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Feeling completely overwhelmed by first days of Nursing School, please help

Students   (11,139 Views | 22 Replies)

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Hi, I started nursing school this month and I have information overload. I don't know how to focus for my first test (next Monday). I go through the objectives, key concepts, charts and recordings as much as I can; but it is impossible to go over the entire 15 chapters and everything else I have to do for lab. It feels as if I might be missing important information because I can't read the whole thing. I'm also a visual learner and I usually study with power points but we are only getting the outlines and this is really affecting me. Regarding practice, I've been taking some fundamentals of Nursing questions, but I get discourage when I see I am failing lots of them. I guess I am not used to think this way. Those questions are so tricky! I am fairly a good student and I've never felt this way before. I'm most of the time ahead of the game and now I am feeling that I'm lagging behind. Any advise is greatly appreciated it :)

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465 Posts; 8,882 Profile Views

What you are feeling isn't unusual, and you aren't alone. I felt that way when I first started nursing school, and I can assure you that it does (sort of) get better. I got used to the stress of first semester and nursing 111, and I came out of the class with an A. Once I learned how to study the material, I found the class pretty easy. When second semester came around, and nursing 112 and 211 began, however, everything changed. I am stressed more this semester that I was last semester. I know how everything works, and I don't feel clueless and lost, but I do feel a lot of pressure to succeed and stress. It's a feeling that there is always something to do, and that the work will never be done. With that being said, don't get discouraged, and don't let my words worry you. It does get better after first semester.

In my program, all the tests are 50 questions long. That is the maximum, and tests cannot be longer or shorter. We only have four grades for the semester (unit exams and a final), and all the rest of the work we do is required to stay in the program, but goes without an official grade. Because our unit exams are only 50 questions long, it is difficult for the instructors to include all the topics we lectured on in the exam. For instance, my first study guide for nursing 112 was three pages long. It covers pre/peri/post operative nursing, appendicitis, hypovolemic shock, fluid and electrolytes, anesthesia, common pre and postoperative medications, acid-base balance, metabolic acidosis and alkalosis, respiratory acidosis and alkalosis, SIADH, sepsis, values of a CBC and CMP, and a lot of other information. Because we only have 50 questions per unit exam, all of this material can't be covered on the exam. I make notecards and study everything, but I put special emphasis on drug information, laboratory values, nursing interventions and considerations, and patient education and assessment. While the pathophysiology and medical information is important, the nursing information is paramount. After all, we are in nursing school. I make sure I have a firm grasp on the other information, but I focus most of my time and energy on the nursing aspect of things.

If your program is anything like mine, you will find that a lot of the test questions focus on the nursing aspect of things. You will be expected to know drug side effects and adverse effects, nursing interventions for certain diseases and injuries, nursing considerations for patients with certain diagnoses, or those who have had certain surgeries, etc. When you are studying, keep this in mind. Don't get so hung up on understanding the pathophysiology of congestive heart failure, for example, that you forget to study the nursing interventions, medications used to treat the condition, nursing considerations, lab values to monitor, and other pertinent information. A lot of the nursing exams (in my experience) have been less concerned with pathophysiology and etiology and more concerned with critical thinking and knowledge of the nursing process and appropriate nursing care.

As far as the fundamentals tests you are taking, don't get discouraged. You've been a nursing student for less than a month. You have such limited exposure to the material that it isn't shocking that you aren't doing well on the exams. Continue taking them, and be sure you read the rationales provided for the correct answers. The rationales will help you make connections, and they may prove useful during a test. Sometimes knowing why something is done is more useful than knowing how it's done (at least for testing purposes).

As you study, pay careful attention to the nursing aspect of things. As I said, don't get so bogged down in all the information that you forget what you are actually learning. You are in nursing school, and your tests will be about what you should do as a nurse. If you can learn to critically think (which is an ongoing process), and can focus yourself and learn to study what is important, you should be fine. Nursing school in and of itself is like ice skating, or another activity that requires a lot of practice. Some people come into the activity with a natural predisposition. They learn faster, understand more, and study (or practice) less. Some people struggle with the skill; they learn slower, study more often, and feel overwhelmed. With enough practice, however, both people can eventually become equally as skilled at the activity. Just because you are struggling now doesn't mean that you can't become a good nursing student. Just because you may see others in your class who appear to find nursing school easy doesn't mean you are stupid or incapable. They are just more naturally predisposed, and you will have to work harder to keep up. You can both be equally as good at nursing school, and you can both learn the material, you may have to work harder, but you can do it. Good luck!

