As summer winds down and the academic year comes ever closer to launch, it’s time to start thinking about how to succeed in your nursing program. Time management is one of the best tools you can have for keeping everything under control for back to school.
Preparation is one requirement to a successful school year, but it takes time and planning to reach your set goals. Students need to be willing to assess the requirements of all their courses and merge that with obligations outside the classroom. Frequently, time management is as important as study skills, so making it a priority will give you control over all you have to do.
Here are some tips to get into the habit of making the most of the time you have available.
Map Your Schedule
Find and use the organization method that works best for you. Whether you’re using an app, a spreadsheet, specialized software, or a piece of paper, just pick an approach and use it every day without fail. Some students find that organizing the day in blocks helps–that can be 15-minute blocks or chunks of several hours at a time.
Do you prefer to designate your activities by color? Do you prefer to use separate sections for all your tasks? Will a timer help remind you about your schedule? Time management practices can look different for everyone.
Use color coding/section blocking methods to sort
courses and the work associated with each
work or lab schedule
time for meals, sleeping, relaxing, socializing, or exercising
chores including grocery shopping, laundry
Set Aside Time Now that you know how much time you need to devote to everything in the day, notice where you might need to work extra hard to carve out time for bigger projects. Some days will be busier than others, so evaluate open blocks of time to see how that time can help you finish all you need to do. Can you use an extra half hour between classes to email a professor or a your team about a project? Is your commute time good to catch up on reading or to outline the upcoming week?
Re-evaluate Your Progress
Every few weeks, check in with how you’re feeling. Are you overwhelmed and falling behind or are you managing to stay on track? If your schedule is busier than it has ever been, using the same time management methods that you have always used might not work now. If you aren’t sure what to do differently, reach out to your school’s academic services center for assistance. They are trained in helping students organize their time most effectively and have excellent resources to choose from.
It might take some trial and error to find the right time management approach, but the rewards will be great. As you gain more control over how you use your time, feel reduced stress, and see the positive results from it, you’ll be motivated to continue.
Whether your classes were newly moved online due to coronavirus, or you’ve been enrolled in an online class from the get-go, nursing students all over the world have suddenly found themselves taking classes remotely. To help with the adjustment, here are our nine top tips for acing your online nursing classes.
1. Don’t assume online is easier.
Just because you can wear sweatpants, it doesn’t mean that online classes are a walk in the park. Plus, if you dress the part and wear your nursing scrubs, you’ll get into the nursing mindset. Some people make the mistake of assuming they can coast through an online class, believing that it will be easier than an in-person class. While online classes are certainly different from in-person ones, they’re not easier, just hard in a different way. Believing that you can slack off in your online classes purely because they are online will quickly lead to a failing grade. Taking it seriously from the beginning is the best recipe for success.
2. Get the equipment you need to succeed.
No, we’re not talking about clinical supplies. Take stock of what technology you currently have and what you might need to invest in. You’ll most likely need a reliable computer and other tools such as an external monitor, a mouse, and a keyboard as well. Test your internet connection and make sure that it can handle steaming lectures, video calls, and other high capacity tasks—the last thing you want is your internet cutting out in the middle of a quiz. If your internet isn’t up to the task, you might need to upgrade your plan or get a new router.
3. Embrace the possibilities of technology.
Online classes may be new and exciting territory for many people. They offer many fantastic possibilities for interactive learning that simply aren’t possible inside a physical classroom. In fact, many in-person classes still assign work that must be done online prior to class because the interactivity element of online programs can’t be reproduced. Online classes also allow you to connect with a much broader range of people from many different geographic areas, expanding your nursing network.
4. Participate digitally.
The words “class participation” probably conjure up images of raising your hand in class and speaking out loud to the group. While participation is definitely a part of online classes, it takes a different form. Usually, it means group forums where students host discussions on specific topics. It’s not the same as talking in person, but this format can actually be advantageous for quiet people who hate having to come up with comments on the fly. Due to the asynchronous nature of these message boards, you can read the discussion, take time to think it over, and post your comment when you’re ready.
5. Create a work from home space.
Even if you like to work from coffee shops or libraries, odds are that you’ll end up completing at least some of your classwork from home. If at all possible, try to create a work from home area outside your bedroom (you don’t want to associate schoolwork with your sleeping space). If that’s not possible, then at least set up a desk and chair so you’re not working from your bed. Try to place it near a window so you can take advantage of natural light. Be sure to set up some additional lamps, too, in case you end up working a lot at night.
