Preparing for 1st Semester of Nursing School - page 4

by RonnieDita | 18,515 Views | 42 Comments

I was hoping current nursing students, former nursing students, and future nursing students could all contribute to this thread. I wanted to have everyone write lists of the top 10 items you need for school. I know everyone has... Read More


  1. 5
    I'm not in nursing school yet, and I too start in the fall like so many of you. I have been reading/researching these types of threads for about the last month and here's some things I found that I definitely want to adopt:

    1. A planner that works for me. I went to Office Depot and looked through every type of planner (big, small, etc.) to find one that will be perfect for putting my entire life in for the next 3 years.

    2. Start an exercise regime. NOW. Everywhere I've looked, I've been told the benefits of exercising during school (even if it's broken up into 3x 10min intervals a day) for stress, sleep, health, handling the stamina of clinicals at the hospital, etc.

    3. The motto: Take It One Day At A Time. Nursing school is overwhelming by nature so remembering to take it slowly and breathe will probably do wonders.

    4. Read before class as much as possible. For me I know this will help really understand lectures.

    5. Invest in a great pair of shoes. Being on your feet for long periods of time during clinicals puts a lot of stress on your feet and can effect other parts of your body like your lower back. It's important to do everything you can to take care of your body.

    6. Show respect to everyone, even if you can't stand them.

    7. Learn to manage your time wisely now and stop the bad habit of procrastination-it will only add unnecessary stress and risk your grade.

    8. Invest in Starbucks or invest in a coffee pot/espresso maker you love. Caffeine will most likely be one of your new best friends.

    9. Learn to read critically now so it will do wonders when you are stuck with 10 million chapters of reading every week in the future.

    10. Sleep and take breaks from nursing school to recharge and to prevent getting burnt out.

    Those were the top ones I read. One I do like that I never thought about was getting your house in order while you have time: organize, purge, deep clean, etc. Oh and practicing cooking simple meals quickly and freezing large batches for crazy nights!
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    Btw, if anyone is down, it'd be fun to start a new thread later regarding everyone's first day, experiences, etc since many of us are starting this fall.
    MrsRNtrisha, kmcjon, RNintraining72, and 3 others like this.
  3. 3
    Quote from staceym
    4. Read before class as much as possible. For me I know this will help really understand lectures.
    Keeping in mind that for a lot of people, "as much as possible" may mean not at all or only very quick skimming of lecture slides before the lecture. I'm guessing that more than 50% of accelerated 2nd degree program students that I've spoken with do almost no reading (I actually think the number is much higher than that -- more like 80 or 90 percent). That's not to say that never read, but it's often in response to lecture materials that need clarification, not in preparation for lectures, as there simply isn't enough time when doing everything double speed. (I'm not really sure how much this applies to traditional students.)

    I know that for my pre-reqs, if I was given a choice between pre-reading and spending more time learning the material pretty much just as soon as lecture was done, I always chose learning the material. If something from lecture was unclear, I would clarify just that section by reading. Some of my pre-reqs moved at a pace that it was impossible for my classmates who were readers to keep up and their grades suffered because they spent too much time reading (without enough time for learning/memorizing).

    Everybody's situation is different, from what type of program you're in to the specifics of your personal life, so I'm not sharing my experience to be contradictory to the people who stress the importance of reading before class. For those who CAN do all of the reading AND have enough time to learn all the material, I'm jealous! But if you're pressed for time whatever the circumstances, I'd recommend making reading a secondary goal to learning the material as you go.
    Junebug903, Sweetlillove, and Shorty11 like this.
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    1. An organizer...first and foremost. Long nights of studying + early clinical mornings = lack of sleep which makes you forgetful.

    2. Decent stethoscope....dont buy the $300 one, someone may run off with it. But buy a decent brand (ie Littman), who has reasonably priced ones.

