Nursing student struggling, needs tips on how to pass classes and succeed....

  1. Nursing student struggling, needs tips on how to pass classes and succeed.

    this is a nice forum by the way, i'm glad i found this page.

    i'm a second semester nursing student, 21 year old. i'm on the BSN program at my university here near the bay area which is a 6 semester deal, and i'm on my 2nd semester.

    Basically I am now feeling the pressure of how hard the classes are and the amount of "outside of the class assignments" that needs to be done especially the large amount of care plans that we need to do per week on clinical per patient.and i'm working 18 hours a week.

    i'm actually thinking of quitting my job for now during the school year. when i get home i usually watch tv coz i am so tired to even read the books.

    sorry if sound like i am whining here coz i know i am whining . I just started the 2nd semester this week. and everything is just orientation so far. but from what the teacher said what we needed to do, man i feel so swamped.

    everytime i go do my skills test, the teachers check off to see if i did it right. but whenever i go up there to do it on the mannequin, i get so nervous that i forget some key steps and i get tachycardia and i get dizzy, and depressed afterwards coz i didnt do too well.

    and i have no medical experience prior to entering the program never worked on a hospital whatsoever, i dont even know what certain medical supplies, materials are called. so whenever i do my clinicals a the hospital, i get nervous.

    i just finished last semester, which is basic skills and i forgot half of what i learned in skills in the first semester.

    for those who graduated already or are still nursing students, i just need some tips on how you got through the program. did u read all the assigned readings? what was your study style to do well in the class.

    i got into the nursing program by fluke, somehow i got a lot of 87% on the prereqs, but the teachers let me slide with some A's. if it werent for that, i wouldnt have made it to the program.

    also, any tips on how to improve communication skills? i am from asia and i got a strong accent and bad grammar that makes it difficult for my patients, or other nurses to understand me, plus i am a quiet person who cant start conversation and keep it going. i get a lot of "moment of silence" during a conversation with classmates or patients.
    Last edit by Wheaties on Jan 28, '04
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    About Wheaties

    Joined: Jan '04; Posts: 145; Likes: 36


  3. by   RNPATL
    Here is the deal. If you want to be a nurse, you need to study and remember what you are studying. If you are having difficulty learning your clinical skills, get a partner and practice until you get it right and remember it. Being a nurse is not about forgetting your skills. You will be dealing with human beings that are counting on you to know what you are doing. Also, if ytou have a language barrier, then get a tutor and learn the language.

    As far as the reading .... that is right, read every chapter that is assigned ... go further, take notes on your reading and on your assignments .... study and learn the material. Use flash cards if you have to.

    You need to decide if nursing is for you or not. It is a tough educational experience and you will either make it or you won't. But, remember, if you make it, the time you spend learning and practicing will be well served. After your earn your 4-year degree and you are a practicing RN, those skills will be what you will use to care for patients, maybe save a life and protect your license from harm.

    Nursing is a profession that is going though hard times right now. Hopefully, by the time you graduate, things will be better, but I would venture to say not. Being a nursing student is tough in its own right, but being a nurse is tougher. Use this time in school to learn as much as you can so you can give your patients the best care possible.

    Oh, by the way, if its to much work, then perhaps you need to change your career path. Good luck.
  4. by   chris_at_lucas_RN
    I agree, RNPATL--a student nurse must first really want to be a nurse, or else everything else is meaningless. Your advice is right on target and excellent. (Get ready--everytime I am that direct I get responses and sometimes PM's telling me how cold, small, or harsh I am. Maybe we need a new subforum--people care and who also tell it like it is!?)

    Wheaties, it is nusual for someone with a language barrier such as is described to have such smooth written English. Perhaps using real English words (i.e., "because" instead of "coz") would be helpful. And you may wish to slow down your speech if you are not communicating clearly enough for your classmates and patients to understand you.

    It is unfortunate that instructors allowed you to "slide" with 87's, and gave you A's when you apparently earned B's. What would you have done, if you had not gotten into nursing. Perhaps that deserves more exploring.

    Nowhere in your post is there the suggestion that you are enjoying learning about nursing, or that you look forward to being a nurse. This is indeed unfortunate: life is too short to spend it doing something you don't like.