6. Manage your time well.
Time management is one of the trickiest things for students to master during an online course, especially if the classes are pre-recorded and can be watched on-demand. Some people are distracted very easily, especially when working at home. They have every intention of watching that anatomy lecture and then end up spending an hour cleaning the house and folding laundry. Set aside blocks of time to work on your online classes and mark them off in your calendar, just like you would with an in-person class. Let your roommates or family know that you’re in school and ask them not to disturb you unless it’s an emergency.
7. Aim to turn your assignments in early.
Speaking of time management, turning in assignments early can help a lot with that. For in-person classes, you have to wait for the appointed day to turn in a physical paper. That’s not as much of a consideration for online classes. It’s a good idea to set a goal for yourself to turn in each assignment 1-2 days in advance. Even if you fall behind, which will happen eventually, you’ll still have that cushion built in so your assignment won’t truly be late.
8. Back up your work.
You should be doing this regardless of whether your nursing school classes are online or in person, but it’s doubly important for digital classes. Each week, if not each day, back up your work to an external hard drive as well as a cloud storage service such as Box, Dropbox, or Google Drive. If you must fill out quizzes or essays online, consider writing it in a separate document and then paste it into the field so you don’t lose your work if the submission doesn’t go through.
9. Ask for help.
Just because you’re physically alone in your house while you watch lectures doesn’t mean that you don’t have resources available to help. Your instructors should be able to help you via email, phone, or even video chat, and you also have your classmates to lean on. You might want to consider forming an online study group that meets regularly during Zoom calls to keep each other accountable. Don’t forget to explore any other resources offered for your classes, such as digital libraries.
Whether you’re taking online nursing classes by choice or not, digital courses are a new reality for today’s nursing students. Follow these nine strategies to knock your online nursing classes out of the park.
As nursing has evolved into an ever-more complex field where science, humanity, pragmatism, and professionalism intersect, the clinical nurse educator has emerged as an essential presence among nurses. Whether they are teaching in the classroom, educating patients and families, or mentoring nurses and nursing students, the nurse educator plays an important role in guiding nurses on the leading edge of rapid and continuous progress in health care education and practice. Naturally, the process of becoming a certified nurse educator requires rigor and commitment. To many, the pinnacle of this process is the oft-dreaded Certified Academic Clinical Nurse Educator (CNE®cl) Examination. What follows is a brief breakdown of the exam itself and tips for success.
The CNE®cl Exam
The CNE®cl exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions. One hundred and thirty of those questions count toward the test taker’s score; the remaining twenty are unscored or “free” test questions, usually experimental. The test is broken down into six topics, each of which makes up a certain percentage of the exam as follows:
Facilitating learning (22%)
Facilitating learner development and socialization (14%)
Using assessment and evaluation strategies (19%)
Participating in curriculum design and evaluation of program outcomes (17%)
Pursuing systematic self-evaluation and improvement in the academic nurse educator role (12%)
As with any credentialing exam, there is an abundance of resources available to test-takers, including apps, videos, classroom preparation, and online self-training. Many schools include test prep as part of the curriculum. The best place to begin the studying process is to speak with an academic advisor to find out if the school includes formal test prep in the curriculum. From there, speak to former students who have taken the exam and find out if they supplemented the classroom material.
Lastly, as the saying goes, know thyself. In choosing a method of study, it’s best to choose the learning techniques that have worked best for you in the past. For audio learners, seek out an audiobook or lecture series. For visual learners, try an app or video study guide. For collaborative learners, seek out a classroom or save money and recruit classmates for a self-guided group study. Many graduate nursing students are also full-time nurses, therefore, time management is key. The greatest preparation tool one can have is the peace of mind that comes with an early start and consistent practice.
Does it ever seem like you just don’t have enough time in a day? Lots of us feel this way and it’s no wonder. With jobs, school, families, friends, community, and other obligations pressing at us, it seems like having a few extra minutes is a dream.
Maybe it’s not about needing more hours in a day, but using the hours you have in a more productive way. Using time management skills is important no matter how you spend your days, and it’s incredibly easy to lose time on the most mundane and routine things.
Time management is like managing a household budget. You have a certain amount of something and you need to be as economical as possible. You time is valuable, so you might as well find ways to use it that make you feel good. How can you squeeze more time out of your day? Time management helps you get and stay on track.
1. Figure Out How You Spend Your Time
For a whole week if you can (or even a few days if you can’t do a whole week) try to record how you spend your time. You have 24 hours each and every day. What are you doing with them? Use your phone, a notebook, even your desktop to try to track your time. What do you do when you get home from work? How much time do you spend on things you don’t really get value from? If you love your hour on Facebook every night, that’s valuable to you. If your hour on Facebook leaves you feeling like you wasted time, you probably should pay attention to that feeling. The next time you log in, set a timer for 10 minutes and then log off.
2. Analyze Your Hours
Look at the hours you have jotted down and try to figure out where you are losing time. Do you spend more time commuting than you realized? Did you have unexpected trips to the grocery store because you ran out of lettuce? Do you end up spending much more time than you ever realized waiting for your kids?
3. Figure Out What You Want to Change
You might feel like you don’t have time to cook, so you grab take out on the way home. But if you take a look at the extra time it takes to stop for dinner, you might find you can re-adjust your food prep and actually save yourself time (and money) in the long run. A rotisserie chicken and bagged salad takes minutes to turn into a filling and healthy dinner and you can pick it up during your normal grocery run. Are you picking up prescriptions for family members three times a week? Do you have no time to exercise because everything else gets in the way?
4. List Your Priorities
Time management experts often say that when you don’t have time for something, it’s just not a priority for you. And while that comment can feel sharp, it’s often true. When people are too busy to exercise, they are often just pushing their own needs to the bottom of the list. Very likely, if your partner, spouse, kids, or another family member asked you to do something that might chew up that time, you’d probably say yes. What’s important to you?
5. Set and Keep a Schedule
Planners work for a reason—they really help you organize your time and make more efficient use of what you have. Writing down what needs to get done each and every day is a great start, but to be especially efficient, write down when you will do it as well. Catching up on bills? Block off 30 minutes. Driving to work? Time it over several days, so you know your average. Where can you schedule a 30-minute walk or yoga session? Understanding how you spend your time now helps you figure out where you are wasting time. That 45 minutes you spend waiting for your kids to come home from a friend’s house so you can take them to chess club is valuable time. You could easily lose hours a week in chunks of wasted time like that. If you could catch on bills while you are waiting or organize your mail pile, you’ll have freed up some time elsewhere to enjoy on things that are important to you.
With summer’s end right around the corner and classes just about to start, now is a good time to start thinking of what you can do to start your school year off right.
Whether you are heading straight into nursing school from a high school environment or heading back after several years in another career, getting off to a good start is all about planning.
Here are five back-to-school tips.
1. Get Your Priorities Straight
A big part of getting off to a good start is getting your head in the game. Take stock of what you want out of the coming school year. If you’re a brand-new nursing student, are you looking for a certain GPA or knowledge in a particular area? If you’re a parent juggling many responsibilities plus nursing school, are you seeking a way to carve out time to study? Decide on what is important to you.
2. Identify Your Challenges
Now that you’ve stated your priorities, you’ll need to figure out what might get in your way. If you are worried about finding time to study in a busy household, what plans can you make to go somewhere quiet or find snippets of study time inyour day? Maybe you are planning to commute and your first class is especially early. What can you do to ensure on-time arrivals every day?
3. Never Underestimate Planning Ahead
Getting out the door isn’t always easy, so the less you have to do in the morning, the better off you are. Prep lunches, water bottles, clothes, homework, backpacks, and chores the night before. Make sure you don’t have to stop for gas. Try to eliminate as many things that can slow you down as possible. If you have to go to work before later classes, pack up extra food, and don’t forget your notes.
4. Find Your System
So you are planning and getting things ready—that’s great. But there’s going to be a lot going on, so you need to find an organizational system that works for you. Find a way to keep track of all your to-do lists and make it a method that is most convenient and easy for you. It might be an app or good old-fashioned paper. As long as it is accessible and easy for you to use, it will work.
5. Take a Deep Breath
You are about to embark on another exciting year of learning that will bring you even closer to your ultimate goal of becoming a professional nurse. Think about what that means. You might have some days when you feel overloaded, but those days will be balanced by the days you come home so energized by the idea of nursing, you can’t wait to hit the books. You are on a path with other equally passionate students. Appreciate the journey to becoming part of this incredible profession.
Start thinking about heading back to school now and you can ward off lots of unexpected surprises (not the good kind!). Put some preparation into these next few weeks and you’ll be glad with the results.