Written by Samantha Fell
Hi everyone, my name is Sam and I am currently in my last semester as an Associate Degree Nursing Student at Lake Region State College in Devils Lake, ND.
A question I’ve been asked from quite a few students, whether they are in high school, college, or looking at switching their career is this: “How did you know nursing was what you wanted to do?” or “How do I go about getting into nursing school?”
I’ve known I wanted to be a nurse since I was 5 years old. I loved taking care of people and making them feel better, but as I got older, I thought that I couldn’t do it. I struggled with math all through high school and had such a negative mindset of “I have to be perfect or at least good at math to even get in.” I became very discouraged and eventually I gave up on that dream of being a nurse and I went to college to be a teacher. After that, I went to cosmetology school for a brief time, and while I loved both I soon began to realize that those two careers allowed me to educate and make people feel good or better about themselves…something nurses do every day!
I realized that I could do anything I put my mind to, I simply had to believe in myself and you should too!
How do I know if becoming a nurse/nursing school is right for me?
I think the best way to gauge if nursing school or nursing in general is a good fit, is to get some experience. Getting your Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) License and working, working as an Unlicensed Assistive Personnel (UAP), volunteering at a medical facility like a nursing home, or even shadowing in a provider's office can shed some light on what to expect as a nurse.
For me, I started this process by working as an optician and eventually moved over to a bigger medical facility where I worked as a medical secretary and worked with scheduling, insurance, and had contact with patients, nurses, and doctors every day. By getting my foot in the door and gaining experience, not only did it look good on my application, but I got to get a feel for how the medical world actually was and I liked it!
So how do you go about getting into nursing school?
Maybe you care about helping people and want to make a difference in the lives of others, or maybe you’ve been impacted first-hand by healthcare. Either way, you should have a good understanding of why you want to do this. You will be asked many times and how you answer can increase or decrease your chances of getting into the school you want.
Every school is a little bit different with how their program is run, who they’re accredited by, their requirements for entry, and their NCLEX pass rates. These are all attributes that can determine how long you go to school, where you will have clinicals, and how your overall experience might look.
Personally, I chose an accelerated 18-month program with a high NCLEX pass rate because I wanted to start working as soon as possible and I wanted to be highly prepared, but I know others have chosen a four-year BSN program because they wanted that higher degree and wanted summers off from school. It all depends on what you want and what works for you!
Pre-requisites, sometimes called pre-reqs, are the classes you need before you can be considered a nursing student. In some cases, programs want these done before you apply to the specialized program, but other times schools may let you take these while you’re considered a nursing student.
Some schools also require an entrance exam. These are similar to the standardized tests you take while in high school, but also assess your decision-making skills, learning style, and critical thinking skills.
I chose a school that allowed the latter because I didn’t want to waste a year completing a few pre-reqs. They also did not require medical experience, but since I had some they counted it as a bonus for me to be considered for entry.
Now is the time to apply! Make sure you apply early enough so you don’t miss out on the deadlines! Oftentimes these deadlines are in place so you can also get scholarships and other opportunities set up before starting school. Remember why you started and why you wanted to be a nurse! Nursing school can be overwhelming, but I promise it goes by quick and is SO worth it!
Written by Hannah Lease, RN, BSN
Whether you’re about to start your nursing program or you have already started, I want to first start by saying CONGRATULATIONS! Coming from a recent accelerated nursing school graduate, there’s no denying that nursing school is tough, but it is also so worth it in the end. For me, I know that in the beginning of my program I thought there was no way I’d survive my first semester - like seriously, I thought I was going to have to beg my old boss to let me come back to work again! But here I am, a few weeks after graduating from my 16-month program and I did it! I want to give you some tips that I hope will help you as you navigate starting this new journey and how to make sure you can excel as much as possible throughout your program! Us nurses have to stick together, right?!
Preparing for Nursing School…
Need-to-Know Study Tips…
I’m rooting for you every step of the way and hope you can take a moment each day to realize how far you’ve already come in making your dream to be a nurse a reality! There will be tough days, but I PROMISE you can do this! Your future patients are going to be so lucky to have you as their nurse someday.
Written by Kymberly Wisniewski
Burnout: a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained and feel as though you’re unable to meet constant demands.
Does this sound familiar to anyone? As nursing students, feeling burned out is unfortunately not uncommon. I find myself constantly feeling as though I need to be doing homework, studying or reading up on information to keep up. I always feel like I could be doing MORE. But the reality is, you don’t get an award for most all-nighters pulled during nursing school and your body and mind are going to hate you for trying.
