Ok, so I have successfully completed my first semester of nursing school. WooHoo! I checked my GPA yesterday, and I managed to pull it off with a 4.0. Yay me. Granted, my nursing program is part-time, so I’m not taking as many classes as full-time students. Also granted, I am a mom of 2 with a full-time job. So again, yay me. Can I maintain that 4.0 throughout the program? Probably not!!! And I’m ok with that, because I’ve learned some stuff during these past 4 months…
…Keep calm, and don’t stress over grades. Yes, coming from someone who freaks out over an A-, this is a big lesson for me. I strive to get the best grades I can, but nursing school has taught me that I cannot flip out if I don’t get straight A’s. There will be times when my knowledge is challenged and I will pass, and there will be times when I fail. Instead of bawling over failure, use that failure to your advantage! Once you fail something, and you figure out what you did wrong, you’ll NEVER forget it again. Let each failure be a lesson. Pick yourself up, learn from the mistake, and move on.
Nursing school, raising kids, and working full-time is tough, but I am tougher. Oh yes, that’s something you will find out once you start nursing school – you are a hell of a lot tougher than you knew you were. You have to be! Only a tough, totally badass chick can handle nursing school + kids + work + life in general. You, my dear, are a rockstar. A badass rockstar.
Organization is the key to success. Have you ever had so much work to do that you don’t even know where to start? This happens very easily if you don’t get yourself organized. The best thing you can do for yourself is to stay organized. Get yourself a good planner and keep track of all assignments and tests. I take it a step further – I keep track of everything. I made my own calendar, and I use it to track all my school priorities, all my kids’ activities, my work schedule, my husband’s schedule, etc. It is a total lifesaver. It’s literally my life-at-a-glance, at my fingertips.
Prioritize!!!! Yes, this is another big one. Things can get really overwhelming, really fast. You have to figure out what is urgent and what can wait. When I first started nursing school I felt really guilty if my house got messy or if I got behind on laundry. But then it dawned on me that all that crap can either wait, or my husband can step up and help out. Once I stopped stressing over it and focused on my homework, he did step up and start helping out, which was really nice.
Don’t fall behind. Look, there are times when you will be so damn tired that you can’t even think straight, and there will be times when you feel burnt out. Know the difference. If you’re tired, go to bed. Get up the next day and try again. If you’re burnt out, take a break, but don’t get behind. One of the worst things you can do is fall behind – you will pay hell when it comes time to catch back up. I seriously cannot stress this enough!
Breaks are a brain-saver. For real – when you study for too long, your brain needs breaks! You’ll retain information much better if you give your brain a rest every now and then. I never do anything for more than an hour at a time. Work for an hour, go do some laundry. Work for another hour, go stretch and eat a snack. You get the idea.
Sleep is vital. Sleep? What the heck is sleep? One of my advisors told us at the beginning of the program that we need sleep, and you know what? She was soooooo correct! I discovered that after working all day, dealing with my bambinos, cooking dinner, blah blah blah, I do much better if I just go to bed around 9ish and wake up super early in the morning to study. I can get up around 3 or 4 in the morning and have 2-3 hours of quiet time before it’s time for the kiddos to get up and going. That’s what works for me – figure out what works for you and roll with it.
I know how to study now. Yep, that’s right, I’ve got this study thing DOWN! I am amazed at the number of students that I hear say, “I don’t know how to study,” or “You make really good grades, can I study with you?” No! The reason I make good grades is because I have found the best way for me to study. Some people do well in study groups (I do not), some people use flashcards, some use mnemonics (my favorite), some people have to read every single inch of the book, some people study the powerpoints – there are so many ways to get it done. If you aren’t sure what your best learning style is, try a few different things until you figure it out.
I am not afraid to be wrong. That’s why I’m a nursing student, not an actual nurse. I don’t know it all, so of course I’m going to screw up. I have to be ok with that and not let it make me feel defeated. I learn from my mistakes, but more importantly, I laugh at my mistakes. As long as I didn’t hurt anyone or let anyone down, I will be the first person to crack a joke about my mistake (s). I like to turn them around and use them as a learning tool for my cohorts: “Ha, ha, ha! *snort* Don’t be goofy like me and pick up the trashcan with your hands!” Yeah, that was one of my mistakes I made during a wound-cleaning demo. I forgot to set the trashcan by the bed, so then when I realized I needed it, I reached down and grabbed it with my gloved hand. Afterwards the instructor showed me how to kick it with my foot so that I don’t contaminate my gloves. Lesson learned!!
I’m one semester down and six to go, so I’m sure there will be tons more that I can add to this list. I’m amazed at the amount of information I’ve learned in one semester – it’s mind-blowing, really. Let me hear from other nursing students – what things have you learned so far??