How To Survive Nursing School: 10 Essential Tips

how to survive nursing school It’s not enough to just get in (even though it’s a great accomplishment!). It’s not enough get through (you should want to excel). Nursing school is where you find your career compass.
Nursing school also sets the stage for things to come, serving as an accurate foreshadowing of what you can and will do as a nurse. So without further ado…


10 Tips On How To Survive Nursing School

1. Sit in the front of the class

Just don’t survive nursing school; be exceptional! It starts with making the most of your time in class. Optimize your learning environment. Get rid of the ‘shy’ excuse and make yourself seen. Active participation is the cornerstone of all nursing education.


2. Ensure your instructors know you by name

Your instructors are going to be the key that unlocks many doors of opportunity later in your education. You want to be the student who is remembered, not forgotten.


3. Ask questions

The only dumb question is the one not asked. Ask questions even when you think you know all the material. Start to develop the inquisitive reflex, as it will come in handy later in your career.


4. Find out the ‘why’

This is stolen right out of nursing school 101. This was something a former instructor harped on. It’s not enough to know ‘how’ to perform a task, you need to know the ‘why’. Why are you performing the task. For example, ambulation is a key ingredient to prevent post-op pneumonia, but why? Always ask the ‘why’, even when you’re not being ‘tested’ on it.


5. Expect the unexpected

Nursing school is a direct reflection of the nursing profession. We sort of function like the weather. We have a general idea of how things should go for the day – but somehow the day never seems to want to cooperate. In fact I can’t remember the last time my ‘plan’ for the day actually happened according to that ‘plan’.


6. Accept that your life is on ‘pause’

Ask anyone who has been through nursing school, whether it’s a diploma, ADN, or BSN program. You will eat, sleep, and breath everything nursing. It’s much more than learning a new skill – it’s an entirely new way of life. Trust me.


7. Step outside the box

There is more than one way to skin a cat (yeah, it’s crude but it does the trick). Don’t do something simply because that’s the way it’s always been done. If you can develop or bring a new way that meets the same demands, satisfies the same requirements, and doesn’t place anyone or anything in harms way – go for it. We nurses hate change, but it really is the only thing that is constant in our careers.


8. Live outside your comfort zone

Get rid of that comfort blanket because nursing school and your career are not about feeling safe all the time. The majority of your career will be spent ‘uncomfortable’. There is always something new, something challenging and something different. Become ‘comfortable with being uncomfortable’, you’ll reap the benefits of this later.


9. Learn the art of time management

THIS is the single most important skill you need to develop as a nurse. PERIOD. Time management skills will save you from many, many ‘bad’ days – as a student and then as a practicing clinician. You’ll know when you’ve met a nurse with bad time management skills – it affects everyone around them.


10. Volunteer for any and everything

You will do ‘return demonstrations’ for a myriad of skills. Volunteer to be the first. Volunteer to be the last. Volunteer to learn, relearn, and relearn any and every skill. Practice truly does make perfect (especially in our world). There is a popular saying amongst nurses, “If you don’t use it, you lose it”.


Oh, there are many more tips beyond my list here. I just thought I’d hit the highlights. Please feel free to share this list with your nursing school friends!

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