12 Tips for Studying and Staying Ahead in Nursing School

NursingApril 14, 2017

You have finally taken the plunge and enrolled in an online nursing program. Perhaps you will attend a bricks-and-mortar institution for your nursing education. In any event, you will soon discover the importance of studying. If you are already an RN, pursuing your RN to BSN online, you already know the challenges—and benefits—of staying focused and studying hard.

Nursing school can be a great adventure, but like any adventure, it can be easy to get lost along the journey. Here are some study pointers and suggestions gathered from around the Web for staying on point. Many have been suggested by former or fellow nursing students.

  1. Use good time management from day one. Plan your essential tasks each week and stay on schedule.

  2. By staying on schedule, as noted in number one above, you will avoid putting your work off until the last possible minute.

  3. Review your study notes daily. Consider using them to generate flashcards to test your knowledge.

  4. Print key terms from any textbooks that are also listed online. Carry these with you as study aids. You may need to cut and paste key terms before printing them out.

  5. Start early and stay ahead—not behind—the workload. But in order to rise early, you will need to retire to bed early, first.

  6. Plan on devoting time to your studies every day. The more you are immersed in this body of knowledge the faster your will get up to speed.

  7. Recognize that your phone is a potential source of constant distractions. Ignore it. You simply cannot afford the distractions now.

  8. Take care of your body. You need good solid nutrition. Not only do you need adequate calories, but as you should soon learn, not all calories are created equal. Calories from complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, are released into the bloodstream much more steadily than calories from refined carbohydrates, such as sugar or starchy foods like white potatoes. Keeping your blood sugar steady enables you to focus, learn, and concentrate. Allowing your blood sugar levels to oscillate wildly due to a poor diet can make concentrating especially challenging. You also need plenty of fruits and vegetables to get the fiber, vitamins, minerals, and plant antioxidants that are linked to better health. Remember, too, that omega-3 fatty acids, from fatty cold-water fish like salmon or tuna, are essential nutrients that your body must have, but cannot obtain elsewhere. Among other roles, the omega-3s play an integral role in the physical composition of your brain cells. Without adequate omega-3s in your diet, your brain may struggle to keep up with the demands nursing school will place upon it.

  9. Remember that sleep is not dispensable. It is not even negotiable. You simply must have adequate sleep in order for your brain to learn, memorize, make new connections, organize information, render crucial repairs and perform essential nightly maintenance functions. Sleep deprivation is a dangerous, and widespread, phenomenon in American life. Do not willingly join the ranks of sleep deprived individuals slogging through their daily routines with compromised reaction times, reduced decision-making capacity, impaired judgment, and diminished capacity to learn, adapt, and reason. Getting adequate sleep may be the single most important thing you do on a daily basis as you study HESI questions, crack the books, or attend lectures. It will help keep you sharp and give you the energy to forge ahead.

  10. Consider this old learning trick: Read everything new three times. First for familiarization with the content; second for comprehension of the material; and third, to memorize and master the material.

  11. Evaluate your personal learning style and leverage that knowledge to facilitate learning that is best for you. Some people are visual learners, while others may be tactile, aural, etc. If seeing things works best for you, by all means, develop a studying style that emphasizes your best learning style.

  12. Abandon social media. It is a notorious time suck. You don’t need the distraction.