Pointers for Success in Nursing School

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You just received your acceptance letter into nursing school. How exciting! You are about to embark on a life-changing journey, a wondrous career and an entirely new culture and way of thinking. What are some pointers to increase your chances of success?

Specializes in Gerontological, cardiac, med-surg, peds. Has 16 years experience.

Pointers for Success in Nursing School

The most important thing is to maintain a positive outlook. One of the definitions of courage is being aware of personal weaknesses, fears, and uncertainty, yet forging ahead anyway.

Believe in yourself.

Every day upon arising, look at yourself in the mirror and say, "I can do this!" then, take it one day at a time, one week at a time, one test at a time. Take the opportunity now to hone your study skills and strategize for that challenging first semester ahead.

Another key to success in nursing school is don't get behind. Stay up with your reading assignments, papers, and projects. Plan ahead by mapping out the semester for each course, noting when each assignment is due.

Don't procrastinate.

Waiting until the last minute often proves disastrous in nursing school. This takes discipline, but every day, do whatever it takes to "stay on top."

You are probably aware of this from earlier college-level courses, but for each hour of lecture, it generally takes three hours per week of intense studying. This is especially true in nursing school. Don't ever, ever get behind in your reading or comprehension of a topic.

This leads to the third key to success in nursing school: make sure you fully understand the subject material.

Don't be discouraged.

If you are unable to understand a subject the first time around then take the initiative right then to seek out the instructor and do whatever it takes until you fully comprehend that content. Write out difficult material in your own words. This really helps with understanding, and it causes you to look at the content from many different angles.

You will need a thorough comprehension of the content material in order to do well on the examinations. Nclex-type nursing examinations are a culture shock for new nursing students, even those entering the program with a 4.0. Nursing tests are unlike most tests, in that you, the learner, will be tested on a higher level. Instead of merely asking for regurgitation of "knowledge," you will be asked to apply and analyze the material on the tests.

Here is an entire thread on successful test-taking strategies, and another with excellent resources on nursing math. Make sure you bookmark these for later use!

Purchase anN NCLEX-style review book.

I highly advise purchasing a good NCLEX-style review book. It will be worth its weight in gold, I promise! I recommend the current Saunders Comprehensive NCLEX Review, but make sure you purchase one with questions broken down by subject matter. This way, when the lecturer is going over a certain topic in class (such as fluid and electrolytes), you can review the questions in the NCLEX book. Test taking is a skill just like anything else - you will get better with practice. Make sure you go over each question by examining each of the answers and rationales. Make sure you understand the rationales (why the answer was right or wrong). Doing this will greatly improve your test-taking skills and your comprehension of the course content material.

Again, congratulations! Hopefully, these three key pointers for success will prove very helpful to you in the exciting journey ahead.

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45 Comment(s)

sonia211

Has 3 years experience.

Good point Vicky. I am currently in Nursing School and all the pointers you gave are ones I would give myself.

Although you are in nursing school need support and want to establish friendships with peers - remember you are there for YOURSELF at the end of the day. If other people are there for other reasons forget about them and focus on obtaining your nursing qualification!

Speaking of being a success in nursing school..........I think I am lacking courage....I have completed all of the pre-requisites for a nursing program and have previously earned a Liberal Arts degree with a concentration in the social sciences.

So, I have the motivation and I have the ability to learn. Thank God.

However, I am at the point where I am applying into a nursing program but know that I will not be able to work the hours I am now and get through the program. I am a single parent, running a daycare, own a house and am not sure what step to take next to work less hours and still be able to pay my bills.

I have come VERY FAR and am very afraid that my efforts may be for naught if I can't figure out how to get through the rest.

Any suggestions as to how to pay my bills while finishing the last two years of clinicals? I've tried applying for patient care technician and secreterial positions in the local hospitals but NEVER get a phone call for an interview. Any tips on on how to land one of these jobs?

Frustrated but hopeful.

Vicky... Thank you for your kind words and great tips! It is an exciting time for new students like myself!!! It is odd but I find myself looking forward to the hectic, stressful times to come!! Famous last words, perhaphs!! :)

VickyRN, MSN, DNP, RN

Specializes in Gerontological, cardiac, med-surg, peds. Has 16 years experience.

