Tips for a Struggling Nursing Student?

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I'm a second year nursing student and I'm struggling with nursing, esp. pharmacology. Unfourtunately I'm retaking pharm along with a clinical class and micro this semester. I'm looking for studying tips because studying for me has been a struggle. I've tried a tutor and that did not really help. My studying strategies have always been reading notes and book chapters, but I'm not sure how many days I should look over the material before the test because I don't want to over or understudy. Any suggestions?

2ndyearstudent, CNA

Specializes in CNA. 381 Posts

My studying strategies have always been reading notes and book chapters, but I'm not sure how many days I should look over the material before the test because I don't want to over or understudy. Any suggestions?

First, I would stop worring about over or understudying and start focusing on your learning objectives. If you are the type of person who repeatedly asks, "Do I really have to know this?" Stop being that person. Given the objectives you should know if you have to know it.

Here are a couple suggestions:

1. Read/Skim the material *before* lecture. The sooner you get that first exposure to the material, the better chance you have of solidfying it later.

2. Join / Create a study group. Make sure the goals of the group are known before each session. (NOTE: Resist the temptation to split up the objectives with your study group then trade notes. This will make you feel good but you won't learn much). This one is easy for me as I tend to run the study groups I am in.

3. Get and practice with NCLEX type review questions from any source you can. Study Guides, NCLEX Review books, Evolve or whatever online source your school was bamboozled into making you buy - whatever.

4. When doing the NCLEX questions, MAKE SURE you discuss/think about the rationale for why you chose a certain answer. Go back to the material when you don't have or don't understand a rationale. Guessing and getting it right is not helpful.

5. Repeat 1-4 as necessary. There is no magic number of days to absorb material. Start early and work on getting the stuff in your brain as much as you can.

nerdtonurse?, BSN, RN

Specializes in ICU, Telemetry. 3 Articles; 2,043 Posts

For me, it came down to one thing. Learn the HOW and WHY. Then you can figure out the WHAT.

For example: if you have a patient who presents with pacemaker failure, what would you expect to see?

Let's see. A pacemaker is designed to fire the Right Ventricle (okay, I know it can be more complicated than that, but let's go for a simple one, not a A/V paced AICD). So, what happens when your right ventricle doesn't fire? Where does the blood back up to? It backs up to the first openings it finds in the superior and inferior vena cava. So, if the blood's backing up in the superior vena cava, what do you think your patient's jugular veins are going to look liKe? They're going to be swollen, right? And what about the blood backing up into the inferior vena cava? Do you think this person might develop portal hypertension? So, what would that look like? If you know HOW the heart works, you can figure out WHY a person would have JVD distension for a right sided failure, and crackles in the lungs for left sided failure. You'd know WHAT to look for. In the real post-school world, it's not uncommon to get somone who's unconscious or so out of it you can't immediately get a history. You're guessing at surgical history by inventories of scars.

If you've got an upcoming test on the GI tract, pull out the A&P books and look back over the GI section. If you understand the underlying pathophysiology and A&P, you've got a shot of understanding how to figure out the question. Visualize what symptoms would look like; use YouTube for instructional videos. Don't worry about "over/under" studying. I don't think it's truly possible to "over study" -- the more you know, the more questions you get right!

WandererRNBSN, BSN

Specializes in LTC, Med-Surg, Special Care, Postpartum. Has 9 years experience. 16 Posts

some things that helped me a lot in my med-surg semester was studying in advance atmost a week in advance, and then concentrating on the topics i didn't understand and using the book to clarify my notes. then i rewrote all of my notes, an i voice recorded my notes, and played them while driving in my car (by putting this cassesste adapter in my cassessette player and plugging into my recorder), or anytime i had downtime. i also bought saunder's nclex and the prestige review for med-surg. they both helped alot. it took me awhile to switch up my study method to figure out what worked for me. imo that's what you will have to do too, to figure out which method makes the material stick. i hope this helps! :stdnrsrck:

dunitrazzy

10 Posts

In my program we have pharm both our first year as well as second year. I studied my pharm every day, I wrote out notecards and even went as far as writing out categories on freezer paper and posting them up on my wall so that I could see them every day. Once I became familiar with the drugs it was easy for me during clinicals to associate the drugs, why and how they are used. Every day I would cover new material and begin with a review of what I went over the previous days, I would just add a little more. I would say I easily spent over 7 hours a week studying for pharm and it paid off for me.

Lots of luck!

kfactor

29 Posts

First, I would stop worring about over or understudying and start focusing on your learning objectives. If you are the type of person who repeatedly asks, "Do I really have to know this?" Stop being that person. Given the objectives you should know if you have to know it.

I really liked this - I think I'm rather burnt and really struggling myself - wishing that nursing school weren't feeling like such a race to cram information. Any thoughts for those of us who 1) need to get 2-3 hours of sleep to function and 2) are slow readers (which I must be) -I really hate feeling like I'm cramming for exams instead of learning and really digesting the information but just need to somehow have more than 24 hours in the day I think ???

kfactor

29 Posts

Actually these all were helpful - thanks - (especially the reasoning piece from nerdtonurse? (like the name a lot btw)). I was struck and had to reread another post referring to studying pharmacology 7 hours per week (I kept thinking it had to say per day) - and clearly I'm not being an efficient studier - but, well I liked these posts so much-and would like to ask you folks how you might suggest using the next 4 weeks to prepare for a second med-surg course -

Azure1213

28 Posts

Thanks alot for the tips, they really seem helpful, I can't wait to use them! Would also breaking down your notes into smaller chunks be easier to study be a good tip too? Sometimes my nursing lectures cover alot of stuff and i have a friend who did that. I recently purchased pharmacology and med surg made easy so hopefully that will make both classes a little easier too.

Servingshots

391 Posts

Thanks alot for the tips, they really seem helpful, I can't wait to use them! Would also breaking down your notes into smaller chunks be easier to study be a good tip too? Sometimes my nursing lectures cover alot of stuff and i have a friend who did that. I recently purchased pharmacology and med surg made easy so hopefully that will make both classes a little easier too.

I break my notes up into chunks and that has helped me soo much! It helps me stay focused and also helps me retain more when I break things down and focus on that chunk before I move on to the next...good luck!

Dazglue, ADN, BSN, MSN, RN

Has 8 years experience. 380 Posts

One thing that help me were reviewing the material before class. During class I learn. After class I study. Then a couple of days before the exam I practice exam questions on the material, such as NCLEX style so I can review the rationale. That really helped me!

INLPN93

Specializes in LTC. Has 18 years experience. 148 Posts

You sound like I did when I took A & P, first time in 1992 a one semester very basic intro for LPN and then in 2010 for ASN.

I looked for books that focused on that subject, making everything in easy terms for me to remember.

The biggest help I found was my local public library, I looked up the subject & found several books from easy to you have got to be kidding me hard.

Checked a couple out, took notes and returned them.

I got a solid C for the class, and my 6 credits. On the first time.

Most of all, it was FREE.

Azure1213

28 Posts

I did something similar to that, and it helped me pass the clincial course i failed with a B.