When you’re feeling tired, REST but do not quit. It is important to give your mind a break from the constant stress of memorizing material or being able to critically think through scenarios. You cannot fix the feeling of being burned out by adding more work, stress and responsibilities into your plate. You must first try to slowly clear them off, bit by bit. I have found that the best way to handle the feeling of burnout it to simply take a step back. Whether it be for 20 minutes or the remainder of that evening, I give my mind a chance to rest. When you are physically exhausted, do you force yourself to continue running? No, you rest. The same goes for your mind.
Next, I make sure that I am organized. Feeling as though I have a mountain of homework assignments, exams, quizzes and projects to prepare for sometimes gives me the feeling that there is no way I will be able to accomplish everything. I organize a to-do list or planner which allows me to cross things off as I complete them. Not only does this give me a sense of accomplishment, but it also allows me to see that I am making progress and chipping away at the number of tasks to be completed. Managing the feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed are crucial to preventing burnout.
Finally, do something to ENJOY YOURSELF. I know that we have all heard from someone at some point or another, “say goodbye to your life while you’re in nursing school!” That simply isn’t true. Do we have to say no sometimes and make sacrifices for our schooling? Absolutely. Does that mean that we are unable to have fun or enjoy ourselves for the duration of nursing school? NO WAY. Whether it be a small trip, night out or relaxing night at home, it is good for the mind and soul to allow yourself to do things that you enjoy. Being a nursing student is one thing that you do, it is not the entirety of who you are.
During these times of uncertainty and difficulty, make sure that you take care of yourself. We are often our own harshest critic and it is so important to be kind to your mind and body.
Written by Polly Chan
Hello everyone, my name is Polly and I have just finished up my 3rd semester in my Master’s Entry - Masters in Nursing Science. This marks the halfway point of my two-year program! For those of you who are interested in applying to a ME-MSN program or are currently in one, I hope this can help you.
In order to apply for an ME-MSN program, you must have a bachelor’s degree in something else. Many may wonder if MSN’s get paid more than BSN’s but they do not. All new grad nurses will get the same pay when they first start. What really differentiates a master’s level nursing program is its emphasis on clinical leadership as well as public health. This can help in the future if you want to go into nurse leadership. Throughout my program, we have a bunch of clinical leadership classes ranging from healthcare outcomes, to nursing research, to educator role, and more. Expect to have a lot of research papers and presentations!
Here are some strategies that have helped me succeed in my CNL classes as well as my MSN Program:
These tips may be more generalized, but I hope they can help you all regardless of BSN or MSN! Just remember to never lose hope and always strive for your best if you want to succeed. There will always be someone out there supporting you from a distance.
Written by Yu Liang
Studying for the NCLEX requires practice questions... a lot of practice questions. Personally, I’ll be using the Saunders Q&A Review for the NCLEX-RN, 8th edition; because I learn best through testing and there are over 6,000 practice questions! And while having a 747-page book to go through seems daunting at first, the best way to utilize it is by having a structured study plan. I’ve created a 30-day plan that I’m personally using to study for the NCLEX and I urge you to follow along with me!
Before you begin, know your game plan. Put everything on a calendar so you can visualize exactly what you need to do. Make sure you set aside time at least 1-2 hours every day so you have enough time to get through the material. Find a study spot, get some highlighters, buy the fancy pens. Do whatever you need to do to get yourself pumped! [Insert Your Name], RN, BSN in the making!
I’ve made you a checklist that you can print out and cross off when you finish a day here:
Day 1: This is an introduction to the book; there is information about the NCLEX itself, including what to expect, and the process of registering. This section gives you examples of the different types of questions, key phrases and concepts to look out for, and test-taking strategies to keep in the back of your mind when taking the exam. This is the foundation. Don’t skip it.
Days 2-29: This the bulk of your studying, and it’s only approximately 50 questions a day. Set aside 1-2 hours every day to really make sure you have enough time to take notes and understand the rationales. Remember; It’s not about getting them right. It’s about knowing why the right answers are right and why the wrong answers are wrong.
Day 30: The Comprehensive Test. This is it. This is the longest part of the study plan, but it’s also the last thing you have to do. Starting on page 639, there’s a full exam that’s 265 questions long. I’d recommend doing this all in one sitting, in a quiet room, with no distractions, just to see what it would be like to take the NCLEX if you were given the full set of questions.
Good luck! Keep me updated with your studying, and tag @elsevierstudentlife on Instagram if you’re using my checklist! You can do it! This is the last milestone, finish strong!
