If you want to work in the medical field in any capacity, focus on getting into a good medical school because these schools will teach you everything you need to know about how to become a good nurse practitioner, or doctor. You will need a good nursing school degree in order to get better pay, better positions, and the ability to help more people.
So, your time at nursing school is one of the more important things you need to focus on because if you struggle at nursing school, your career will become very difficult. But how do you ensure you learn everything you need to know in nursing school? And how do you ensure that you still have fun and keep your life intact while doing so?
Here are some tips you need to learn about your time in nursing school. If you can make the most of it, it will pay off!
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Is nursing school for you?
First, you need to ask yourself if nursing school is for you. There are a few types of nursing that require degrees, such as being a certified nursing assistant or a licensed practical nurse. And for some positions in nursing that don’t have you looking at patients all day, like being a receptionist, you might be able to get by on skill alone.
However, if you want to work with patients and patient data, or if you want to become a leader or a doctor, then you need to get at least a basic degree from a medical school, and for a leadership medical position, you need to have multiple degrees. So yes, you will likely need to go to medical school at some point.
Treat school as a job
One of the best tips you need to understand as you get into nursing school is to treat it as a main priority for a career that will last a lifetime! Because while it can be very easy to blame your schedule, your family, or other factors as to why you are showing up late or why you are not completing the assignments assigned to you, you can’t do that. If the school is online, it can be extremely easy to procrastinate on or skip assignments, put off asking questions, or make sure you fully understand what is being taught.
Treat your time at nursing school like it is the most important thing in the entire world because it is. The degrees you will get and the skills you will learn will help you become a much better nurse, and you need to take it all very seriously. So ask questions, get to know your classmates, form study groups, and ensure you get to all your classes on time.
Treating your education as important also means you might need to make some sacrifices. While many nursing schools are designed for nurses, and that means that you often have more flexibility to work on your job and keep a good work-life balance, it might not be enough. You might need to pull some all-nighters, miss some days at work, or put your studies ahead of other obligations in order to really get the information inside of your head or study for the test you need to take.
So don’t be afraid to make those sacrifices and put your learning first, because treating your time at the nursing school as important will ensure that you are a much better nurse and can achieve your dreams.
Ask questions to people with more experience
Many people, especially if you are in an online school, think that school is a single-person activity where you simply go to class, soak up the information like a sponge, and then leave. Rinse and repeat, take a few tests, and that is it. However, school and nursing school are not like that, and you will need to talk to people to ensure you are gathering all the information you need.
One of the best things you can do is talk to the teachers and ask for help. If they have office hours, don’t be afraid to go in and ask for some serious help. Look for study groups, practice tests, and make flashcards. Figure out how you study and then go and study that way with all the benefits that you have, and don’t be afraid to find people who are better than you.
Get to know the smartest people in the class and study with them because you don’t know what is going to rub off on you! The worst thing you can do is remain silent while in nursing school because you need to be able to ask questions and communicate with your teachers and classmates, even if you are learning online. Communication skills will be extremely important as you work your way up the nurse’s ladder and take your place in your new career, and you might as well start learning them now!
Focus on organization
Another thing you need to do is organize your time. Whether you are working on an accelerated program and have to take several years of learning and place it in a smaller timeframe or juggling a family, a job, and some new education, you need to have everything organized. You will not be able to get everything you need out of the college experience if you don’t have a detailed plan in place for what you want to do and when you want to do it.
While no schedule or plan is going to be perfect or 100% foolproof, you need to at least have something. Ensure you know when your classes are and when you need to get to them. Additionally, ensure you know when assignments, tests, and projects are due, because you need to ensure that those dates are completely memorized. You should have all of this on your syllabus during your first day or week of classes, and make sure all of the dates are written down on multiple calendars and you keep yourself updated on exactly what day it is.
Additionally, plan out your schedule. Make sure that you are focusing on giving yourself as much time as you can to study effectively, but also have time for eating, spending time exercising or outside, and spending time with family and friends. The more time you spend on a solid schedule that is going to allow you to have a good balance, the less stressed you will be.
It is equally important if you are working, because if you are trying to handle a job in addition to your education, both of your responsibilities might tangle up and get into some overlap really fast. So make sure you can work and still make time for your education, so you don’t need to choose one over the other.
Keeping everything straight is one of the hardest things to do the first few months, but eventually, once you get into the rhythm of the schedule and learn what your classes expect of you, you will find that everything will start to run smoothly.