    If you truly forgot half of what you learned in skills last semester, I think it's safe to say your heart is not in it. I don't know that nursing needs any more half hearted nurses.

    Consider this: if the patient were you, or someone you loved, would you want you as their nurse? If the answer is even just "maybe not," reconsider nursing and try something else.

    Good luck!
  5. by   RNPATL
    Thanks Chris ... Sometimes I think young people get into nursing because they know it holds a security for their future or because parents use undue influence to get their kids into the profession. As nursing evolves and technology advances, nurses of the future need to learn more skills and have more critical thinking ability. I agree with you that it sounds like her heart is not in nursing and if that is the case, she needs to explore areas that are of an interest to her. I wish her the best of luck, but she needs to get serious if she wants to become a nurse because it is a tough job!
  6. by   treddrn
    It might help to make a song and/or dance out of your information to help you remember. I know this sounds off the wall but I have a great song and dance for acid base that I still remember without difficulty. Also, try to teach what you have learned to someone else. This helps you retain information. I was once told by an instructor that if you teach it to someone, you will know it for life. I hope this bit of advice helps you. Good luck!!
  7. by   chris_at_lucas_RN
    RNPATL, I would also add that one thing that really is the most important--it will save your patient and your license faster than anything: caring about people as individual human beings.

    Also, thanks for your support....

    TREDDRN, would you share your ditty about acid base? I'm always looking for new goodies.

    I promise to pass it along in the spirit of sharing learning! :kiss
  8. by   Wheaties
    i'm just asking how many hours of reading time do you spend per week, because the teachers gives us about 100 or more pages of reading per nursing class per week. and i have 4 nursing classes per week. reading really fast, the info blows over my head, reading slow is time consuming because i gotta manage my time to read the required pages. do u guys read everyday?

    i'm just trying to see how you guys studied when you were in nursing school. what was your study habit like, because i know my study habits are bad, but i am willing to improve on it 100 fold. i just started second semester, and this is probably a test of whether i can do it or not. and i know its not too late to get better.

    as rnpatl said, i need to get serious, and i am willing to do that. i'm gonna spend summer break this year just reviewing and focusing on what i learned. once i feel confident and learned it , not mastered. it then i'm probably gonna try to get experience as an extern.

    you need to study and remember what you are studying
    i cant remember "all" the information learned like you guys sound to be; but if i review it, i can remember what i learned and retain it in the long run. do you folks actually remember every steps for each skill, that you learned in nursing school and information? because if you do, i'm really amazed. and i want to to learn how do to that. i remember all the skills i did, but there are probably 1 or 3 steps depending on the complexity of the skill that i will tend overlook, but the key steps i remember, because they are crucial, hell i dont want to kill a patient and have my name posted in the BRN lists of nurses who had their license taken away.

    take giving an inhaler and teaching the patient for example, i know i have to teach the patient how to use it, shake it up before depressing and wait 1 minute in between puffs or 10 min if 2 or more medications is being taken, and not to increase the dose. but there is always that step i forget that i will overlook, i think its assessing the vitals before administering, i believe it was respiratory rate, i forget which one. but i know its check the vitals first.

    i really appreciate the input you people gave me so far. i have more motivation now to study. whether nursing is for me or not, i'll decide that after i finish my bsn, i'm not gonna go back and start a new major, i gotta finish my work first.
  9. by   RNPATL
    Originally posted by Wheaties
    as rnpatl said, i need to get serious, and i am willing to do that.
    Bravo to you for taking the suggestions and having some indepth thought about how to overcome some of the obstacles you face. I struggled through school. I studied my A** off every single night and yes, I read everything I could. I discovered the use of flash cards and the chapter summaries. Once I read the material, I would review the chapter summary if I had forgotten something.

    There is a lot to learn and at times it can be overwhelming and very frustrating. Remember, you are learning the science of nursing. Somethings you will remember and somethings you will forget. Once you are in practice, and have the opportunity to grow and mature your skills, you will be suprised how much of what you learnec in school comes back to you.

    Hang in there and good luck!
  10. by   allele
    Well, let me start by saying you need to turn off the TV. Tired or not, the studying needs to come first. It's only a couple of years, you'll be fine without TV.

