How Can I Survive Nursing School and Learn Good Skills and Habits?

How Can I Survive Nursing School and Learn Good Skills and Habits?

By Josephine Reid

What it takes to get into nursing school

Before beginning your nursing studies, it is strongly suggested that students take at least a medical terminology course. Depending on your program, applicants may also be required to complete other prerequisites, such as:

Anatomy and physiology, Biostatistics, Human growth, and development to name a few.
Keep in mind that you will learn much more about each of these subjects during your nursing studies.

For a BSN, the prerequisites might also include math, English composition, psychology, biology, chemistry, and more. Consult the schools you’re considering to find out what their prerequisites are.

Although it can be competitive to get into nursing school, there are schools to accommodate student needs. But as is the case with other college applications, it’s always important to look closely at each school’s admission requirements and prepare the strongest application you can.

First, you’ll need a high school diploma or GED, ideally with positive grades. Some schools will accept students with a GPA of 2.5, but others require over a 3.0. And, as you might suspect, the most in-demand schools require the highest GPAs.

Next, you’ll want to study for and take the test of essential academic skills (TEAS). The TEAS covers reading, math, science, and English. Although it’s not very different from what you studied in high school, you’ll want to get prepared: buy a study guide, take practice tests, and get additional help if you need it. This will help you to get the best score you can and increase your chances of getting into the school of your choice.

It’s also helpful to do related volunteer work at a community clinic or hospital. T
his will give you experience, it looks good on your application, and will let you know early on whether nursing is really the right career for you.

You’ll need to request a high school transcript, and a transcript showing your gr
ades from any college you attended.

Then, you’ll want to attend nursing information sessions at the schools you’re applying to. This will get you introduced to the schools and their nursing programs, so you’ll be able to select the one that’s right for you.

Finally, there will be an eligibility review session with a school representative.

Getting Through Nursing School

A good mindset to have when going to a nursing school is to use nursing school as a coach to develop good habits.

Set realistic goals and define rewards. Begin your study time by making a list of what you want to do. Make it reasonable or it will more than likely just discourage you. Break the tasks up into half-hour chunks, or whatever you can handle. Then set a timer on your phone and go to it. When the timer goes off, give yourself a reward you’ve determined in advance. It might mean 10 minutes of calling or texting a friend. Or it might mean a stretch break. As you make your way through the list, cross off each item.

When you make your lists, put the hard things first. If you don’t you’ll be tempted to procrastinate because you know the most difficult tasks are still ahead. Do the hard jobs when you are still fresh and the satisfaction of having them out the way will help you tackle the easy ones.

Joining a study group is also a great way to get through nursing school and for accountability. Assign each member of the group an area to summarize for an upcoming test. This forces you to study something in-depth before the test and gives you helpful summaries of the rest of the material.

An unconventional approach is to build exercise into your routine – in the busyness of school exercise can be hard to get. But if you neglect it too long, you’ll pay the price in terms of concentration, mood, and energy. As a cue, download a smartphone app that tells you how much you walk each day. When you pick up your flashcards, pace rather than flop on the couch. Consider parking off campus so you have to walk half a mile each school day!

More on Good Habits

As stated earlier, it is important to treat nursing school as a space for developing healthy habits that you will carry into your career. Make good use of in-class time – Not all classes are super-interesting, and it’s easy to surf the internet during lectures or tune out. But if you find a way of staying engaged, your brain will store the information and you won’t need to study as much later. Don’t try to capture every word while note taking. Its impossible (for most people at least!) and your brain disengages from the content. Try to summarize the information presented.

Consider single-tasking; a study by Stanford researchers showed that multitaskers perform worse at storing and organizing information and develop an addiction to distraction. So be careful about trying to do a lot at once. Focus on your reading or writing. You’ll find that single-tasking will get you better grades and you’ll spend less time studying. If you study productively, it will feel like its own reward.

Getting into the habit of motivating yourself, controlling your behavior and doing something nice for yourself will take you far, both in nursing school and in your career.

Nursing school survival kit

Learn each professor’s style. This may take some time. If you have one professor that is big on details, Make sure to pay really close attention to that with assignments. Versus a big-picture professor, no need to stress over minute things they didn’t really care about anyway. You really won’t learn this until you get back some of your first assignments. You may miss some points here and there. You may have wasted your time worrying about things you thought they’d care about when they actually don’t. It’s okay. There’s a learning curve at the beginning. Put in what you think each class requires, see how some of those first assignments come back, and adjust your time and efforts accordingly.

Clinical is scary but don’t be so worried about getting all of the answer correct that you’re not mentally present. Engage with your clinical instructors, nurses on the unit, patients, loved ones, nursing assistants, doctors, nurse managers. Ask questions. Watch procedures. See how you can help. Don’t be that student that stands in the hall, leaning against the wall, waiting to be told to do something.

Make sure you’re also allowing your other classmates to get in on everything too. Find the balance of being helpful and engaged but not so much that you’re taking up all of the instructors time and the other students don’t have a chance to try or see anything.
Not only are you learning about disease processes and how to care for people, you’re also learning time management. Watch the time management styles of the various nurses you’re following.
Once you get to your first real nursing job, you’ll have to figure out how to manage your time and it will be helpful to see how various nurses do things. You can learn how you would like to do things and also how you would not like to do things. I’ve observed how people have done things and learned ways to avoid managing my time because I noted they were always behind or flustered. There’s no perfect, textbook way to do this. You’ll develop your own style.

Most important skill

A Practical Nursing student needs to learn about health promotion, restoration, maintenance, and basic nutrition. Also, the nursing student should acquire basic nursing skills through experiential learning in the nursing skills laboratory. Another duty of the Practical Nursing student is learning how to provide basic nursing care to clients during clinical practice at a long-term care facility.

Nursing diploma students must understand historical and contemporary nursing practices. They must study nursing theories and come to know the nursing paradigm. Further, the Practical Nursing student learns prevention, health promotion, and health protection. To understand this is to understand humans and their basic needs. Those basic needs include self-actualization, self-esteem, love and belongingness, safety and security, and physiologic needs.

The Practical Nursing student understands about respect for the patient in the delivery of healthcare and in the participation of investigations and treatment provided to patients in care. This comes without prejudice, regardless of psychological or physical condition, age, gender, race, beliefs, or position in society. The Nursing diploma student adheres to strict ethics, understanding the actions an individual should take.

I'm Josephine Reid and I work at headquarters in Los Angeles. I have a B.S. in Retail Merchandising and Business from the University of Wisconsin-Stout. I like to keep a beautiful balance of a creativity and business mindset.