Tips to help you Succeed in Nursing School

Written by Brandon L.
March 03, 20238 min read
tips-for-success-in-nursing-school

Are you wondering how to succeed in nursing school? If yes, you are among the thousands of students currently in nursing school.

There is no doubt that nursing school is challenging, however exciting it might be. You have to deal with grueling lectures, unpredictable clinical, maintaining good grades, arduous projects, and unreasonable expectations. It becomes worse when you have to juggle between studies, family, and work.

Whether you are enrolled in your Bachelor of Science in Nursing, LPN (practical nursing) program, RN to BSN program, accelerated nursing program, Master of Science in Nursing, or Ph.D., the stress can be too much.

But this doesn't have to be so; the following tips can help you survive and thrive in the program.

tips for success in Nursing School

Set Up Academic Goals

Setting realistic goals is fundamental to long-term success. You have to envision the destination and then hatch a plan for getting there. Setting goals for nursing schools will force you to take needed actions despite any challenges that lie ahead. They will help you allocate your resources and time efficiently on what is needed and even act as motivation. In addition, goals will improve your academic performance by ensuring you stay accountable for your mishaps.

Even though setting goals is an individual task, there is a universal format you can borrow, SMART, which stands for:

An example of a goal set with this format is "I will attend all lectures and study for two hours every evening so that I can get a 3.75 GPA by the end of this semester". Once you have attained your goal at the end of the semester, set another for the following semester.

Develop a Good Routine

If you don't have a plan, you plan to fail. A study has revealed that poor daily habits result in damaging situations like a failure and dropping out of school. Approaching nursing school without routine is setting yourself up for failure. Remember that it is a marathon, not a sprint. You will be exhausted and stressed as you try to navigate everything you have to do each day or week.

Routine is a conscious way of doing things in a specific order repeatedly. Setting up a routine is easy. Start by planning your week. Even though it may seem tedious, planning your week ahead of time helps you stay productive.

Mornings are usually chaotic, especially if you had an eventful weekend. If you have classes in the morning, make sure you plan for the day the night before. All you have to do is set up all your reading materials, know which classes you have that day, and set up your clothes. Doing this will help you minimize your workload and only focus on the essential things for the day. Make sure you also maintain a strict sleeping schedule. Waking up when tired on a busy day will make you feel sluggish and lethargic the whole day.

Tired and scared of getting bad nursing grades? Get help with your class assignments today.

Find Out Your Learning Style

Understanding how your brain grasps and retains information is crucial for your success as a nursing student. While some prefer taking notes, others prefer diagrams, others visuals, and some prefer audio.

To find out which learning style you have, take an online quiz. Alternatively, you can ask yourself these questions:

Knowing your learning style is worth it as it will help you plan strategies for studying best.

Stay Organized

Picture this, you walk into your room and find reading materials sprawled across the desk, next to a half-empty coffee cup and multiple flashcards on the floor. What follows next is a throbbing headache because of the mess.

A clean study area will keep you energized and focused on the task at hand. If you want to stay organized, do the following:

Clean Up the Workspace

Go through all the papers and reading material on your desk and arrange all the textbooks together. Next, fill any miscellaneous papers in a binder and take all the utensils to the kitchen. If you are working on a school assignment, place all your paperwork in poly file folders, which makes things fun and easy. All this should take you less than 20 minutes.

Get a planner Book

A planner is your personal organizer that you can carry wherever you go. Write down all the things you must do, such as assignments, exams, practical, and those outside schools, such as laundry. Make sure you write everything that you think you'll forget.

To make things easier:

Get a Big Binder for Your SchoolWork

Store all your clinical work and work assignments in a big binder. Or get two small binders to store class notes, homework, modules, power points, care plans, and clinical papers. 

You can also have binders for each class with subject dividers. You can arrange all these binders by class so that you can easily pick one for each class without struggling.

Having all these in one place will help you locate them quickly.

Have to-do lists

As part of organizing yourself, ensure that you have a list that details what you have to achieve each day. You can make one before going to bed so that you organize the next day. You can also make a weekly schedule that allows you to plan through your week. And when planning, allow yourself some time to enjoy leisure activities such as cycling, walking, running, playing tennis, watching movies, or hanging out with friends and family.

Form a Study Group

Most of the time, completing your nursing school guarantees an exciting and rewarding career. But nursing programs are challenging, and they require high GPAs. Therefore, your clinical performance should also be up to par.

