Going to nursing school, whether or not you already have an associate or bachelor’s degree, involves a mountain of information and an incredibly dedicated amount of time due to the accelerated nature of the curriculum. Many students in nursing programs are working at least part-time, so succeeding in every course can present even the most stalwart student with a considerable challenge.
Whether you’re about to embark on your first semester of nursing school, or you’re headed back for a graduate degree, here are seven habits that the most successful nursing school students regularly employs.
1. Have a backup for everything
Murphy’s Law states that if something can go wrong, it will, and the realm of nursing school seems dedicated to proving the old adage true. Whether it’s the Internet failing right when you’re uploading that important paper just before the midnight deadline or it’s your car’s starter deciding to enter into everlasting peace, the mundane troubles of everyday, modern life can spell disaster for a nursing school student. So, have a backup for everything.
From a babysitter for class to a neighbor who will let you borrow her car, don’t assume your bases are covered until you have established an alternative plan for every role that technology and people need to fill in order for you to be successful.
2. Always come to class completely prepared
Whether you’re in your first semester of your BSN, or you’re about to finally meet all the requirements for your MSN, always come to class completely prepared. Nursing school instructors are infamous for acting as though they’re the only ones assigning you vast amounts of reading, but don’t let the enormity of the task dissuade you from accomplishing it. If your next class requires 300 pages of reading in addition to preparing for a quiz that’s worth 30 percent of your grade, knuckle down and do it.
Once you fall behind, it’s incredibly difficult to catch up.
3. Ask for help as soon as you need it
If you’re shy or have an issue with asking for help, you’re going to have to get over it. Going to nursing school is going to tax every bit of your brain, and asking for help as soon as you need it is the only way you’re going to get those good grades.
Whether you ask the teacher or another student for assistance or guidance isn’t important, but ask. Misunderstanding won’t just lead to bad grades on a test; it can lead to dangerous situations in clinicals, or worse: real life.
4. Start or join a study group
It’s true that a study group will take even more of your time than just nursing school alone, but what it will also do is help you learn material faster and more efficiently. Whether you join forces with a group that’s already underway or you gather the smart kids in class to form your own, committing to a study group will help you acquire the material better than studying alone.
5. Always act professionally
Nursing school isn’t just a place where you learn and prove what you’ve learned. It’s also the first test in whether or not you have what it takes to be professional in a potentially difficult environment with potentially difficult people.
Whether you faint from the sight of blood or you can’t stand your partner in clinicals, always act like a professional. You may need recommendations from instructors for jobs one day, and you need to be someone they can recommend without reservations.
6. Have a good attitude
Nursing school is hard, and life is complicated. There will be plenty of times when you’ll have more than a good reason to complain or flake out. Don’t do it. Having a good attitude is essential to your success in nursing school and in nursing, and since most of what bums you out is work you’re not going to be able to get out of, you might as well adjust your attitude toward the positive, and make the best of it. Your schooling will be more enjoyable, and the difficulties in your eventual work life will feel more manageable.
7. Remember the rest of your life and stay balanced
It’s easy to feel like everything else in your life needs to play second fiddle to the demands of nursing school, and while you certainly need to take the workload seriously, you also need to practise balance so that when you’re working, your life will be more than your job. Make sure you spend time with your children and your partner, and set aside time for yourself, too. Your family will thank you, and your patients will be grateful to receive care from a well-balanced and happy person.
Being successful in nursing school isn’t that much different than being a successful nurse. From always being prepared to practising balance and asking for help, the tools are the same, and they will yield a happiness and satisfaction that can last a lifetime.