how to prepare for nursing school

How to Prepare for Nursing School

Congratulations on getting into nursing school! Some say that’s the hardest part. Others admit that nursing school itself is an animal in its own right. Both legs of the journey are challenging. Either way, one’s finished and another has yet to begin.

You can have less stress by being as prepared as possible. As the saying goes, luck favors the prepared. So here are nine ways you can prepare for nursing school. You’ll be ahead of the pack when you use these smart strategies. And if you can stay on top of the ball throughout nursing school in the same way, then you’ll do more than pass – you’ll excel.

Get Organized

Most students wait until the first week of school to buy supplies, set up binders or files on their computer, and get organized. But that’s the wrong way to go about it. You need to get started early. And stay organized as you go.

The more organized you are the easier it will be to keep up with paperwork, assignments, and study materials. When you’re short on time (which is a huge problem in nursing school) then you’ll want to preserve every minute you can.

Talk with previous students

You may have many fears about starting nursing school. It’s hard to know what to expect. That’s why talking to current or previous nursing students will be quick to quell fears and ease anxieties. You can talk with nursing students online at sites like All Nurses. Or you can reach out on forums like Reddit.

If you don’t get to talk with any current nursing students before the semester, meet a few in the first week or two. The sooner the better, but late is better than never. You can ask them questions about the workload, stress, clinicals, studying, and more.

When you hear about other student’s experiences, especially students from your school, you’ll feel light years better. It’s crazy what our minds do when we have a gap in knowledge and experience. We have the tendency to make up horrific stories and difficulties while running ourselves ragged with worry and anxiety. Do yourself a favor and talk with current or previous nursing students.

Do yourself a favor: talk with current nursing students. #nursingschoolprep #nursingschool Click To Tweet

Set Your Schedule

You may not be big on schedules and calendars but that should change real quick. A schedule will be your life saver. When you have a solid schedule – and structure – to keep you afloat during the semester you can relax and get your work done faster and easier.

Before the semester you’ll receive class schedules. You can download and save these schedules. Buy a paper planner or open your electronic calendar and enter in all the exam dates. You can even enter in your assignment due dates and set up reminders.

It’s one less thing to worry about after the semester begins.

Complete all the paperwork

Before your first day, you should have a nursing school orientation. Or, during your first school week, you’ll have an orientation with your instructors and receive tons of paperwork. Complete all your paperwork before school or in that first week. Set reminders, if needed. And turn it all in as soon as possible.

Also, you’ll need to get your vaccinations completed, documented, and turned in. Don’t hinder your success with procrastination on paperwork. If you forget to turn in the wrong piece of paper, you might not start clinicals on time.

Keep your paperwork in order. Get in the habit of getting stuff done right away when you get tasked with it. It’s a habit you’ll use as a nurse. As a nurse, procrastination is never a solution.

Prep Your Support Network

You may have heard: you need support while in nursing school. You can be successful without it. That’s for sure. But you’ll be a heck of a lot better off if you have friends and family nearby to lean on when times get tough. And they will get tough.

How can friends and family help? First, they will listen to all your woes. If your friends are in nursing school, then they can commiserate and empathize with you. Your family can show love. These are all amazing reasons to have friends and family.

But friends and family can help in other, unexpected ways too. For instance, what if you need help with your dog on days you’re in clinical? Or, if you need a place to sleep that’s near your school? What if you need a ride because your car broke down? What if you need help with interview questions? Or, maybe you need someone to quiz you?

There are so many ways that friends and family can support you during nursing school. Let them know that you’ll need support. Give them fair warning. Most will be more than happy to help you along the way.

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Talk with Your Employer

You may choose to work while in nursing school. It’s not encouraged – especially working full-time – but some don’t have the privilege of only going to school. If you work part- or full-time, then be sure to talk with your employer ahead of time.

Talk with them about what your schedule will be like during the semester. Discuss how each semester will be different. Ensure they’ll be flexible when you need it most. School should be the top priority. The goal is that you’ll do well and get it over with quickly. That way you won’t have to endure these hardships for too long.

Some employers will be flexible and encouraging. Others won’t be. But if you spend time talking with them and preparing them (like you did with your friends and family), then you’ll know their attitude. And you can make adjustments and respond appropriately when things go awry. You’ll know what to expect from them and vice versa.

Take a Vacation

You’re about to be nose deep in textbooks and hands deep in poop. Your next vacation might not be until between semesters. You could get away with a short trip here or there during the semester. But it could be difficult to take a long, relaxing vacay. So take one while you can.

Forget about all your responsibilities. Soak in the sunshine, be with friends and family, and enjoy yourself.

Complete Outstanding Tasks

Do you have a to-do list of home tasks and personal tasks? Most of us do. Give yourself of an empty to-do list. Take a week and get everything done. Clean your house, stock your fridge and pantry, get your oil changed and car washed, go for your annual doctor’s visit, or buy birthday gifts and Christmas gifts in advance.

Whatever it is – do it early, do it now. The more you can complete ahead of time, the more time you’ll have to study and relax. Part of being successful in nursing school is having time to complete your assignments, study, and take care of yourself.

The more you get done ahead of time the more time you’ll have for what matters most. And the less you’ll spend scuffling to get outstanding tasks complete.

Review Anatomy and Physiology

The base of nursing knowledge is anatomy and physiology. If you barely scraped by in that class, then you should be reviewing all summer. Ensure your success in nursing school with a strong understanding of the basics.

Even if you got straight A’s in your core classes, you can benefit from spending a week or two before the semester reviewing materials. Look over the sections you struggled with. Or review medical terminology. Start to prime your brain to think about the systems and complex terminology again. No doubt you’ll be five steps ahead of the rest.

Review A&P to prep for your 1st semester of nursing school. #nursingschoolprep #nursingstudent Click To Tweet

Final Thoughts

If you take the time to complete even one of these before the semester, then you’ll be way ahead of most. But if you can manage to prepare fully, then you’ll feel relaxed and focused as you enter your first nursing class. With that kind of focus and attention, you’ll be well on your way to nursing school success.

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