Friday, August 27, 2010

Other Tips and Tricks

Here are some things I've been thinking about to help ensure success in nursing school. I apologize if any of them have been mentioned in earlier posts; I'm simply too tired to go back and look, and want to get these ideas written down before they disappear from my head.

Time management is a huge issue in nursing school. It's hard, but during the semester, you almost need to schedule your entire week. Now, if you are young and single, live with mom and dad, and don't work, your time will be spent entirely differently from students like me who have a husband, kids, and house to take care of during the week. We have many students in our class who also add a job to the mix. I don't think I could do that, as well, but for some students, it's a necessity. Time needs to be allotted during the week for pre-reading before lecture, preparing for lab, maybe answering some questions for lecture, going back over your notes after lecture, and after clinical, you may have a care plan due that will take you between 10 and 15 hours to complete. With all that, there may be an exam to study for, as well. Most students in my class give themselves Friday after a test off from studying, but then pick back up Saturday morning. We always start a new unit on the Monday following an exam, so there are always several hours' worth of work to do to prepare for that new unit. In addition to the ongoing work for lecture, lab, and clinical, we are always reminded that we need to be doing NCLEX questions each week. The way I like to handle that is to try to work on questions that pertain to the topic that is currently being covered in lecture.

I am still trying to find a better way to study. Material for nursing school is so different from prerequisite or basic classes; in most of those, you memorized facts, regurgitated them for the test, and moved on to something new the next week. In nursing classes, we study individual body systems or diseases, and you have to know pathophysiology, pharmacology, side effects of medications, what to watch out for, etc. Each semester builds on the last, and lab and clinical help to further cement that knowledge. I pull out my A&P book at least once a semester for help with studying.

I really want to work on finding the best time to study this semester. Last year, I waited until after the kids went to bed, and by then, I was so tired that I had to review the material several times in order for it to sink in. This semester, I don't have class until 11:00 on Monday and Tuesday, so I am going to try to either find a quiet place on campus and study before class, or stay at home and study. Being away from the house is better for me, because there are too many distractions at home. I tend to clean or watch TV when I have free time and should be studying. I really want to keep my grades up this semester so that I can apply for an internship after graduation, and most of them require a 3.0 average.

I also am trying to figure out the best place for me to study. I tried my dining room last year; it was a big enough surface to be able to spread out on, but if the kids were awake, they were coming around and bothering me. This summer, I set up a folding table in my tiny little office, and I am hoping to use that as my study area. I'll be able to leave things spread out and close the door, and little hands won't color in my books or take my things away. I have to study in a distraction-free environment, and sitting on my bed doesn't work for me. Our school library is really open and loud (I guess they don't teach people to be quiet in libraries anymore), but there are several quiet places on campus that I might be able to find to use.

That's all for now. When I think of some more tips, I'll be sure to post them.

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