Summer is finally here as finals have just ended and I have officially passed my first semester of nursing school! And boy, am I ready for a break! It’s been a busy semester between Nursing Fundamentals, Pharmacology, 5 a.m. clinicals, and working 3 nights a week.
It wasn’t easy, but I pushed through it, and now I’m one semester closer to graduation! My first semester of nursing school has taught me some valuable lessons. So I wanted to share them here for any new or struggling students.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
The first semester of nursing school focuses on learning the most basic and fundamental skills of nursing. And admittedly, some of these skills are outright boring… but it’s essential to master the basics! You’ll need to build on them to learn more advanced skills later on.
On my first day, we spent over an hour learning the correct way to put on sterile gloves, and another hour on hand hygiene. And to be honest, I was so worried that all of nursing school would be this boring, and what if I hate nursing school???
It seems silly now, and school did get way more interesting! But at the time it was a major struggle to make myself study and practice my skills.
So I started meeting up with one of my classmates at the library. We practiced going through the steps before doing the skills checkoff with our instructor. Let me say, that definitely helped my confidence when I was being graded by my teacher!
And once you’ve practiced enough, you no longer have to put as much thought into how to do it. It simply becomes second nature. But you’ll never get to that point unless you practice!
After we learned sterile technique, we moved on to more advanced skills (well, advanced for a new student!), like sterile wound care and catheter insertion. We also learned how to take and read vitals, which meant learning heart and lung sounds, where to listen, and what “normal” even sounds like.
And you can only figure that out through practice!
Have a good test strategy and don’t let test anxiety get the best of you!
Nursing exams are truly a different breed so don’t take this one lightly! We, nursing students, love making jokes about how nursing exams will give you answer choices that are all correct, but you are still probably wrong… Because only one of them is the “most” correct. (Laughing at our own pain).
I won’t go over this in too much detail here, because I have blog posts written on both of these topics where I go into much more detail. (Use the links above to read them!) So be sure to check those out if you want to make sure you do well on your exams!
Ok, moving on.
Self-care is ESSENTIAL.
I think most of us in nursing school tend to be over-achievers. We’re perfectionists at heart. We have high standards, expect to get straight A’s, and aim to be at the top of our class.
And then the reality of nursing school hits us! Suddenly we’ve adopted the new motto, “C’s get degrees!” and we’re praying to pass. Nursing school has a heavy load of material to learn. If you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself drowning in it.
I was scared to fail, so I spent all my time studying and wrapped up in school work. I let it consume my life well into the first half of the semester. I was so determined to get through it!
And then it started to become too much. There were too many days filled with long hours of studying. I had no time left over for myself or my friends. I could feel myself becoming stressed, unhappy, and less focused on school.
Then I started taking small breaks from studying to do something for myself.
Sometimes it was going to the gym. Other times it was laying on the couch watching Netflix or playing Rocket League. Even something as simple as sitting outside in the sun made me feel so much better.
And the best part?
Once I started taking care of myself and my mental health, my grades improved! I was spending less time studying, but I was more focused during my study sessions.
The point is, make sure to take care of yourself!
Strive to find a healthy balance in your life.
Plan your study time, but also remember to plan time for things that make you happy! I believe if you’re going to be your best, you need to feel your best too. Try not to be too hard on yourself. Enjoy the journey, take breaks as you need them, and be proud of yourself for making it this far!
Lastly, Use the PRINTABLES and STUDY AIDS found under the “FREE STUFF” tab.
I constantly update this site with tons of free resources to help you succeed. Find templates, note-taking sheets, reference materials, and more.