Top 10 Tips for Succeeding in Nursing School
Nursing school isn’t easy. Whether you’re already a few semesters in, or looking forward to your first class, graduating from nursing school may seem like a daunting challenge. But we know you can succeed with determination and hard work! With the help of nursing school program faculty and graduates, we’ve compiled a guide of our top 10 tips for succeeding in nursing school.
- Develop and follow a study plan
- Get (and stay) organized
- Attend all of your classes
- Leverage technology
- Manage your time efficiently
- Create study groups
- Talk to your professors early and often
- Prioritize self-care
- Study a little every day
- Get NurseHub Premium!
- BONUS: Take the Prepare for Nursing School Course
Tip #1. Develop and follow a study plan
A good study plan is essential to succeed in nursing school. Your classes will cover a lot of information. To organize and assimilate all that you’re learning, you will need to make a plan and stick to it. This can be challenging because let’s face it: studying isn’t fun. Throw in the distractions of everyday life into the mix and it can seem especially hard.
Maybe you’re a mom or a dad, and your kiddo gets sick. Maybe your car breaks down, and you miss a class. A key to overcoming these challenges is to stay on top of your schoolwork. If you study regularly, then a bump in the road won’t send you flying off into a ditch!
Studying can be a habit. But it takes practice. And like any good-for-you but not-so-fun habit that you want to build into your routine, it’s best to start small.
Aim for doable tasks. Schedule 30-minute to one-hour blocks into your days just for studying. Over time, you can add more. As you become more disciplined, you can extend your study sessions.
Ask for accountability. Support from friends and classmates can help you stick to your plan. One of the best ways to follow your study plan is to organize study groups. Many graduate nurses will tell you that study groups propelled them to graduation.
For more tips on how to develop a study plan that will work for you, check out NurseHub’s study skills course here.
Tip #2. Get (and stay) organized
If you’re a nursing student who feels like you need more hours in the day, this tip is for you. As Ben Franklin said, “For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.” And you can trust that he wasn’t bluffing.
Organiation is not about being perfect. Your organization system doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. It doesn’t have to be pretty. But you need to organize your schoolwork in a way that helps you be more efficient and less stressed.
A planner is the most obvious way to get (and stay) organized. Some will prefer an old-fashioned paper planner. Perhaps something of the spiral sort. Others live and die by their Google Calendar with reminders and Google Keep. And then there are the Apple people who put everything in iCal. Pick one and go with it. If you’re not happy with it down the road, you can always change it.
I really like planners from RekMed. This company makes planners specifically designed for nursing students—in print as well as digital versions!
The key is to get (and stay) organized. And here’s how:
- Pick your method of organization.
- Take the info from your class syllabus and jot down your due dates and exam dates into your calendar/schedule.
- Block out lab, lecture, and clinical times.
- Keep your planner with you at all times.
- Write/type everything into your calendar, so you don’t forget anything important. This frees up your brain to think about other things and reduces your stress level because you aren’t trying to remember everything.
Remember that study plan we talked about in Tip #1? Use your planner to schedule your study time.
Tip #3. Attend all of your classes
Success tip #3 should go without saying. But I’ll say it. You must attend all of your classes to succeed in nursing school.
Going to all of your nursing classes is important because good attendance will:
- Help you avoid missing valuable lectures.
- Show your professors that you are giving them your best effort.
- Help you better understand and put together the course content.
- Ensure that you feel prepared and confident going into your exams.
- Encourage friendships that can support you through nursing school.
Your attendance in nursing school will be a strong indicator of success. Make it a priority.
Tip #4. Leverage technology
Another tip to succeed in nursing school is to leverage technology. In other words, use all of the tools, especially the latest digital devices, that are available to help you with your studies.
In 2020, many nursing programs shifted to online classes and virtual clinicals due to the coronavirus. Yet even before that, technology in nursing education was growing remarkably.
Today’s nursing students work with virtual patients and clinical simulations to learn real-life skills. Take advantage of these opportunities! Although they may be challenging, they are much less stressful than caring for real people as a student nurse.
You can make use of technologies outside of the classroom, too. Podcasts are a great example. Access them on-demand, for free, when it’s convenient. Instead of listening to the radio on your way to school, listen to Real Talk School of Nursing. It’s a podcast that discusses everything they won’t teach in your nursing program. Or check out Straight A Nursing for weekly on-the-go study sessions.
Videos are another helpful way to leverage technology. If you haven’t started nursing school yet, subscribe to NurseHub’s YouTube channel to prepare for the entrance exams.
And while we’re talking about subscribing, don’t forget to use social media to your advantage. Follow accounts that cater to nursing students! You’ll get useful study tips, memorization hacks, and nursing inspo to help and encourage you.
One last tip for leveraging technology for success: virtual communities! One university found that students who participated in online groups mastered skills better and were more engaged in their education.
You can start small. Try a virtual study group! Pick a time, and send out a link on Google Meet or Zoom. Leveraging technology to study virtually can be more convenient for nursing students who care for family members or don’t have time to drive to a study group. You’ll also gain 30 minutes or more to study if you eliminate the commute.
If you haven’t joined yet, head to the Nursing School 101 with NurseHub Facebook group. It’s your instant community for all things nursing school.
Tip #5. Manage your time efficiently
Ah, time management. You might be saying, “What time? I have no time.” And I hear you!
Nursing school can take up a lot (or all) of your time. But trust me. You can learn to manage the time that you have, and you’ll be much more successful in it during your nursing school career.
Good time management allows you to get more done, lower your stress levels, and improve your school-life balance.
Here are a few techniques for time management to help you succeed as a nursing student:
- Keep a schedule. (see Success Tip #2, use your planner!)
- Outsource when you can. If a family member offers to help you by running an errand or doing some chores, let them! If you can have your groceries delivered instead of having to go to the store, do it! Save every minute you can, and those minutes will add up.
- Prioritize. Each day, set your top 3 priorities for the day. This will help you focus on what needs to get done and reduce distractions. Try to get those tasks done.
- Give yourself grace. There will be days when you can’t do it all. You’re not a superhuman, so cut yourself some slack if you don’t get everything done. Do what you can with the time you have. And relax. Tomorrow will bring you another 24 hours.
You can learn more proven time management strategies in the Time Management course by Nurse Kelly from NurseHub. Read more about it here!
Tip #6. Create study groups
Compelling research from The U.S. Department of Education proved that study groups are critical for success in nursing school. A researcher interviewed 18 nursing students who failed their BSN nursing programs. Their responses showed recurrent themes.
One of the themes was, “Good study habits are key to success.” Students who were not successful in nursing school recalled that the NCLEX-style test questions were very difficult — they’d never taken tests like that before.
One former student advised, “I would recommend study groups.”
Studying with others helps you better understand and put together the knowledge that you’re collecting. Group studies can also help in the following ways:
- Provide support
- Increase self-confidence
- Ease anxiety
- Improve your teamwork skills (a must for nurses!)
- Increase retention and recall of your study material
If I’ve sold you on the idea of a study group but you don’t know how to find one, create one! It may seem scary, but don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone for this opportunity to succeed in nursing school.
Here’s how to start a study group in 3 easy steps:
Step 1. Look for other people to invite. You want to find the students who pay attention in class, look like they know what’s going on, and seem like good people. Ask if they would like to get together to review the material. It’s really that simple.
Step 2. Choose a location and a time. A coffee shop, school library, park, or someone’s house are all suitable. Pick a comfortable spot that is easy to find.
Step 3. Show up! Take your study materials (book, notes, syllabus). And don’t forget your planner!
Tip #7. Talk to your professors early and often
To succeed in nursing school or any school at all, you must openly communicate with your professors.
The study mentioned before also confirmed the importance of talking to your professors—early and often. Another theme from former nursing student interviews was the importance of early intervention and good support from faculty.
In general, nursing faculty enjoy talking with their students. You’ll likely find it helpful if you ask your professor about a problem, question, or concern. In fact, many instructors wonder why more students won’t ask for help!
One former nursing student said, “I didn’t realize I was failing until it was too late. I waited too long to say anything.”
Do not let the semester pass you by! The first time you bomb an exam or the first time you don’t understand a concept, that is when you should approach your professors.
Tip #8. Prioritize self-care
As a nursing student, you will care for many patients. But don’t forget to care for yourself! Self-care is essential for nursing students.
Your days as a nursing student will keep you busy. Yet, you must make time for your mental and physical health in your hectic schedule.
If you need to take a day off and plan a staycation, do it! Don’t feel guilty. If you need a doctor’s appointment, eye exam, or dental cleaning, don’t put them off.
Read more self-care tips for nursing students from Nurse Jasmine here.
Tip #9. Study a little every day
Maybe you’ve noticed a theme in this list. Make a study plan. Start a study group.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, our next tip is to study a little every day.
You’re going to do (or are already doing) a lot of studying in nursing school. Studying is key to your success in nursing school. And rather than cramming right before test days, the best way to master your courses is to study a little each day. Learn more about study skills for nursing school success from the NurseHub Study Skills course here!
Tip #10. Get NurseHub Premium.
Now for the final tip, especially for students who are studying hard to get into nursing school. Go get NurseHub Premium!
NurseHub offers exam prep to help you ace your nursing school entrance exam. With NurseHub premium, you can practice with the most accurate questions, detailed answer explanations, and a pass-guarantee. If you don’t meet your school’s minimum required test score, you get three more months of premium free to study until you pass!
Bonus Tip: Take the Prepare for Nursing School Courses
Inside the premium content, NurseHub also offers courses tailored for current nursing students.
Here, you’ll find on-demand mini-courses that you will not find anywhere else. Check out a few of the Keys to Success in Nursing School courses:
- Formatting Papers in APA
- Test-Taking Strategies
- Study Skills
- Overcoming Test Anxiety
- Simulation 101
- Professionalism for Nursing Students
Did I mention that premium members can enroll and complete courses whenever it is convenient?
Watch the intro video here for a glimpse of what to expect.
Check them all out! And be on the lookout for upcoming content.
Now that you know what steps to take, get started today! We know you can do it. And we are here, cheering you on.