7 Things to Know Before Your First Week at the Nursing School
Becoming a member of a nursing program in today’s ever-evolving and challenging healthcare and educational environment is not an easy feat, so congratulations are in order. You made an excellent career choice because master and doctoral level trained nurses are high in demand right now. However, nursing school is a challenge in and out of itself. Today, we will discuss a few crucial aspects you should know before your first days at nursing school.
1. Be Prepared to Read a Lot and Stay Ahead of the Competition
You probably know this, but if you enter a reputable nursing school program, you will have to read and learn a lot. Most first-timers will get their guidance counselor ahead of time, receive a schedule for the entire semester, a syllabus, and get some pep talk. Take your papers and lists and find the nearest bookstore or library. No matter what nursing degree courses you follow (master, doctorate, post-graduate, role specialty, etc.), you will have to adapt very fast.
Reading ahead and getting familiar with the books and papers is not for showing off in class, but for the smoothing of your way into the subjects and topics you will have to study.
2. Make Fast but Sustainable Lifestyle Changes regarding Night Shifts
You may not start night shifts in the first week of your nursing school, but you will get there eventually. Nursing programs are some of the most demanding, rigorous, and overwhelming. Studies show that about 35% of new college students feel overwhelmed and anxious about schoolwork, school commitments, and extracurricular activities. Add night shifts to this, and you have a serious challenge on your hands.
It means that you need to prepare yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically to work during the night, even if only in school. The needs of patients do not comply with the nurse’s schedule. Luckily, you have plenty of resources that you can try so you can adjust to and cope with night shifts.
3. Practice and Internalize Good Learning and Lifestyle Skills
When you prepare yourself for a demanding and vast educational program, no matter it is college or nursing school, you need to internalize some good learning and lifestyle skills. Among them, the acquiring of the best research skills is crucial. Improving such expertise is not something you do a day before you begin your nursing school program, but you can start now and develop this ability throughout the years. It will help you tremendously in your future years as a nurse. Here are some tips:
- Learn how to discern among high-quality sources and unreliable ones;
- Verify each information from more reputable sources;
- Start all your researches broad only to narrow them down to the specifics of each topic;
- Always stay organized with your research and be ready to come back to resources and quotations for further analysis and verification in the blink of an eye;
- Take comprehensible notes you can further upgrade with new information, as medicine, healthcare, and patient care is an ever-changing landscape.
Besides your research skills, you will also need to master time management. In the nursing profession, time is of the essence. Your time management abilities will one day save lives, so it is better to start now and always improve on yourself as the years go.
Another issue to focus on is your ability to take notes and organize your information. Internet bookmarks help, but they cannot solve all your problems. Fortunately, you can learn to take notes the proper way and use them for months and years after you graduate. Either you use the Cornell method for taking notes, the mapping method, if you are a visual learner or the sentence method, you need to pick one that best serves your needs and use it at its full potential.
4. Grades Matter Less. Comprehension is Everything
Getting a bad grade is not the end of your future career. All you need to do is shake off the disappointment and move on. In an actual healthcare environment where everybody works to save lives, your exams B’s and C’s will be the last ones to matter. What will matter is your technical knowledge adapted to the situation, your comprehension levels, your critical thinking skills, your transferable cognitive skills, bedside manners, time management, and so on. If you understand the material and can apply it to real-life patients and cases, you will do well in school and your career.
5. Find Study Buddies and Nursing Friends
The nursing profession revolves inherently around teamwork, cooperation, and communication. One of the best things to do while you are touring the campus or discussing with your counselor before you start is to leave the door open to new friendships. At a young age and in a college environment is easy to find students sharing the same goals and interests as you. However, finding or becoming a part of a study group from the first weeks of nursing school is essential to your future education.
Having a study group and some friends will also help you bounce back from a bad grade or two. Brainstorming and helping each other to make sense of the material is going to help all of you to fare better in class, at exams, and in your future professions.
6. Organize Your Life and Your Education Even from the Start
Did we emphasize enough that nursing school is a challenging, exhausting, and somewhat chaotic environment? If you are there for the long haul, it is time to embrace the organization, and not only when you take notes or learn. Create a schedule in compliance with your school one and try to insert the following:
- Keep a routine that includes healthy meals and proper nutrition. As a future healthcare professional, you know how important this is;
- Make sure you get enough restful sleep when you get it; more often than not, the quality of your sleep matters more than its quantity, so learn a few tricks to gain deep, unbothered sleep sessions. When night shifts come, you will have the resources to fight sleep deprivation the right way.
- Get some exercise as frequently as you can. It will help you learn better and sleep well, not to mention it will keep you in shape physically and mentally.
- Keep up with your social life. Keep your old friends, and your new nursing schoolmates close. While nobody encourages extreme behavior, relaxation, fun, self-pampering, and time out are crucial components of a healthy psyche.
- Leave some room for extracurricular activities. We know it seems that time is short, and you cannot go through everything. However, running errands, shop for groceries, engage in a hobby, or visiting your family is also important things you cannot ignore.
7. Start Working on the School-Life Balance
Speaking of out-of-school experiences and activities, school-life and career-life balance is something all nursing school students should tackle from the first days of the program. If you do not work on this now, it will get harder in the future. Prepare to avoid psychological healthcare burnout later in life by trying to juggle successfully with your school load, a social life, work, a love life, and other activities.
Nursing school is not a walk in the park, although it is one of the most rewarding careers you can get. You need to learn a lot and engage in clinical practice as much as you can to stay ahead. However, do not forget about yourself, even if you dedicate most of your time to research, learning, and working. Follow your hobbies as much as your time allows, spend time with family and friends, and have some fun. As your nursing program becomes harsher and your future nursing career more challenging, this balance is what is going to keep you among the successful professionals in your field.
By Henry Brady
Bio: Henry Brady started to contribute to small websites and soon became an active writer to certain powerful and resourceful pages. He can definitely call it a lifestyle that is helping him to develop himself and offer his knowledge to society.