If you’re a nursing student, this time of year generally brings a schedule full of midterm exams and projects. Many students say this time of year is the toughest for studying. The weather is still chilly, and everyone’s ready for something, anything, than what they have to get done.
Being a nursing student is stressful and pretty busy in general. You’ve got a lot of work to do, a limited amount of time, and haven’t shaken off the winter hibernation mode yet. If that sounds familiar, here are a few ideas to help you power through this tough time.
Block It Out
The news is full of upsetting events. Coronavirus. Politics. Climate change. Influenza. If you have a fear or an anxiety, there’s probably something about it in the news. You’ve got work to do and world events are overly distracting—but you also can’t just pretend it’s not happening. Set aside specific times to check in with daily events. Don’t scroll through on your phone every hour. Resist the urge to check the news on TV when you’re making dinner or eating with friends. Being in control over the way you consume the information will make it less distracting and leave you time to focus.
Find Your Study Sweet Spot
You might find studying in the library is not the best location for you. Maybe you prefer studying in the gym with the rest of your gym buddies or your team. Maybe a coffee shop is for you or a lounge in your school’s campus center. Or maybe your best study spot is a comfy corner in an academic building. Wherever you can focus on your work and get the most done is the place for you to go during midterms. Find that place and set yourself up with snacks, a water bottle or some coffee, and get your work cranked out.
Time to Relax Isn’t Wasted Time
Endless studying is actually going to work against you. Your brain needs to take breaks to help it process what you are learning and what you are trying to get done. The key is to plan it into your day. A couple of hours of cramming deserve to be followed by a short walk with a friend or some time listening to your favorite podcast or watching funny cat videos. Plan a dinner in which your only company isn’t just a textbook. Connect with your family, friends, or pets. Take time to eat. Watch a movie. You’ll actually give your brain a much needed rest so it, and you, can perform best.
Pay Attention to Self-Care
You probably are going to skimp on sleep during midterms. There’s a lot to get done and only so many hours in the day. But try to keep as much to a schedule as you can. Fit in short naps during the day if you’re really dragging—they will refresh you. In this time of flu and colds, be sure to wash your hands frequently with soap and water—even when you feel like you’re washing your hands all the time. Stay hydrated with lots of liquids (water is always best) or even fruits and veggies like watermelon and cucumbers. Get outside when you can because sunshine and fresh air are refreshing to tired bodies.
If you feel overwhelmed by the academics or the life overload, get help. Tutors, student success centers, study groups, or even reliable online help can give you a better understanding of work that you’re having difficulty with. Many schools offer counseling centers where trained therapists can help you manage the stress and anxiety many nursing students feel during midterms (or at any other time as well). The help is out there and taking advantage of it can help you through this tough spot.
Remember, midterms will be over soon enough and you’ll be on to the next great challenge that nursing school brings. This is part of the road to a career that will be rewarding to you and will make a huge impact on humanity. Good luck—you’ve got this!
If there’s one question that I frequently get asked by nursing students, it is how to properly study to pass nursing tests and exams and make it out of nursing school alive. During nursing school I tried different ways to study and it took trial and error for me to finally find what worked best for me. Here are my top study habits to help you get those A’s and tackle nursing school exams.
Best Study Habits:
1. What type of learner are you?
First and foremost, determine what your learning style is. It’s imperative that you’re honest with yourself about the type of learner you are to get the best results from studying. Learning styles typically fall into 3 categories: visual, auditory or tactile/kinesthetic learning. Each learning style retains and processes information differently. So before signing up to be a part of that study group session find out if it works for you. Some students are able to study in only quiet places while others can concentrate around loud noise. Here are two educational websites that offer free learning assessments to help you determine which learning style fits you the best: https://www.how-to-study.com/learning-style-assessment/ and http://www.educationplanner.org/students/self-assessments/learning-styles-quiz.shtml
2. Be organized.
Before you begin studying collect all of your essential tools such as notecards, pens, highlighters, coffee, and wine (just kidding). There’s nothing worse than being in your groove when studying and you realize that you’ve forgotten your favorite pen or highlighter. Have a plan of what you want to study for each session and a realistic expectation of how long it will take to go over the material. Give yourself adequate time to review each subject and include break times for each study session. According to a study recently done by Microsoft the average adult has a concentration span of only 8 seconds. That is less than that of a goldfish! So studying straight for hours without any breaks will not help you retain the information more.
