Nursing is the largest healthcare profession in the US, with three times more nurses than physicians. Nurses are valued individuals in the healthcare sector is barely scratching the surface. However, nursing school is popular for having one of the most challenging educational routes students pursue.
There is always new material to learn, vital information to absorb, and clinical skills to practice. Instead, this is a standard for any nursing student– their student years are rarely a walk in the park. Many find it challenging to manage home life and nursing school simultaneously, and maybe you’re one of them. If so, here are a few study tips that can help you tackle school more effectively.
1- Make studying a priority
Prioritizing your education to other commitments for the years you’re in nursing school is a reality you will have to deal with. And when you’ve decided so, the most crucial part is taking time to study.
In nursing school, just studying within the classroom might not suffice. There is quite a bit of work you’ll have to tackle outside of classes. The sooner you realize this, the better you can prioritize it. When you understand how vital study time is, you will find yourself sneaking small bits of productivity into your day. The idea is not to sit hours on hours studying without a break because that only serves to waste your time. Instead, keeping study time your priority allows you to divide study material into small pockets according to the time you have in between your daily chores. Online resources are very convenient in this case, and thankfully there exist programs like Osmosis that offer guides and tools for nursing students to get around their study time.
2- Opt for online degrees
This is particularly useful if you’re a registered nurse going back to school to advance your nursing practice. Online education is beneficial since it allows you to create a flexible learning schedule and fit other activities such as a part-time job into your routine. Registered nurses can enroll in an RN-BSN online program and balance their academic goals and professional duties more comfortably. This way, they can avoid burnout.
3- Have group study sessions
You don’t need to tackle all of your studying on your own. There are many benefits to studying in groups, especially if you’re all trying to learn complex concepts that, when fleshed out, can be easy to comprehend.
There are times when your classmates better understand a particular subject that they can help with, or sometimes you know specific topics better. When you teach them to others, the concepts become clearer to you and get stored in your long-term memory. Learning from peers is less overwhelming than having to go to a professor. You feel more at ease when asking questions that are seemingly “stupid.”
Many mediums and resources are available to help you if you’re studying online. You can use Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or Google Hangouts to get together and make the most of your study time.
4- Make concept maps
To make studying nursing easier for yourself, switch up your note-taking and make concept maps. These are a fun alternative to learning something that would have been complex otherwise. Concept maps are a lot like infographics where knowledge is visually represented simply.
It helps you have a basic idea of what you’re studying and organize your thoughts. Plus, as you’re making a concept map, you simultaneously understand the presented information. When you revisit that topic, chances are you’ll remember it quite well instead of having memorized it.
After making a basic concept map, you should use your notes, videos, and other resources to fill the map.
5- Figure out your learning style
Everyone has a learning style that is unique to them, but not many know what it is until later in life. Some people prefer reading and writing what they remember as notes to create a study guide, others choose to listen, and some like to see it in action.
Regardless of how you choose to assimilate information, you have to figure out your learning style. If you’re a visual learner, perhaps you can ask your TA or professor to send videos to you about certain topics. Maybe a podcast is a better option? Experiment with learning styles to see which is most comfortable for you and stick to it.
6- Skim through first
Be prepared to read often and a lot in nursing school. But, on top of that, you will have to retain most of the information at your disposal. Of course, you will not be able to remember everything after reading it just once. But to be better prepared to start reading and eventually retain more when you’re reading the material for the first time is to skim through it.
Read through the headings, pointers, subheadings, or highlighted terms and review the summaries before sitting for a proper read. This helps you have more context to the reading and thus more understanding as you dive into it. Sometimes there are questions at the end of the chapter. Make a practice reading through these chapters so you have them in mind as you give the chapter a good read. This will also help you keep the objectives of the reading material in perspective.
7- Don’t rely on the readings only
Of course, the course readings are your primary source of information. However, supplementary sources are a great way to add to your learning. For example, if you’re learning about some chronic illness, you can read more on other websites to understand it better.
Ideally, go through basic information about a topic beforehand so it can act as a preview to you before you begin a chapter. You can likely perform better in class and feel less overwhelmed when the topic is introduced. However, keep in mind the coursebook and your instructor holds the final authority. You can ask your professors for websites to get authentic supplementary information to avoid misinformation.
8- Focus on the question asked
A nursing school student always has a lot of work piled up, so they need to be smart about approaching their assignments. The best advice is to read the assignment’s instructions carefully. When an instructor creates a rubric, they do so considering how it can help you with the assignment. Follow the rubric to the T, and you will likely get good grades.
The reason is simply that you answered everything your instructor asked for. A rubric helps you divide your task and work on it in chunks. As you tick off the boxes, you feel a sense of accomplishment and positive reinforcement for the next task.
Completing nursing school is a feat, but breezing through it with effective tips will make it a happier and livelier experience. The key is to remember your basics as you start studying. Having a solid understanding of foundational sciences can make learning complex concepts easier. Don’t worry! You got this!