8 Tips to Help with Your Fundamentals of Nursing Class

Nursing Class

You’ve been accepted into nursing school and you’re eager to dive into your courses. For some students, one of the first classes, "The Fundamentals of Nursing," can seem intimidating. But it's really just another chance to show you’ve got what it takes.

“Students need help with all types of courses,” said Professional Nursing Tutor Nicole Woodby, “everything from the fundamentals to collaborative healthcare.”

Woodby and her fellow tutor Amy Poling work at Chamberlain College of Nursing’s Columbus, Ohio campus in the Center for Academic Success (CAS).

They shared the following eight tips to give students a helping hand when it comes to studying for the basics.

1. Practice makes perfect

Since this is one of your first nursing courses, it will be helpful to become familiar with the type of test questions you’ll be asked.

The test format is likely to be multiple choice, but the question style will be similar to those you’ll encounter when taking the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). This means that all the multiple-choice answers to a question will be correct but to varying degrees. It’s your job to choose the best answer among them.

This type of exam question often proves tricky for students, but the more experience you have with it, the better you’ll be at recognizing which answer stands out among the rest.

To practice, Woodby and Poling recommend that you register your textbook with the Evolve website by logging in with your D number and password. This will give you access to additional practice questions beyond those at the end of each chapter in your textbook.

2. Manage your time

Since sessions are eight weeks long, it can be difficult to catch up if you fall behind on studying.

To combat this, Woodby and Poling recommend creating a weekly study plan which outlines when you are busy and when you are free.

“List when your classes and clinicals take place, as well as any additional activities such as work or family time. Then, add in a specific time when you will study,” said Woodby. "Doing this will make it easier to stick with your study schedule."

3. Record the lecture

When listening to a professor speak, it might be easy for students to get caught up in trying to take notes while also keeping their eyes on PowerPoint slides. However, this can result in students not fully listening to the information their professor is sharing, and not fully grasping concepts being explained.

Woodby and Poling advise students to consider recording the lecture.

If you have a smartphone, it likely has a built-in app that will allow you to record audio notes. Just hit the record button at the start of the lecture and then save the recording when it’s done.

To easily find your recording later, save the file name as the date and topic of the lecture.

4. Use open labs

Open labs give you extra time for hands-on practice with mannequins so you can apply the fundamentals you’ve learned.

“You can sign up for as much open lab time as you feel you need and rehearse skills such as taking a patient’s blood pressure or practicing dressing changes,” said Woodby.

An instructor will also be available to help you with your skills and answer any questions you may have.

5. Familiarize yourself with medical terminology

“A lot of students say that learning medical terminology is like learning a foreign language,” said Poling. “When faced with difficult terms, we advise students to break them down and dissect terms to make them easier to understand based on the words they already know.”

Students are also advised to also take part in a special medical terminology workshop offered by the CAS.

6. Use the CAS

The CAS puts tutors at a student’s disposal. No matter the course, topic or question, the team at the CAS is there to help.

“Many students find it tough to face NCLEX-style questions for the first time,” said Poling. “It really helps to sit down with a tutor to walk through the questions, as well as to get help with the actual application [of the fundamentals]. We have students who come in to meet with us once a week, just to do practice questions for various courses.”

7. Join a study group

Study groups let you work with your fellow students to better understand the course material. Working with other students lets you find out what they've done to succeed and can help you view material in a way you might not have considered before.

“Students who teach each other traditionally do very well [in class],” said Poling. “This is because you have to understand the material in order to explain it to someone else.”

Study groups have the added benefit of mimicking the nursing setting itself, promoting teamwork and critical thinking.

8. Get help early

“We see a lot of students come into the CAS after they’ve struggled on an exam,” said Poling. “I always tell students to use us when you feel you might be having trouble. That way, they’re not trying to recover from a bad exam grade.”

If you have to miss a lecture for a day, check in with your classmates to make sure you’re up to speed on notes. It’s also better to do this right after the missed class and not just before the exam.

“When it comes to getting help, it’s better to be proactive than reactive,” noted Poling.

What tips do you have to share for someone in the fundamentals of nursing? Let us know in the comments below. And if you're having difficulties with a class, be sure to reach out to the Center for Academic Success on your campus.

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