Nursing school for me is officially over. Our pinning ceremony happens this afternoon; with plenty of alcohol and finger foods to follow. I thought I would share my experiences in nursing school to help out those that may have questions/ concerns. First off, my history.
Went through nursing school and got A's in every single class except for an 89% in Pediatrics (ugh). I studied as needed - NOT everyday. I think my style might seem "insane" to some, but it worked really well for me. In no particular order, here are my pearls of wisdom:
1. Flashcards - learn to love them. I made flashcards primarily off of class notes and lecture. I think I can count the number of times I made flashcards from the book on one hand. Every single idea needs to be presented in the form of a question on a flashcard - that way, the ideas are broken down into managable memorization material. I saved every single flashcard I have made throughout the program and the grand total comes out somewhere around 3,500. I will be burning them all tonight
2. Textbooks - use ONLY if you don't understand something from lecture. I can't tell you how important this is. I've seen so many of my classmates fail (or do poorly) on exams because they thought they needed to know EVERYTHING about the disease process in question. Basically, the instructors hand out the major concepts you need to know. Sure, they might pull in an odd question or two, but that is not reason enough to read 100+ page chapters. If there is something in the lecture/ lecture notes you don't fully grasp, THEN go to the book; never before. You'll waste your time memorizing concepts that you won't be tested on. Knowledge is wonderful and you'll have an entire lifetime ahead of you to learn the "details." For nursing school, memorize what you HAVE to know.
3. Study groups - I'm torn on this one. I studied primarily with two good friends. When we studied, I would simply quiz them on the flash cards I had made or they would quiz me on them. It worked really well for the three of us because we wouldn't get "off topic." We would sit down and roll through the cards until we knew them all. If you get into a group that starts to exceed three people, you're in the danger zone. Some people will continually ask questions, some will tell you about their weekend, some others still will always be on their cell phone...etc, etc. Do yourself a favor and find two people you really trust and stick with them. Believe me, you'll save yourself major headaches down the road.
4. When to study - hear me out on this one, heh. Most people envision nursing students cramming their heads full of information in a dark room covered in notes, textbooks, and empty coffee mugs for hours upon hours a day. To me, that is insane. Studying first takes place in the classroom - NEVER MISS A CLASS. I don't care how sick you are (or "insert excuse here"). Going to class means you never have to "catch-up." Utilize your full attention when lecture is being given and write notes down as fast as you possible can - leave nothing out. What I did from that point was to go home and write out all my flashcards from that days lecture. I would then only study the material the night before and the morning of the test. Here was my usual schedule:
Study for two hours the night before each test -
Go to bed around 6 or 7pm -
Wake up at 3:00am -
Drive to school and stand in front of the classroom with the flashcards and a large source of caffeine -
Memorize the material -
Take the test -
Get an A -
Wash, repeat as needed.
This routine never failed me; not once. I got a B in Pediatrics due to the fact that I wanted to see if I could get an A without making flashcards - didn't work. This routine will NOT work for everyone, but I found it humorous that people would hear how little I study, realize that I understood the material, then would show up early in the morning with me. Again, this isn't for everyone.
5. Clinicals are VERY serious - don't slack. Think of clinicals as on-the-job training. You are expected to act professional, utilize your book knowledge to the best of your ability, and to ask questions when unsure. Never ever ever ever ever do anything inside the client's room without either your instructor knowing, your instructor in the room with you, or the assigned RN in the room with you (combined with your instructor being aware of what you are doing). SO many people have been written up in the past for doing things without the instructor present (given IVs, enteral meds, repositioning ICP patients incorrectly, etc). If your instructor thinks for a second that you are unsafe (don't confuse that term with being incompetant) you will either be written up, sent home, or deemed unsafe and fail clinical (which means you then fail the class and must repeat). Clinicals are too important to take a "m'eh" approach to. Respect yourself and your clients and you will do great.
6. Don't gossip. Self-explanitory.
Those are the main points I have. Nursing school was definately one of the greatest times of my life and I'll always look back on it fondly. Eat well, sleep when you can, and DON'T OVERSTUDY. Master the material, memorize key points, but do not think that "hours studied = better results." Nothing could be further from the truth. The human body is not that complicated (at a RN level - however, glance through a CCRN review book sometime...good God). It is beautiful how it works. Think everything through rationally; don't ever assume things. Learn to love lab values, medication side effects, intertwined pathophysiology, and the beauty of chemistry (specifically ABGs).
Now, it's time for me to get in the shower, shave, and prepare for pinning. I am probably the most unintelligent guy on the planet. If I can do it, YOU can do it. Motivation motivation motivation. Once you pass, and remain safe, you are set for the rest of your life. Your family is counting on you. Don't let them down. Best of luck to you all.
/ps male nurses rule :trout: