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5 Tips to Survive Nursing School

The road to qualifying as a nurse is not an easy one. You could spend as little as one year at nursing school or as long as eight, depending on the qualification you’re aiming for. Either way, nursing school is not for the faint-hearted, or it can seem like a daily battle.

You’ll likely need to put in more study hours than other students, meaning less time for extracurricular activities or work. Budgeting can be tough for student nurses as they often have many extra costs but fewer funds. These include buying nursing scrubs, but also have less time to take up paid work than other students. Nursing school can also be an emotional rollercoaster as you’ll no doubt see some upsetting scenes on your clinical experiences. You’ll have to quickly develop a strong stomach and thick skin while remaining empathetic with your patients.

But also have less time to take up paid work than other students. Nursing school can also be an emotional rollercoaster as you’ll no doubt see some upsetting scenes in your clinical experiences. You’ll have to quickly develop a strong stomach and thick skin while remaining empathetic with your patients.

 Whether you’ve just enrolled or you’re part-way through your course and finding it challenging, our nursing academic writing experts have put together our five top tips for surviving nursing school. 

1. Tips to survive Nursing School Get Organized

It can be tempting to ditch the books for an evening with friends, but skipping study will just set you back and cause stress. Student nurses have a lot more to juggle than other students, with a high number of study hours and clinical experiences to complete successfully.

Make study part of your daily routine by creating a timetable for the week and scheduling the same time each day to hit the books. Set a clear purpose for your study and check tasks off as you complete them. This will give you a sense of achievement and will motivate you to keep going. Avoid setting huge targets which will take months to achieve as you’re likely to get demoralized and give up. It’s a good idea to set new goals at the start of each semester. Do you want to improve your grades in a particular class? Are you determined to master a specific skill in your clinical placements? Don’t forget to make your goals SMART — Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

Keep your notes organized and review them after each class. Whether you use a laptop or a paper and pen, be sure to store your files in a way that makes it easy for you to access the information you need at a later date — your future you will thank the past you at exam prep time! 

2.  Tips to survive Nursing School Take Care of Yourself

It can be easy to drown yourself in study, classes, clinical experiences, and research. Nursing school requires a lot of hard work and commitment, but it’s important to make time to care for your health and wellbeing. If you’re functioning on a few hours’ sleep because you were up late cramming, your performance will be off and ultimately could risk someone’s life. Equally, if you’ve skipped meals, had no exercise and your stress levels are sky high, you’ll be of no use to anyone.

Sign up to the gym or work a daily run into your schedule. Getting out in the fresh air will clear your mind and re-energize you for study. There will be plenty of extracurricular activities to choose from at nursing school, from sports to theatre. Get active — physically, and socially. Taking time away from the books will make you more effective when it is time to study. 

Don’t skip meals. If time and dollars are tight, you might think missing out on lunch is a good way to save on both. Your brain won’t function at its best if your body isn’t well nourished. When you’re on clinical experience in a healthcare setting, you’ll likely be on your feet for long periods, and your brain will be working overtime to take in all the new information. It’s crucial to keep yourself well-nourished if you want to perform at your best.

3.  Tips to survive Nursing School Plan Ahead for Clinicals

A core element of your program will be clinical experiences. You will spend time in a healthcare setting and will start to learn the practical skills you’ll need as a nurse in supervised learning sessions. Clinical experience is your opportunity to put what you learn in the classroom into practice and to gain real-world experience of nursing. 

Get the most out of your clinical experiences by planning well ahead. Find out where you will be placed and do some research on the organization. What kind of medicine will you be involved in? Will you be in a Trauma 1 center, or have you been placed on an end-of-life ward? Read around the area of medicine that is most relevant. Talk to other nursing students who have completed their clinical experience at the same setting and gain insight into what to expect. The more prepared you are, the more you will learn. Don’t be afraid to take notes and a list of questions with you. The Medical staff you work with will appreciate the preparation you have put in.

Plan for the practical and logistical aspects of attending your clinical experience too. Where is it? How do you get there? Is there parking? What do they require you to wear? Is it necessary to buy scrubs and must they be a certain color? 

4.  Tips to survive Nursing School Stock up on the Essentials

A few simple pieces of equipment will make your life as a student nurse much easier and more enjoyable. You will likely need some pieces of medical uniform, such as nursing scrubs and nurses shoes. Find out from your college what the requirements are. Each clinical setting may have their own rules, so don’t forget to check with them too. A pair of comfortable nursing shoes can be a lifesaver when you’re on your feet all day!  

Invest in a good backpack which can take the weight of your books. Backpacks are better than totes as they tend to be stronger, more comfortable to carry, and they have multiple pockets and compartments which are useful for storing all your essentials. Make sure there’s space for your laptop or notebook, stationery, personal items such as tissues and a hairbrush, snacks and a water bottle.

Treat yourself to a new watch. Many of us rely on our cell phones to tell the time, but it may not be appropriate either in class or in a clinical setting to keep whipping out your phone. If you’re going to be a perfectly organized student, you’ll need to keep an eye on the time, and a watch is the most professional way to do so. 

