All nursing students share a common set of goals: Earn a nursing degree, acquire a license and get to work providing excellent patient care. While every aspiring nurse practitioner has a different journey, the road to becoming a nurse involves a lot of the same questions: What are the most effective ways to study? How many hours per day should I be studying? What’s the best route to success as a nursing student? When am I supposed to find time to sleep? If you’re asking yourself all this and then some, you’re in luck! We’re here with answers:
Five useful nursing education study tips
The best way to study during nursing school is the way that works best for you. To do that, it’s important to come up with a solid nursing school study plan that accounts for your preferred study habits and the time you can reasonably dedicate to hitting the books.
Take what works for you from the list below and leave the rest behind. Here are some of the top nursing school tips that have helped generations of students perform well:
Review your nursing school material daily
Remember, you’re not just reviewing your study materials to keep up with coursework and prepare for nursing exams. You’re preparing for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), which will test you on all your nursing school knowledge. The best practice is to study for a short time daily, which eventually helps you retain information and set yourself up for long-term success (instead of long nights of cramming).
Consider forming a study group
Even if you prefer to go solo, working in a group for at least a few study sessions can highlight areas of improvement you wouldn’t have caught on your own. Plus, group members can test one another on questions and solve clinical cases together. A little moral support doesn’t hurt, either.
Assess how you’ll apply your knowledge
Remember, you’re in nursing school to learn how to provide patient care. So, while you can commit facts and pharmacology terms to memory, that’ll only help you on certain exams. As you study, think about how you’ll use your knowledge in your clinical practice. Assigning this type of purpose and importance to your studies may even help you retain information.
Remember that it’s okay to skim read
Maximize your study time by focusing on your syllabus and class notes and skimming your assigned reading before pinpointing important information. We’re not suggesting you skip over important texts; on the contrary, we’re saying it’s all about studying strategically. If you plan to re-read or re-study certain chapters before an exam, the first pass is only one of many.
You’ll go to school, do clinical rotations, study, and perhaps work part-time. Because you have a lot on your plate, you may end up feeling overwhelmed, which can eventually impact your physical and mental well-being. Take breaks for self-care, and keep your mental health positive. When you take care of yourself, you recharge, stay sharp, and become increasingly productive.
How many hours should you study?
While everyone is different and has a distinct retention capacity, on average, nursing students generally study from two to four hours per day. That said, remember that only you can create a study plan that works with your schedule, unique needs, and learning style. Don’t underestimate the power of having a planner, one of the most important nursing school study tools. It helps you schedule your test prep around classes, clinical practice, job, and personal commitments.
What to know before starting a nursing program
We’ve all been in a situation that leaves us thinking, “Gee, I really wish I’d known (fill in the blank) first!” To help keep those instances to a minimum in med school, here’s a list of some takeaways common to nursing students in their first year:
- At first, you may be overwhelmed: Nursing school is tough, but there’s no need to panic. Take one step at a time, study consistently and take care of yourself.
- Find work-life balance: Just because you’re in nursing school doesn’t mean you can’t have a relaxing weekend. Book that spa appointment you’ve been postponing for the longest time, or make a reservation for dinner with your friends or partner on Friday. If you’re worried about fitting it all in, plan out your studies before the week starts rolling.
- Stay true to what works for you: Don’t worry about what your classmates are doing; the only one who knows how you study best is you. Some people may benefit from recording and listening back to lectures, while others like practicing test questions with flash cards. Some are pen-and-pad people, while others prefer to use a tablet. Once you find an effective study method and schedule that works for you, stick to it.
- Consider working part-time while studying: We know that working is just one more thing on your plate, but if you can find a job in the medical field, you’ll gain experience that will further your clinical practice (and help your resume stand out to future employers). Plus, you can make a dent in your nursing school debt and keep up with your living expenses, like rent, utilities and meals.
Get straight As!
To close, we’ll leave you with a few tried-and-tested tips on acing your classes.
- Make flashcards for memorization: Flashcards (even if they’re digital ones, and yes, there’s an app for that!) will help you retain exam questions on the go. And as a healthcare professional, that’s exactly what you often are—on the go!
- Learn prefixes and suffixes: Squeezing in a few Latin classes can help you learn many of the common prefixes and suffixes of medical terms, possibly to the point where you can confidently approximate the meaning of new words without having to look them up.
- Get to nursing school prepared: Research the things to study before nursing school begins (i.e., anatomy) so that you show up on the first day ready for anything.
- Master time management: No matter who you are or how you study, you’ll have to become a time-management expert. Don’t forget to schedule breaks, time for meals (and meal planning), and social events. If you book your planner only with nursing school tasks, you’ll find yourself among scheduling conflicts, which may result in burnout.
- Use all the tools available to you: Nowadays, there are a wealth of reference guides online and mobile apps that can help you study faster and smarter. Figure out if and how these tools can become a part of your study plan.
We’d like to think we get straight As when it comes to making scrubs. They’re high-performing, premium-quality, and good-looking—kind of like you! Count on us to be there every step of the way during your nursing career with scrubs that just keep getting better. Gift yourself a neat pair from our collection and that too with a student discount (that’s our gift to you!).