Nursing school would be so much easier if there was one magical study plan that worked for everyone. Just like each patient's plan of care must be individualized to meet the needs of that patient, each student's study plan must be individualized to meet the needs of that student.
I was a good student in high school, but not so much in college. So, I ended up taking a lengthy break in my educational career and enrolled in the "real" world of working - waitressing, fast food, emergency medical technician were just a few of my adventures. Once I figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up (which took me over a decade!), I then had to learn how to study for nursing school. Different environment (online learning), different dynamics in my life (on my own, working 2 jobs) and different stakes for learning (so knew enough to take quality care of people and not kill them). Now I as have returned to school to complete my BSN, I have taken some time to reflect upon on some things that have allowed me to establish a study plan is successful for me.
Ensure you understand the expectations for each class.
Read through the syllabus upon receiving it to see what the objectives for the class are, what the assignments are, and how grades work. Ensure you have all the texts you need. Also ensure that you can access any online software required for the class and figure out how to use it. Nothing is worse that putting a lot of effort into an assignment only to realize you can't figure out how to submit it on time to be graded. Sometimes assignments will seem like busy work or unnecessary. In hindsight as a practicing nurse, you may view this differently.
Look at your own schedule considering family obligations, work schedules, upcoming social events.
Plan ahead for busy times to ensure you complete studying and assignments for your course(s). Figure out times to study that will work for you. Setting aside a couple hours to study early in the morning won't work if you can't get out of bed. Figure out what activities/ events you are willing and able to compromise to ensure you have adequate time for studying.
Identify available resources.
With all the technology and apps available today, there are so many resources. And many are portable to boot - no more carrying around the 50 lb. backpack straining at the seams from books! Network with others to find out about helpful resources and apps. Also explore what resources your school offers - often times there are awesome (and free) resources that are underused because no one knows about them. Also, don't forget people resources. Maybe you have a retired neighbor who used to be a teacher and would love to provide feedback on a presentation. Or the friend from work who's a whiz at science.
Don't reinvent the wheel.
Build upon knowledge you've already acquired and figure out how to appropriately apply it to your classes. For example, I had worked as an emergency medical technician for several years prior to entering my nursing program. I already had acronyms for several assessments to ensure I completed all the steps in a logical manner; I simply modified them to remember all the required steps of a nursing assessment.
Appreciate differences and look for learning opportunities in clinical settings.
I learn something from every person I meet. Sometimes cool new tricks or approaches that I plan to implement. Other times, it serves as a warning not to try something. Nursing and EMS are very different in regards to the theories and sometimes the goals. Identifying the differences allowed me to better understand the material in some cases. Differences are not always black and white, right and wrong. In diverse areas of nursing, approaches can be very different. It is understanding what is appropriate for a given setting and why. Also keep in mind that new research yields new information and sometimes changes how things are approached or skills are performed. Don't necessarily judge someone as doing something "wrong", they may be performing it as they were taught, according to a facility policy or it may be appropriate for that setting but not others. Look for appropriate times to ask questions and listen non-judgmentally to the responses.
Reassess current study habits.
Note how prepared you feel when you attend class. Monitor your grades. These are just a couple of ways to assess the effectiveness of your study habits. If all is well, great. If not, consider changing your study habits or methods before it is too late. Ask for assistance or investigate different study techniques. Try different methods of approaching studying. Reevaluate whether you need to get more organized or seek additional resources.
Practice good self-care.
Not only physical self-care (diet, exercise, and sleep), but also learning good mental and spiritual self-care. Learn strategies to help you with stress management. Make church a priority if it recharges you. Spend time with positive friends who provide encouragement and support.
Unfortunately, learning does not stop when you graduate from nursing school or pass the NCLEX. It's just getting started. Throughout your nursing career, learning opportunities will continue to present. New research findings being implemented on your unit, changes to procedures, skills assessments - the list never ends. Developing effective study habits that work for you will make this process smoother no matter what area of nursing you find yourself in or where you work.