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5 Study Tips from Someone Who Survived Nursing School

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by tinyRN72 tinyRN72, BSN (Member) Nurse

tinyRN72 has 6 years experience as a BSN and specializes in Cardiovascular Stepdown.

4 Articles; 2,486 Visitors; 71 Posts


I am going to share with you the 5 study tips that got me through Nursing school. These are easy to do, they will help you to be a more effective learner, and you will find that test taking will be less stressful. You will have confidence that you know what you need to know. This article is going to give you 5 tools that you can apply to any subject in nursing school and help you to succeed.

5 Study Tips from Someone Who Survived Nursing School

There is no doubt that nursing school is tough. For me, it was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. I attended an accelerated program and it seemed that every waking moment was comprised of something that related to school. Keeping up the pace required a fail-proof study plan. I'm happy to share my top tips with the next generation of nurses!

1. Teach someone else what you just learned.

As an adult student, I had a husband and 3 teenagers to help me study. I found that the very best way to remember what I had just read or learned in a lecture was to teach someone else the material. It started from by sheer excitement about what I was learning. I would be amazed by how some part of the body worked, what nurses do, or something that happened in the lab, and I would just have to tell someone about it - usually my husband. Before long, I realized that this really helped me commit the details to memory. Soon, I intentionally began telling him or one of the kids everything that I was learning. When it came time for a test, I was able to recall the information. Teaching someone else forces you to know the material. You must think it over, put it in your own words, and regurgitate it. This process helps your brain analyze, process and store the information. If you stop reading right now, this 1 tip alone will help you greatly.

2. Make flash cards and use them to study in small bites.

Use your own style to make flashcards. Some people choose the question and answer method, but for me, I just wrote down things that I knew I must memorize. I kept my flash cards with me at all times and read them over and over whenever I had time. I took the bus to school, so I used that time to read my flashcards. I also read them while standing in line at the grocery store, while waiting to get my oil changed, and any other time when I had 5 minutes to spare. This really helped me to memorize drug classes, signs and symptoms, steps for performing procedures and many other things. Keeping your flashcards handy really lets you take advantage of small bites of time which would otherwise be wasted, and those short slots of time really add up. Soon recalling the information on your cards will come very easy to you.

3. Draw pictures of bones and other body parts.

This was my secret weapon against anatomy. Staring at photos in the textbook and trying to memorize the names of bones, muscles and other body parts just didn't cut it for me. However, when I decided to make flashcards to study, I realized that sitting down and drawing the details of the bones, and the names of each point and bump on the bones really helped to cement the names in my mind. Then I also had the flashcards to continue my memorization. Yes, I did have one of those handy flip books issued to all anatomy students, but I found it really didn't help until I incorporated the tactile sensation and concentration that it took to make detailed drawings. Just like when you teach someone else, using a different part of your brain (as in drawing) really helps to implant the information and recall becomes much easier.

4. Watch videos about the subject matter.

Reading your textbook is an absolute must, don't get me wrong, but after you read the information, try to find some good videos to watch. YouTube is a great place to find videos on just about any topic. It is very important that you find reliable sources, but they are out there. Many of the top universities have YouTube videos that further explain nursing topics. By watching a video, you incorporate your visual sense which can truly help you remember the details. You know what they say - seeing is believing!

5. Find a way to relate what you learned to real life.

Nursing school is full of topics that almost anyone can relate to real life. Who in your family has heart disease? When studying cardiology, relate what you learned to that person. Did they struggle with edema or shortness of breath? What tests and procedures did they have? How do they manage their disease process? Relating what you learned in Nursing school to something tangible in your life lets you put a face to it. When it comes to test time, you can see this person in your life, what they go through and you will remember the things you need to know. (Hint) You can also go teach them about their disease and how to take better care of themselves for bonus learning.

I'm sure that by now you have noticed a pattern in my 5 Tips for Surviving Nursing School. If I had condensed this to just 1 suggestion it would be this: find a way to incorporate multiple senses into your study habits. Try to find ways to visualize that what have learned. Use your creative side to draw or make a model, or write a song relating to your topic. Incorporate your emotions by connecting your lessons to your life outside of school (if you still have a sliver of life outside of Nursing school). Let my 5 top study tips be your inspiration for finding the exact methods that work for you.

And one last thing - You got this!

Melissa Gallant has been a Registered Nurse for 6 years. She specializes in cardiovascular nursing and is currently working toward her BSN.

4 Articles; 2,486 Visitors; 71 Posts

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