My cousin is starting clinicals in August and asked me how she should prepare over...

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the Summer. Here are a few thoughts that I had on the subject:

a. Nothing, just relax and enjoy the summer since life will get very stressful for her soon enough when he BSN clinicals begin.

b. Read her textbooks ahead of time. She has a 3.8GPA now, and intends to become an NP of some sort. Everyone tells her that her GPA will drop like a rock in nursing school so maybe she should work hard ahead of time to minimize this drop. I told her to definitely practice her calculation skills since this was very stresful for me.

c. Contact her fellow group members by email (she already knows her clinical assignments which are in groups of eight). To see if any of her fellow classmates would be interested in practicing skills, or discussing chapters (kind of like an Oprah reading club from hell!).

d. Read this board for a half hour everyday to gain wisdom from others in a few months that might otherwise take years to accumulate.

e. I suggested that she buy two or three NCLEX review books and read these along with her texts since they will give her some idea of what nursing school questions are like.

What advice would you give my cousin Sarah?

orrnlori, RN

549 Posts

I've seen this topic before. For the life of me, I don't see how you pre-study for nursing. Had I tried that it would have been a total waste of time because the exams were mostly over the lecture and the lectures were decided by the instructors picking and choosing amount the readings. I guess you can pre-read your books but most books are what, 1100-1200 pages of excruitiating details? I would maybe spend time working on drug calculations and the math. Skills practice would probably be a waste because every instructor has a right and wrong way to do something and if you learn it wrong you have to relearn it right.

I personally say take the summer and enjoy it. I also don't think it's helpful for people to tell her that her GPA will drop like a rock. There's no indication that that would be a fact. Nursing school is hard but I think many students just psyche themselves into a panic and that's not productive.

Reading here would probably be good, but I've often wondered since finding this site how I would have handled school if I was scared out of my wits by some of the postings I've seen here. One of the reasons I visit the student nursing board is because I'd like to teach nursing someday so I find the topics very interesting from that perspective. But sometimes I think the threads could have a negative impact as well. My heart goes out to some of the students here because I KNOW that they are working so hard. I just don't think it's productive to pre-study when you don't know the areas that the program will concentrate in. I guess it just depends on how much of a go-getter someone is. All I can say is that is very doable without pre-studying and I think taking time for yourself is soooooo important because there won't be much time when school starts. Best wishes to your cousin.

manna, BSN, RN

2,038 Posts

I agree with Lori. I say take the summer easy! There's plenty of hard schoolwork ahead, so why start now and risk getting burned out on classwork early? At least that's my philosophy. :D


431 Posts

I cast my vote for doing nothing! There won't be much time for that down the road.


431 Posts

I cast my vote for doing nothing! There won't be much time for that down the road. Reading this board is fun, too. It is interesting and informative, even the negative stuff.


1,569 Posts

Specializes in LDRP.

Actually, I'm going to disagreee. ;) I just got my intro packet for my ADN program and they have us reading two books ("self study" they call it) before orientation. One is on med terminology, the other on drug calculations. I've ordered my books ( woo-hoo) and am starting on my reading in hopes that it will make my first semester easier on me and my family. I say if you have extra time and have things you can work on, then do it! Call the nursing program youre enrolled in and see what they suggest. Yeah, its ALWAYS important to make time for yourself to have fun and enjoy life, but the next few years are for learning and youre going to get out of it what you put into it!! I have friends in their 2nd semester of the ADN program that WISH they had started in-especially on drug calculations-before they started the program. Anyway, whatever your friend or you decides, best of luck-and ENJOY the process!

orrnlori, RN

549 Posts

That's different. You have assigned reading that you are expected to complete. The OP was just questioning about reading text in general.


409 Posts

Specializes in Float Pool, ICU/CCU, Med/Surg, Onc, Tele.

I say she should make the most of the time off, while she can. Soon enough there will be school and then work. Last summer I went to Australia as well as visited some friends here in the states. I spent lots and lots of time just bonding with the kids. I had an 18 y/o recent HS graduate that I wanted to be sure to get one last special summer with before he hit college (although he's moved out of the dorms & back home now, but still in school), plus another teenager and we all know kids need their mommas & to feel special, so I just took the opportunity and made the most of it. We don't get this summer off, and the summer before nursing school I was working full time and taking pre-reqs. I'll never regret that summer spent with the kids... and my fond memories of Australia (waves @ GraceOZ) will last the rest of my life!

kahumai, RN

304 Posts

Specializes in Cardiac Telemetry.

I moved into a townhome last June, two months before starting nursing school. I just wanted to unpack my house and get my office ready for school. I say that if she's planning on taking the summer off, she should at least prepare a space to study in. Get folders, paper, notebooks....whatever it is that she needs to study....together in one place. If she takes the time to get organized before she starts school, she should have plenty of time to just sit back and relax (or read her books!!! :p )

I had the same question. I start nursing school August 23rd.

I am not per say "studying" anything, just scanning thru the books, getting an idea of what to expect.

Here are a few topics that may be good to review before school starts:

Metric Conversions

Drug Calculations

Vital Signs


Acid/Base Balance

I don't think actual studying would be wise, because each instructor is different, but getting an idea of what these topics consist of is just being smart. It is always easier to learn something that you at least have an idea about.

Of course the two weeks before school starts I will be doing NOTHING! Just getting my house organized and some long overdue spring cleaning.

Maybe some of the seasoned students can tell us what they did the summer before starting nursing school that helped them the most!


Specializes in Gynecology/Oncology.

So is it true that your gpa will drop like a rock? I only have a 3.0 right now, so I really can't afford for it to drop much lower than that. :uhoh21:

Altra, BSN, RN

6,255 Posts

Specializes in Emergency & Trauma/Adult ICU.

The summer before I started school we moved into our new house, so I spent the summer unpacking boxes and trying to get some level of organization above and beyond "total chaos."

I didn't read a single page until 2 days before my first A&P class, when I read the first chapter of the book and used my daughter as a live model to figure out distal, proximal, etc. :chuckle

I don't really know that it would be valuable to try to tackle a topic like fluids & electrolytes on your own - I give you all the credit in the world for being motivated, but so many things depend on the context, and you'll learn basic things about F&E, for example, in one class and then approach it in an entirely different manner in another class.

I guess the only thing I would recommend is some very basic medical terminology - about 50 word roots should do it (-ectomy, -ostomy, etc.) And relaxation - spend time with people who are important to you, time by yourself, read (for pleasure), walk, chant ... whatever does it for you!

For me, my activity to "center" myself was skydiving. Once I jumped out of a plane at 14,500 ft., I figured I could tackle anything ... :rotfl:

Good luck to all! :)

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