5.  Tips to survive Nursing School Ask Questions!

When are learning something new, it can be daunting to risk looking dumb by asking a “stupid” question. The chances are, if you’re prepared and well-organized, your query will not be seen as stupid by your peers, your professors, or the professionals in a clinical setting. Remember, they all had to learn too, and there’s a good chance many other students have asked the same question before. You’re here to learn. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to do so by being too afraid to ask a question.

It can be helpful to write down questions you want to ask ahead of time — especially if you’ve researched the organization you will be attending for your next clinical experience. Of course, this is not always possible. So, if you have a spontaneous question, take a moment to think it through before you ask it. If you still want to ask the question after a brief moment of reflection, it’s probably worth asking! 

Stick with It — You Won’t Regret It.

Nursing school is tough. It can be financially difficult, emotionally draining, labor-intensive, and intellectually challenging. But the goals we find hardest to achieve are also the most rewarding. Imagine yourself walking across the stage at graduation, your head filled with all the knowledge you are now learning. As a qualified nurse, you’ll be helping to save lives and supporting people through some of their most difficult experiences. Nursing is an incredibly rewarding career. If you are ambitious and committed to a career in nursing, stick with it — you won’t regret it.

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nursing application essay

Nursing application essay writing tips

A nursing application essay can have a critical effect on your chances of landing an interview, a job, or a placement in nursing school. The challenge for you is to make yours memorable. You can do that by using these 5 tips.

How to Write a Nursing Application Essay

When asked to submit an essay along with your application for employment, the employer is using the essay as a way to screen applicants. All things being equal, the essay will help them to narrow down the list of candidates and can make the difference between landing an interview or not.

Most candidates will submit an uninteresting, cliché-ridden essay with grammatical errors. By contrast, if you follow these tips, your essay will stand out.

Follow Instructions of Nursing Application Essay

It is highly important that you understand and follow instructions as you are being evaluated on your ability to follow instructions. If the length is not specified, use no more than two pages.

The essay can take several forms. You may be asked to write a one-page essay on a single topic or question. You may be asked to pick from several questions, such as:

  • What made you decide to be a nurse?
  • Why do you want to be a nurse here, at St. John’s?

Allow Ample Time

You will probably find it more difficult to write about yourself than you anticipate. Do not put it off until the last minute. If you rush, it will show. Start early and give yourself plenty of time.

 Make an outline and organize your thoughts to show you are a good thinker.

Your essay must be polished and that takes drafting, editing, and rework. Any less and it will not be your best effort. When you are finished, put it down for at least 24 hours and then pick it up. You will find room for improvement. Have 3 other people proofread it.

Put yourself in the Recruiter’s Chair

Think how many times by 1100 in the morning the recruiter has read “I’m a people person” or “I want to help people”.

Now picture the recruiter picking up your essay and yet again reading “I’m a people person”’ or “I want to help people”. It’s important to keep the recruiter’s perspective in mind the entire time and with every sentence you compose.

Avoid using broad generalizations and platitudes. Be genuine, personal, and not intellectual. Everyone responds to realness and connection. This comes from being authentic and through telling stories. Use a meaningful quote for interest and use short paragraphs with enough white space to avoid dense blocks of text.

Stand Out With Stories in your Nursing Application Essay

It’s essential that you stand out from all the other applicants. Use details and examples to stand out and be memorable.

Describe yourself in a way that illustrates your skills.

“I learned in clinical rotations to look past a patient’s angry behavior and try to find out why. One day my patient was very angry that his discharge was delayed because the physician had not rounded. He was rude to me but I just said “You seem very upset, do you want to talk about it?” and he shared that his wife with Alzheimer’s had been home alone for forty-eight hours and he was worried about her. I was able to get the discharge order and send him home.”

It’s an engaging story that shows your people skills and compassion.

Likewise:

“I always try to plan ahead so I’ll be prepared. My patient had a low H&H, but before I called the doctor, I checked to see if they had any blood available or a type & cross. I also checked the chart to see if they had religious objections to receiving blood. It turns out they were Jehovah’s Witness and I was able to let the physician know”.

This illustrates how your critical thinking skills and every nurse manager is concerned with critical thinking.

Be a Good Fit

To answer “Why do you want to work here?” you must know something about the company. When the recruiter reads your essay, you want them to think “They’d be a great fit! Let’s get him on the phone, now.”

Study the website. Perhaps they are featuring a service line they are proud of, such as oncology services, or heart care. Maybe they were voted “People’s Choice” by their community, or have badges on the site for awards. If they have been distinguished by any organization, it will display on their site. Incorporate this knowledge into your essay.

In some way show that you are aware of what they stand for in the community. Then explain how your skills and values align with theirs. For example, consider a hospital that bills itself as doing “sacred work” and is a Christian organization. Reflect if or how your values align with theirs and speak to that. You will be seen as a good fit.

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