Between classes, assignments, clinicals and studying, nursing students have a lot to juggle! Outside of academic qualifications, nursing students are tasked with becoming masters at emotional care, so balancing all aspects of school is no easy feat. Managing everything in your schedule is a lot between collaborating as a team and working independently, and we get it! Whether you’re starting out on your journey to becoming a nurse, or you’re almost at the finish line, incorporating a few tried and tested tips into your routine can be a game-changer for productivity and emotional well-being.
Here’s a few simple things that can make all the difference.
Have clear study and relaxation times
When your school schedule is packed, finding time for personal life can be incredibly challenging, leaving you feeling there’s no time to relax. While there’s no denying the importance of getting school work done to a high standard, one of the most important practices a nursing student can learn is how essential downtime is. Finding the balance between work and play can be hard for anyone, but it’s essential for keeping your productivity, and mood, up.
The demands of school combined with the added pressure of learning the ropes of a hospital can leave no time in your calendar for fun, that's why we recommend scheduling it in! Adding in blocks of time throughout your day, even if it’s only ten minutes, is absolutely essential to keeping yourself focused. Carving this out in your schedule means that you will be reminded to actually take a break.
At the same time, don’t be too strict with your break schedule. If you feel you need a study break, take one. Research shows that taking purposeful breaks (anywhere from 5–60 minutes) from studying to refresh your brain and body increases your energy, productivity, and ability to focus, so listen to your body always, but remember to schedule time for YOU, even on your most hectic days.
Find a study method that works for you
As we know, the nursing school curriculum is extensive, so finding the right study method that works for you is key. Everyone is different, so whether you like to study alone, in groups, or a mix of both, solidifying key study tactics that fit your personality and routine can help you be more efficient overall.
Good pre and post class habits have been proven to aid retention, so carving out a little time either before or right after class to go over the material covered can help absorb knowledge faster. If you have time before class, read the key points and chapter outlines before the upcoming class so you have a preliminary understanding of the contents. Alternatively, spend the 30 minutes directly after class (if your schedule permits!) to re-read the material covered and jot down quick notes. Once you’re done, close your book, hide your notes and read aloud everything you can remember. Research has shown that using this method leads to increased test scores and retention of knowledge, so mastering this technique can save you time re-studying material extensively and repetitively in the long run.
Once you find a tactic that works for you, try to stick to it as much as possible. But be open to spur-of-the-moment group study sessions as they are a great way to have open conversations about a subject and further your understanding of the topic.
Talk to senior nursing students
Having a sounding board or someone you can go to for advice when in school can be extremely valuable for a nursing student. Outside of friends and family, more tenured nursing students can be a great resource. Your school may assign you a nursing student mentor, but if not, try to find someone who’s had experience with the course that you are doing.
Outside of giving you tips on things like a professor’s teaching style, past study notes and even old textbooks they no longer use, speaking with a more senior nursing student is invaluable as they’ve been through what you are going through and can provide additional support. Nursing can be an emotionally charged profession, so being able to talk it out with someone who's been in your shoes can help you navigate the ups and downs of school life a little easier.
Also, when you graduate College, consider staying involved with your university. You can volunteer to mentor new students and your past experience as a way to give back. Teaching someone else has also been proven to improve your own depth of knowledge on a subject, with the dual benefit of helping out a peer and sharpening your own skills at the same time!
Whether it’s a new pair of shoes😉, a Matcha latte or binging the latest episode of Euphoria, rewarding yourself after a test or long week of clinicals can be a motivation driver! And no, breaks don’t count, because taking time to recoup isn’t a reward, it’s a must!
It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, but setting yourself a little reward after getting through a dense chapter of academic material or when you ace a test is the best way to incentivize yourself to keep going. Nursing school is a marathon, not a sprint, so a little treat here and there can really go a long way when you need to push through that study wall.
According to AACN Fact Sheets, nursing is the largest healthcare profession in the United States, with almost 3 times as many registered nurses as physicians. This speaks volumes about the crucial role nurses play in healthcare, and you should feel extremely proud having chosen to pursue this profession.
The ups and downs of school are inevitable, but know that you’re well on your way to having an extremely rewarding and fulfilling career. And if you’re ready to take the next step in your career, click here to read Provo’s nursing school guide on the highest-paid nursing jobs in the U.S.
“Nursing is one of the fine arts: I had almost said ‘the finest of fine arts.’” —Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing.