Eight essential tools and tips for incoming nursing students

As a senior nursing student, I would like to think I have become seasoned in the whole nursing school biz. I've settled into the routine of nursing school--lectures, exams, clinicals, and papers have all become familiar. It wasn't always like this, though. Reminiscing about my first semester in nursing school makes me laugh at how stressed I was over things that are oh so simple now. Nursing Students General Students Article

Eight essential tools and tips for incoming nursing students

APA format, for one, was a whole new concept and I doubt I am alone when I say I practically clicked every toolbar option in Microsoft Word before I figured out how to properly insert headers and page numbers...

Nursing students have to develop ways of doing things that best accommodate their work style. Procrastinator? Sorry but that habit is hard to kick. My advice to you is to embrace it--late yet strongly focused work sessions can get you through nursing school for the most part. However, no matter what your work style is, there are eight essential tips and tools that can help streamline your efforts. As a senior nursing student, I can only wish that I had stumbled upon these sooner.

Essential Studying Tools

1. Online nursing care plan constructor.

Use this online tool to help guide you in care plan construction. Although some are outdated, the interventions for each nursing diagnoses are often backed up with nursing research. These are useful whenever teachers ask for evidence based rationales to nursing interventions.

2. Ottobib.

This is a wonderful time saving tool that creates reference citations using only the ISBN's of textbooks. Bookmark this for sure!

3. Use a hand-held nursing database whether it is Lexicomp, Unbound, or Skyscape.

These programs are often expensive (google jailbreak), however, I can not even begin to explain how helpful these are in clinical situations.

4. Use Microsoft Word's Notebook option.

This program allows easier outline creation and is amazing when taking quick notes during lectures. There is even an audio note option that records audio as you type. When you review the document later there will be little audio icons that bring up audio that was recorded a few seconds before your notes!

5. Citation Machine, like Ottobib

This is another quick and free online service for reference pages and citations. Simply plug in the data and Citation Machine organizes everything according to what you are using whether it is APA 5th or 6th edition, MLA, Turabian, or Chicago.

In addition to electronic tools, there are tips and ways of doing things that almost guarantee success. As a student, it is our responsibility to find and develop our own personal way of doing things. To have made it this far you have proven that you have experience in studying (or stuDYING for those who are inclined to cramming), writing papers, and passing projects and exams. What did you learn along the way about your educational habits? What educational techniques have you tried that have proven useful and you continue to do up to now? Also, look into the habits that haven't helped and instead have proven to make things harder. Looking at ones faults can be eye opening and lead to change. For me, I have found a few habits or ways of doing things that I just could not function without today.

Essential Studying Tips

1. Read with a purpose.

Rather than reading textbooks just to say you've read it, read it to understand. A simple trick you can try is to go over the reading or lecture objectives (my professors provided these) and keep these in mind while reading the chapters. The goal is to meet the objectives by singling out important text while ignoring the unnecessary side information that litters textbooks nowadays. Ask yourself what is important while reading and you'll soon find that you remember the important concepts come test day.

2. Study in the same location as much as possible.

For me I couldn't study at home as my TV and radio often proved heavy distractions. A messy house also meant for unorganized thoughts and these were always counterproductive. To focus on school I often ran away to the third floor of my school's library. I've had and continue to have long and highly productive work and study sessions in that little nook of the library. Something about that familiar location seems to get me ready to do work. Try finding your place today. Personalize it (I do not condone destruction of school property) and make it yours for years to come.

3. If your goal is to read bring as few distractions as possible

Leave the laptop and iPod at home. If you bring your phone, silence it. If you must bring your laptop, don't bring your charger. This guarantees against long youtube and facebook sessions that steal time away from studying. If you don't bring your charger your laptop dies that much faster and you are left to study that much longer.

Obviously these tools and tips aren't meant for everybody. Learning to be a good student is a lifelong task and everybody is different. I hope some of you can adopt some of my tips that I've learned along the way and I hope many of you will share your own tools and tips with me! As for now, try these out and let me know how they work!

RN who quit everything to become a software engineer.

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Thank you for sharing great tips!

Thank you for taking the time to write all those tips out for us.:)

Great information! Thank you so much for this!!

Thank you for sharing.

This should come in handy in the fall! Thanks!

Thanks for your concern for the incoming nurses. These tips are really gonna help me a lot.Livea

I think you forgot another important piece: Buddy Up!!!

No nurse is an island and being a student shouldn't make you one as well. Chances are, you are good at say patho and someone else is good at Pharm. Put your heads together when you have an interesting case and utilize each others' skills. It will take you far and help you improve your weak points and reinforce your strong ones.

Great list!

I am thinking about changing my career from being a secretary/administrative assistant to nursing, I have no nursing experience. How do I go about starting this career and what's the best school to do this at a minimal cost? I am upstate NY.

You can start by searching allnurses.com. This website is a wonderful resource for people who are considering nursing as a career! :)

:) Thank You!!

I am a first semester student and I always feel like I'm the only one that doesn't get it. What I mean is, everyone else in my class seems to find information faster, get papers done more professionally and with more ease than I do. I struggle! My classmates all seem to either know someone that is a nurse, or someone that has already been through the program, and they get help from them. I personally haven't recieved much, if any, HELP :crying2:. Even my instructors seem to be preoccuppied with chating with the students that already "know everything" and are just asking questions to fine tune their skills.

I appreciate this information sooo much, I'm almost going to cry. I have been so frustrated!!!!!

I will pass on a few tips myself for the next incoming Nursing students:

#1) If you have never worked in healthcare - Use your CNA license and work at least 6 months in the field before deciding to go on into a Nursing Program. You will be amazed at what kind of insight it will give you and basic essential skills. You may even find that Nursing is not what you thought it was at all. It's not like on TV (unless you read the discussion "sex in the work place...really?").

#2) Do your drug cards as soon as you get a list for pharmacology. Doing the cards and really seeing the common connections in effects, side-effects, drug - drug interactions and precautions may help you pass Pharm.

And follow the steps that are given in the "Eight Steps" you'll be off to a good start.

Thank You Again, and please keep posting!