Ten Tips for Surviving Nursing School

by Megan Wray

Dear Future Nursing Student,

I know exactly how you're feeling right now as you sit with your letter of acceptance from the School of Nursing in your hands: giddy, anxious, and excited about starting your journey at Gardner-Webb University as a nursing student. You have every right to be excited! Gardner-Webb's nursing program is top-notch and includes excellent faculty who are committed to your success. The Hunt School of Nursing is also located in a recently renovated facility that features labs where students have access every weekday to equipment that will prepare you for clinicals and the workplace. Also, very few universities allow sophomore students to begin getting experience with actual patients, and Gardner-Webb is one of them. So, again, be excited about the family that you're about to become a part of!

 In case you didn't know, being in nursing school is no piece of cake. It takes commitment, dedication, and perseverance. It can be frustrating at times, but it is always rewarding in the end. The experiences you have in the next few years while at Gardner-Webb will shape you into the awesome nurse that I'm sure you'll become. With that being said, I'm sure you would love some tips from a nursing student who already has some experience under her belt. I've made a list of some of the things that I feel are the most important for you to know, many of which were told to me by previous nursing students.

Ten Tips for Surviving Nursing School:

  1. Always start studying in advance for an exam/check-off. Looking at the powerpoints and taking notes as you read the chapters BEFORE class is really helpful! Cramming the night before, on the other hand, is usually counterproductive.
  2. Get enough sleep! Know your body and mind and be aware of when it's time to quit studying, unwind, and hit the sheets.
  3. Take your clinical rotations seriously. These experiences will help you in class and prepare you to become a skilled nurse. Don't be afraid to ask your nurse questions and learn from what he/she has to tell you. Watch as many procedures as you can and gain as much experience as possible.
  4. If you have questions or don't understand the material given in class, talk to your professor! Make an appointment to meet with them in their office or send them an email. They will all be more than willing to discuss any questions that you have and clarify the content.
  5. Study alone and with friends. It's always good to quiz yourself and work alone in a quiet area but it can also be really helpful to study with a group. Often, someone will bring up a question that you didn't even know you had until they mentioned it. Also, others can explain something that they understood better than you and vise versa.
  6. Use mnemonics, acronyms, pictures, and videos to help you memorize and remember information! Once you come up with something unique to help you, you won't be able to forget it in the future.
  7. Don't let one bad grade get you down. Just because you didn't ace this exam doesn't mean that you won't ace the next. Remember to study harder, ask more questions, and try different techniques to find what works best for you. Don't beat yourself up and remember, you've got this!
  8. Practice, practice, practice. When you're getting ready for a check-off or are learning a skill, practice truly does make perfect. Use your roommate, teddy bear, or little sibling to practice assessments and skills that won't make them run in fear (like IVs, NG tubes, or injections). Also, go into lab and practice! The lab assistants are really helpful and willing to answer questions and it's best if you can become familiar with the equipment and mannequins.
  9. Remember WHY you're doing this... Whatever your reason was to become a nurse, don't forget that during the times where you find yourself overwhelmed or stressed. Remember, this will all be worth it in the end!
  10. Lastly, don't forget to let loose and have fun! Even though you may find yourself stressing over an exam, final, check-off, or simulation, take a minute to step back and relax. Watch a movie with friends, enjoy time with family, bake some cookies, take a walk, or listen to some music. Even though schoolwork will be a big part of your life, remember to have fun at the same time. After all, you're in college! These will be some of the best years of your life.

Best of luck!

 Megan Wray: Junior BSN student at Gardner-Webb University who enjoys shopping, spending time with friends and family, and not studying.