Speaking of being a success in nursing school..........I think I am lacking courage....I have completed all of the pre-requisites for a nursing program and have previously earned a Liberal Arts degree with a concentration in the social sciences.

So, I have the motivation and I have the ability to learn. Thank God.

However, I am at the point where I am applying into a nursing program but know that I will not be able to work the hours I am now and get through the program. I am a single parent, running a daycare, own a house and am not sure what step to take next to work less hours and still be able to pay my bills.

I have come VERY FAR and am very afraid that my efforts may be for naught if I can't figure out how to get through the rest.

Any suggestions as to how to pay my bills while finishing the last two years of clinicals? I've tried applying for patient care technician and secreterial positions in the local hospitals but NEVER get a phone call for an interview. Any tips on on how to land one of these jobs?

Frustrated but hopeful.

This indeed is a tough situation, but not insurmountable. You've made it this far - don't give up now! Please make an appointment with the financial officer at your college or university to investigate scholarships and financial aid programs. Often there are many promising scholarships available - and just as often, students are totally unaware of these opportunities. Fll out the online FAFSA form, if you haven't already done so. Also, you may be able to land an easy work-study job at your college or university (such as helping out at the library). These types of jobs often allow studying while on duty. If you can find a job where you have opportunity to study while on the clock, this is ideal for nursing school.

I just found out today that i got accepted to nursing school i start in the fall of this year. :clpty:

this was so helpful to me.. I just decided to go to Nursing sch i am trying to figure out HOW I am going to do this though...should I attend a certificate program(9mos) or go to a local comm. college(18 mos)... I have to work fulltime... any suggestions I am soo intimidated by school... particularly nursing school.

VickyRN, MSN, DNP, RN

Specializes in Gerontological, cardiac, med-surg, peds. Has 16 years experience.

I just found out today that i got accepted to nursing school i start in the fall of this year. :clpty:

Congratulations!!!

Hello there!

I am currently a nursing student and I appreciate your advice!! I am always looking for advice and I am always interested to see how people study and handle their student work loads. I just started Nursing school about a month ago and I can already feel the strain! But I guess it just takes some getting used to! I know I can make it through, and it really helps to have a good study group, they know exactly what your going through in life and in school! It really makes a difference in my opinion.

VickyRN, MSN, DNP, RN

Specializes in Gerontological, cardiac, med-surg, peds. Has 16 years experience.

Hello there!

I am currently a nursing student and I appreciate your advice!! I am always looking for advice and I am always interested to see how people study and handle their student work loads. I just started Nursing school about a month ago and I can already feel the strain! But I guess it just takes some getting used to! I know I can make it through, and it really helps to have a good study group, they know exactly what your going through in life and in school! It really makes a difference in my opinion.

Glad this was helpful to you, marykelsch :) You may also want to check out the many resources on the Nursing Student Assistance Forum. Best wishes to you.

Hello! I'm currently in the RN program, and I can honestly say that it's pretty intense! The pointers you have suggested is what I basically go by. I continuously have to be in a positive mind set in order to motivate myself, as well as my fellow classmates. Having a positive out look helps me to move forward and try everything possible to survive and succeed in the RN program. I've been using a lot of time management skills and prioritizing my assignments. With taking Anatomy, Physiology, Microbiology, Math, LVN to RN role transition, and Academic Strategies in the first semester of school calls for time management! Since the beginning of the program I have manage to divide my time wisely in order to devote my studying time into each of these subjects, as well as providing time to finish assignments. With school consuming most of my time it can be very stressful! But I've found that being involved with group studying, and making friends was a way for me to alleviate my stress with school. Working with a group brings out a lot of critical thinking from each of the individuals, which I think is very important especially when we're in a program that encourages our critical thinking skills. Having peers in the program helps a lot with stress because we pretty much all have the same stressors that we can talk about and find ways to alleviate these stressors. But no matter what challenges await me, I just have to stay positive and be on top of everything! Positivity goes a long way!