Tips for surviving the 1st Semester of Nursing School - page 3

I can't believe I made it through finals week and my first semester of nursing school is done. I was totally exhausted with several days of 3 hours of sleep and 5 straight exams. Anyways I'm like a... Read More

  1. by   nursing_student93
    This is all great advice! I haven't even started my nursing program yet, but just wanted to comment that one way to ensure papers get saved is to write them in Google docs - autosaves it every few seconds. You can always C+P it to Word when you're done.
  2. by   Baubo516
    hard-core-spring- I just want to agree with #6 (if that's the right number) - Nursing students don't get sick!!! This is a pic of me attending class with a mask on because I had a fever and body aches... it seriously may have been the flu. The thing is, we are not allowed to make up in class quizzes that we miss, no matter what the reason is, doctor's note or whatever. Also, we go over our tests at the very next class period, and if you are not there, you don't get to find out what you missed or look over your test at all.

    I did what I could to protect my classmates - I sat in the corner, didn't touch anyone and wore a mask - but I got my butt to class! We were going over a unit test that day and I did not want to miss out. We also ended up having a 5 point quiz, so I am glad I went. It probably did not hurt to demonstrate to my instructors how freakishly committed I am!

    Oh yeah - there's another tip - EVERY POINT COUNTS! Do not blow off an assignment because it seems like a lot of work for only one-three points. Those points may later make a difference between passing and not passing, or for the extremely studious, between getting an A or a B.

    One more tip - eat healthy and try to get some exercise. Both of these things will help with stress. I am not a big work-out guru, but I did walk and talk with a classmate after class for 30-45 minutes as often as we could. For sure twice a week, sometimes as often as 4 times a week. I have been eating healthy food and I managed to lose 10 lbs this semester even with the stress of school. (I have about 20 more to go, but that's another story...) I think walking and talking really helped me deal with the stress - especially during the first two weeks of class when we were adapting to the huge culture shock of everything that was expected!

    Good luck to everyone and enjoy your summer!

    p.s. If you recognize me from the pic, don't blow my cover!
    Last edit by Baubo516 on May 13, '13 : Reason: Add info
  3. by   Shelby, BSN, RN
    You are absolutely right about not getting sick! I became a germ freak because I was so concerned about catching something. Not only could I not afford to miss a class, but I couldn't afford to miss time from studying. Which brings me to two important points:

    1. Record your lectures. If nothing else, you can listen to them in the car. I listened to them while cleaning my house, grocery shopping, driving, and just to hear the teacher explain something again. Very handy when you fail to take good notes in class because you were so exhausted from doing nursing care plans all night.

    2. Study or work on nursing every day. Some people take the weekend off, or an entire day. I tried this a couple of times and paid dearly for it. I ended up being even more stressed because I realized that I might not be pulling an all nighter if I had worked two hours on a paper instead of doing nothing. I know many will disagree, and I understand some need the mental break, but it never worked for me.

    You can have a life outside of nursing, but it will be very different from what you had before nursing school. I have children and do all of the child care and house work. I managed to juggle everything and have the highest grade in my entire graduating class. But I never consumed alcohol while I was in nursing school. I also completely quit watching tv and movies and playing games on the internet or facebook. My facebook friends figured I quit FB too just because I didn't have time to get on that either.

    If you are a nontraditional student, or have to juggle more than just a student role, then you need to be extremely organized. Nursing school is hard enough and requires a lot organization, but add a couple of kids... everything gets planned (dinners, laundry, grocery shopping trips, help with homework, etc).

    Do NOT read everything! <GASP!> I know I am going to get slammed for this. I'm sorry, but there's just too much info. There's no way you can read everything and do everything and study everything. You need to learn what you have to read, what you can skim, and what you can skip all together. My first day of nursing school I was assigned 250 pages for one nursing class and 100 pages in another nursing class. Some nursing classes assign around 200 pages per class. I had a class that required 5 giant texts. Seriously, it's too much. I asked a trusted nursing professor if this was normal. She said yes, and it gets worse. She said the instructors know you can't read everything and to read the chapter summaries and IF you have time then skim the chapter. I say take your class time very seriously and absorb as much as you can. Read what is emphasized in class (especially the tables!) and anything that you don't understand.

    Turn in everything on time! Do not submit things late, and do NOT ask for extensions. Teachers hate that (and yes they will remember that you didn't turn your work in on time because you were "sick") and your classmates will be irritated that you didn't have to turn in your work by the deadline that was posted in the syllabus and they busted their rear to complete it on time. We all know that "things happen." But here's the news flash: "Things" happen to everyone. We all have to learn how to handle things, get over things, deal with things, and still complete everything to the best of our ability.