One of the best ways to keep your grades high is by studying in groups. Study groups will help you better understand what you were taught in class. If there was a topic you didn't understand well, other group members could help. Learning is different for everyone; others who might have understood the topic will help you gain clarity.

Note that the group can turn into a social hangout and pull you away from the goal. You should be active within the group- avoid social loafing. By setting clear plans, it would help if you distinguished between study time and relaxing time. The following tips will help you make a clear plan:

Remember that if well implemented, study groups can help you do well in class and your career as a nurse. After all, most of the time, you will be part of an Interprofessional team and need group skills to maintain their functionality.

If you don't study well in large groups, head to the library with your peers and study individually in silence. The morale that comes from studying alongside your peers is always immense. Then, if anyone has a question, everyone can chime in.

Balance Nursing School with Work or Family

You are midway through your semester, and you can remember the last time you went out for coffee, watched a movie, or did something fun. If this sounds familiar, then you need a change.

While studying is crucial, please don't get so focused on it that you abandon other vital aspects of your life. You must take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally to succeed in nursing school.

The following ways can help you balance nursing school with other aspects of your life.

Eat a balanced Diet

Food is a body's fuel. If you always want the energy to show up in your studies, ensure you eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats. While a balanced diet is good for your overall health, studies show that specific foods are good for your brain and can boost your mental performance.

Exercise

Don't put exercising away because there is a lot you have to cover. On the contrary, exercising is vital as it helps improve blood flow and oxygen flow to the brain, thereby increasing brain function. In fact, according to Michigan State University (MSU), there is a close relationship between exercising and higher GPAs.

Talk to Someone If You Are Stressed

It's not a secret that nursing schools are stressful. If you are drowning under immense school pressure, there is no shame in admitting that. Talk to your college-assigned counselor if you can't afford outside therapists. Most nursing schools have a built-in support structure for all students; these include faculty, student success coaches, and peers.

Remember, you don't have to be in a mental breakdown to seek help. Therapy will equip you with skills to navigate the hardest times.

 Play with Your Pets

Apart from therapy, playing with pets is also good for your mental health. Pets like dogs or cats will help you stay active and interact with others positively.

 Spend Time with Family

Managing family, work, and nursing school is mentally draining. While you don't need to spend all your time with them, regularly spending time with family could help you. Besides developing strong family bonds, they will motivate you to do better. The family will also act as your support system when schools become challenging. They will always root for you and remind you how much they care.

Take a few minutes daily to do any of the above, then head back to your studies.

Commit to it

If you are an accelerated nursing student, good for you because you will not be allowed to study during school because of the intensive curriculum. Other nursing students undertaking BSN, MSN, or DNP studies might be allowed to work alongside nursing school schedules but that too is intensive.

Apart from doing online simulations, laboratory work, and mandatory nursing clinicals, you will have to commit many hours weekly to do assignments, write nursing papers, and study materials.

You can only succeed in nursing school if you are committed to the hefty work that turns a nurse student into a professional nurse. In some cases, you will be doing regular tests, and you can only excel at them if you have the will power and commitment to sail through nursing school.

Writing your nurse student philosophy can help you define the “why” of your nursing school journey that can help you stay focused to your dreams and aspirations.

Ask for Help

Many students who fail or drop out of nursing school fail to ask for help. It is a move that many reject for fear of being judged or laughed at. However, asking for help makes you sail through challenging assignments, understand concepts, and have an easy time in nursing school.

If you are struggling with writing your assignments or papers in nursing school, you could use some help from our professional nursing writers. Apart from that, you can also schedule time with your tutors to discuss topics you find challenging. As well, if you have not grasped a concept and have a group member who seems knowledgeable, request some time with them so that they can take you through the topic.

Your journey through nursing school should not be lonesome. You need to take advantage of all the help you can get, whether, from friends, professionals like our writers, or your professors.

Don't Fight the Change

Nursing schools offering high-quality programs will help you evolve as a nurse and, most importantly, as an individual. But, if you want to succeed, you must embrace the changes.

Through its stimulating coursework, nursing programs will broaden your perspective and improve your relationships with peers and staff. You will also gain confidence in tackling tough times.

If you are open to professional transformation, working in healthcare facilities will help even though you won't practice as a full-time nurse. You will gain clinical capabilities and leadership skills that will help you throughout your program and career. Employers and managers will notice your performance and offer you a job after graduation or recommend you to one. Embracing this growth will also help you identify strengths and weaknesses which you can use to overcome challenges in your work.

