Nursing school can be rewarding, stressful, enriching, confusing, and satisfying all at once. For many students, it will be one of the most academically rigorous experiences of their lives. Any nurse can probably tell you all about late nights studying, challenging tests, and dizzying clinicals during their time as a student.
Remember everything in life requires balance. Here are some tips for preparing for the hectic, but rewarding, terms ahead.
Nursing students need to be organized. If you try to go through nursing school without a plan or a daily schedule, you’re inviting failure.
Organize according to your own needs. That could mean using an electronic organizer like Google Calendar with alerts and notifications sent to your phone every day. It could mean having a large wall calendar with color-coded highlights that you look at every day and night. It could be a planning book that you keep on your person and consult between classes or while you’re waiting for the bus. The point is, have something to keep track of your time, know what’s coming up, and plan accordingly so you’re ready for whatever nursing school throws at you.
Clinical experiences in nursing school will take you out of the classroom and into the kind of real-world setting where you’ll eventually work. Clinicals are often a challenging time for nursing students. Suddenly leaving the classroom for the real world and seeing previously abstract concepts put into practice is an intense experience. That time is a valuable resource for you, though, and things that you learn in a clinical setting can be potentially more vivid and memorable than what you’ll learn elsewhere.
Be present, ask questions, and focus to make the most of that time. Read up on how to get through clinicals, and go into clinical experiences with your eyes and ears open. Clinicals can also help you find out what you’re truly interested in. There might be an area of nursing that seems abstract or uninteresting on paper, but springs to life when you see it in the flesh.
Nursing school will challenge you, and at times it might feel like it’s too much. While it can be easy for academic pursuits to take over your life, it’s also necessary to have an escape when you need it. Even if you can’t see your friends and family as much as you used to, make time for them. While you’re scheduling your classes and study sessions, be sure to also schedule time to socialize or relax. And stick to it. Calendaring time to relax might sound silly, but not setting a reminder could mean letting yourself slip into overwork. Keep in mind that your best work will be when you’re rested and refreshed, not overworked and exhausted.
Lastly, nursing school gives you opportunities to meet future professional connections. Your classmates and instructors can very well become your future coworkers or supervisors, and connections you make even before you pass the NCLEX could very well lead to a future nursing job. Get to know your peers, add them on LinkedIn, and lay the groundwork for your future career.