There are no two ways around it. Nursing is hard.
Hence why it is one of the most sought-after skills in the workplace today. The high workload can, however, deter a lot of people from going for a degree in nursing. Which is not fair. As it is a sophisticated career. With a wealth of options for advancement.
If 2020 has taught people anything it is that the world needs more nurses and so there has never been a time to get involved in this medical field irrespective of the specialty that you choose.
If you are about to start a nursing degree, you may be worried about the workload. Or how to cope. You may also have concerns that you will not be able to learn as quickly as is required in order to pass the course. These are perfectly normal concerns that every training nurse has so don’t worry!
Luckily, here are some top tips to help you manage your clinical placement. Or in the lectures. So you can pass your nursing degree. With top grades too.
1. Little And Often
There is something of an idea that students need to pull all-nighters. This is not the case and can actually hinder your progress in your course. When it comes to nursing, it is impossible to cram a week’s worth of work into a single session of study. So, to avoid this aim to study a little bit of the course material each day. This will help you to stay focused and will also ensure that you work at a slower pace. This will give you the time to absorb the information that you are learning. It is also worth setting up a timetable each week. Allowing you to study different aspects of your course on different days of the week.
If you are struggling to keep up with your studies, talk to your fellow students or professors for advice.
Any student will tell you that lectures and lecturers can be tedious. Especially if you know the subject that is being covered. However, it is vital to your nursing degree that you focus on each lecture and each meeting in a clinical placement.
If you are familiar with the subject, this will give you the ability to explore the reading list set down by your professors. You can expand on it after the lecture, but take notes of which aspects of nursing are being spoken about in the lecture. What does the instructor focus on? What key points are being covered? This will help you to home in on which areas of nursing you need to base your studying on.
If you find it hard to take notes in a lecture hall there are many options that can help you. Such as a dictation machine.
3. Not Statistics
You may have wanted to study nursing in order to help people with unusual disorders. However, when you are studying your textbook or in a study group, you need to think of how this information would be implemented in the workplace. What would you need to convey to your patients relating to this subject? In most cases, patients will want to know the cause of the ailment that they are suffering from. If it will be long term. And whether or not it will be uncomfortable. This is a great time for you and your classmates to practice turn-taking. So, you can learn more about bedside manners and how to implement facts in a different way.
That way you will become a better student and a better nurse.
4. Follow The Exam Guide
Each nursing course will come with its own module handbook. Or exam study guide. This will be your bible when it comes to passing the course.
Each university and course will have its own guide. Which will differ depending on where you are located and the course itself. Wilkes University will have a different module guide to Duke.
Be sure to study the guide and to follow it. This will help you to get the top grades and to excel in the clinical placement. As you will know what skills are going to be sought after. Exam guides can also offer on how to work your essays and how to set down your dissertation in a manner that will make it a first rather than a 2:1. Be sure with each module and each semester to get the updated exam guide. As there is nothing worse than studying from an out-of-date study guide. Keep up to date, and keep reading these guidelines.
5. Study Groups
Researchers found that people who engage in study groups retain 90% of the information shared. If you study by yourself, the same research has found you will likely only retain 60%. Which is a big difference in relation to grades and practice.
It is well worth engaging in a study group or starting a study group. Especially if you are new to the field of nursing. This will help you to socialize and learn to work as a team. Which are key skills in this area. It will also help you to gain insight into your classmates’ skill sets. And help you polish up on areas where you may be struggling. It will also provide you with encouragement and moral support. Which you will certainly need when undertaking a nursing qualification.
6. Ask Questions
When you are studying to become a nurse, you will want to learn as much as possible. Whether in clinical placements or in lecture halls. You will need to ask a lot of questions. If you feel that something is not being explained correctly by your lecturer or supervisor simply ask them. This can be challenging but it will be well worth it. Helping you to learn confidence and of course the answer to the questions. It is also worth questioning the texts that you are reading. As there will be many studies for you to look through. Was the research method used a good one for this area? It is also worth questioning decisions made by doctors or other nurses on placements. As, once again, this will help you learn and improve patient care.
7. Skim Read
This is more of a skill for students overall, but skim reading as a nursing student can save you a great deal of time and stress.
To practice this, open your nearest nursing textbook. Focus on the chapter name and skim-read the titles and words which may be highlighted. Also, look at the graphs quickly. This will help you to gain a sense of what this chapter is talking about, and which areas are important in it.
Don’t worry if this skill doesn’t come naturally. It can take a lot of practice but it will be essential when you are in clinical placements. There, you will be presented with a lot of information that you don’t have time to read, but need to get the gist of it.
It is also worth noting that if you try to remember everything that you read you will become frustrated. Frustration leads to memory lapses which can hinder your learning. So, skim reading can save on frustration too.
8. Know Your Learning Style
Do you recall in high school being asked or taught about learning styles? This will be an important part of your nursing degree and in your clinical placement too. If you are someone who does well in lectures and note-taking, you will excel in the academic area. If you learn by doing things manually, you will do well in clinical placement, but in order to ace your nursing degree, you need to do well in both.
So, take the time to explore your best learning styles if you don’t already know them, but try to do it before you attend nursing school. As it will save you a lot of time when it comes to your studies. It will also help you with successfully studying whilst at home and whilst on placement. Thus, improving your grades and helping you to become that amazing nurse that you know you can be.
9. Downtime=Study Time?
It may seem contradictory but for many nursing students turning downtime into study time is a key way to enhancing their learning. How do you achieve this? It’s quite simple. You can use sticky notes or flashcards and place vital pieces of information around your home. For instance, the standard observation numbers can be easily put onto a card and placed on your fridge. Every time you open the fridge you will be able to see the numbers and take them in. Similarly, you can place notes around the mirror in your bathroom. Then you will see them every time you brush your teeth. Just be sure to rotate these pieces of information and make sure that they are related to the subjects you are studying for your nursing degree.
10. Take Breaks
As mentioned before, it can be very tempting for nurses who are behind in their studies to try to cram things into a single study session, but this will not be beneficial as you will need the time to absorb the information that you are studying.
You know yourself better than anybody and will know how long you can study per day. Without shutting down or becoming bored. So, aim to base your study sessions around that. Take 20 minutes out for yourself to take a walk, do some yoga or do some general stretches. This will help you to feel less flustered and will keep you feeling in control.
Many nursing students believe that if they’re not studying all the time, they are doing something wrong, but you’re only human and you need to focus on yourself by taking breaks. This will help you to separate your work life from your home life. This will once again be an essential skill further down the road. It will also help you to lower your stress levels. And take pride in what you are doing.
Bonus Tip – Look After Yourself
Following on from this, in order to be a good nurse, you need to look after yourself. You cannot pour from an empty cup.
Undertaking a nursing degree is going to be hard. In order to manage the avalanche of work, you will need to ensure that your physical and mental health is in good condition. This will mean following a sensible diet and doing exercise when you can, and, of course, keep in contact with your own medical practitioners. It should come as no surprise that the majority of nursing students suffer from stress. So being aware of burnout is something that is critical. If you realize that you are not coping with the workload as you should be, then seek help from your clinical lead. Or your clinical supervisor. Or your tutor at university.
Similarly, you will also need to ensure that you are eating and sleeping properly. As this will help you to perform better in the workplace and of course, to memorize the statistics and facts needed in order to ace exams and become a great nurse. This can be tricky when in clinical placement. As you may shift between night shifts and day shifts, but always aim to get around 8 hours of sleep if possible. If you are struggling with this, then seek help from your supervisor.
As mentioned throughout this article, nursing is a hard area to study, and undertaking a nursing degree is going to be one of the toughest things you ever do. There may be some tips on this list that do not apply to you. Or you may have a longer list.
Be sure to study hard whilst training, take care of yourself, and always make sure that you are keeping up with your studies. As this will make the entire process a lot smoother, and of course, if you are struggling, do not be ashamed to ask for help from your supervisors. That is what they are there for!