Being a nurse and teaching in a college-level allied health program, I am intimately aware of the large volume of information and new terms nursing students are faced with. It is necessary to learn this material to be both successful in your college career and to give the best patient care upon graduation. But at times, the amount of information fed to you each semester may seem insurmountable. It's not—you'll make it!
There are many different learning styles, but I am certain some of the following tips will apply to you and make your student life a bit easier.
Don't look ahead.
The worst action you can take is to look ahead at all of the information you are going to need to learn over the course of this semester. Focus on today and what you need to know 'today'. Don't even look ahead in your nursing book. It will just make you feel anxious and overwhelmed. You will be amazed at the end of the semester just how much material you covered. Do it in steps.
Break it down.
You have 30 pages of material to digest between now and next week. Impossible? Not really. You have five days, right? Read and study six pages per day. Not only will you understand the material better this way, but you will retain it as well.
Don't underestimate the power of the index card. Make flash cards with terms or concepts you are unfamiliar with. The time you spend making these cards is time well spent. You will be learning the term as you are writing it out, making a study tool for the next class, and preparing references ready to study for the midterm and final exams.
Anxiety is contagious. Don't catch it.
If there is a student in your nursing class who crams at the last minute for homework or tests (you know who I'm talking about here), please do not choose him/her as a study partner! His/her lack of preparation and feelings of anxiety and hopelessness will rub off on you. Don't allow that to happen. After all, you are working hard and are ready to go.
Study a little each day.
Even if you don't have homework to do, or a particular set of materials to study, study anyway! I'm not kidding. Go back over any material that was confusing or that you didn't quite understand. Again, by doing this, you are going to retain the material longer. You will be better prepared for the next test, and more importantly, be the best nurse for your patients.
Organize to energize.
I would bet you have more on your agenda today than studying, right? Work and family commitments, as well as the invariable “car-breaking-down” incidents in your daily life, complicate things. No problem!
Make a list of what you need to do each day. Include errands, grocery items, phone calls, and of course what you are going to study that day! Don't beat yourself up if you don't cover everything. Then make a list at the end of each day—include the things you didn't get to today—for tomorrow.
Rome was not built in a day. Your medical knowledge base will not be either! Remember that you can only do so much, so make the best use of that time. Realize that you do not have to overwhelm yourself to get to where you want to go. Stay focused and organized. Chip away at you work a bit each day, and you will make it.
Good luck to all nursing students!
Do you have any study tips of your own to share? Leave a comment below.