    3. Nursing kit....includes pen light and scissors

    4. RN Notes Clinical Pocket guide - Amazon.com: RNotes®: Nurse's Clinical Pocket Guide (9780803623132): Ehren Myers: Books

    5. Mosby's Pharmacology Note Cards (even if you arent taking pharm first semester, review the drugs your patients are getting during first semester, it will help you put things together) - Amazon.com: Mosby's Pharmacology Memory NoteCards: Visual, Mnemonic, and Memory Aids for Nurses, 3e (9780323078009): JoAnn Zerwekh MSN EdD RN, Jo Carol Claborn MS RN, Tom Gaglione MSN RN: Books

    6. Good pens (watch the inky pens....my white uniform got demolished this semester by one of those damn things)

    7. Some people recommend a small note pad or clip board for clinicals but I honestly I worked the same way the nurses on the floor I was on did. Took a blank sheet of paper each day, folded it into four and had one patient on each fold. Its light and easy to keep in your pocket.

    8. Willingness. Nothing is more important to the nurses you will be working with than the willingness of the student to work and jump in. Be engaging and ask to do things, don't just shadow. You only learn by doing, so be active and get in there. I know some can be intimidating, but remember they were you at one point.

    9. Good attitude. Nursing school will be the hardest thing you ever do and the only sure fire way to get through it is a good attitude, towards your patients, your teachers, and especially your class mates.

    10. A good support system. Aside from your loved ones remember that your classmates are pretty much going to be your family for the next two to three years. Make use of them, be there for each other, help each other, and utilize your resources.

    Good luck! I laughed and cried my way through the last six months of my life (my 1st semester).

    And one more thing......remember to give yourself a break. Go out once in a while, see a movie, have a nice dinner. Keep your sanity!
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    1. LOTS of time. Your first semester of nursing school will likely be overwhelming due to you not being used to the time requirements. Tell your families, boyfriends, community service groups, etc. to be prepared to be ignored for a while. That being said, make sure you do take time for yourself every once in a while.

    2. TED's. I think someone already said this, but TED hose to wear under your socks at clinicals work wonders.

    3. Stethoscope. In many schools' nursing kits, there is a crappy double lumen stethoscope that you can't hear jack through. In my opinion, go on Amazon and buy a lightweight Littman for like 50 bucks. They're wonderful.

    4. Penlight. Be prepared to be scolded by your teachers when you need to do neuro checks and you don't have your penlight.

    5. Scissors. Again, scolded by teachers.

    6. Good shoes. When you are running your butt off for 8-12 hours in clinicals, good shoes can be the difference between a good and bad day.

    7. BLACK pens. These are the only writing utensils that are allowed legally. You will SERIOUSLY be in trouble if you don't have one of these or if you try writing in a chart with blue pens.

    8. a good backpack. Books are HEAVY in nursing school. Don't skimp on the backpack.

    9. A concept map book. Concept maps are soul sucking assignments and having one off these books is a tremendous help.

    10. Clipboard. Small and something you can carry into patient rooms to write things doen on. Some have a built in calculator (I would reccommend this).
    Junebug903 likes this.
  6. 0
    Quote from EmilyP8589
    9. A concept map book. Concept maps are soul sucking assignments and having one off these books is a tremendous help.
    Some friends in other nursing programs don't have to do concept maps, just regular ol' care plans, so check to see what your particular school does before you get a concept mapping book. (My instructor recommended Schuster's but most people in the cohorts ahead of me said they didn't find it helpful. We'll see what I think this fall when I have to start doing them.)
  7. 1
    Quote from sebig001
    What is the name of this little notecard book with medications? lol
    I was at B&N tonight and saw this little book that seemed a likely candidate for what amarinez26 meant (though obviously I don't know). It was definitely a convenient "pocket-size" and seemed to have reasonably complete drug info (a mini drug guide just as the title suggests) -- for the drugs it included. I suspect it has the same types of problems the most drug card sets have, where not every drug you want is going to be in there and your definition of "commonly used" may not match the author's.

    Delmar's Mini Guide to the Most Commonly Used Drugs

    (Other noteworthy facts -- publication date is 2010. There's a 2012 Delmar "handbook" too that was not so pocket friendly but may have been more complete.) I thought it was interesting enough to be worth a mention if you're going to be at a Barnes & Noble in the near future, you might want to check it out.


    I tried to find the Med Notes to see if that looked like it might be what amarinez26 meant, but my store didn't have that particular title from the Davis Notes series in stock. (I really like the RNotes and I'm starting to like the Lab Notes for its portability, though it's not as complete as the diagnostic/lab test manual I was requied to purchase. Since I like those two, I thought Med Notes might appeal too.)

