How to survive the first year of Nursing School

Posted by Kristen Salisbury on

  1. Stay organized: Keep track of deadlines, assignments, and test dates to stay on top of your work. Use a planner or calendar to stay organized. Nothing is worse when you have so much to keep track between al your school work and your own personal life things, and getting completely lost and/or God forbid forget finishing an assignment because you didn't have it written down somewhere. I recommend the moment you get your assignment due dates, clinical dates, SIM lab times, lectures, etc to write them in your planner calendar IMMEDIATELY! Check it over often. Look ahead for the following week and see what you can get done ahead of time. But, staying organized is imperative for success! 

  2. Attend all classes: Attendance is crucial in nursing school as much of the material covered in class will be necessary for your exams. Not to mention, it is part of your grade for showing up and engaging in the conversation over the topics. But in all seriousness, its SO important to come to every single lecture where you can learn new material and above everything, your time to ASK QUESTIONS. Look ahead of what will be covered during that lecture and have questions ready. The professor always tries their best to answer as much as possible and keep on track with the material that needs to be taught, but sometimes even then you may have more follow up questions. If thats the case, make an appointment with your professor if you still need more help on anything. Be sure to speak up! Because unfortunately, next lecture will not be reviewing back over the lecture from previous, they will just keep adding to it. 

  3. Participate in class: This goes hand in hand to the second tip of why going to lecture is so important. Ask questions and actively participate in discussions to better understand the material. plus having these active discussions can really help make the time more interesting and fun, interactive. Have you ever played Kahoot during lecture? LOL! This was fun playing the day before an exam after learning material where you down load with app, the professor put in a bunch of questions, the class signs into the quiz with a code, and you have limited time to answer for the right question and whomever answers correctly and faster, gets more points. At the end, we had 3 winners and our professor gave out goodies to the winners. It was something that made it super fun and engaging and distressed us prior to the exam coming up. 

  4. Study regularly: I can't say this enough. PLEASE, don't wait until the last minute to start studying. Make studying a regular habit and allocate enough time to review your notes and complete any assignments. I personally after each lecture, reviewed back over the material that evening and starting making out my outline for what would eventually be my study guide for the exam that would come. I added to it after each lecture period. Studies have shown, constant repetition of reviewing material over and over again help retain the information better. I highly advise for every hour of lecture you have takes about 2-3 hours of study time at home. ALWAYS keep reviewing the material, because like I have already mentioned before, the professor doesn't wait for anyone. Next lecture will just be piling on more and more information from the previous lecture. Don't wait until the night before the exam to review over everything. I guarantee you, you won't retain much, your brain will be majorly stressed out, and you will not do as well. SO every single day, keep reviewing! Keep studying. 

  5. Form study groups: Collaborating with classmates can help you better understand difficult concepts and also keep you motivated. My study group in nursing school were 3 other girls in my co-hort, and guess what? We are lifetime friends now even after 5 years after our nursing journey began and meet up every single month. They have become such amazing friends and even attended one of their weddings! LOL crazy, right?! But back to study groups. SUPER helpful. Sometimes there may be a concept you understand well that you can help your study mates better understand, and in return, there may be a concept you don't understand that they do and can help you out as well. Plus, its very motivating to have others keep you on track to study together and accountable to doing your absolute best. You all have the common goal of doing well and there is nothing better then collaborating and supporting one another during such a vigorous program. Aside even just from my study group, we also had an AMAZING cohort that was very uplifting in helping one another. We created a Facebook page where we could also all engage and write out questions or upload information thats helpful for anyone etc. At the end of the day, we wanted every single person to succeed and us all pass this program together. 

  6. Stay engaged: Take advantage of all resources available to you, such as tutoring services or office hours with your professors. I know this may sound easy to stay engaged, especially when you are mentally exhausted and tired and the last thing you want to have to do is spend extra time aside from studying and going to all of your classes to then see a tutor or making an appointment with your professor when all you want to do is sleep and veg out on the couch and say, "Ill do that tomorrow in between these classes" Or "I will do it whenever I feel like it". it is NORMAL to not understand certain material even after class guys. Can I tell you how many times I have had to see my professor to ask further questions, call up my study mates asking a million questions, and I even had subscriptions to resources such as to watch their videos and do their quizzes to see if how they taught the subject helped me understand better, and it DID! Nursing school is very grueling and trying to stay engaged for the 2+ years is hard, but you are STRONG and very capable! I believe in every single one of you! 

  7. Take care of yourself: Nursing school can be demanding both physically and mentally, so be sure to prioritize self-care. Get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and eat a healthy diet. I personally wish I had done a lot more of this when i was in school, especially since I also worked a full time, 40 hour week. I was spread so thin and was so tired, lost weight, etc. As grueling as the program is, like mentioning abve about scheduling out your calendar and staying organized with all your assignments and commitments, make yourself a commitment to every single week to put time aside to not worry about anything with nursing school, but then just caring for yourself and relaxing. It will do wonders for your overall health and mental health. 

  8. Seek support: Don't hesitate to reach out to friends, family, or classmates for support. Joining a student nurse organization or finding a mentor can also provide valuable support and guidance. Nursing school is HARD. You are going to need people that are in your corner that understand what you are going through or just someone that can be there to listen to you vent and be supportive the entire time. If you ever need someone to talk to, I am always here to help talk you through things or give advice! You can always make time with me on my calendar I have in my Bio. Nothing brings me more joy then helping nursing students do their absolute best while in school and feel motivated, inspired, and above all encouraged that you TOO can do hard things and succeed! 

Remember, every nursing student experiences challenges in their first year, but with perseverance, hard work, and a positive attitude, you can succeed and be on your way to a fulfilling career as a nurse.