1. My go-to apps
UpToDate- I live in UpToDate. Any question I have, UpToDate is my go-to resource for the most current information and guidelines. Everything can be found there, in one, easy to use place. Also, if you are researching a possible diagnosis, it also offers you a list of differential diagnoses that can help aid in your clinical decision process. The best part is, this is a resource that should be free through your university or workplace. Check first before you buy a subscription.
Medscape- I use the Medscape app mostly when I am looking up medication: indications, dosages, compatibility and side effects. The app also offers current news in healthcare, a calculator for medical formulas and is a reference for medical conditions.
GoodRx- GoodRx is a unique tool allowing you to search for medication costs at multiple local pharmacies. A good habit to get into is to see how much you will be costing your patients and the overall healthcare system. Also, you will be surprised how many first-line medications are available to treat the same condition, but one could cost a lot more than the other.
2. Find a solid group of NP student colleagues
Much like nursing school, in a nurse practitioner program, you will develop friendships that will last a lifetime. This will be the group that you study with, look forward to seeing in class, send out friendly reminders to, bounce ideas off of, work together in group projects, vent your frustrations, and have your back when you are in a pinch or when you need a place to sleep and take a quiz that is due at midnight because your power is out
3. Take A Vacation
To be able to do this, first, know the calendar of the University you are attending. Find the dates of when one semester is ending and another is beginning. This is the time when it is the safest to travel. Also, it will give you something to focus on and look forward to when the semester is becoming unbearable.
4. Don't get behind in logging your clinical hours
As much as this is "busy" work, it really is important that you do not fall behind in logging your hours for two reasons. First, once you get behind, forget it. You will only continue to get further behind and you will be spending countless hours trying to log them all in one sitting. Second, take the time to turn logging your hours into a learning experience. Use this time to fully understand billing and diagnosis codes, what they mean and when it is appropriate to use which one. Doing the leg work now will only help you down the road.
5. Make an appointment with the writing center
A resource that is frequently underutilized is your University's writing center. I learned this lesson very early as an undergraduate student. In one or two appointments, my grade could go from a B to an A. Also, they are APA wizards, something that will help keep you from losing easy points.
6. Be on top of your schedule
Your schedule is everything. This takes time, strategy, organization and double checking your work. Do not forget to place all quizzes and assignment due dates in your schedule as well. Classes are not designed with a ton of points to fall back on and if you forget to take a quiz or turn in an assignment, you can forget the entire semester. You will not pass the class if you forget to do one of the above and in graduate school, there are no redos. As a soon to be NP, it will be expected that you will be able to manage and handle your schedule with no excuses.
7. Eat right and exercise
Nurse practitioner school is no excuse to let yourself go in the diet and exercise department. Your body will need the fuel to make it through the program. Eating fast food/highly processed foods will only make you feel worse and slow you down. Also, taking the time to get in your exercise will help you clear your head and relieve some stress.
8. Find your clinical sites yesterday
Not all NP programs find clinical sites for you. If your school requires you to find your sites, do this ASAP. This is something that you think you might be able to do last minute, but this process can be like a full-time job. It would be terrible to get this far in the program and not be able to move forward because you do not have a clinical site.
9. Get involved with Nurse Practitioner professional organizations
Meeting nursing colleagues that are currently practicing and who were once in your shoes is very comforting and exciting at the same time. You will meet people who you currently look up to and will be one day. Also, you will be able to gain knowledge from experienced practitioners about their current practice and what lessons they have learned that will prevent you from making the same mistakes.
Only one semester left! Good luck to all of my soon to be Nurse Practitioner friends!
If you like this article then you might want to check out Michael's new book for nurses...
Code Blue! Now What? Learn What To Do When Your Patients Need You The Most!