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Paying it forward


Hi all! I'm a not so recent new grad and I realize that there is a large amount of grief that nursing students go through. Honestly, I am SO glad it's over for me, at least the scary NCLEX part! (currently in a RN-BSN program so that's a whole other beast, but anyway).... Now that I'm done, I feel like my learning experience could have been a heck of a lot more streamlined if I would have just known a few things from the jump.....like Day 1 Fundamentals. So, I figured I would do my part and pay it forward for a few nursing students who may benefit from my tips (and yours, if you like).

#1 Critical Thinking: All I ever heard was "you have to critically think" or "on this exam, you are going to have to really use your critical thinking skills"......and I was always the one sitting there wanting to scream, "okay, but WHAT EXACTLY DOES THAT MEAN.....IN ENGLISH!!!

Best definition I could give anyone: Critical thinking means to look at something and think in terms of what you would do based on the X factor. So, look at the question, and break it down in terms of what the issues are (i.e. SOB, HR, ataxia, etc). Then, use what you know about disease process/interventions and deduce the BEST answer. In practice, your assessments lead you to do the same. BTW, learn how to do a thorough head to toe!

#2 BEST ANSWER: Sometimes, they are ALL correct. We know this. I learned to break down all correct answers in terms of ABC's, emergency, or safety. There is always a lead in the question that tells you what you need to do first/what is MOST important. ***DON'T SLEEP ON HOW IMPORTANT SAFETY IS, FOLKS!

#3 So Much Information!!!: There is A LOT to read. There is really no way around it but, there are certainly better study methods. Focus on learning to extract what you need to know about each section in those ginormous textbooks.

Example: Learning about Cholecystitis? (Or any other disease) Break it down into:

Patho/Etiology - What is it and what causes it

Assessment/Clinical Manif. - Signs/Symptoms (s/s)

Interventions- Meds, therapy

Nursing Diagnosis - a NANDA diagnosis

Complications - symptoms of worsening, possible risk factors

This is the stuff you will likely be tested on and need to refer to later on down the line. Also, yes, you must MUST know those lab values.....it's just something you have to suck up, it gets so easy to recall, I promise. ;)

Last thing, I know this sounds odd.....but buy an NCLEX book now and read through the sections as you move through your program. I discovered (like in the last 3 weeks of nursing school) that if I would have done this, my tear/frustration count would have been cut by about 1/3.

So, that's all I have, hope it helps someone. And to anyone who is a new grad or nearing, add some tips and pay it forward.

***Disclaimer, this is opinion, not the holy grail of advice.