Written by Tiffany Lyle
Hello future nurses! Here is an outline of how to conduct a complete head to toe assessment. Included in this outline are some tips that will help you develop a routine and gain confidence when assessing your patients. Let's get started!
These initial assessments are essential when assessing a patient’s mental status. During this time, you should also obtain subjective data from the patient to have a better understanding of why they are in the office. You can do this by asking how they are feeling or ask what they are in the doctor's office for today.
After taking the time to speak with the patient, ask permission to collect their vital signs. Collecting vitals allows you to comfortably approach the patient with touch for the first time during the interview.
TIP: Remember to ALWAYS ask permission before touching the patient and explain each one of the assessments you will be performing.
The BEST Elsevier Assessment Resources
Now that you are confident and prepared... Get out there and assess those patients!
You’ve got this!
Written by Kymberly Wisniewski
I worked at a car dealership for 5 years leading up to my pregnancy. I bailed on going back to my job 3 days before maternity leave was set to end and tearfully informed my boss that I was going to stay home with my son and pursue my education. He wasn’t thrilled, but he was understanding and supportive.
I began my nursing school journey when my son was just 4 months old at my local community college. My partner would meet me at the parking lot from work and we’d swap our sweet little boy. He would wait around until my break because my son needed to be nursed every few hours. So we tucked away in a quiet hallway of my school, and back to chemistry lab I would go.
My little boy would come to daytime advisor meetings, interviews for nursing school, study sessions, you name it. Oliver was by my side.
As he has grown older, and especially with the pandemic, we have shifted into a new phase (as many of us have). For instance, I’ve become a pretty darn good one-handed typist because I will never deny a snuggle session. I have also learned to ALWAYS have my study material handy, because you never know when a two hour “car nap” will happen. Thank goodness I can register my textbooks with Evolve and have access to everything on my tablet! Multitasking has become second nature.
Having helpful resources has been vital to my success in maintaining straight A’s while being a full-time mommy. I particularly love the Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN to practice those tricky questions.
Most of my schoolwork gets done after his bedtime (my prime homework/study hours fall between 9:00pm-1:00am). And seemingly in the blink of an eye Oliver is bright eyed and bushy tailed at 6:00am.
Countless times I have studied for an exam or completed a homework assignment as my little boy was asleep in my arms. Oliver has also attended some Zoom lectures right alongside me. My sweet little guy.
And you know what? Going through all of this is what FUELS me. To see that innocent, peaceful face right in front of me as I’m taking steps to accomplish my goal is what drives me to continue doing it.
I’ll be honest, some days, it is just plain TOUGH. We don’t have a lot of help (and even if we did, the pandemic has made that difficult to impossible in many circumstances). Luckily, I have an amazingly supportive and helpful partner. We truly operate as a team and I am extremely grateful for that. But we still feel tired, we get burned out, we sometimes need breaks. And that’s OKAY.
So, to my mama’s AND to everyone else, find your “why” and use it to motivate you. Take breaks if you need them and as a wise fish once said, “just keep swimming”.
Written by Courtney Smith
“Nurses eat their young” is a common phrase that is engrained into the minds of nurses everywhere. What I learned the hard way – it can start as early as nursing school.
It is so, so real.
This summer I started a job at a new long-term care facility and had my first shift on my own. However, I had done CNA work for 5 years, I know how to do cares like the back of my hand.
I was originally supposed to have an internship in the ED-Trauma department at a major hospital that I was extremely excited for. Due to COVID-19, it was unfortunately cancelled. I decided to take a position as a summer CNA at a facility that was desperate for CNA help due to the rising COVID-19 cases.
I was pulled to a floor I had never been on before, and of course I was slow as I have never been one to half-do my cares in order to get all the residents done faster.
I was told to take my lunch break, which I did, and had no clue what I was coming back to.
Long story short, I was completely belittled by a nurse manager on my floor in front of all of the other nurses and CNAs. I was accused of taking my break when I was not supposed to, not following the daily schedule correctly, and yelled at over our walkie talkie system which everyone, including the residents, can hear. Take into consideration this was my first day on my own in a separate facility and new floor I had never stepped foot on. I stood there, in tears, innocently and hopeless explaining I was brand new and had never been trained on this floor, but the nurse wasn’t taking it. I had never met this woman before.
I’d like to thank the angel of a LPN who noticed I was struggling and pulled me into a closet and let me break down into tears, personally went with me to the floor to help with cares, and gave me time to collect myself before I went back out on to the floor with tears still running down my face shield for the remainder of my shift.
