12 Tips for Surviving Your First Year Of Nursing School

femi borisade

My first year of nursing school wasn’t exactly a walk on a warm, sunny beach, but it wasn't a probationary sentence either. It was everything I heard it would be — challenging yet life-changing. While in nursing school, I developed 12 tips that helped further my success as a nursing student. 

  1. Preparation is Key Read the material ahead of time before attending each class. It pays to go to class with some knowledge from each chapter that will be reviewed that day.
  2. Make Connections Get the contact information of your peers because they will become like family to you. You'll sometimes feel like the only people who understand what you are going through are those who are going through it with you.
  3. Ask Questions Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for help. Remember that asking a question is better than making a mistake or causing harm to a patient. Take a deep breath and raise your hand — I guarantee someone else had the same question!
  4. Try Your Best If you are trying your best, don't beat yourself up if you earn a grade that you aren't excited about. Ask for help, master the parts you didn't understand and continue preparing to be an extraordinary nurse.
  5. Find a Study Group If you are the smartest person in your study group, then you may need to find a new one. Join a group that challenges you to be better.
  6. Study Smart Read the book (out loud, if you're an auditory learner) and highlight the important things. Don't highlight the entire book — I promise you the whole book will not be on your exam. Type out the highlighted portion and carry it with you everywhere. The more you see it, the more you’ll retain it!
  7. Stay Inspired Surround yourselves with people that celebrate you fulfilling your dreams to become a well-rounded nurse. Search your heart for the true reason you want to become a nurse, write it down and post it on your wall. Every morning, wake up and glimpse at that paper.
  8. Manage Your Time Write down all of your assignments, exam dates, school events, and personal commitments in a planner. It will help you balance school and life. Cramming may work with other degree programs but in nursing, being prepared is everything.
  9. Use Your Resources During nursing school, you will acquire many tools (books, CD’s, websites, peers, professors, etc.) to ensure your success. For example, getting an NCLEX review book will help you become familiar with nursing questions and also give you the edge on future exams.
  10. Find a Mentor Seek out a senior nursing student who can mentor or tutor you. Reach out to those whom have taken a course already. Chances are they know what it takes to be successful.
  11. Communicate Your Workload Your boyfriend, girlfriend, wife, husband, dog or cat will need to understand that you are in nursing school. Although more study nights may arise than date nights, remember to communicate this with your family, spouse and friends before you start the program to gain their support and understanding during your first year. Don’t be scared to say “no” to social events.
  12. Find Time to Relax Lastly, it is important not to forget that you still have a life. Exercise, eat a healthy diet and participate in a stress-releasing activities. There may be days that you question yourself and wonder what you were thinking when you enrolled. However, understand there will be many more days when you know exactly why you chose to become a nurse.

You have something that you can offer this world that nobody else can offer. Walk into your first year in confidence, knowing that you have what it takes to become a registered nurse. You can become everything you are destined to be — never “just a nurse”, but a nurse indeed!

Take the First Step

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