Congratulations, you’ve been accepted to nursing school! Take a moment and celebrate your achievement. Getting this far means you deserve a huge pat on the back and at least a little private dance party around the living room. Perhaps you could celebrate by treating yourself to some self-care and pampering like a hot bath and a good firming eye cream.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the task that lies before you, but there are lots of things you can do now to prepare yourself. Appropriate preparation is a huge part of nursing, so it’s best to start practicing it now.
Here is a list of tips that will help you get ready and be your most successful while you go through nursing school. There will be times when you will feel overwhelmed, but this list will help you minimize those moments and get back on track.
Your Mindset Makes the Difference
Your mindset, which can be described as the messages your brain repeats to you daily, affects every aspect of your life. It’s important to remind yourself that you are capable and to focus on what is positive and where you have choices that can improve a situation.
Nursing school will place many challenges in your path. That is true for everyone. It’s how you approach the challenges that will make all the difference. Engaging with a challenge in a healthy way means moving out of your comfort zone and making choices that will move you forward towards your goal.
Positive thinking can go a very long way, but that also means realistically assessing a situation. You can go into a test believing you will pass with flying colors, but you also need to know when you are comfortable with the material and when you need to work harder. Acknowledging your deficits is important, too. That’s how you grow and learn.
Get Yourself Organized
This is where the rubber meets the road! Getting organized may be the number one skill needed to get through nursing school. There’s going to be a lot to manage — from keeping track of all the handouts you’ll be getting to the due dates of research papers, your exam schedule, your class schedule, the locations of clinical assignments, and so on.
- Get a scheduling system that works for you. A calendar on your phone, a paper calendar on the wall, or a datebook/organizer. Fill out your planner at the start of each semester, putting all the due dates for projects and dates for exams. Then, write in when you will need to start each project. Remember to give yourself some extra time for each assignment. That way, you have wiggle-room if life throws you a curveball, and if all goes well, you will be done ahead of schedule and can give yourself a little treat.
- Stay organized. Get some binders and keep all the handouts and printouts organized. Use tabs to create sections to easily find what you need when you need it.
- Designate a study space. Have a place in your home set up for nursing school work. A desk or work area would be ideal, but if you are limited in the space available, even just having a shelf dedicated to your binders, books, and folders will help. The last thing you need is to waste time running around the house trying to find what you need.
- To-do lists will help keep you on track, and it is so satisfying to cross things off when you have accomplished them. Consider breaking your to-do list down into short and longer-term lists to help keep yourself organized.
Pay Attention to How You Learn Best
You’ve made it to the point of being accepted to nursing school, so you’ve probably spent some time in school recently getting all your prerequisite coursework done. Spend some time really thinking about how you learned best. Everyone has different ways of taking in information that works best for them.
Four basic learning styles have been identified. Some people do better with a mix of learning styles. It’s important to know which ones work best for you to most efficiently process what you are learning and be successful.
Most people learn better and retain more when they have time to carefully process the material and go over it multiple times. So, don’t wait until the last minute and then do an all-night cram session. This also adds unneeded extra stress, and a lack of sleep will not help you when it is exam time.
Some people do better studying with a partner, and some do better alone. Some people need to listen to information, so they record the lectures, and others need to write the information down by hand to learn. Don’t be afraid to try different methods to find the way you learn new material.
Speak Up and Put Yourself Out There
Being an engaged participant brings you a better learning experience and helps elevate the learning environment for everyone. Asking questions, volunteering for opportunities when presented, and being an active team member enrich your learning and build relationships with your professors and fellow students.
Take a moment at the start of each semester to stop in and visit your professor or clinical instructor or introduce yourself via email. Let them know a little bit about you. Making connections is a vital part of nursing in every way. Some of the connections you make in nursing school may be part of your life for years to come.
Self-Care Now and When You Become a Nurse
Taking care of yourself to get through nursing school should be high on your list. To be successful, you need to be healthy and well-rested. It is also important to make sure you are in tip-top shape to not miss any classes or clinicals. Once you become a nurse, your self-care habit will help you avoid burnout or compassion fatigue.
There is a lot of talk these days about work-life balance, and you are the only person who will really know what works for you. Let’s look at some of the basics of self-care:
- Good sleep, eating well, getting enough exercise
- Knowing your personal boundaries and limits (learning to say “no”)
- Take time for activities that are relaxing and treat yourself to a lip serum
- Finding healthy coping skills
- Checking in with yourself to see how you are feeling physically and emotionally
- Reaching out for help and getting counseling if you need it
Nursing school is an exciting time in which you will learn not only about nursing but also about yourself. You will feel stretched and challenged, which is a natural part of the process. Following these tips can help you be successful during your schooling and into your years as a nurse.
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