5 tips for nurses going back to school

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This is an exciting time for the world of nursing. The public’s interest in choosing nursing as a career continues to climb and now, more than ever, many nurses are stepping away from the bedside and venturing back into the academic world to advance their careers.

Many of those individuals, like me, are considered “adult learners”–there has been some sort of delay in their educational journey. Some students are returning to the classroom after decades have passed.

Returning to the classroom after years away can be difficult and stressful, but there are ways to make sure your academic endeavors are a success! Here are some tips I think can help ease the transition:

Rediscover the internet

  • It’s one thing to be well versed in how to “surf” the internet and navigate your way through your social networks; using the internet to augment your learning requires an entirely different set of skills. Learn how to efficiently manage your way through web portals, properly use a web browser and become very familiar with internet security. Google is not the only tool out there.

Rediscover mobile technology

  • As healthcare and its delivery continue to advance and become more complex, mobile devices are becoming a required piece of your toolkit. Long gone are the days of lugging around 75 pounds of books–now you refer to your mobile device.

Master mathematics

  • This is a very neglected skill of the seasoned nurse. Out in practice, we can sometimes get complacent with the abundance of support at our fingertips. If pharmacy hasn’t already calculated it, your IV pump usually can do it for you. Be sure you can calculate a weight-based drip rate on your own.

Learn how you learn best

  • Everyone learns differently. For instance, I’m a visual learner. If I can draw it in a diagram, graph or mind map, it’s much easier for me to learn the material. Some simply need to hear the lecture, some need to read the chapter page by page. Whatever is your strength, find it and then use it. Don’t expect to learn and study in the same manner as your classmates. There is no wrong way to learn, as long as you are assimilating the needed material and remembering it. Be sure to figure this out BEFORE your grades start to suffer.

Sharpen your organization skills

  • Everyone thinks that if they can organize their day as a staff nurse, then they have the organizational skill set needed to stay on top of their studies. While nursing does require a high level of organizational skills, don’t make the mistake of thinking those skills translate into the academic world. Keep a calendar, an appointment book or track your duties electronically. The schedule of classes and assignments can very easily get the best of you. Be prepared.

Going back to school is an exciting and fun time. While I’ve commented many times on the roof-shattering levels of stress, it really is a great time. Just be sure you have the weapons necessary to survive the battles that lie ahead of you.

What other tips would you add?

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