Hello, could anyone help me with my first semester of nursing school?

  1. I am soooo depressed because as much as I am studying, I'm not making really good grades. I use index cards because they've worked for me in the past. I just don't know if I'm studying wrong or what. A lot of my class mates said they don't use index cards because it takes too much time. But, I've never studied without them! So, I guess what I really need is some advice on how you all studied. What worked for you? Also, I know for a fact I study more than some other people and they are making great grades. Maybe I study tooo much.
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  2. 26 Comments

  3. by   dolphn545
    I never used index cards, but what has helped me is to rewrite my notes. Especially if its' a powerpoint that the instructor hands out, then I definitely need to rewrite them.

    Other than that, just read over your notes on a nightly basis. If your books came with any study guides or practice questions, use them as well.
  4. by   TazziRN
    Index cards worked for me, but it's not for everyone. Rewriting is a good idea. Have you tried a study group?

    I don't think there's such a thing as studying too much, except for the loss of your free time. You need to take breaks from studying just to keep your sanity.
  5. by   Natkat
    I don't use index cards either. I also found them too time-consuming and I wasn't benefitting from the results. They worked for me in other classes, but not nursing.

    Focus on nursing process - for whatever condition you are studying focus on what you will assess about the problem. What signs and symptoms will you see? Have a good understanding about the pathophysiology of the problem, but don't get too detailed because those things wont' be asked on the test. Knowing them will help you understand the "why" of something rather than the "what". That is how the questions will be framed. Within signs and symptoms learn the difference between an early sign versus a late sign. For example: Malignant hyperthermia will have a rise in temperature as a LATE sign. An early sign is increased blood pressure. Make sure you read the question and see if it asks you to choose a late sign or an early sign.

    Look in your text for what diagnoses are usually associated with that particular disease process. Next, look at interventions. Focus on what you as a nurse will do versus what a doctor will do. Within interventions, look at what you will do FIRST! Often the question will ask what is the best FIRST intervention. It might be something as simple as repositioning the patient or a piece of equipment.

    Learn what you would teach a patient about their treatment. Questions will often ask you to choose which statement by the patient indicates that they need more teaching.

    Know when to call the doctor and when not to. Know what actions that you as a nurse can do versus what needs a doctor's order. Know side effects of treatment so you will know whether or not you will document the finding or take some sort of action.

    If there is a medication mentioned in your lecture, study that med. Learn what it is, how it works and typical side effects. Know what you must do before administering the med. For example: know that before you give digoxin you must take the patient's blood pressure. Before you give Lovenox you must have check the patient's INR. Steroids can cause a rise in glucose and can increase the patient's risk for infection.

    Bottom line: It's not memorize and regurgitate as it was when you took pre-regs. It is thinking about the whole process and putting the pieces together.

    Sorry this is so long, but there is one more thing. I sometimes make a chart for myself that highlights the difference of one process versus another. For example I just made a chart that points out the difference between hyponatremia, hypernatremia, hypokalemia and hyperkalemia. I couldn't keep the details straight in my mind because some of the symptoms are the same, and because I can't remember that many details. Once I made the chart and could visualize the differences it was easier to remember.

    Hope that helps!
  6. by   megananne7
    I found a lot of the pre-reqs I had to take were very cut and dry. Meaning, this body part does this because of this. In nursing, it's this body part does this because of this, but what should you do first?
  7. by   emtb2rn
    You may need to modify how you study nursing. It's different than anything I did in liberal arts/business undergrad and grad work. Here's how I approached it:

    1) don't expect to learn EVERYTHING, there's simply too much.
    2) review your notes from class that day. You don't have to try to memorize them, simply re-read them to reinforce the days lecture.
    3) understand the concepts from an A&P perspective (I never took pathophysiology, so this might be it). If you know how the body works, you can understand how/why an illness or disease will affect the patient. This applies to pharmacology as well.
    4) take breaks! I try not to study for more than 40 minutes at a time. Get up, go to the bathroom, play with the cat, get some water and then back to the books.
    5) get an NCLEX review. I use the Davis NCLEX-RN Success package loaded onto my laptop. It has over 1,300 questions. I build tests of anywhere from 10-100 questions and it really helps. You not only learn nursing theory but you also hone your test taking skills.

    With this approach, I've maintained a 93 average in nursing theory and a 99 average in pharmacology during my 1st 2 semesters. I study maybe 90 minutes a day 3-4 days a week.

    Hope this helps.
  8. by   suzanne in hawaii
    Hi- the Lippincott's review for NCLEX was VERY helpful for me in nursing school. It has sections for psych, maternity, pediatric, and adult medical surgical health problems. There are scenarios are given, and then multiple choice options with explanations for the correct and incorrect answers. For example, the client with a fracture.... the questions out of this book will be similar, if not the same ones, that you will be tested on. Try it!
  9. by   classicdame
    Have you ever identified the type learner you are? Go online to find self-tests about learning styles. You especially want one that gives you help on how each type should study. For instance, tactile learners do well with computer keys and writing. Visual learners do well with reading. Audio by earing. We are a mix of all styles depending on circumstance, but prefer one over another. If nothing else the advice will provide options. Maybe you need a study partner or group?
  10. by   violet2107
    I have found that writing note cards are a waste of time. This is precious time that could be better used.
    I study my notes and read the assigned chapters - highlighting important points - and following the instructor's advice as to how to study for exams..... make very good grades.
    Talk to the instructor and follow the advice she/he gives.
    Last edit by violet2107 on Apr 24, '07
  11. by   Soup Turtle
    I used to love note cards, too, but they aren't as useful in my first semester of nursing because they focus on details and the test questions focus on a bigger picture. The thing that's been the most helpful to me, believe it or not, is to actually read the book. I didn't even buy books for many of my pre nursing classes. The NCLEX style questions are also great to practice with.
  12. by   CametoitlateTexan
    Take as many NCLEX style questions as you can. Nursing school tests are about the process, critical thinking, evidence-based, etc. Not about regurgitating info.
  13. by   purple1953reading
    As a student, I took very detailed notes, and always listened and asked any questions during class. I even found a question on our pharmacy test,(pre printed national test) that could not be answered by any of the answers listed. I spent along time going back and forth to it, and finally wrote the answers on a scrap paper, and afterwards went to the instructor, who said maybe we weren't doing it right, and two others later, I was right. NOBODY else found it in a class of 243. I reviewed my notes, and just rewrote those I did NOT know, so I could focus on them. When I read a question, I form the answer in my mind, before I read the printed answers, and that way looked for the answer as I knew it, and tried to avoid some of the others, so as not to confuse myself, by saying It could be this, but this might be right also. In addition, we were told to pro rate as to which is the most important answer, or first intervention. All confusing. BUT if you answer it before looking at the offered answers, it helps alot. Many others used Nclex answers. Best of luck, hope you find something to work for you.
  14. by   Lisa CCU RN
    You know, I never understood nor used notecards. I just read my book before class and then take notes in class and reread after class.

    I can get a B if I don't read before class, but if I do all three steps, I pull an A.

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