3. Set goals.
You had a goal to get into nursing school and you have a goal to graduate, so why not set goals when studying? If there is a particular topic that is a weak area for you take out your planner and set a goal for when you want to fully master that material. Create a study outline with exact dates, time and even the location for when you will study each material. This will help you avoid having to cram for exams. Your class syllabus should have dates for when exams and texts will take place so don’t wait until you’re two weeks into the class to begin setting your study goals.
4. Less is more.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when studying in nursing school is using too many books or resources at once. Determine which resources are necessary for each exam and study that content. Professors typically outline which books or resources are appropriate to use for each course so use that as a guide on what to use when studying. If not you may run the risk of studying information that contradicts what you were taught in the classroom. Seek guidance from your professor when choosing to use other resources aside from what is required.
Nursing school is probably one of the most stressful and rewarding things you’ll ever go through in life. Help make things easier for yourself with the four study tactics I listed above to help you prepare for every test and ace those exams. Always remain positive and remember to relax before an exam. You’ve got this!
Stay connected with other nurses just like you! Facebook: Fierce Expression and Instagram: @fierceexpression.
Do you ever wish nursing school could be a little easier? Juggling classes, labs, clinicals, exams, and a life outside of school doesn’t exactly make your typical day serene.
No, nursing school isn’t a breeze, and nursing school stress is a problem. Luckily, there are some things you can do that will make it a little easier on you.
1. Time Management
No matter how well planned you think your schedule is, take another look at how you plan your days and weeks. Time management skills are critical in the life of any student and will carry over into your life as a working nurse after graduation. Are you using the time you have in the best way you can?
2. Ask Your Advisor
Schools can’t say it enough – talk to your advisor. Whether you are planning to change classes, the direction of your career, or just want to find out how to cope with a particularly difficult class or nursing school stress, your advisor is there to help you. Just not feeling the connection? Look into changing your advisor – it shouldn’t be a problem.
3. Visit Career Services
Looking for a part-time job or wondering how to shape your job search? Do you look at your resume and wonder if it’s the best it can be? Your school’s academic advising office can help you with all of that (and even study skills, too!). Visit them and save yourself loads of time.
4. Find a Tutor
Experts say it over and over – the smartest students are the ones who actively seek out help. If your chemistry class has tripped you up, talk to your professor and find a tutor to help you before you fall behind. Tutors will help you understand the material and might even offer some insight into the particular class you’re taking.
5. Find a Mentor
Mentors are a huge part of a nursing student’s life. A mentor can help guide you on the right path, help you figure out just what you want from your career, introduce you to others in the field, and possibly even help you get a job (or at least guide you toward promising opportunities). Sometimes, you are lucky enough to have a mentor come into your life through a class, but other times you need to look for one. Find them through your school’s mentoring program, through a job, in the lab, or even through a professional organization.
6. Find Help for Stress
Sometimes, stress can build up and make your life pretty miserable. It can be a particularly tough class or even a health crisis in your family that derails you for a while. If you find the pressure is impacting your mood or even your ability to get things done in a timely manner, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Talking to a counselor or a close trusted friend or family member can do wonders for your ability to cope. Let’s face it, nursing is high-pressure, so learning how to take care of your mind and body now is only going to help you in the future.
Nursing school can be tough, but you know you’re on your way to one of the most rewarding careers out there. Take the time to keep yourself on the right track and use all your available resources to make it easier on you.
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