NS is very time consuming and draining, so motivation can wane and your spirit can be beaten down if you don't have a good support network. The grading of a lot of the assignments and even clinical work can be very subjective. Test questions are not just rote memorization. You have to take it to the next level and apply it to scenarios and decipher what the best action is for the nurse to take in that situation. This is also at times subject to opinion in some ways. So getting the hang of testing and how to write adequate care plans
can be a bear. NS is very political and the gossip mill runs wild. It is easy to be at the center of controversy or to be distracted by controversy around you. Family and friends can feel neglected (because they probably are) and can cause added drama. You can easily get hooked on caffeine and bad eating habits if you aren't careful because you are so busy. Financial difficulties make it hard to get through. One bad school week can sink you at least a whole letter grade if not fail you. One mistake in clinical "can" get you dropped from the program depending on what it was and other factors. You don't get a "clean" slate from semester to semester as you have a file that has info about your performance and problems that follows you from teacher to teacher. All in all it can be a very stressful time in your life.
Now things you can do to relieve some of this stress and be prepared.
1. Get and stay organized. Utilize a calender so you can keep track of your classes, tests and other responsiblities
2. Paper plates, and plastic cups and COSTCO dinners are your friend. Dish washing and cooking take up time that could be better spent in many of our cases.
3. Buy TONS of printer paper, ink cartridges, highlighters, BLACK pens (no other colors because you can't use them at clinical so why accidentally show up with blue). Notecards, pencils and other needed school supplies. I like to have an extra uniform top at least if you don't want a full extra uniform set.
4. Buy extra underwear! this seems weird, but this way you have more time between laundry if you need it.
5. Try your best to stay healthy, but have the dayquil, and other OTC remedies handy at home so you can function if need be.
6. DO NOT GET INVOLVED IN A STUDY GROUP UNLESS YOU KNOW THE PEOPLE AND KNOW THEY WILL HELP YOU BE PRODUCTIVE! This can be a BIG time waster!
7. Do not argue minutia with the teacher. If something is subject to debate, do it politely and at an appropriate time with references handy from your text books to back you up. If you still get shot down, move on. You need to build a good reputation in NS. Argueing rarely helps that aim.
8. Have a battery backup alarm clock. This is particularly important as we head into the stormy fall and winter months. You cannot be late to clinical.
9. Get involved at school in activities that will help build your reputation as a good student and will help you clinically. Examples are participating in flu shot clinics (good IM injection practice) or BP clinics. They key is moderation though. Learn to say "not this time".
10. Keep your cell phone off during class and try not to be the student who has a personal anecdote for every disease process covered in class. Ask questions but if you are really struggling don't take too much class time up if you are struggling alone. This is what office hours are for. Seek help IMMEDIATELY if you are struggling or don't understand a concept. Everything builds upon previous knowledge so you need that solid foundation.
11. Review your A&P when needed, but don't waste time re-learning the whole book. It usually isn't necessary and not realistic anyway.
12. Read the boxes and review paragraphs at the end of each chapter.
13. If you are scared to do something in clinical, practice it until your arms fall off and tell your teacher that you need to do ____ to get over the fear of it.
14. Don't be afraid to ask for help. No one (who is sane) will expect you to know everything. On the same token, be responsible for your own learning. Look things up when possible instead of always asking the teacher or a clinical nurse.
15. Take time out to have fun or you will burn out.
16. The practice questions on CD's are very good practice to help you get used to the type of questions that will appear on the test.
17. If you are going to buy extra books to supplement your learning, ask upper classmen what books were helpful and what were a waste of money.
19. Pack your backpack the night before so that you aren't in a rush and forget something.
20. If you are unsure if you are allowed to do something, don't do it until you know for sure that you can. Don't nitpick licensed nurses over their non-textbook ways of doing things, but make sure you stick to the textbook way. Take advantage of clinical experiences as they come, as you near graduation you will really appreciate any experience that you have.
Most of all remember how hard you worked to get to NS so savor your accomplishment, get plenty of rest and get ready for quite a ride!