    Learn how you learn, and realize sometimes you need to try new things. I learn best by writing, so I am one of the few students that still pulls out a notebook and pen during class, not an iPad. I will also listen to my lectures and watch videos to understand things better. I never used flash cards, they never worked for me. Until I had to start learning a million drugs and drug related facts. Writing everything out no longer worked, so I had to try a new game plan. Flash cards were a huge help. And for anyone wondering about which ones to buy, the best ones are in a package of 100 and are about $1 at Walmart. Make them yourself. It will tremendously benefit you to make them yourself and you will remember more this way.

    Practice, practice, practice. Practice assessing family members, friends, classmates. Utilize the nursing lab during practice times. Reading the steps and thinking about how to do something is not enough.

    Get to know your teachers. Most really do care about your education and want you to succeed. Never be afraid to see them during office hours to ask for clarification, review a test, or just ask for suggestions on how to study something. They can be very helpful through out your nursing education.

    I hope this helps someone out there!
  4. by   Nurse2b7337
    These are all amazing tips. Please lee them coming!!!

    Sent from my iPhone using
  5. by   Nurse2b7337
    Quote from Nurse2b7337
    These are all amazing tips. Please keep
    them coming!!!

    Sent from my iPhone using
    Sent from my iPhone using
  6. by   Nurse2b7337
    Quote from Nurse2b7337
    These are all amazing tips. Please lee them coming!!!

    Sent from my iPhone using

    Sent from my iPhone using
  7. by   NurseS2014
    AWESOME!! and TRUE!!
  8. by   Kittythestudentnurse
    Awesome tips, I have two to add:

    1.Make friends! I went into school with the intention of going it alone, but I made a lot of friends and it helped for many reasons:
    a. Studying together paid off big time for tests (make sure you have friends that study on their own like you do before meeting up )
    b. When you're halfway through the term, bombarded with work, pulling your hair out, crying and asking yourself what you were thinking going to nursing school, it's great to know that you're not crazy and your friends know what you're talking about (although you're sad to picture them crying, holding fistfuls of their own hair)
    c. Nobody else understands what you're going through better than fellow nursing students...not family, not friends, no matter how supportive they are.

    2. If your school has counsellors (therapists, etc), take advantage of them if you feel stressed and overwhelmed...I did. I felt like I couldn't think clearly, I didn't know how I was going to write my nursing theory test because I was so stressed out and I had struggled with studying and absorbing any info...I talked to a counsellor, she put things in perspective and it cleared my head and eliminated a lot of stress, so much that I ended up getting 99% on that test!
  9. by   ArrowRN
    I notice lots more people getting acceptance letters so I'm bumping up this thread. If you have not read it already it may help you out with planning for the 1st semester of nursing school. My second semester is winding down. For me, Fall (semester 3) begins with maternity, and med-surg feel free to ask me any questions and thanks for liking this article. I also got some great tips from those who responded...thanks guys and gals!
  10. by   DalekRN
    Quote from dlashon
    I start in the fall and am really terrified. I have a husband, a 4 year old, and I'm pregnant. Due a month after school starts so luckily my classes are online but I have to go to clinicals. This is really good information, thanks so much. Will do them all.
    You should maybe consider putting off starting until the winter.... First semester is killer, content heavy and you gotta be there physically for those clinicals. It was all consuming for me.
  11. by   igotaxed
    Love the post! I'm only in prereqs, but I'm mentally preparing for the wild ride that is nursing school!
  12. by   brujacakes
    I am in my third semester of nursing school, graduating in May.
    My tidbits of advice:
    Do a little bit ALL the time, cramming does not work, too much info. to try and cram it in last minute.

    Ace the easy stuff: professionalism points for punctuality, turning in assignments on time, uniform rules followed to a "T". Those few points might make you or brake you if your grade is borderline at the end of the semester.

    Treat clinicals as if they were a job interview, do as much as you can, stay busy, ask questions, listen, be interested. The only people who have problems in clinicals are ones who try to "get away" with doing very little, or try & hide all day.

    Surround yourself with positive influences, classmates doing well, classmates with a good attitude. It will help by osmosis ;-)

    Focus on the concepts you do not understand and nail them, ex...ABG's, EKG's, Med Math. You will see them over & over again, might as well get it the first time and not let them haunt you.

    Google is your best friend. Terms you do not know, nursing careplans, Tutorials on concepts u donot understand, just Google it.

    Good luck & you can do it. Many people have and many more will.
  13. by   hazel30
    I'm starting my first semester on Monday. These are awesome tips, thank you!