PrioritizeThere’s no sugar coating it. This is not going to be easy. Nursing is a profession you can take great pride in. You’ll earn the respect of your peers and hopefully your co-workers and even patients. You’ll function as an important, integral member of a core healthcare team. Lives will literally be in your hands at times. But with great responsibility comes…well, great responsibility. Much will be asked of you—as a student, and later, as a working nurse. Get ready to learn some new skills.
The first is learning to prioritize.
You simply can’t expect to learn all you need to know in brief spurts. Forget cramming. Stay on top of your assignments as you go. Keep a carefully planned schedule, and budget time wisely. There are only so many hours in a day, and some of them have to be spent sleeping. Staying up most of the night studying is ultimately counterproductive. Don’t do it if at all possible. Sleep deprivation rapidly erodes your ability to memorize new information. It also adversely affects reasoning, reaction times, and cognitive abilities.
Set a Study ScheduleIt’s best to work as steadily as possible. That means you may have to make sacrifices occasionally. Your non-nursing friends may be going out for coffee, but can you really afford the time? If it falls in your allotted study time, the answer should be “No, thanks”. Sure, blowing off some steam once in a while is important. It’s another thing that will help you stay sane, but fit it into your schedule. That’s right: be realistic and attempt to build some “me” time into your schedule. Recognize what works best for you and stick with it. If you do well in groups, then organize, or join, a study group. If you do best alone, surrounded by quiet, pursue that. But stick to your guns. You really can’t afford to fall behind if you want to remain sane.
Envision the FutureSee yourself on graduation day. Imagine how proud you’ll be. Imagine your friends and family. See yourself making a real difference, in the healthcare setting of your choosing. Picture the ways you’ll render comfort and aid to people in need; scared people who may be alone, in pain, or otherwise suffering. Remember that you will have the power to make a difference in their lives. When the going gets especially grim; when the pace becomes especially exhausting; when events conspire to heap doubt upon discouragement, keep this vision in mind. You can get there. And it will be worth it.
Healer, Maintain Thine Own HealthAs a nursing student, you will learn a bit about nutrition. You’ll learn about the body’s immune system, too, and the body’s need for certain minimal requirements to sustain proper function. Fundamental requirements such as sleep and food, which tend to be ignored by some nursing students. Don’t do it. You need your sleep and you need to eat. Preferably, food that supplies complete nutrition. And adequate water intake. And sleep. Did we mention the overarching need for adequate sleep?
It’s all tied together. Robust immune system function can help you avoid getting sick in times of stress. A healthful diet can be crucial. Make the effort to eat well. That includes getting plenty of whole foods; whole grains, fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, berries, extra virgin olive oil, fish, whole protein, some dairy (such as yogurt). All of these foods comprise a truly healthful diet. Don’t ignore the importance of eating whole foods regularly. And don’t forget Vitamin D. Whether it’s from basking in the sun for 10 minutes a day, or from supplements, Vitamin D is crucial for proper immune system function, as well as mood regulation. If you’re going to stay sane in nursing school, a little mood regulation could come in handy.