Credit goes out to my friend and classmate, Kim, for the idea behind this post.
Rocio, me, and Kim before our first lab practicum (Fall 2013).
Here are my top ten pieces of advice to my pre-nursing school self (knowing what I know now):
10. You will do and say stupid things in class, lab, simulation, and clinicals. Get used to it. Embrace it. Learn from it.
9. Do not work out the night before an exam. If you do end up going to the gym, don’t over do it on the water. You’ll end up paying for it by spending half of the night in the bathroom emptying your bladder. For some reason it took me a few times to figure this one out. You need to bring your A game to every exam, and a restless night is just not going to cut it. So forget about alcohol, too. Sorry.
8. Print as many PowerPoints as you can at the beginning of the semester. This is the optimal time because you probably do not have anything due for a while, and your first exam is a couple weeks out. You will feel like you’re really on top of things, too, which is a great feeling to have in nursing school (it doesn’t happen all too often). The next step is to organize all of the papers you printed.
7. On that note, I will also add that you should take advantage of your school’s printing lab (if they have one). Those printers are super fast, which is great for you because you probably do not have a ton of free time lying around. Your school might even put money on your account at the beginning of each semester, and if you don’t use it you will lose it!
6. Reserve one day or night a week for a date night or a friends night. Everyone deserves a break. Not only did you earn it, but your brain needs it in order to stay focused the rest of the week. Be kind to yourself and to your loved ones, and have a little fun!
A night out with my favorite Stouties!
5. Study the care plan sections of your textbooks. Most of my textbooks (Maternity, Pediatrics, Med/Surg, and Psych) contain a section that gives an example of a nursing care plan. Each book is a little bit different, but most include nursing diagnoses, goals, outcomes, and interventions. Study these for your exams. I have noticed that this information usually shows up somewhere on the exam.
4. Study all of the related NCLEX questions AND rationales prior to each test. If you are really on top of things, you might even decide to study 10 questions a day. Practicing NCLEX questions gets you in the test-taking mood. I even think that it reduces my test anxiety because of how much time I spend answering questions outside of the intimidating exam room.
3. If you fail a test, it is not the end of the world. Find a close friend to receive some sympathy and encouragement, get yourself an ice cream cone, and then figure out how you can tackle the next one.
2. Make a table for each chapter or topic that is covered in lecture. After I failed the first test of my second semester, I decided to seek help from the NCLEX guru at college. She said that tables are a great study tool because you can compare and contrast the different concepts you are learning. I got A’s on the remainder of my tests that semester, and I think it was largely due to this study technique! More on how I create my tables in a future post!
1. And the last piece of advice I have for my pre-nursing self is to ask for help when you need it! Whether it is with a nursing concept that you are really struggling to understand or it is with the laundry that is piling up, ask for help and do it now before it gets worse! Your friends, significant other, and classmates care about you and will probably be more than happy to help!
What advice would you give to your younger self knowing what you know now about life, relationships, school, or work? Leave your advice in the comment section!