Entering nursing school is a big deal. It’s the first step toward embarking on a rewarding — albeit challenging — career in the healthcare field, and it’s only natural to feel a bit apprehensive. Many students worry about whether they will be able to keep up with their classes and excel in their studies. Developing strong study habits early on in your education will help you meet your goals and set you up to be a successful nurse.
If you are looking for some help with studying, you’ve come to the right place. With the tips below, you can develop the skills you need to ace your courses, graduate and move on to a successful career as a nurse. Developing these skills now will even help if you decide to attend graduate school and pursue an advanced degree like an MSN. Here, we’ll be discussing a few essential study habits to learn in nursing school. With these suggestions, you’ll be well on your way to rocking your favorite medical scrubs and providing exceptional care for patients.
1. Get to Know Your Study Style
Not everyone learns the same way, so it only makes sense that not everyone has the same study style. Some folks learn best by reading, while others absorb more information by writing things down. Some are visual learners, and some are aural learners. Others learn through hands-on experience. There’s no right or wrong way to learn or study.
Unfortunately, lots of people make it all the way to college without ever understanding their unique learning and study styles. As you embark on your post-secondary education journey, getting to know your personal study style will save you a lot of frustration. Experiment with different techniques and styles, being mindful of what works best for you. Once you know your personal study style, you’ll have less trouble learning new material and passing tests.
2. Stay Ahead of the Game
Nursing school is hectic, so it’s almost impossible to catch up once you fall behind. To avoid falling into the never-ending cycle of playing catchup, try your best to stay ahead of the game. Read a few chapters ahead or watch videos early to familiarize yourself with the content. This way, you won’t be going into your lecture blindly. When you already have a basic understanding of the material and what to expect, you’ll be prepared to be an active listener and take notes during class. You’ll also already be aware of any topics on which you might need further clarification.
Putting in some work before class gets your brain into learning mode. It also helps to eliminate the fear of the unknown. And by working ahead, you are giving yourself a bit of a cushion in case anything ever comes up that sets you back.
3. Try a New Note-Taking Technique
Highlighting important text and writing page after page of notes works great for some people, but it isn’t suitable for everyone. If the traditional way of taking notes doesn’t resonate with you, there’s a more visual way to remember critical information.
Making concept maps is faster and easier than regular note-taking, making it ideal for the fast-paced world of nursing school. Plus, it’s fun! To create a concept map, start with the broad topic you are studying, and then add to it using what you learned. Fill in the map using notes, images or other resources. When finished, a concept map provides a clear visual representation of a topic and is much easier for many people to understand than written notes. Many students also find that making concept maps leads to a greater understanding of the subject, rather than mere memorization of it.
4. Maintain a Consistent Study Schedule
College life is hectic. However, that doesn’t mean you should study whenever you have the time rather than on a schedule. Maintaining a consistent schedule prevents you from pushing studying to the back burner when you get busy. It also allows you to study at the time of day when you learn best.
If you find that you are most focused first thing in the morning, commit to starting your day with a study session. If you’re more productive in the mid-afternoon, work in a couple of hours for studying to your schedule after lunch. There’s no right or wrong time to study, but it is important to do so at the same time each day.
Establishing a consistent schedule while you’re in nursing school will help when you start working in the field too. The better you get at managing your time now, the easier it will be to transition from student to nurse after graduation.
5. Know When to Take a Break
Cramming for hours on end is widely regarded as a normal part of college life. While common, though, it is not the best way to learn and retain new information. When you feel like you need a break, take one. Taking breaks makes you more productive by improving your focus and helping you avoid burnout. Trying to stay focused on the same task for an extended period is nearly impossible because of how the human brain works. Stepping away for a few moments gives your brain a chance to regroup so that you can return to your study session with renewed focus and energy.
Developing strong study habits early in nursing school is the best way to set yourself up for success. And many of the skills you learn will help you as you pursue additional education or enter the workforce. When you are feeling overwhelmed, remind yourself that it is okay to step back for a few minutes. The more you work toward developing your skills, the less frequently those feelings of overwhelm will likely pop up. Much like finding the right scrub jackets for women, it takes practice and persistence to get really good at studying. You’ve got this