Thoughts from a graduating SN.

  1. Nursing school for me is officially over. Our pinning ceremony happens this afternoon; with plenty of alcohol and finger foods to follow. I thought I would share my experiences in nursing school to help out those that may have questions/ concerns. First off, my history.

    Went through nursing school and got A's in every single class except for an 89% in Pediatrics (ugh). I studied as needed - NOT everyday. I think my style might seem "insane" to some, but it worked really well for me. In no particular order, here are my pearls of wisdom:

    1. Flashcards - learn to love them. I made flashcards primarily off of class notes and lecture. I think I can count the number of times I made flashcards from the book on one hand. Every single idea needs to be presented in the form of a question on a flashcard - that way, the ideas are broken down into managable memorization material. I saved every single flashcard I have made throughout the program and the grand total comes out somewhere around 3,500. I will be burning them all tonight .

    2. Textbooks - use ONLY if you don't understand something from lecture. I can't tell you how important this is. I've seen so many of my classmates fail (or do poorly) on exams because they thought they needed to know EVERYTHING about the disease process in question. Basically, the instructors hand out the major concepts you need to know. Sure, they might pull in an odd question or two, but that is not reason enough to read 100+ page chapters. If there is something in the lecture/ lecture notes you don't fully grasp, THEN go to the book; never before. You'll waste your time memorizing concepts that you won't be tested on. Knowledge is wonderful and you'll have an entire lifetime ahead of you to learn the "details." For nursing school, memorize what you HAVE to know.

    3. Study groups - I'm torn on this one. I studied primarily with two good friends. When we studied, I would simply quiz them on the flash cards I had made or they would quiz me on them. It worked really well for the three of us because we wouldn't get "off topic." We would sit down and roll through the cards until we knew them all. If you get into a group that starts to exceed three people, you're in the danger zone. Some people will continually ask questions, some will tell you about their weekend, some others still will always be on their cell phone...etc, etc. Do yourself a favor and find two people you really trust and stick with them. Believe me, you'll save yourself major headaches down the road.

    4. When to study - hear me out on this one, heh. Most people envision nursing students cramming their heads full of information in a dark room covered in notes, textbooks, and empty coffee mugs for hours upon hours a day. To me, that is insane. Studying first takes place in the classroom - NEVER MISS A CLASS. I don't care how sick you are (or "insert excuse here"). Going to class means you never have to "catch-up." Utilize your full attention when lecture is being given and write notes down as fast as you possible can - leave nothing out. What I did from that point was to go home and write out all my flashcards from that days lecture. I would then only study the material the night before and the morning of the test. Here was my usual schedule:

    Study for two hours the night before each test -
    Go to bed around 6 or 7pm -
    Wake up at 3:00am -
    Drive to school and stand in front of the classroom with the flashcards and a large source of caffeine -
    Memorize the material -
    Take the test -
    Get an A -
    Wash, repeat as needed.

    This routine never failed me; not once. I got a B in Pediatrics due to the fact that I wanted to see if I could get an A without making flashcards - didn't work. This routine will NOT work for everyone, but I found it humorous that people would hear how little I study, realize that I understood the material, then would show up early in the morning with me. Again, this isn't for everyone.

    5. Clinicals are VERY serious - don't slack. Think of clinicals as on-the-job training. You are expected to act professional, utilize your book knowledge to the best of your ability, and to ask questions when unsure. Never ever ever ever ever do anything inside the client's room without either your instructor knowing, your instructor in the room with you, or the assigned RN in the room with you (combined with your instructor being aware of what you are doing). SO many people have been written up in the past for doing things without the instructor present (given IVs, enteral meds, repositioning ICP patients incorrectly, etc). If your instructor thinks for a second that you are unsafe (don't confuse that term with being incompetant) you will either be written up, sent home, or deemed unsafe and fail clinical (which means you then fail the class and must repeat). Clinicals are too important to take a "m'eh" approach to. Respect yourself and your clients and you will do great.

    6. Don't gossip. Self-explanitory.

    Those are the main points I have. Nursing school was definately one of the greatest times of my life and I'll always look back on it fondly. Eat well, sleep when you can, and DON'T OVERSTUDY. Master the material, memorize key points, but do not think that "hours studied = better results." Nothing could be further from the truth. The human body is not that complicated (at a RN level - however, glance through a CCRN review book sometime...good God). It is beautiful how it works. Think everything through rationally; don't ever assume things. Learn to love lab values, medication side effects, intertwined pathophysiology, and the beauty of chemistry (specifically ABGs).

    Now, it's time for me to get in the shower, shave, and prepare for pinning. I am probably the most unintelligent guy on the planet. If I can do it, YOU can do it. Motivation motivation motivation. Once you pass, and remain safe, you are set for the rest of your life. Your family is counting on you. Don't let them down. Best of luck to you all.

    /ps male nurses rule :trout:
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  2. 49 Comments

  3. by   Lovely_RN
    Thanks for the information. I am looking for a strategy for nursing school (jan 07) because I don't like to spend hours and hours studying. I think this might work for me.


    Congrats on making it through!!!! :hatparty:
  4. by   wannabecatcher
    Congratulations!

    Great advice about the flashcards- I am always trying to explain this exact concept of copying the lecture notes onto flashcards to my fellow students, but everyone thinks its crazy! I used this method for my first bachelor's degree, for all the pre-reqs for nursing school, and will again use it come Jan when I start the nursing program. It works!

  5. by   CityKat
    wow! And I thought I was a die hard straight A student. I certainly would not go to bed at 7pm and get up at 3am and stand in front of the classroom Before exams, I always go to bed close to around 10pm, wake up at 6am, browse through my notes one last time and pull off that A.

    Flash cards do work well and the advice about NOT reading EVERYTHING in the book is "key". Soooo many of my fellow students read EVERYTHING and I don't. I read my notes, pull out the key information I need to know and use the book as a reference. People think books are where all of the information lies. But actually, the information you get is in the notes that the professor provides since they have to provide you the information you need to pass the NCLEX

    Congratulations on graduating, I will be in your shoes in Maaaaaay!! Cannot wait to start working.
  6. by   moongirl
    this is all great advice cept.. I glean from reading you are a single guy with no kids.. the going to bed at 6 or 7 pm and leaving the house at 3 am made me LMAO. I will tell my 10 yo to watch my 7 yo till bed time and then the next morning, get her ready for school -lol!

    I totally agree with you on the readings- I hardly ever cracked the books cept to make sense of something I did not understand, and I have an A in my thrid semester.

    Congrats on making it thru

    Ps- i love male nurses!
  7. by   locolorenzo22
    as a male NS, I think I really wanted my As this semester to show the instructors what kind of student I am. I used study group, but you're right...we had 4 and got off-topic, no matter how hard I tried to keep them on...so the one who was always off-topic failed by .2%...Guess that's what happens when you don't pay attention.
    I'm looking forward to the day of pinning, and not just for being done with school..I want to be #1 just so I can show those who think I can't do it that men are nurses as capable as females...
    Congrats to you and be sure to tell us how it went...
  8. by   Clarise
    Thank you! Loved your advice. I agree that your best study time is during lecture. Pay close attention, use your breaks to ask questions or look something up in the book. And I don't study more than 3 to 4 hours per exam and will be getting an A in maternity/pediatrics this semester. And I don't read countless chapters in the book - I only use it as a reference when I don't understand something from class.

    Can I ask? What is a CCRN book?
  9. by   Kemccanha
    Quote from EnigmaticParadigm
    Nursing school for me is officially over. Our pinning ceremony happens this afternoon; with plenty of alcohol and finger foods to follow. I thought I would share my experiences in nursing school to help out those that may have questions/ concerns. First off, my history.

    Went through nursing school and got A's in every single class except for an 89% in Pediatrics (ugh). I studied as needed - NOT everyday. I think my style might seem "insane" to some, but it worked really well for me. In no particular order, here are my pearls of wisdom:

    1. Flashcards - learn to love them. I made flashcards primarily off of class notes and lecture. I think I can count the number of times I made flashcards from the book on one hand. Every single idea needs to be presented in the form of a question on a flashcard - that way, the ideas are broken down into managable memorization material. I saved every single flashcard I have made throughout the program and the grand total comes out somewhere around 3,500. I will be burning them all tonight .

    2. Textbooks - use ONLY if you don't understand something from lecture. I can't tell you how important this is. I've seen so many of my classmates fail (or do poorly) on exams because they thought they needed to know EVERYTHING about the disease process in question. Basically, the instructors hand out the major concepts you need to know. Sure, they might pull in an odd question or two, but that is not reason enough to read 100+ page chapters. If there is something in the lecture/ lecture notes you don't fully grasp, THEN go to the book; never before. You'll waste your time memorizing concepts that you won't be tested on. Knowledge is wonderful and you'll have an entire lifetime ahead of you to learn the "details." For nursing school, memorize what you HAVE to know.

    3. Study groups - I'm torn on this one. I studied primarily with two good friends. When we studied, I would simply quiz them on the flash cards I had made or they would quiz me on them. It worked really well for the three of us because we wouldn't get "off topic." We would sit down and roll through the cards until we knew them all. If you get into a group that starts to exceed three people, you're in the danger zone. Some people will continually ask questions, some will tell you about their weekend, some others still will always be on their cell phone...etc, etc. Do yourself a favor and find two people you really trust and stick with them. Believe me, you'll save yourself major headaches down the road.

    4. When to study - hear me out on this one, heh. Most people envision nursing students cramming their heads full of information in a dark room covered in notes, textbooks, and empty coffee mugs for hours upon hours a day. To me, that is insane. Studying first takes place in the classroom - NEVER MISS A CLASS. I don't care how sick you are (or "insert excuse here"). Going to class means you never have to "catch-up." Utilize your full attention when lecture is being given and write notes down as fast as you possible can - leave nothing out. What I did from that point was to go home and write out all my flashcards from that days lecture. I would then only study the material the night before and the morning of the test. Here was my usual schedule:

    Study for two hours the night before each test -
    Go to bed around 6 or 7pm -
    Wake up at 3:00am -
    Drive to school and stand in front of the classroom with the flashcards and a large source of caffeine -
    Memorize the material -
    Take the test -
    Get an A -
    Wash, repeat as needed.

    This routine never failed me; not once. I got a B in Pediatrics due to the fact that I wanted to see if I could get an A without making flashcards - didn't work. This routine will NOT work for everyone, but I found it humorous that people would hear how little I study, realize that I understood the material, then would show up early in the morning with me. Again, this isn't for everyone.

    5. Clinicals are VERY serious - don't slack. Think of clinicals as on-the-job training. You are expected to act professional, utilize your book knowledge to the best of your ability, and to ask questions when unsure. Never ever ever ever ever do anything inside the client's room without either your instructor knowing, your instructor in the room with you, or the assigned RN in the room with you (combined with your instructor being aware of what you are doing). SO many people have been written up in the past for doing things without the instructor present (given IVs, enteral meds, repositioning ICP patients incorrectly, etc). If your instructor thinks for a second that you are unsafe (don't confuse that term with being incompetant) you will either be written up, sent home, or deemed unsafe and fail clinical (which means you then fail the class and must repeat). Clinicals are too important to take a "m'eh" approach to. Respect yourself and your clients and you will do great.

    6. Don't gossip. Self-explanitory.

    Those are the main points I have. Nursing school was definately one of the greatest times of my life and I'll always look back on it fondly. Eat well, sleep when you can, and DON'T OVERSTUDY. Master the material, memorize key points, but do not think that "hours studied = better results." Nothing could be further from the truth. The human body is not that complicated (at a RN level - however, glance through a CCRN review book sometime...good God). It is beautiful how it works. Think everything through rationally; don't ever assume things. Learn to love lab values, medication side effects, intertwined pathophysiology, and the beauty of chemistry (specifically ABGs).

    Now, it's time for me to get in the shower, shave, and prepare for pinning. I am probably the most unintelligent guy on the planet. If I can do it, YOU can do it. Motivation motivation motivation. Once you pass, and remain safe, you are set for the rest of your life. Your family is counting on you. Don't let them down. Best of luck to you all.

    /ps male nurses rule :trout:
    What a great post! Congrats!!
  10. by   Lisa CCU RN
    Why are you gonna burn 3500 notecards......






















    mail them to me.
  11. by   traumaRUs
    Congrats on completing nursing school.
  12. by   WDWpixieRN
    Great thread and advice!! I'm not sure how much info we gleaned just from lecture during fundamentals -- we basically went through Powerpoints which were just bare bones outlines of our texts, so I found I ended up spending a lot of time reading the material in the text to get the "meat" of a lot of the subjects we covered...hopefully next semester I won't find that to be so....