    As far as studying, what I did was tape all my nursing classes. I would go home and listen to the tapes and go over my notes and fill in everything I missed. My weakness in studying is definitely my note taking--I'm horrible!! LOL Even now, I've been a nurse for 5 years, but now I'm going for my BSN and I'm STILL taping the classes! It helps in that you're listening to everything twice AND writing along with it. You have to get permission from your instructors to be taped, of course. And a BIG draw back to this method is the time it takes. It's quite time consuming, if you have kids it may be near impossible to do. But I hope this helps!

    Yup, had a ton of reading and I did every bit of it. The instructors tested on notes from class AND from the readings--even if they didn't mention it in class. If it was in the book, it was fair game.

    Try not to get too nervous in the lab practicals. This is the place to make mistakes--on the dummies. I'm pretty sure most schools will let you go in and practice your labs as much as you want, which may help with your nervousness and your forgetfulness.

    I hope these suggestions help, and good luck with school. It's not easy. Just take it one day at a time. Don't look ahead to everything you still have to do, you'll get depressed, believe me.

  11. by   treddrn
    Don't give your clinical instructors the satisfaction!!
    Be calm like the duck......the duck appears calm when you look at him in the water but underneath he is pattling like crazy to keep afloat. Don't let them see you sweat!!
  12. by   bellehill
    After attending nursing school and working full-time all at once I can understand where you are coming from. The simple truth is you have to make time to read and absorb what you are reading. One thing that really helped me was a super study group. Every person in the group had a different strength and we all helped each other. I couldn't have done it without that group of people.

    Secondly, practice makes perfect. Once you have done something a couple times you will be able to do it blindfolded. Before performing a skill in clinicals or lab I always read the policy and procedure manual just to refresh my memory (still do sometimes).

    Third: No, nurses do not retain everything taught in school, but you should have a basic understanding of everything. For example: I don't remember everything about my Pediatrics section(hated peds) but I know it is in my brain somewhere in case I need it. You can't be an expert on everything.

    Try finding a group of students to get together, discuss the may find people feeling just like you!
  13. by   LeesieBug
    I think the key is to discovering the form of study that works best for you, while being the most efficient for you. I do not think it is in a student's best interest to spend every free minute studying. Even our instructors tell us to make some room for down time. It is not always easy to find what works best for you, but by trying different methods and analyzing your stengths and weaknesses, if you work hard, eventually you will find a groove.

    I do not have the time to read every word of every chapter that we are assigned, AND do the studying that will get me to retain the info. So, what works fo me is skimming the info before lecture, taking careful notes during class, then going over the chapters again, focusing on the main concepts. One thing that helps greatly is simply organizing information onto a study sheet. Our brains like organiztion, and it helps us remember things.

    Also, as nursing courses build upon one another, I make sure I review every few weeks, to keep concepts fresh in my head. After enough review, hopefully it will be there permanently!

    The key to remembering the steps for your skills tests someone else said: practice, practice, practice!

    Keep working at it, and good luck.

    By the way, many universities offer courses in improving study skills. You may want to check that out.
  14. by   Dragonnurse1
    I was in the last group to take the pen and paper NCLEX test. I worked ER for 10 years and coached many young people thru nursing school. I pointed out to many that the day would come when they would be overjoyed to get a C. And they were.
    Make your reading count - everything in a box, anything in bold print and then the summary. Get RN magazine the articles they run can help.

    You have the same problem with public speaking and testing that I have. I got so nervous during the TNCC that I could not even remember my name. I cried right there. The funny part was I was being tested on the things that I did every night when I worked a trauma. Sad isn't it.

    I have two suggestions.
    1 Always get a good nights sleep before a test written or oral. It is more important to sleep than cram. (Trust me on that one)
    2. When you have to get up and do something first close your eyes take a deep breath in thru your nose and blow out thru your lips. Keep your mind on the breath then open your eyes and just do whatever you have to do. This has helped many people relax in tense situations.

    Listen to the radio or TV and repeat what you hear. Do this when you are driving or cooking - whenever you are alone. So what is other drivers think your nuts - it will help.

    I went back to nursing school 20+ years after high school. I had not taken any college classes when I started. If I could do it - anyone can. There is only one catch - do you really want to be a nurse? If you do, then you will be.