Nursing school is one of the most stressful and demanding endeavors you’ll ever undertake, but also one of the most rewarding. How do you do it when everyone wants part of your time? As president of the St. Louis campus, I often get asked about mastering the balancing act.
You’re in a very rigorous program, so time is compressed as it is. There are still family obligations. Working even part time can be a significant energy drain and an ongoing worry in terms of scheduling. Perhaps juggling should be included on the resumes of all nursing students.
So what can you do? Here are some tips for achieving balance:
1. Have a back-up to your back-up.
Doing the readings, studying for exams and preparing for clinical have to take priority. Remember at New Student Orientation when we talked about having “a back-up to your back-up”? It's vital to surviving and thriving in nursing school. Pull in favors from family and friends when necessary. Have back-up babysitters for your children. Just knowing you have these things in place actually lowers your anxiety in general. There will be lots of time to socialize, visit with family and friends and yes, even work, after you graduate and pass the NCLEX. Don’t let obligations of today sabotage the future you are working to achieve.
2. Get enough sleep.
Shortchanging your sleep will cost you in the end in terms of poor performance, illness and bad attitude. You know how much you need. Short-term gains by cutting sleep will cost you more in the long run.
3. Use your resources.
The Center for Academic Success (CAS) can help you navigate problem areas in your studies. They are also great at helping reinforce that you are on the right track. Talk with your instructor early on if you hit a rough spot. Don’t be silent and get behind – that makes you anxious and worried, which makes the situation worse.
Form a study group. In every class (especially those you find most difficult) pull together even one or two classmates and work through your understanding of the course content together. Teaching what you understand to someone else also reinforces that knowledge in your own memory – so it’s doubly good. You reinforce what you already know and get help with what you are struggling to understand.
4.Try to find time for yourself.
There is no time, you say? How about in the car during your commute? Do some deep breathing. Think about the things you have to be grateful for today. Think about how you have successfully coped with challenges thus far. Think about the friends, peers and family who are on your side in this endeavor. Seeing your glass at least half-full gives you positive energy to take on the difficult challenges you face.
I have a sign by my office door: All of us on this campus have one of two jobs – 1) To become an RN or 2) To help someone else become an RN. We’re here to work with you, help you maintain a healthy school/life balance and help you succeed in your dream to become a Chamberlain nurse.
By Janice DeMasters
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