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Annaiya has 5 years experience as a NP and specializes in PICU.

555 Posts; 13,290 Profile Views

I think every nursing student feels that way when they start. It may help to meet with your professor and talk to them about ways to study the content that fits your learning style better. The first semester is the worst because you are not only learning the content but trying to learn how to think like a nurse. Just keep working hard and studying and it will get better!

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43 Posts; 1,867 Profile Views

thank you both for your responses =). i am so glad, i can tell other nursing students what i am feeling since i get perspective and i realize i'm not the only one struggling, and because it helps me to reflect in my own feelings and needs. it really helped me to vent out yesterday, since it helped me to see that it might help me to make my own power points. so, here i am doing something about it, and hoping it will help me on time for my first test. thank you mattrnstudent23 for letting me know about your personal struggles and success through this difficult journey!

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449 Posts; 13,226 Profile Views

Dont get too hung up on trying to read all the chapters, they are too long. Just skim them reading the first two sentences and the last sentence. the graphs/charts are good to read sometimes....

record your classes on a voice recorder and listen to them at night in bed and on way to school.. nearly everything you need to know is in your notes you got off the board. All I did was read my notes the night before the test and i'd get in the 80s. but, thats no fun to stay up till 2am and get up at 6am. also, dont take any subjects you don't have too,, use summers for psy/english and the like,, even if you have to pay a little more.

good luck,, you can do it,, i have confidence you'll have an answer for every question!!

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43 Posts; 1,867 Profile Views

Thank you so much for taking your time to give me advice :)

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escapebigd has 5 years experience.

261 Posts; 6,724 Profile Views

Your struggles sound the same as mine! I have been told to start practicing nclex style questions, but right now just starting I don't have the knowledge base to answer them. All of this is really overwhelming and difficult to process, but it seems like some really good advice is on this thread!

I hope your exam goes well and that it does get easier.

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oklahomagal specializes in Lactation.

245 Posts; 5,968 Profile Views

I dont like the idea of only reading a few sentences, YIKES! Carve out some time to read, and just pay attention to what your instructors really focus on in lecture. I found that the first couple of tests were the hardest because I was feeling overwelmed with everything that was coming at me. YOU CAN DO THIS!

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56 Posts; 3,411 Profile Views

I just started semester #3, and I am stressed as well. Start clinical tomorrow morning...I was fine with the amount of lecture material, then got the clinical schedule and YIKES!!! ...so much to do...thinking back to level 1, it IS a lot of material covered, but if you can focus on what YOU (the nurse) can do, it will help. I don't know about your school, but we learned the pathos, but weren't tested extensively on it. Not that you don't have to know them...they come into play with your critical thinking skills...most of the questions you can't even find the answer in a book. You just have to understand the disease process to be able to connect it with what you can do for the patient.

I am trying to tell myself to calm down/not stress so much, as I got through levels 1 and 2, but this time around just seems like more for some reason...I think you will do fine by going over objectives and whatnot. I learned some stuff in level 1 (from studying TOO much, I guess :)) that we are just now covering in depth--so I feel that I am ahead a little (in that aspect, anyway)

It is hard to focus on studying when there is just SO MUCH, but if you know a little bit about everything, it is probably better than being an expert on one thing and knowing nothing about another (at least in nursing school!!!)

Good luck!

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Hygiene Queen specializes in ......

1 Follower; 2,232 Posts; 34,953 Profile Views

Find your texts books on Evolve and study from there.After I did that, I did so much better that I was mad I didn't do it sooner.I would learn from taking the end-of-chapter NCLEX-style questions and reading the rationales.I would quickly research what I was confused about from there.I would also go to bed listening to the audio key points.This helped me to focus on the important stuff and actually learn it.

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43 Posts; 1,867 Profile Views

Good luck to you too escapebigd. I hope you can accomplish your dreams.

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43 Posts; 1,867 Profile Views

I dont like the idea of only reading a few sentences, YIKES! Carve out some time to read, and just pay attention to what your instructors really focus on in lecture. I found that the first couple of tests were the hardest because I was feeling overwelmed with everything that was coming at me. YOU CAN DO THIS!

That's exactly how I feel. I know it's imposible to read all of it, and reading the first 2 & last lines of every paragraph seems too little. I've done this, but I miss a lot of info like you said. I guess I just have to keep trying to see if I can come with a better method for my readings.

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