Tips & Advice

Experts’ Best Tips for Nursing School and Career Success

Tips & AdviceJune 15, 2016

Whether you’re thinking of applying to nursing school, already enrolled in an online nursing school, or pursuing an RN to BSN degree, the advice of those who’ve gone before you can be of great use and comfort. Here are some practical tips, gleaned from nurses everywhere who run the gamut from recently graduated to seasoned professionals.

Let’s begin with nursing school itself. Obviously, committing to nursing school is a big step. It helps to be forewarned and forearmed before you begin. Here, then are some tips to survive and thrive in a nursing program.

  1. Course material can be challenging and information tends to come fast and heavy. Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Your faculty members are there to help you, but they can’t help if you don’t ask for it.

  2. Get in the habit of taking notes. Carry an unobtrusive notebook and pen or pencil, or jot questions, comments and observations down on a digital device, if you prefer. Refer back to your notes later, and pursue any questions that arose.

  3. Consider joining a study group. This can be a practical way to “divide and conquer” difficult material that’s mounting fast.

  4. Focus on priorities. When learning new procedures, it’s crucial to think of safety first, and nuances later.

  5. Try thinking of projects, papers and other tasks in terms of small, digestible tasks. If you focus on the overall burden of information and tasks you will be required to accomplish, it’s easier to get overwhelmed. Take it one day at a time.

  6. Pay attention during required clinical rotations and practicums. You can use what you’ve learned in the classroom, and you may identify the area of specialization that most appeals to you. You’ll also encounter highly experienced professionals with much to teach.

  7. Always remember that your education is paramount, but that you also need to take some occasional time for yourself. “Recharging” and self-care are important components of success. Finding a way to make time for rest and regeneration occasionally will serve you well long after you enter the workforce.

  8. Learn to prioritize. Whether you’re in nursing school, or on the job in a busy hospital, it’s always important to prioritize. Few nurses feel there are too many hours in a given day, but the most successful ones have learned to keep the big picture in mind. Some tasks can wait. Others simply can’t. Learn to tell the difference and act accordingly.

  9. Remember that knowledge and learning are more important than grades. While excellent grades ideally reflect your ability to absorb and retain new information, the ultimate goal is to become a qualified nurse with the know-how to get the job done. Not everyone tests well. A less-then-perfect grade is irrelevant as long as you pass and know you have, actually, mastered the information.

  10. Start papers early. Putting them off until the last moment is a time-honored tradition, but it creates undue stress and is ultimately counter-productive. Start early instead.

  11. Keep in mind that opportunities in nursing are numerous. You may not hear about all of them from your instructors. Do your own research and you may identify permutations you’d not previously considered that appeal to you. Examples range from specialties, such as neonatal ICU, to research, to home-health and more.

  12. Study!