Time Management: Preparing To Be A SUCCESSFUL Nursing Student

Time management evaluation and preparation for successful nursing students. Students General Students Article


Time Management: Preparing To Be A SUCCESSFUL Nursing Student

So you're considering applying to a nursing program? Or you just got accepted? Congratulations! Now what? How do you prepare yourself and your family for the major time commitment you are about to tackle?

Many students are already entrenched in their nursing education by the time the reality of the time needs, and other demands, hits them. More than half of nursing students continue to work during their education. While working is often necessary to pay the bills, and a job in the healthcare industry is great experience for nursing students, students often do not fully realize the effect their work hours have on their education. Many are unprepared for the time commitment of a nursing program until they reach a crisis point with their grades. Once a student begins their nursing program, it is often difficult for them to make adjustments to work and family commitments, so they are trying to just keep their head above water during their first semesters. One of the major aspects students underestimate is the extra studying required for the nursing courses that have lab and clinical components because they have been able to manage with good grades during their prerequisite courses. Did you know that at most colleges and universities, for each hour of credit in a lecture course there are 10 hours required in the classroom. By comparison, for each hour of credit that is lab- or clinical-based, 30 hours are required. In addition to those 30 hours of in-person contact hours, studying is more intense and time-consuming than it was for pre-requisite courses and out of class preparatory work is often required for nursing clinical pre-assessment. Research and studying that is required to be prepared for clinical days can take several extra hours each week.


Let's look at a few ways for you to prepare your life for your future in a nursing program. Time management is simply optimally using the time available by planning and prioritizing. There is a positive correlation between effective time management skills and academic achievement, stress reduction, and student satisfaction with their nursing program, whereas, poor time management can reduce motivation, lead to academic failure and ultimately dropping out. First, evaluate everything in your life that sucks time from your life, this is all your current time commitments and responsibilities. There are plenty of free Time Management Worksheets available to download and print online that will allow you to track every activity you do. I suggest you track activities for 1 to 2 weeks to get a good sense of where you might be routinely wasting time. You will probably be surprised at how much those little times of watching your favorite TV show (or binge-watching...hey, nobody's judging you for that!) can add up to be a major time waster throughout the week.


Now that you've evaluated where all your time is going and know how many hours are required a week for each activity in your life, it's time to map out your time plan! Use a similar hourly planer as you used for evaluating, but this time we're going to designate class and study time. Use a printable one like this to get started, and then go buy a good planner for school! Map out all of your firm commitments such as work, class, clinicals (don't forget to include the hours for clinical pre-assessment if required), study time, family time, kids activities, church, etc.  Remember that you are still human and still need to eat and sleep! Don't forget to include a little time each week to take care of yourself – get out and enjoy nature, hang out with friends, play a video game, watch a movie, get a massage, etc. (If you don't take care of yourself now, you won't be able to take care of others later!) Once you've mapped out your time commitments do you still have a solid 8 hours each night for sleep? Do you have time needed to spend with your family? If not, it's time to evaluate all the activities you looked at before during the evaluation phase and decide what can be sacrificed for the next 2 years. If one of your activities is a 2 hour a week book club, poetry reading at a coffee shop, boxing class at the gym, or being a scout leader, you might need to put those on hold for now in order to have the appropriate amount of time to study each week.


What's important to remember when you evaluate and prioritize each of your activities is that making something a lower priority for now is not permanent! Once you graduate and have that first nursing job, all of the sacrifices you've made along the way will be worth it! And, then you can celebrate and add back some of those things you've been missing in your life!


Ghiasvand, A., Naderi, M., Tafreshi, M., Ahmadi, F., & Hosseini, M. (2017). Relationship between time management skills and anxiety and academic motivation of nursing students in Tehran. Electronic physician, 9(1), 3678-3684. doi:10.19082/3678

Hamshire, C., Willgoss, T. G., & Wibberley, C. (2013). Should I stay or should I go? A study exploring why healthcare students consider leaving their programme. Nurse Education Today, 33(8), 889-895. doi:10.1016/j.nedt.2012.08.013

Reyes, H., Hartin, V., Loftin, C., Davenport, D., & Carter, V. (2012). The impact of employment on nursing students' academic performance. Nurse Educator, 37(5), 218-221. doi:10.1097/nne.0b013e318262abc9

I took the long route to get to where I am today. I first started as a CNA, then LPN, RN, BSN, and now MSN. Most of my experience has been in Medical-Surgical nursing, with a smattering of outpatient infusion, home health, and a stint as an EMR analyst.

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