Organization for Nursing School

  1. 1
    Hi everyone!

    I have a somewhat general, and borderline dumb question; but, how did all of you organize your materials during school?

    Do you suggest I have one binder with dividers per class, including clinical? etc, etc...

    I just want to be prepared, and I know organization is going to be key to success during the next two years.

    Just wondering what everyone's opinion is before I go out and buy supplies I don't need, or skimp on those that I do!

    Thanks!
    quirkyvanilla likes this.
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  3. 14 Comments so far...

  4. 5
    I would call myself a fairly organized person with some OCD tendencies. I think the organizational strategy to use depends on your classes.; however, there are some guidelines every person should use including:

    - Binders with some sort of divider (use colors if you like)... use the tab dividers to divide up the chapters/systems (i.e. sensory, neurological, cardiac, respiratory, or renal). This is particularly useful when using PPTs (note that some PPTs in some school have notes written on the bottom of the screen when you open powerpoint and they are usually pretty useful so just look into it!).

    - Post it notes are good for jotting down quick notes and ideas. I do this all the time for projects and when I have ideas for them and when a teacher asks something in class I did not understand or forgot to ask... I write it down and use for reference later.

    - I use binder clips alot (those big black ones) to hold together my files as when I go to school I usually have my file folder, textbook, and maybe a small notebook for some notes (but I usually write directly on my PPTs).

    - ***One organizational method I found particularly useful is writing in different colors. Whatever the teacher says in class I jot down in red pen... notes I write from my textbook and elsewhere is written in blue. Sometimes I use green specifically for diagnostic information. You will find that each subject has some time of organization like my medical surgical book: pathophysiology, diagnostic values, treatments, and nursing collaborative care. All subjects will divided up somehow... use that to your advantage.

    - Highlighters are a given honestly... buy a couple but know that I usually only use yellow and pink for easy visibility while some other colors are a little difficult to see through.

    - Other than that the rest of your supplies should be textbooks and supplements.

    - Some people in my class have elected to tape record lectures (of course with teacher permission) and re-listen to them later.

    - My clinicals I bought a clipboard for that can hold a couple papers inside (usually SBARS, blank care plans, and evaluation drafts) and that is sufficient for my clinical site. Some supplementary things to bring to clinical include the clinical companion books that often accompany many textbooks. Some things like vital sign ranges, standard/air/droplet/contact precaution facts are useful. I also usually carry some supplies from the hospital itself to my patient's room such as alcohol wipes, gauzes, and my penlight.

    That is all I can think of for now. I have more supplies for when I am archiving the class's notes when I finish with them such as including sheet protectors and such but that is for another post.
  5. 4
    I use a single subject notebook for each class, and I have a folder for each. I debated on binders, but I've always been rough with binders. Papers would fall out or rip. I like that in using a notebook, everything is just "there". For me, it's easier to save notes if they are in a notebook vs binders. But some people like binders and it works for them. Just preference I guess. What did you use before with school?

    I have also seen some people get 5 subject notebooks and they will use it for all their med surg classes (we have 4) to make sure all the information was in one place.

    I just think it's preference. You have to find what works for you. I think some people would benefit from using different color pens, but it wouldn't work for me. I don't even use hilighters, because my issue has always been summarizing. Sometimes I feel like "everything" is important, and I could easily hilight 80% of the page- which would be pointless. When I study, I tend to reread the chapters a few times vs just looking at what's hilighted.

    Good luck with everything and don't stress! Everything will come to you.
  6. 0
    Loved the tip about writing down what the instructor says in one color & then your personal notes another color, thank you!
  7. 0
    Sorin- your tips sound really helpful. Would you post any other tips you can think of? I am nervous about the tremendous amount of information and would love any tips you have on keeping it streamlined! Thanks!
  8. 2
    The first and biggest step you can take is organizing your notes per chapter/system. If you could tell me the type of classes you are taking ENic I can offer course-specific tips. You eventually find your own way and that is really what everyone should do. What works for some doesn't work for others.

    I should also emphasize the use of highlighters in that some people tend to highlight the entire book at that point. When taking notes of any sort in nursing school the goal is to highlight the most important information. Medical surgical nursing is the greatest example of this. Everybody needs to get into the habit of finding that information. When I began class I basically wrote notes on everything... that was a waste and it reflected off my first med-surg exam. I would love to know everything but I can't... so what do you do next... you try to pick out the most important info. That is why I suggest using different colored pens for what the teacher says and your notes. You can compare and facilitate your own critical thinking outside of class with just the difference of two colors (I use red and blue). Class honestly should be refocusing what your exams are going to be on while reading is just sweeping up the bulk of the info.
    pthelper777 and quirkyvanilla like this.
  9. 2
    It's already been said, but I'll say it again, you have to find what works best for you. I am starting my nursing classes in the fall as well, but I have developed my organization and note-taking during my pre-nursing classes. Hopefully I will just have to tweak a bit here and there for nursing school. Here is what I do:

    -I keep one big binder with pocket dividers and one big notebook where I take all of my notes (for me, I can't have multiple folders and notebooks because I will end up forgetting something. It's easier for me to have the least amount of stuff to keep up with.)
    -Because I keep one notebook I label and date every page of notes. My notes are well organized, to the point and written in outline form IN CLASS. Otherwise, I won't have a clue what I was supposed to take away from the class.
    -At the end of each day I take my notes from that day along with any handouts and ppts for that material and put them in my binder under the correct divider, chronologically.
    -I do use highlighters, but each color means something. (i.e. yellow= things I want to put on note cards, pink= things that I want to look up or get a better understanding of, etc.)
    -If you learn well with note cards get a note card filing box (or one for each class). I'm a big card person, but my note card collection can get a bit out of hand if they don't have a home.
    -I have one calendar for everything (work, school, social).

    My system isn't rocket surgery, but it works for me and I always know where all of my stuff is (except for the occasional note card stack that finds its way under my car seat).

    I hope that helps. Good luck!
    SumSum2013 and quirkyvanilla like this.
  10. 0
    Thanks to everyone for your helpful tips. I have always been very organized, and I do have my preferences, however, I feel like in nursing school they will need to change. Sorin - I am taking Patho/Pharm combined, health assessment and lab, Fundementals and lab and a clinical. Any course specific tips you can offer?
  11. 0
    I'm not big on binders, only because my bag is usually stuffed with other things. I do my notes on the power points, and keep them together by tests. So all of test 1 is together in a file folder clamped with a big binder clip. When I am done with the test then I put it in a binder and keep it on my book shelf. I like the Find It back pack folders because they open at the top instead of sideways. Oh, I also use the little Post It notes, I forget the name, but the small rectangle ones to mark spots in books. I have the ones that are 5 colors, and I use 1 color per test. So all of 1st test info in the book is in pink, and so on. I even put ones in the front with what test they correspond to so I could remember when finals came*L*. I use highlighters during lecture in my book when the teacher says something is important to know, then a post it next to it! i also use different colored pens for different things on my notes. Like lab values are usually one color, important notes are another, and so on.

    Amazon.com: Pastel Colored Three Tab Backpack Folders: Everything Else these are the folders I use. You can find them cheaper than that though!

    Amazon.com: Post-it Flags, 1/2 inch, Assorted Bright Colors, One Dispenser of 100 Flags: Office Products And these are the post it things. Again, cheaper elsewhere!
  12. 0
    I had a trapper. Kept EVERYTHING in it - notes, handouts, syllabus, etc. Calendar in the front, extra paper in the back. Bulky yes, but I knew if I had my trapper with me, I had everything I needed for class. Each class had a section (divided by tabbed dividers) and I used post its to flag important papers. Took me a semester to finally decide that was what worked for me.

    For clinicals, I had a clipboard with storage underneath it. All of my clinical paperwork went in there.


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