Whether you are fresh out of high school or are a seasoned nursing professional working toward a higher degree, nursing school is challenging. Between the books that need to be read, the hours that need to be spent studying, and the days that need to be spent working with patients to gain real-world experience, earning your degree can feel like a distant dream. Add family and friends to the mix, and you might feel like your goal of becoming a nurse – or obtaining a higher degree – is impossible.
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The good news, though, is that by developing excellent student habits, you can rise to the top of your class while still enjoying your personal life. Before you give up on your dream of wearing a stylish scrub dress to your first day of work, check out these study habits to help you become a top-performing nurse!
Master Time Management
Balancing work, classes, time with family and friends, and studying takes some serious time management skills and planning. If you don’t plan carefully, it will be nearly impossible to keep up with all of your responsibilities.
The easiest way to manage your time is by breaking each day down into blocks. Then, assign different tasks to each block based on their importance. As a nursing student, your most important blocks are schoolwork and sleep. Block out sufficient time for attending classes, studying, and getting adequate rest.
From there, block out time for work, spending time with family and friends, and any other responsibilities you may have. Make time to relax and take care of yourself, too, to help prevent burnout.
Keep a master calendar, and stick to it. It takes a lot of discipline, but, once you’ve gotten the hang of it, managing your time in this way can help you be a more efficient student and a top-performing nurse after graduation.
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In nursing school, it doesn’t work to “cram” for a test and hope for the best. As a nurse, you need to understand the material and know how to use it in real-world situations. While you may be able to pass a written exam following an all-night cram session, this type of studying will not prepare you for a job in the field or aid you in developing the solid reasoning skills needed by nurses.
When it comes to studying, effectiveness and efficiency should be your priorities. If you have a lot of material to cover, break it down into a few one-hour sessions instead of one longer session consisting of several hours. Doing so makes it easier to comprehend and retain the information. Be realistic about how much time it will take you to finish studying or completing your assignment, and leave yourself some wiggle room in case it takes longer.
Avoid distractions, too. If you want to get the most out of your study session, switch off your phone or at least mute your notifications. Put any books and materials you do not need away. Depending on how prone you are to giving into temptation when it comes to distractions, you may even want to clear miscellaneous objects – like pens and knick-knacks – off your work surface.
Know When to Ask for Help
Whether you are new to nursing school or working toward an advanced degree, asking for help is not easy for most people. It can seem like a sign of weakness or even make you feel like a failure, but it isn’t. Asking for help shows that you are willing to do whatever it takes to reach your goals. It also proves that you are not too proud to accept guidance from someone else.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to your classmates or instructor if you are struggling with the material. It is helpful to talk to more experienced nurses, too, since they have likely been through exactly what you are going through now. Whether they offer up helpful advice or just provide a listening ear and reassurance, the people you reach out to can help you get through the most difficult parts of nursing school. And getting comfortable with asking questions as a student will come in handy when you’re working at your first job and need help.
Set Realistic Goals
Setting realistic study goals is key to nursing school success. Sure, it would be awesome to spend your entire weekend studying, but is that realistic? When you set unrealistic goals and fail to achieve them, you create unnecessary disappointment that might cause you to question whether you’re cut out for nursing school in the first place. On the other hand, when you set realistic goals and reach them, you build the confidence you need to keep going.
Remember to set small goals as you work toward your main goal, too. The ultimate goal is earning your desired degree, but, if that’s the only thing you focus on, you will likely struggle. Get in the habit of making small daily, weekly, and monthly goals. You will feel great as you check each one off your list. Developing this habit while in school will help in your future career, too, as setting small goals is a good way to make it through long shifts without feeling overwhelmed.
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Nursing school is hard. Because it’s hard, you deserve to reward yourself for every accomplishment you make along the way. Graduation day isn’t the only time you get to celebrate your successes! Treat yourself to your favorite ice cream after doing well on a test, buy the new men’s jogger scrubs you’ve had your eye on to reward yourself for studying when you wanted to be lazy, or buy yourself a fancy coffee to celebrate making it to campus on time on a Monday morning. Every victory deserves to be rewarded!
Being a nursing student is a lot of hard work. With the tips listed above, though, you can develop good study habits that will translate into excellent skills to use in the workplace.