Interaction with peers and faculty members from different backgrounds will also help your growth. Diversity and mutual exchange are imperative in nursing school as they expand your perceptions and people skills.

Manage Your Time Well

Time is your most valuable asset as a nursing student and one of the most wasted resources. Nursing schools involve overwhelming schedules. Learning to manage your time well will help you succeed. You have to know when to study and adhere to that.

Studying should be your only priority if you want to succeed in nursing school. You don't have to study when you have an exam; you have to schedule your study time and ensure you follow through. Even when you feel unmotivated or tired, remember it's for your best. A good rule of thumb is to study when you have adequately rested, not when you are tired. If you are a morning person, wake up one or two hours before class and study.

Make sure you make every hour of your day count. Know that you have classes, laboratory visits, clinical rotations, sleeping, eating, and assign them their respective times. Any free time left, plan how you will use it to study.

While it can be tough to stick to your schedule, ensure you don't fall into the procrastination trap. Several things can arise and force you to procrastinate, and you should anticipate this and come up with measures to not avoid studying.

Utilize All the Learning Resources

Successfully finishing nursing school takes passing and immense effort. However, nursing schools offer many resources you can take advantage of for success. Besides this, there are online resources that you can use, which include:

Smartphone Applications

Smartphone applications are great resources for students. There are many applications geared toward nursing programs that you can download for studying. These apps include but are not limited to:

 Nursing Association

The National Students Nurse Association provides extensive professional and personal information to help your nursing career. By joining the platform, you will meet other like-minded people and build meaningful relationships that can help you get employment after graduation.

 Nursing Blog

These blogs will help you look up information to help with your studies. Some blogs provide test updates, others news on the nursing industry and test updates. Some of the blogs include:

 Practical Clinical Skills

Provides training and reference guides. In addition, it provides simulation-based lessons which cover heart sounds, murmurs, lung sounds, carotid bruit, blood pressure measurement, and EKG training.

Pay Attention in Class

Nursing classes include classroom instruction, lab simulations, and check-offs to prepare you for clinical rotations. Some nursing programs may limit your on-campus sessions and allow you to participate in online or hybrid learning. The more you progress in your studies, the more time you will spend on clinical rotations.

Some classes are easy to understand, while others require a little effort to grasp. You must pay attention in class even if you can study for a week on your own. Lectures have been through what you are currently going through, so they have tons of knowledge and expertise to guide you. They will also be likely among those who set exams, so paying attention to their teachings and instructions will benefit you.

Make sure you also ask questions about topics you don't understand or if you need clarification on something. Lecturers are there to help you because they don't expect you to know everything.

Get the Necessary Nursing Supplies

Certain things you must have when joining a nursing school are not needed in other programs. These items fall into different categories:

For class, you will need general items like laptops, a backpack, an iPad, writing materials, and binders.

Clothes

All nursing students wear uniforms specified by the nursing school. Check your school policy for what types of clothes are needed. Some common clothes are Tees, scrubs, comprehension socks, and shoes.

Clinicals

When going for rotations, you will need items like:

Stethoscope tag, stethoscope, bandage, scissors, penlight, watch, and liquid bandage, among others.

All these supplies will be crucial in helping you navigate nursing school seamlessly. For example, you don't want to miss clinical rotations because you don't have the right nursing gear or fail to understand a topic because of a lack of reading materials.

Find a Mentor

Succeeding as a nursing student doesn't have to be an individual journey. Find someone dependable in your field of study to guide you through. A nurse, for instance, is perfect for this since they have been through what you are currently going through and are aware of things to do and not to do to succeed. When you have someone dependable as a mentor, you will have peace of mind even when things become challenging.

Conclusion

Like other college programs, nursing programs are challenging to navigate without the right tools and guidance. We have seen many nursing students drop out, pause their studies, and struggle through intense nursing school.

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You are studying for exams, want to maintain good grades, must attend clinical rotations, and have your personal life to live and manage. If you are not charged enough, you could end up losing it. But nursing being the noble course it is if you use the tips highlighted in this article you are bound to scale up your studies and excel in nursing school.

In a nutshell, succeeding in nursing school requires resilience, time management, self-care, organization and planning, and consistency.

In an age when we have an acute nursing shortage almost globally, encouraging yourself through nursing school is in itself a promise for a better future for humanity. Whether you are preparing for the first year of nursing school, planning to resume, or returning to school at an older age, these tips will come in handy.

We wish you all the best as you walk your journey through nursing school and hope you complete your nursing program successfully.

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