Here are some of the ways nursing school study groups can help you graduate, earn your RN license, and build your nursing résumé. We also offer some suggestions on how to optimize the study group experience.
- Participation in a study group can help you improve your personal studying skills. By pooling your resources, you and other students can share tips and pointers regarding more efficient ways to take notes, prepare for exams, and manage time. Staying organized, and caught up, is a challenge in nursing school, because the workload tends to be relatively heavy. Study group members can hold each other accountable, offer gentle encouragement, and provide a sounding board when problems crop up.
- It may be advisable to delegate various areas of inquiry among group participants, so each member can delve deeply into a given topic, and then share their findings with the group. This facilitates everyone’s ability to gain relatively in-depth knowledge in key areas, without participants having to spend excessive time investigating each topic individually. By sharing the load, everyone benefits.
- If nothing else, participation in study groups can serve as an introduction to the type of teamwork and collaboration that will become essential as you enter the healthcare workforce. Once you become a working nurse you will need to work effectively with numerous other healthcare professionals to deliver high quality care to your patients. Participating in a functional study group necessarily involves cooperation, delegation, and satisfactory interpersonal dynamics. With any luck, you’ll improve your communication and cooperation skills even as you learn the specifics of wound care or microbiology.
- Choose you study group wisely. Joining a group of close friends may feel the most comfortable, but it may not be your best choice. Choose your group strategically. Close friends may be tempted to spend valuable time socializing rather than studying. Choose group members accordingly.
- Limit the size of your study group. Fewer members will probably be more efficient and workable than a large group. Large groups of individuals tend to lose focus of the tasks at hand.
- Set up ground rules and clearly outline the group’s goals. Having a clear purpose in place, and established ground rules for participation, will help ensure that group members stay focused and do not waste precious time. The whole point of a successful study group is to minimize distractions and maximize the use of your precious study time.
- Establish a regular schedule. Setting up regular time/places to meet and study will inevitably improve attendance, as it becomes easier for members to plan their schedules around regularly scheduled sessions.
- Consider appointing a leader to keep everyone notified of agendas, assignments, and any schedule changes. This person can also be called upon to arbitrate any disputes among members.
- Monitor your progress and assess your satisfaction at regular intervals. Just because you joined a study group at the beginning of the semester does not mean you have to continue with it for the rest of the term. Take stock at regular intervals. Is the group still accomplishing what it set out to do? Is the group dynamic still effective? Does everyone contribute his or her fair share, or have certain members emerged as relative slackers? If you sense you could be making better use of your time, by all means do it. Whether that means finding another group that would work better for you, or striking out on your own, keep in mind that your time is limited, and precious. You have every right to guard your time jealously; it is possibly your most precious commodity in nursing school.