    The other drug "notecard book" that I saw was the pharmacology version of the Mosby Memory Notecards series. I don't think I would have described it as a "notecard book with medications" that would be a "must have" item for school/clinicals. It has some clever mnemonic devices in it and has a reasonable amount of info on a variety of drug classes, but I would rate it fairly low on the list of supplementals if your funds are limited (though the noteCARD version is significantly better than the noteBOOK version in my opinion). A lot of the most useful mnemonics/info is available on the internet for free. If it sounds interesting, I'd recommend checking it out in person before you spend the money
    Junebug903 likes this.
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    Here's a simple list of things to consider. Most are common-sense, but ya never know!

    1. CALENDAR - Get either a datebook or wall-calendar that you can write down assignment due-dates/clinical times/test-dates/etc. Your calendar just may become your lifeline. I know mine did.
    2. READ AHEAD - It doesn't help if you're JUST learning the material when the teacher is only skimming through a powerpoint.
    3. ASK QUESTIONS - If you don't understand something, don't be afraid to clarify.
    4. COFFEE - If I didn't have my coffee, I'd probably fall asleep midway through putting a catheter in...How about THAT for violation of sterile technique? :P
    5. PARTNERS - If in your first level you get lucky enough to have a partner for some of clinical, DO NOT do all the work/let them depend on you to do all the work. Which leads me to number 6.
    6. OPPORTUNITIES - If your clinical teacher asks "Who wants to do a catheter?!," JUMP ON THE OPPORTUNITY! I was lucky enough to do my first catheter the first day of my hospital clinical rotation. Won't go into specifics, but I had practiced MORE THAN enough in the lab to be comfortable.
    7. CONFIDENCE - ALWAYS, ALWAYS maintain an appearance of confidence for your patient-even if you feel like a nervous wreck on the inside. It also may help in case your clinical teacher comes behind you and asks your patient to evaluate you!
    8. STUDY TIME - DO NOT wait until 2 or 3 days before a Theory or Health Assessment or whatever test to start studying your material. Nursing school isn't like the pre-req's. You can't wait until the last minute to *absorb* the information. You have to actually understand what the content is, and realize its importance in your care of the patient. YOU WILL BE LOST and WILL MORE THAN LIKELY NOT DO WELL on your test! Learned that one the hard way.
    9. ALCOHOL PREP PADS or RED HOTS - I thought I had smelled the worst thing humanly possible until I helped clean a stoma for an ostomy bag. Let's just say I was wrong. Either swab the inside of your nose with the prep pad or chew a red hot or two before you start doing the not-so-pleasant duties that come with semester 1 (and beyond!).
    10. LEARN ALL YOU CAN - What you learn in one semester will only be added to later on. All the little tidbits of information that floor nurse gives you during your clinical rotation? REMEMBER THEM! Ask questions, ask questions, and ask questions. You'll find that a lot of the nurses at your clinical site will be more than happy to share their knowledge with you. Watch out for the grumpy ones though...
    11. SLEEP - Wait, forget that one. You'll forget what that is.
    12. ALARM CLOCK - For the times you had to stay up until 2, 3, 4, or 5AM studying or doing papers and you have to be at your clinical site before 7.
    --and finally--
    13. JUST BECAUSE IT'S ONE WAY IN THE LAB, THAT DOESN'T MEAN THAT'S HOW IT'LL BE IN REAL LIFE - Case in point...I'll be as PC as I can here...no one has a perfect (OR PREDICTABLE) anatomy. This goes for bed baths and CATHETERS as well! (Again, trying to be PC here)...I'll just say that the models in the lab are MUCH easier to deal with. I won't go further than that.

    Anyways, those are just a few tips I have. Take them for what you may. Hope you do well in your classes!
    NiftyGirl2014, Junebug903, knnyz, and 8 others like this.
  9. 1
    I know this is an old thread but so happy to see someone my age starting in nursing school! I start in August, hope your first year was great!
    kpetit likes this.
  10. 0
    I agree great tips, I'm 42 and starting at the end of August also


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