If you are preparing for nursing school you are probably anxious, nervous and excited all at the same time. For the next few years, your life will be dedicated to learning and practicing just about everything you will need to know to get your career started. While it has the possibility of being the most stressful time in your life, it will also be the most rewarding. We’ve put together a list of nursing school life hacks so you don’t have to say, “I wish someone would have told me that.”
7 Nursing School Life Hacks
1. Do the reading before class
Seriously, just do it. Your instructors probably tell you this and put it in the syllabus, but it often goes overlooked. Reading over the material before class helps you get a general idea of what you will be learning in class. When it is taught in class, it will help put pieces together that you might not have completely understood at first. You will retain the information better since you are learning it twice, and will even have some “a-ha” moments that will be satisfying.
2. Have a sense of humor
Of all the nursing school life hacks, this just might be the one to keep you sane through these few years. If you don’t currently have one, developing a sense of humor will certainly help relieve some stress you will encounter. Nursing can be extremely heartrending and emotional at times, so you will find a new appreciation for the ability to find humor in a situation. You will learn that nurses don’t use humor to be disrespectful, but it is a way to cope with the heartbreak you will experience.
3. Use a calendar AND a planner
Staying organized and managing your time are critical habits to develop during nursing school. Using a calendar AND a planner will help plan out everything you need to do. You can leave the calendar at home, and take your planner on the go. That way, you always know what you need to do no matter where you are. If you don’t want to spend money on those “extra” calendars and planners, there are free printables available online as well as some great ones at dollar stores.
Using a calendar
Take the time in the beginning of the semester to write out all of your test dates, due dates, and other important dates/times. This will give you an overview of your month/week and when you have more free time. It will allow you to prepare in advance for things instead of remembering at the last minute and cramming.
Using a planner
There are many different types of planners you can use. The most common are a combination of a monthly and weekly spread. You can transfer all of your important dates from your calendar into your planner so you have another reference. You can also use the weekly spread to plan out what you want to accomplish each day.
4. Know your learning style
To be aware of how you learn best is one of the nursing school life hacks that will help you in many aspects of your life. If you are a visual learner, making flash cards (online or on notecards) could be best for you. If you learn by listening, getting an audiobook version or reading out loud would be most helpful. Whatever it is that works for you, stick with it. If you are having trouble retaining information, switch it up and try different tactics.
5. Join a study group
The group of people you have classes with now will most likely be with you throughout the program, so make friends! If you prefer studying by yourself that’s perfectly fine, but going over the material with others can be beneficial. If you can put what you learned into your own words and explain it to others, you will remember it better. It will also give you a chance to enjoy some social interaction with others and form a support system of peers experiencing the same things you are.
6. Develop habits early
Don’t wait until a few months in to decide you’re going to get yourself together. This goes for asking for help, getting organized, exercising, and relaxing. If you get organized in the beginning and plan certain tasks, it should be easier to stick to your schedule. Of course, there will be changes along the way, but developing a routine early will get you in the right mindset. Also, ask for help right when you realize you need it… don’t wait until it’s too late.
7. Take care of yourself
With all the stress and pressure of doing well, the most significant of the nursing school life hacks is to remember to take care of you. If you can’t take care of yourself, how can you take care of patients? Set aside time in your week to exercise, even if it’s just for a quick walk outside. It’ll help your physical and mental health.
Also set aside time to just relax. You may not get too much time to do this, but learn to recognize when your body is telling you it needs some downtime. Manage your time so you can treat yourself once in a while and make sure you are at your best.