My main recommendations to anyone:
-Show up to every class, every clinical, every lab. This is only as important as YOU feel it is, and if your outside life is more important, then maybe THIS isn't important enough to complete. I took a semester off when my husband became ill and I knew I wouldn't be able to put the time it took to do the work. But once he got better, I took time off from my life again to do this nursing school thing, because it's that important to me, and to my family. Yes life happens, but you have to prioritize. If you have a family, enlist the help of every able bodied person to help you get this done. I always say it's not just me going to nusing school, it's my whole damn family.
-Take notes. Write it all down. Write things you need clarification on and ask questions AFTER lecture. Even if they have power points available online. TAKE NOTES. Don't tape the lecture and not take notes. You'll miss things on even the best recordings, empasis placed by the instructors on items by stopping and making diagrams for instance. Especially don't tape the lectures intending to later make notes and then never bother. Did I mention taking notes?
-Read everything they assign. Then read it again. Do the questions in the back of the chapters. Take the quizzes that accompany every article. Keep doing it until you know the answers without looking it up.
- If you don't know what something means (a word, a phrase, an abbreviation) LOOK IT UP or ask someone else. Don't just "wing it".
- Pick the hardest patients with the most complicated diagnosis and look up the pathophysiology. Then apply the patho to your careplan and make your interventions make sense to what you can actually do for your patient. We cannot cure, we CARE for our patients. Curing is the doctor's responsibility. The medical diagnosis only guides us in what to expect as far as symptoms we can make nursing diagnosises for and use interventions on. Don't just buy a careplan book and expect to understand how congestive heart failure or COPD works and be able to apply it to the lecture test. Try to pick patients that week that will apply to the next test so you are doing your studying when doing your careplan. Look up every drug that patient is taking and figure out why they are taking it. What will the medication do to help the reason they take it?
-Never believe that because you have some knowledge in whatever is being taught that you know enough and expect an A. I've been working in healthcare for 15 years before starting nursing school. I set aside any knowledge I think I have and I'm learning this from the bottom up. Yes I may know terminology a bit better than the average student. I may know how to find what I need in a patient's chart. But I suspend any thoughts about disease process and patient care when it comes to nursing school. I need to know this stuff to pass NClex, and I certainly don't know enough to pass it without nursing school.
-Nursing school often teaches the perfect patient. "this is the way a patient will react when exposed to this disease, syndrome, medication.." you get the idea. Even if you know someone who reacts differently, when it comes to the TEST, you are taught how this perfect patient will react when exposed to this disease, syndrome, medication...Don't think outside that perfect patient. Just answer that question. Don't read anything else into it.
-Don't believe you know everything about some particular disease even if you yourself has the disease. Especially don't think you know about a disease if someone you know has the disease.