Med-Surg & Pharm for the THIRD time.

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    Ok, so I'm kind of embarrassed about this, since before this fork in the road, I'd do whatever work I have to do with my nursing classes, pass, and it'd be on to the next one. I'm taking Med-Surg & Pharm for the third time. I'm kind of nervous about it because I really need to pass both of these classes, so I can finally move on to the spring semester. Last semester, I was off by a couple of points to pass in both classes. It really sucked because I worked so hard! I got together with a classmate of mine, multiple times during the week. We'd even do Skype sometimes to review things. I'm half way there to graduating, but there seems to be something that I'm apparently doing wrong and I don't know what to do. I'm really aiming to get at least a 'B' or higher in both classes. From what I've heard, they'll require me to do that anyway. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
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    avoid the computer and skyping when you study. seriously. it activates different parts of your brain, and your brain seeks excitement, rewards, and novelty (and is used to getting it when you are online) so you can't concentrate and consolidate what you just read.

    read. like books, journals, monographs. reinforce those parts of your brain by writing, with a pen and paper, information, key points, reminders and the like in a neat outline form. keyboarding, again, activates a different part of your brain that is not as effective at consolidating memory. rework the outline when you're done so it makes sense, because the first time you do it, it will look like {xxxx} and not be of any use to you.

    this process will make the information stay in your brain so much better. you have to retrain it to learn. third time? what do you have to lose by doing it differently? really.
    on eagles wings likes this.
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    That makes total sense. I will definitely try that. Thank you GrnTea for replying!
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    I second what GrnTea said. I've done this this semester and notice that I am making higher grades. I used to hate printing powerpoints and writing on them but I make myself write everything in complete sentences, then I teach the information to someone else or read it outloud.

    I like typing and making my notes all perfect and organized but it takes too much time and I realize I lose more time. And I type a whopping 70 wpm so I am not slow, lol.

    Also, I do better when studying by myself. I get too distracted with other people. So find a nice hole with good lighting and put on your ear plugs. Read your chapters before going to class, if possible, or at least read the summary at the end of the chapters. Then after class, make your notes.

    Good luck!!! Let us know how you are doing!
    GrnTea likes this.
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    Thank you on eagle wings! I will definitely let you all know!
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    I'm another who will say that you should try the OPPOSITE of what you were doing to study -- it obviously isn't working for you the way you have been doing it.

    I would also recommend that you get some academic counseling from someone in the nursing department. You need to figure out WHAT you're having problems with and what you can do to work around that problem. Because if you don't fix what's wrong, you're going to struggle with every subsequent class the same way you're struggling with these -- nursing classes are all pretty similar in the way they are set up and the types of questions that are on the exams.

    For example, do you have trouble learning the diseases? Maybe try reading the same chapter from a different textbook to see if it makes more sense (one semester our book was a real snooze-fest... all the information was factual, but it would put you to sleep if you tried to read it!). Different authors have a different approach to things, so reading the same info in a different book might be enough for you.

    Or do you have trouble remembering the nursing interventions that go along with a disease? Maybe write them out longhand, then type them up, then write them out on a whiteboard in the room where you study. Make flashcards to carry with you (or to download onto your phone). Come up with mnemonics to help you remember them. Put them in a rhyme. Sing them in a song.

    Or do you have trouble "reading" the questions on the tests? This inability to read the critical-thinking format is the biggest problem that I see with my classmates, to tell you the truth. You need to be able to find the stem of the question and work from there. There are several books that help with this. This one is just an example, there are several others out there as well. Another thing that can help with this problem is to read NCLEX review books that have both questions and rationales in them. It's not enough to just know that "C was the correct answer" -- you need something that says, "A is incorrect because _________ and B is incorrect because _______ and C is correct because ___________ and D is incorrect because _________". This helps you to look back at the question again to analyze what exactly they were asking for.

    I've found that nursing exam questions typically offer up four items from which to choose, and two are easy to throw out as being totally wrong, then there are two others that both seem correct. Reading the rationales in a book of NCLEX questions can help you to discern which of the two correct answers is "most correct".

    But first, you NEED to figure out what exactly it is that you're not getting and figure out a way to get beyond that issue. Use the resources that are available at your school -- I guarantee you that the nursing instructors have helped hundreds before you and have a lot of valuable information to share with you.
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    Hi xObabytiggerr, I have some tried-and-true suggestions that have worked for me throughout my nursing program. I have a good GPA, pass everything, and passed the HESI on first try with no extra studying or books. Here is what I do:
    1. Stay away from the computer! I go to each class with an old fashioned notebook and pen. I write down every word the professor says and hawkishly listen. One or two days later, I type up all of my handwritten notes into a word file. Listening, repetition, and putting the material into your own words are key.
    2. Do practice questions in the Saunders nclex review book and ATI (if your school provides it, but rely more on Saunders than ATI. DO NOT buy ATI yourself- it's not that great).
    3. In downtime at your clinical, look up particular meds or disease processes that will be on your tests. See how up-to-date and lexicomp describe them. Often times, these sources do a great job summarizing the most important things you need to know. Your patient is on Dilantin? Do a thorough assessment of the oral cavity and make sure a recent serum level was drawn. Both of those things should be mentioned in lexicomp.
    4. Record lectures in MP3 format and listen to them while commuting, working out, cleaning your apartment, anytime really.
    Most importantly, meet with your teachers to find out how you're missing the answers. Are you picking the wrong one, after narrowing down to two possible answers? Changing your answers last minute? They should be able to tell you. I hope my strategies help you. I have noticed that the people who sit on their phones or facebook during class tend to be the ones who do poorly. Also, there is no way around honest, hard work. I told a friend of mine who failed Med Surg I that he will be that much better off later, with extra time to absorb the material again. And he is doing great on the repeat try! Best of luck to you


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    Thank you Brillohead and BostonStudentNurse for your replies!

    I forgot to include in my post that I'm pretty good at learning the material, it's just that it's so much information to learn in such little time. They say that we don't have that kind of time to learn everything, but they expect us to know pretty much everything.

    Also, Brillohead, answering some of the questions on the exam is one of the issues for me. The teachers have told me about looking at the stem and process of elimination, which improved my grades last semester, compared to the first time I took it.

    BostonStudentNurse, I actually do have that NCLEX book that you posted the link for. I never really got the chance to see how it works because I found out about towards the end of the semester. I was thinking that I should maybe buy another NCLEX book and practice, along with that one?
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    These are all fabulous suggestions! I totally agree with GrnTea. Write, write, write! I used to mane little fact sheets on each topic. For instance, if I were learning about Pancreatitis I would take one or two sheets of paper. On one side of the paper I would just make bullet points of facts about the dx, taking from my text book and an NCLEX style book.

    Next, I would flip the sheet over and divide the paper on 4 blocks. In one block I would list s/s of the disease and maybe a bit about the patho. In the next block I would list the diagnostic tests pivotal to the disease and any important nursing interventions to go with it. In the third block, I would list the medications that were important with the side effects. In the fourth block I would list any important nursing interventions or teachings relevant to the disease.

    Try to keep these fact sheets between 1 to 2 pages. 3 if it's a big topic.

    These are perfect if you have cumulative finals, as you have all the important info weeded out. I would also take my fact sheets and make up my own fill in the blank tests with them, just to help me with the basics. I'd have my bf read them to me and I would answer them. The writing and recall is a double whammy!

    I would also do practice questions relating to the material we were learning. Lipincott, Saunders, and the Lapland banks all worked.

    I really wish I did this routine my first year. I didn't think of it until my second year and my letter grade went up when I utilized this.

    Be creative!
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    Sorry for the atrocious typos. I am on my kindle and it won't let me edit!


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