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7 Pieces of advice all nursing students should hear

All tenured nurses know that going through nursing school and subsequent graduate programs isn’t easy. However, many look back and wish they could tell their former selves what to do – and what not to do. Having someone guide you through these rigorous years can make the process a lot easier, and make you more thankful in the end. Luckily, sometimes you get this chance. Consider these seven pieces of advice from former nursing students to help you get through school.

1. Get organized from the get-go
So you survived undergraduate school and now you’re looking to get your master’s degree. Even if you had your stuff together in undergrad, getting a master’s degree will be different. That’s why it’s important to get organized, and stay organized. Get binders, folders and notebooks for every class you’re in – don’t overlap and use one notebook for multiple classes. Take notes in lectures and get additional notes from friends when it’s time to study. Make tabs in your textbooks for topics you might have to refer to later, or make copies of the text and keep it next to your notes on that subject.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Whether you’re in the classroom or the hospital, it’s important for all nurses to ask questions. For instance, if you’re learning about a new concept and aren’t sure of how something works, ask right away. Don’t wait until later when you’re tested on the subject or when the subject becomes more complex. Getting the help you need early on will allow you figure out what you are struggling with and will help you feel more comfortable asking questions later on.

3. Take care of yourself
As a graduate student, you’re going to be loaded down with studying, classes and homework. You might also have to worry about clinical hours or a full-time job. When you’re juggling a lot of things, it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself. You might be eating unhealthily, getting little sleep or forgetting to exercise. Yet following healthy habits help you stay balanced and on track. Get a planner and block out time for just you. Even if it’s 20 minutes of the day, you will feel more composed and are less likely to become burnt out or stressed out. If you do begin to feel this way, it’s important to be cognizant of the signs to help pull yourself out of it.

4. Plan, plan, plan
Graduate students are notoriously busy bees. Regardless of what time it is, there’s always something to do. That’s why it’s crucial that all master’s of nursing students become time-efficient. Get a planner and jot down every single activity that you need to do. Figure out which priorities are most important and which will take the most time. Following a planner helps you stay on top of it all without feeling overwhelmed. It also keeps you on a moving schedule so you accomplish more with the time you have. Once you’ve been on this schedule long enough, it will become natural. Even then, however, it’s always smart to have a planner nearby.

5. Gain experience
Sometimes students will jump from one set of schooling to the next without getting experience in between. This isn’t wise. Once you become certified, it’s smart to get a few years as a registered nurse under your belt to truly see what you like and don’t like about the industry. You might find out that you prefer working in some types of care more than others, or that you prefer clinics to other facilities. Regardless, getting this time in will give you insight into what you want to do and allow you to have a more clear path in graduate school. You might even learn things about yourself that you didn’t expect.

6. Make friends
There are going to be several days as a nurse where you will be tested. Some days you might even feel like quitting or giving up. That’s where good friends in the industry come in. Sure, it’s always nice to have good friends outside of work. However, the people you work with, who you spend the most time with, will be the people you lean on in these crises. They’ll understand what you’re going through and look to help you in ways you might not expect, like taking care of a few of your duties for you. Even as a graduate student, it’s wise to befriend people, as they might become your coworkers.


7. Grab a study partner or join a study group
Studying in numbers always makes reviewing material easier. Others in your class can help answer questions from lectures you missed or might have additional notes they took. You’re more likely to get a comprehensive study session in than simply reviewing materials by yourself, and you’ll probably feel more confident taking the test as a result.


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