Study how you study best
No matter what degree you are trying to get or where you want to go in the healthcare hierarchy, you need to focus on studying. You will need to be able to retain and call up information on command, often in a high-stress and fast-paced environment, and that means that your mind needs to be a steel trap. So you need to figure out how you study and start to work on studying to your strengths. Any type of nursing school is rigorous and tough, and the more advantages you can give yourself, the better.
Do you study the best by listening to calming music and living in the library? Do you study best by forming a group with friends? Do you study best by making flashcards and doing repetition? Or do you need to do some hands-on learning? There are dozens of ways to study and ensure that you retain information, and you need to figure out the study habits that work the best for you and then do them.
Additionally, it is a good idea to make some time to study a little bit every single day and have a strategy for studying once your class is done. Whether you decide to spend your time going over your notes, looking over the professor’s slides, or some other post-classroom method of studying, you need to do something in order to make sure that the information stays deep inside your brain and can be recalled easily.
Learning how to study for nursing school, especially at a nursing school like Elmhurst University, will really help you find your best working style and specialist interests. At Elmhurst, you can learn how best to retain information while learning about diagnosing and treating diseases and advancing your research and clinical reasoning abilities. You might work best with colored notes and highlighting important information; you might work through listening back to recordings or reading your notes aloud; or you might work by walking around and getting moving while you study.
But if you have the correct learning style in your corner and you know how to use it both effectively and persistently, you will be good to go and ready to handle all of your classes!
Find good resources
Of course, the textbook and the teachers are not the only resources you can rely on when it comes to nursing school. There are tons of resources on the internet, including videos, posts, diagrams, and even from nurses and doctors, about how to handle medical school, the things that the courses don’t teach you, and what you really need to know in order to succeed and get the work done. It can even be fun if you start learning from a graduate of the program or from the same medical school and start picking up a few extra tips that can give you a leg up on your fellow students.
If you need some serious help and the resources you have are not cutting it, focus on exploring until you find the resources that allow you to find the information you need. There are a lot of good resources out there; you just need to give them a try.
Don’t be afraid to explore, and if you find that the resource you are trying to use is not the one that is helping you out, then just leap to the next one and keep on going. Eventually, you will find the resource or person who speaks to you, and then you will be able to really hit the gas pedal on your learning and your education.
Get a support group
It is not just another study group but something outside of the nursing school that you can use to support your educational endeavors. Talk to your family, friends, spouse, and others about the program you are undertaking and why you are doing it. See if they can provide any help or if they can make your life easier whenever you really need to buckle down and study without being disturbed. Even having them know what you are doing can be helpful so they don’t unintentionally make your studying time worse or interrupt you right before a big test.
Plus, whenever you succeed at a test or milestone, you can share that celebration with all the people who care about you and know how hard you have worked and how far you have come. Finally, having a support group can ensure you are well taken care of as you study. It can be very easy to run the risk of burning yourself out or getting too wrapped up in a project to your own detriment, and having people who know what you are going through can be a good way to help you keep your work life balanced.
Prepare yourself for the labs and ask questions
The type of studying that you are going to do during your time at medical school will mostly be classroom work, either in person or online, but you will likely need to do some lab work as well in order to prepare yourself for real-world situations. In order to make sure you get through the labs okay, you need to take them seriously. These skills and simulation labs will ensure you can practice the basic procedures you will do as a nurse whenever you graduate, just in a safe and controlled environment without any risk to patient safety.
Make sure you are asking questions and listening to the instructors whenever you are working in the labs, because they are not only there to help you, but this is also the best time to ask for help because everything is safe and controlled. Don’t be afraid to try again, get clarification, and really make sure you know the material and can do what is being asked of you because eventually, you will need to do these procedures on a patient and will not be able to get a do-over if something unexpected happens.
So when you get to the lab segments of your education, don’t be afraid to work extra hard and ask questions because these labs are simulations of what you are going to be doing for your job as a nurse.
Finally, while you might feel a lot of pressure put on you during your time in nursing school, and you might also feel a lot of pressure that you are putting on yourself, you should still take the time to enjoy your time at school. Whether you are completing your classes in person or online, ensure you do it with a smile. Your time spent at the school is going to prepare you for what comes next in your nursing life, and it might even allow you to take on leadership positions and new challenges where you will be able to help even more people.
So don’t be afraid to enjoy your time at medical school. It is going to be a challenge, it is going to be high level right from the start, and it might just push you to your limit, but at the end of the day, it is going to ensure that you will become a much better nurse and will be able to return to the medical field able to take on these new opportunities and treat your patients even better!