to see the BIG picture, while also going day-by-day. You are going to feel overwhelmed, you're going to feel like ripping your hair out, but once you get organized your stress level will decrease tremendously. Time management is one of the keys to a successful nursing school adventure.

2. READ THE TEXTBOOK!

There will always be that person in your class that doesn't read, only studies off of the PowerPoint Slides and get's all A's. Realize that everyone is different, everyone has their own learning style and what works for someone else may not work for you... get over it, don't be jealous, go figure out how you learn best!

If you're not the person that can gain nursing knowledge through osmosis, I'm telling you to READ. This doesn't take as long as you think it will if you read SMARTLY. SKIM the chapters the night BEFORE class. You'll be surprised how many "ah-ha!" moments you will have during class if you do this. MAKE notes either on your ppt slides or in the textbook of MAJOR topics that are being covered so you know what to focus on. After class, READ/SKIM the chapter AGAIN! Half of this material you're already going to know since you read beforehand and went to class. Reading your notes/chapters as soon as possible after class will help you to retain all of the precious information. While you're waiting for your lunch, take out those notes and read through them. Trust me, it helps. Instead of waiting the night before the test, by reading your notes/skimming the chapter daily, all of the information will be there. It's pretty stupid to learn the information once, forget it because you don't take a half hour out of your day to re-read, then spend countless hours cramming that information you should've known. Work smarter, not harder!

3. PROFESSOR WHO?

I can't stress this enough... don't be that one student that sits in class quietly, never participates, never goes to see the professor and expect to get a recommendation for a job/internship (I used to be that girl). Just because you're so incredibly smart and don't need any help, make up a question or just stop by to say hello and introduce yourself. It's not just for people who are at risk for failing, it is a NETWORKING opportunity! Remember that your professors are nurses too, they're actually nice people (well, most of them are anyways). And they have YEARS of nursing experience. They may have impossible exams and boring lectures, but they want you to succeed and they hold the key to your success in their hands! When you're ready for that job, you can feel confident that you have a professor that can actually speak to your abilities -- inside the classroom and out. Don't sell yourself short from what your professors can offer you. Your recommendations can make or break you...so stop being so shy and get to know them! Professors are your soon to be colleagues...remember that.

4. GET INVOLVED!

This one is very near and dear to my heart. As I mentioned before, I am quiet, shy and usually stay to myself. But I forced myself to get involved and I found skills/abilities I never thought I had! I got involved in the Student Nurses Association (SNA) as a representative. Two semesters later, I became the President, I sat on the Student Well Being Committee and I was the School of Nursing Senator -- on top of all of that, I was working as a Student Nurse PCT. Woah there.

While I think I may have gone a little overboard, I am entering into the field of nursing much more confident because of my past experiences as a leader. Students think that because they'll never want to be a charge nurse, or nurse manager, getting involved isn't really worth it, but it is, and here's how.

  • Networking is always useful. You have no idea how many people I've run into and through basic conversation have influenced my career in some way or another. You’ll make great friends and great study buddies through these organizations and you find out what other people are doing and how they're succeeding.

  • Your resume will be golden! Your GPA is only a portion of what potential jobs will be looking at. There are real benefits to getting involved!

As President, my school sent me to two NSANYS and NSNA conferences -- for FREE. Meals, airfare and conference fees all paid for! That meant weekend getaways to NYC, Kentucky and being able to meet nursing students, prominent nursing leaders, and tons of nursing representatives from schools and companies from across the nation. I was also invited to be a guest speaker at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for our new nursing sim lab. I met the President of the college, the current NYS Senator and a ton of other important people. I was even invited to go out to dinner with my Professors and the Dean of the Nursing School! Who gets to do that? My point is, you don't have to spend all of your free time in organizations, but it will change you for the better and make nursing school much more enjoyable.

Fast forward a couple of years: Because of the relationship I had with my professor, I received an awesome recommendation from her for CRNA school. It definitely helps to get involved!

5. HAVE FUN!

I didn't have much fun throughout nursing school. I worked, studied, and worked. I regret not making more friends and going to those ugly sweater parties. I'm telling you to go out and make sure you have fun! Find a healthy way to relieve the stress of nursing school. You don't have to party hard or put your life in danger, but learn to manage your time effectively so that you don't get burned out. Get a free massage from your school (some schools have this), get a mani/pedi, go for a nice bike ride or run. Make sure you get away and when you get away you're not talking about nursing school!

Organizing your life, reading the textbook, developing a relationship with your professor, getting involved in extracurricular activities and just having fun are all ways you can enhance your nursing school experience. Don’t feel like you have to do it all, make sure you find the right balance so that your academics don’t suffer.

What are some ways that you’ve enhanced your nursing school experience? I’d love to hear from you!

What your nursing textbook didn't teach

What your nursing textbook didn't teach


Congratulations! You got your first job as a nurse! Now you're ready to put your countless hours of clinical, simulation, labs and classes to work! While nursing school is your foundation and your backbone, there are just some things that nursing school cannot possibly prepare you for adequately. In school, you learn expected outcomes -- how things are supposed to happen. For most, you get an 8hr, not 12hr day for clinical (not that I'd really want a 12 hour clinical day anyways), a 1-2 patient assignment, get the occasional med pass, but you're still in practice or 'safe' mode.

Keep Calm and Pass the NCLEX

Keep Calm and Pass the NCLEX

The NCLEX was probably one of the hardest exams that I have ever taken in my life. The questions were difficult, and it was easy to let anxiety get the best of you. I walked out of the exam room feeling as if I failed, tears beginning to form in my eyes…but a day later I found out that I passed. So here’s my advice: