We all know there is nothing easy about nursing school, but even the best students often are shocked at just how intensive a program can be. In addition to all the time you must devote to actually being in school and clinicals, a big part of your success depends on how you manage your study habits.
Regardless of how you’ve done in your educational career up to this point, you’ll likely find it necessary to brush up on those study habits and refine your process. Fortunately, many nursing schools themselves offer tips to help student nurses succeed, and we’ve put together some of the best advice here.
Additionally, be sure to check out our 10 great tips for nursing school students (which also has some study advice), and if you’re still looking for a school, you may want to visit our Guide to Nursing Schools.
1. “Be Prepared to Be Overwhelmed” – Learn Time Management Skills
Okay, that’s not the most assuring statement to start this list, but it’s the exact advice Rhode Island Community College gives its future nursing students. Fortunately, the school offers some tips to help overcome this.
The first is that before you can properly manage your study habits, you need to first manage all of your time. The school offers a handy chart to chronicling what you do with the 168 hours you have in your week. The chart is a good way to realize where all of your time goes, and how you can carve out enough for effective study.
2. “Plan It!”
Texas Tech University Health Science College advises you to plan out the specific studying you’ll do each day, pointing out that random studying leads to random grades. In addition to planning out the time you will study, be sure you have a place picked out that is great for studying. Choose a place that has as few opportunities for distraction as possible.
Another important piece of advice that may be a little less obvious is that you’ll want to plan your breaks as well. Particularly if what you are working on is reading intensive, you’ll probably want to take a break every 30-45 minutes to do something physical, like taking a walk (even if it’s a walk to get a snack!).
3. “Don’t Do It Alone”
Mid Michigan Community College offers some very interesting statistics that illustrate why you should always have at least one buddy with you whenever you study. On average, you’ll retain 20 percent of what you’re taught if you just rely on hearing it once in class, and you’ll retain 60 percent if you go over the information on your own again on your own time.
However, that retention rate jumps up to 90 percent when you study in a group and share the information with others. The article points out that there are other indirect benefits from group study, including encouragement and moral support.
4. “Don’t Be Disorganized”
Villanova University states that nursing students “receive an almost constant flow of information while completing their degree.” This is certainly true, and part of that flow is the materials you will be studying.
Be sure to keep all of this as organized as possible, whether that means in paper form or in specific folders on your computer. After all, it’s impossible to study what you can’t find.
5. “Schedule a Little ‘Me’ Time”
While all of these tips are important, a huge part of your studying success will be ensuring you take enough time for yourself to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Jacksonville State University advices that using your downtime to “treat yourself” – whatever that may entail for you – is crucial to keeping “yourself healthy in body, mind and spirit.”
What study habits got you through school (or are getting you through it now)? Let us know in the comments below!