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 straight B student, that's not... Read More

  1. 0
    Thanks for posting this. I find these threads to be very helpful.

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  2. 5
    I definitely agree with #7. I was a successful student for a lot of reasons, but looking back, I know a big part of it was the fact I didn't have kids or pets, only worked VERY part time, (a few shifts a month) and generally accepted the fact the nursing school was my "life." I watched many classmates who tried to work, who had children, who got married & had weddings to plan, who got pregnant, who had drama going on in their personal lives or were always partying FAIL.

    I'm not saying it can't be done if you have family obligations or a job but it's 100000X harder. Too many people (especially females) are led to believe we're supposed to be SUPERWOMEN who must be 100% successful at everything and overachieving perfectionists every minute. There is no better recipe for failure than believing that. Just set your life up so you can focus exclusively on nursing school. Don't whine about it, because it is what it is.

    Also, figure out what works for YOU. Lots of people say don't cram, don't procrastinate. Well, some of my best A grade papers were written all night before the 8am deadline, smashed on vodka & Red Bull. Cramming worked for me. Figure out your quirks and don't always follow the rules.
    imbatz, ScrubsLove, PrayingToPass, and 2 others like this.
  3. 2
    I'm a crammer and a procrastinator, but I still managed to do better than most of my classmates. I'm not advocating that cramming and waiting last minute are good study habits though. Just get everything done that needs to be done.

    I do recommend getting full nights rest. I feel like I'm less stressed and relaxed than almost all of my classmates because of it. Actually, nothing much gets in the way of me sleeping, including studying, except needing to be somewhere like class or work.
    Last edit by Miiki on May 8, '13
    jlc7 and michiganstudent like this.
  4. 5
    Thanks for the comments guys, just to be more specific on what and how to read, I started going to the books website first, listen to the audio summary or read the summary of the chapter. Then skim through the chapter to gather key points, and then read it. You will have a clearer understanding of it. Different people learn differently, but once you find something that works for you just stick at it and pay special attention to the rationales and normals and abnormal in your texts.

    Another Tip! Looking back, I also realized that because I like things structured and organized, I wasted lots of time trying to figure out how to actually get my course work organized. The first couple of weeks I tried many methods that were not working for me. I wanted a way to quickly see my class assignments, be able to view the schedule and modules, without logging into the computer every time and to now what class numbers are for what subject. The method I ended up using was buying a couple of 2 inch binders and I got a 8 pack of color separators with tabs and with pre-made holes to divide the subjects and then I got a 50 pack of clear sleeves. So I would have say a purple separator labelled NUR1234-Health assessment on the tab (remember all the classes would have the same NUR prefix so putting the actual class name on the tab is important), followed by the schedule in a clear sleeve, and the modules. The clear sleeves are great because you don't have to be punching holes in your prints outs, they are cheap and you can use them to keep your print outs in sections of schedules, or assignments and even if you print our modules and power-points and notes, they will stay in your binder better and last longer, in addition no more torn pages in your binder when you are looking for something, then you got to reprint it. A 2 inch binder can probably hold 2 subjects of information for a semester...I wish someone told me this when I started, because it took me a while to figure out how to get organized.
    Last edit by ArrowRN on May 9, '13
    ScrubsLove, Code Red, scrubgirl16, and 2 others like this.
  5. 2
    Quote from AzOhana
    Man-nurse 2b, congrats on finishing the first semester. For me, it helps to hear from those who have experienced it and are honest about what to do and not to do, thank you.

    Thank you for all the great tips. I start the program in a week and need all the advice I can get.

    What are the most useful apps?

    Great idea about Dropbox, I have one but never use it. I will now.
    I honestly have not used any apps for the 1st semester. However, most of the common ones that people refer to and I have on my phone are Medscape, Epocrates, Micromedex, and Eponyms. Most Apps are geared towards pharmacology, and I won't have that until fall. Medscape is pretty good for medical info and Eponyms gives a brief explanation of just about every sign and syndrome and anatomy you will come across.

    P.S they are all free apps, I read some people spending as much as $160 on an app for nursing school. I don't think it will make you anymore genius than anyone else in class. And besides that, most facilities still have strict policies regarding use of phones on the floor during clinicals, we had to go to the break room to use it.
    Last edit by ArrowRN on May 9, '13
    imbatz and 14Nurse like this.
  6. 14
    My reflective advice ( I graduate tomorrow):

    1) Coffeecoffeecoffee. My travel mug was my security blanket and my best friend.
    2) Figure out a study method that works for you. I used the companion workbooks and also skimmed powerpoints. Reading the book helped maybe 1/2 the time. I also studied after having a few beers.
    3) Group projects suck, but are a fact of nursing school life.
    4) Be yourself. I'm an introvert and have a good BS detector, it saved my sanity and my patients. I didn't engage socially with most of my class and have no regrets about that.
    5) Not everyone has to devote their entire life to nursing school. I worked part time, was able to race bikes on the weekend, and did things I enjoyed, but became a planning ninja to accommodate.
    6) PLAN EVERYTHING. It won't happen unless you plan it.
    7) Not to make light of bipolar pts, but you will feel a wide range of emotions. You'll be deliriously happy, cry, crushed to the lowest depths, panicky, anxious, indifferent, etc. Feeling all these things is normal.
    8) Do not let anyone belittle your accomplishments in school, and I mean NO ONE. You are becoming a NURSE and be proud of that fact.
    9) You'll know who your real friends are coming out of school. Everyone coming to my party tomorrow had some small or large accomplishment in my success.
    imbatz, ScrubsLove, angieb4gfa, and 11 others like this.
  7. 0
    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.
  8. 4
    Name:  Hard Core Spring 2013.jpg
Views: 1754
Size:  222.2 KB 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
    imbatz, angieb4gfa, scrubgirl16, and 1 other like this.
  9. 15
    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!
    imbatz, 3rdGenRN?, ScrubsLove, and 12 others like this.
  10. 0
    These are all amazing tips. Please lee them coming!!!

    Sent from my iPhone using allnurses.com


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