How to Survive (and Thrive) in Nursing School - page 6

by 86toronado 76,454 Views | 70 Comments

as a new(ish) nurse, i still like to browse through the "student nurse" section of allnurses.com from time to time. what constantly strikes me is that i see the same questions and concerns over and over again. "i'm failing, and... Read More


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    What is the big test like?
  2. 1
    great info. thanks for sharing…i will be using all of these helpful tips!!
    86toronado likes this.
  3. 1
    thanks for sharing these tips =)
    86toronado likes this.
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    thank you so much for this article. i am pre-nursing, still doing pre-reqs and hope to be getting into the program for fall 2012. i often wondered how i'd be able to manage the time consuming nursing program on top of my family and every day life. but with your great advice and knowledge i have a little bit more understanding as to how i will manage. thank you so much again for this article, its at the top of my favorites list.
    86toronado likes this.
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    Good article. I agree especially about the NCLEX and questions early -- and also don't get totally bummed if you don't do great in Fundamentals...to me, that was the absolute hardest class because it was abstract and because my background was NOT nursing. Once we got to the "harder" stuff related to diseases and disorders and applied nursing, I was at the top of my class. I credit doing about 8 billion NCLEX questions after fundamentals class with part of that change -- once you learn how they are written and start to see patterns in how they are answered, you can game them out a little better. I always told students I tutored not to get totally down on themselves for getting a B- or a C+ in fundamentals. Also, I started 3rd semester a sheet on every disease we learned about. On it was:

    Pathophysiology of disease:
    Signs/symptoms:
    Expected labs or diagnostic tests:
    Nursing diagnosis:
    Nursing interventions:
    Pharmacological interventions:
    Surgical interventions:
    Complications:
    Pt. teaching:

    That REALLY helped me nail down what I needed to know for exams. I tend to over-study, so this is helpful to me.

    One thing I disagree with is the support course recommendation you shared. I was one of a few of students who was accepted into clinicals/nursing before taking A&P I and II, microbiology, psychology, etc. It was very difficult to take the first three semesters of nursing school at the same time as these courses, but those of us who did scored higher in nursing classes because the stuff was fresh in our mind -- we were learning about the physiology of the endocrine system in A&P right before we learned about nursing interventions for endocrine disorders. We took psych and child psych right before we had nursing psych class and peds rotations. So I think it depends on how much time you have and how you learn.

    I don't have a job (I do volunteer in the medical field -- if you can't work, or don't want to, VOLUNTEER and get time in), so I do have a little more time than many of my classmates I think. I ate, breathed, slept nursing and A&P and micro the first year, but that for me was a very good decision -- those who had taken A&P a year prior had forgotten everything by the time we got to it in nursing school.

    I think it is also important to point out that balance is very important. I'm a bit of an obsessive studier, and I'm not the only one in my class who has had significant problems at home related to lack of time to spend with friends, family, etc. There are some days in my final days of nursing school that I have opted to study a little less, get a B instead of a 97%, and spend some time with friends to keep my head on straight and maintain a support system that I know is very important to me. I wish I had done more of that earlier.

    Edit: Also, DEFINITELY research the school you go to before you go!! Do you need to pass the HESI or ATI with a 95% or some other ridiculous %? How many of the students who enroll 1st semester actually graduate? What happens if you fail a course halfway through the program -- do they kick you out? What is their NCLEX pass rate? What is their retention rate? Obviously there are + and - points for each school, but make sure before you enroll that you're okay with their policies and rules! I was so happy to get accepted that I didn't pay much attention and kinda regret that a little. I have a MA in another area, and am very comfortable in the world of universities, but even I was not prepared for how different nursing school was.
    Last edit by manchmal on Jul 15, '11 : Reason: addendum
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    This article is amazing! Thank you so much!
    86toronado likes this.
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    Absolutely fantastic article. If there was an award show, I'd nominate it for sure.

    Quick question.

    If someone is unable to get their CNA license before they start school, what other kind of part time work would you recommend for a student that is in school?

    I totally agree with getting a foot in the door as soon as possible, but if it's not an actual nursing job, is it worth it?
    86toronado likes this.
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    Also look at the curriculum, the clinical schedule, and how all of that is laid out and orchestrated. The colleges and universities are usually following a block curriculum and "industry-standard" sequence of topics. But there are some diploma programs and private schools out there that have their own custom-designed "integrated" curriculum built around their facilities. I just had a really negative 1-year experience with one of those, and I'd have to completely start over at any college or U, because none of my diploma school transfers.

    I knew that diploma school work would not transfer. I expected to love the school and be very successful at it, so what the heck. The part that I didn't know, going into it, lol, is first of all that there even is an integrated curriculum (thought all nursing schools teach block), and second, that "integrated" can be any arrangement of content, in any order, so long as the school gets that program approved by their state board.

    Block seems designed to facilitate learning. Integrated seems to be built around efficient and strategic use of a school's or hospital's facilities, not efficient learning.
    86toronado likes this.
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    "Don't do the reading. Okay, I don't really mean that. What I mean is if you have time to read 500+ pages a week, by all means do so, but if you don't here are some tips:
    What you really need to get out of the reading are the nursing responsibilities. While it's great to know the in depth pathophysiology of the diseases you are studying, you are going to nursing school, not medical school. The things you will be tested on are the nursing diagnosis(s) associated with the disease, the nursing interventions, and the patient education required."


    Ahhh geez.

    You will be able to come up with the nursing issues, interventions and education if you already know the pathophys behind the disease. It'll be easier to critically think out a bad situation if you learn from cause to effect to intervention. If you recite nursing diagnosis but don't understand why, you will look like fool on the unit. If you study for your future patients instead of the NCLEX the hours are shorter and the material more meaningful.

    Pick your program according to the amount of clinical time you get. That's where the real learning occurs. Then expect to spend time looking up all the situations you see in the real world. No one will ask you about how this patient relates to that theory in real life.
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    Quote from Loque
    Absolutely fantastic article. If there was an award show, I'd nominate it for sure.

    Quick question.

    If someone is unable to get their CNA license before they start school, what other kind of part time work would you recommend for a student that is in school?

    I totally agree with getting a foot in the door as soon as possible, but if it's not an actual nursing job, is it worth it?
    I started out as a unit clerk, and in some ways I think it was more beneficial than being a CNA, because I read the physician's orders for every patient on my unit and therefore got a really good idea of what sort of medical interventions to expect for various diagnoses. For instance before we ever covered CHF in nursing school, I knew that chest x-ray and Lasix would be ordered if it was suspected.


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