    Your post is VERY inspiring and I will keep in mind many of the things you pointed out....I was happy enough with my "B", but wouldn't mind an easier way to get to an "A"!!

    Congrats -- and thanks!!
  13. by   saintsfan13
    And I just had to say "ditto"! I have 3 children, with the oldest two in jr high and playing sports. Needless to say I'm on the road regularly, and while nursing school was *one* of my top priorities, I definitely didn't let it dominate my life the way I saw some of my classmates do.
    I have a good friend that I've known for over 10 years who is a nurse practitioner, certified midwife and instructor at a nursing school (not the one I attend). Before I ever went to my first class, she advised me not to even try to read everything they assigned and claimed they wanted us to read. She told me that I'd waste lots of time doing that when, in fact, MUCH of what was in the text we wouldn't need. She told me to do my objectives (not sure if that's something everyone gets, but basically an outline of what each class covers). She told me to do the reading specific to those, which is a fraction of the overall assigned reading. By our syllabus and the teachers' words, that was all we were going to be tested on, and that proved to be true.
    ITA on never missing class!!! For me, that was one of my critical "study sessions". Fortunately for me, I've always been able to retain info from lectures, and while occasionally they'd throw a question in that was not metioned in lecture or reading (though you'd never get them to *admit* it, as it was simply an oversight in *their* lecture), those questions were few and far between. If you make the most of listening and note-taking in lecture, it can make a big difference in the test-taking.
    I never, never, never studied until the night before the test. In my class of 60, the people that I knew that put in *hours*, days before the test, almost without exception struggled to make passing grades. The few exceptions were those who had a job that required them to work the night before, so they arranged to study as close to the test as possible, but not days in advance. There is such a thing as "overstudying"....I saw it. Too much info, too much overanalyzing the questions. They passed, but they were not the ones with the best grades in the class. And to hear them talk, they were clearly very intelligent....just approaching the studying wrong.
    I haven't tried the notecards, yet, but have heard too many good things about them not to respect it. In fact, I intend to give them a try in my second semester. I finished my first semester 3 points from an A, and I did not give 100%. I certainly applied myself, and I did have an A at midterm (1.4 pts above the mark), but after midterm, upon the advice of friends that were already RNs, I relaxed, didn't overly stress, didn't miss any of my boys' activities...in other words, didn't put the letter grade above my family and my mental stress. As I result, I can honestly say that I LOVED Nursing I.
    And the truth is...C really does = RN. Do I want Cs? No. I want As. But there again, I have enough friends who are already RNs (including one of my N. I instructors) who've said that nursing school is simply to make you safe, give you a base knowledge to build on, and enable you to become liscensed. They all tell me that the first year of work is the biggest learning experience you'll have. And people don't walk around with their letter grades on their nametags!
    As the original post stated, these methods will not work for everyone. Group studying doesn't work for me at all. But if trying these methods help relieve the stress, lighten the load and possibly improve grades (or at least not make them worse), then mission accomplished in sharing the strategies.
    Thanks to everyone who shared their's...:Holly1:
  14. by   EnigmaticParadigm
    Pinning is over, food was eaten, booze was consumed, and gifts were opened.

    hungover ...

    Anyways, the ceremony itself was sort of anticlimactic. My grandmother pinned me, I shook the hand of the Director of the program, was handed my certificate and diploma, then sat back down. Honestly, I kept waiting to hear something about another test next week, or one last paper we would have to complete to "truely" graduate. Guess this is what my friends referred to a long time ago as "nursing program withdrawl syndrome." As I type this I'm still thinking I have something to do or turn in, lol.

    Myself and two really good friends of mine were all hired to ICU at our favorite hospital. We will all be orienting for the first 14 weeks - 10 of which are days, then 4 of nights. We will then be working the night shift to "earn our stripes;" most likely for 7 - 8 months.

    The best part of the afterparty was the fact that three of my instructors came over and drank with us as equals. It was a little strange for them to call us that now. We're no longer students, but real life IP nurses (IP = temp license until passing NCLEX).

    Now, it's time to wallow in my hangover for a bit, get a shower, and start to formulate a game-plan on studying for the NCLEX. I'll most likely take it with the two friends mentioned earlier on Jan 15. I'll update this thread and let you know how it goes/is going.

    /ps I was too drunk to burn anything last night *cry*
    /pps I'll do it tonight

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