9 Survival Skills for MSN Students
Every college student faces stress at one point another during their academic career. However, that stress can be even greater for nursing students.
Between managing your studies and dealing with patient care during internships, it can quickly get overwhelming. So what are nursing students to do? How can you keep it all under control without getting overstressed or burnt out?
Consider these seven pieces of advice from former nursing students and nursing organizations to help you get through school.
According to Nurse Zone, one of the best ways to keep track of all of your assignments, projects, upcoming tests and other events is to map them out at the beginning of each semester.
Be realistic about how long you’ll need to complete each, and give yourself some "wiggle room" if you can. It can make you feel like you’ve finished a task ahead of schedule rather than feeling behind.
Connect with Professors
It is crucial to readily discuss any issues or questions you may have with professors as soon as you think of them, not the night before an exam. By being proactive, you’ll establish a stronger relationship with your professor and will feel more comfortable going to him or her with questions.
Join a Study Group
You aren’t alone in this rigorous academic journey! Forming a study group is a great way to maintain a social life without skipping mandatory assignments. Studying in numbers also makes reviewing easier. Others can help answer questions or might have additional notes.
Make School Work Routine
Formulating a routine is one key to success. In the same way you train yourself to brush your teeth, walk the dogs and do other essentials of daily life, condition yourself to study or work on assignments for a certain amount of time each day.
Make Flashcards as You Go
Throughout the class term, make flashcards for each important concept and keyword you learn. That way, you won’t waste time making a ton of flashcards the night before an important exam.
Keep a handful of cards with you all the time, pulling them out when you have a minute at the stoplight or a few minutes in line. You may find that by the time you sit down to "study," you already know most of the material by heart.
If you push yourself too hard, you're more likely to lose focus and make mistakes. You may even lose motivation. Instead, give yourself defined periods of time to complete certain tasks. When the time is up, take a break. (Google "pomodoro technique" for one popular approach to this model of getting things done.)
On your break, walk outside, grab a snack or do anything else unrelated to schoolwork. Then move on to the next task on your list. If you didn’t finish the first task, return to it later. You'll accomplish more overall, and returning to material after time away can give you the fresh perspective you need to power through.
As a nurse, caring for others is second nature to you. As a graduate student, probably not. You’ll be challenged to balance work, school, family, household and friends. It's easy to slip into eating poorly, getting too little sleep or giving up on exercise.
Schedule time for self-care, even if it's just 20 minutes each day. Use the time to rest, plan meals, call a friend (while on the treadmill) or any other small way to restore some balance in your life.
If you do begin to feel overwhelmed, it’s important to get help. Lean on friends to chip in on everyday chores or meals. Ask a friend at work to cover a shift. And remember that the stress you're feeling is temporary -- you'll get through it and come out stronger on the other side.
If every day went as planned, you'd always finish what needed to get done. The reality is that interruptions happen. From a chatty coworker to a last-minute favor request, small incursions add up and steal away time you need for other things.
As a graduate student, it's crucial that you learn to say no to requests, cut conversations short and stay on track. It may be hard at first, but it's a skill you can practice and perfect, and the difference in how much you'll accomplish is worth any guilt you might feel at first.
Know When to Stop
The people best at time management know when to stop something for the day and go to bed or move on to other activities. If you create an agenda but don’t get everything done, put it away and commit to getting it done later. Don't waste time or energy stressing over what you didn't accomplish. Learn to let go and appreciate that tomorrow continues the opportunities of today.