All I could think of was, “I should be at my internship in the ED-Trauma department right now. I chose to move here. I chose to come help this facility because I knew they desperately needed the help due to COVID-19. I’m even running on five hours of sleep because I stayed late the previous night to finish all the cares and to help out on the other campus.” I wanted to defend myself, but I stood there paralyzed and struggled to return to work the rest of the summer.
According to the Joint Commission, 44% of nursing staff members have been bullied.
Never, will I ever belittle my CNAs, patient care techs, or anyone considered “lower” than me. I know how it feels to be a newbie, overworked, and underappreciated.
I highly encourage anyone who experiences workplace bullying to report it immediately. You aren’t “tattling,” you are saving yourself, and probably many others, from mental distress and abuse. No one deserves to go to work scared or dreading it.
Nursing doesn’t have room for bullying. Stop eating your young.
Written by Koralys Rodriguez
The majority of us have had some kind of experience in a healthcare setting. We get sick, we get hurt, we see loved ones go through illness, we welcome new members into our family, and we have to say goodbye to others. It’s the (unfortunate) part of being human. I’ve had my fair share of those experiences. And I never truly realized how impactful many of those moments were until I started working in healthcare myself.
2016, my first major surgery. I prepared myself for a spinal fusion surgery that would correct my severe scoliosis. This was my first major experience as a patient, and it opened my eyes to my passion for nursing. I learned about how patient nurses are as I watched my nurse (and my amazing CNA) turn me every hour throughout the night, and how empathetic they are as they calmed my nerves when I walked for the first time after surgery. Pediatric and orthopedic nurses will forever have my respect.
Now fast forward to 2020, which seemed to be the year for literally everything to happen. I gained new respect for the nurses in women’s health services after a breast cancer scare, and the nurses who work in pre/OR/post-op after my breast mass removal surgery. Despite the darkness there is in those circumstances, my nurses remained calm and kept smiles on their faces.
2020 also brought me on a long journey towards an official medical diagnosis of dysautonomia (something I’ve struggled with for a while). I’m sure that others with chronic health problems will agree that these diagnosis journeys are frustrating. My symptoms and experiences were frequently brushed off by medical professionals. As a future nurse, I’ve learned how important it is to really listen to your patients and see things through (yes, even if it’s been a long day and you’re just ready to go home).
So why am I sharing all of this? I know, I know. The last thing anyone wants is more to be upset about. In reality, I want to share how influential being on that “other side” of healthcare has been in my own journey towards being a nurse. As a patient, I’ve seen both the good and the bad, and I know what patients look for in their healthcare team. There have also been so many moments where I think to myself that I won’t be able to be a good nurse because of my health struggles. But if I’ve learned anything during this journey, it’s that all those hard moments are only building me up to be a more insightful and compassionate nurse in the future.
I’m sharing this so that, even if you haven’t been a patient yourself, you can empathize with your own patients on a new level one day. Be there for them through the good and the bad, and really listen to them. And for those that have been the patient and know what I’m talking about, I hope you know that your struggles aren’t making you any less of an amazing healthcare worker (something I have to remind myself of every day)!
You have no idea of the impact you’re capable of.
Ps. I want to make sure I take a moment to thank all my fellow healthcare workers out there! You may never truly understand how big of a difference you make in your patients’ lives. We see you, we’re thankful for you, and we’re rooting for you.
Written by Mykyla Coleman
So, you think you want to be a nurse. You’ve seen us on Instagram rocking our cute scrubs and stethoscopes. You see the pictures of us with notes piled high and enough books to create a library. And you think to yourself, do I really want to be a nurse?
I am pursuing nursing because I want to actively make a difference in the lives of others. By volunteering, shadowing, and interning, I have seen what nurses bring to the field. I’ve seen the lives and the families we will change. And I decided that I wanted to become a nurse. Maybe you have also decided to take a leap of faith and pursue this profession. Let me tell you some things I wish I would have known but was too afraid to ask!
Finally, use social media to your advantage! There is a community of people out here to support you and to guide you. There are resources like Elsevier with the top studying materials in the country. Always lean on those who have been in the position you are in now. You can do this!
Written by Ariana Speight
One of the best parts of being an Elsevier Student Ambassador, is when it crosses over into my schoolwork and the resources that I use throughout nursing school. This year, my professors have added Sherpath into the curriculum for Pharmacology and Medical Surgical Nursing – and I am so thankful!
It’s wonderful when professors provide resources to help you succeed, improve your critical thinking and practice for the NCLEX, and Sherpath does all of those things for me! Sherpath has so many different aspects to help you study and practice NCLEX style questions. From the lessons to EAQ® (Elsevier Adaptive Quizzing), you will be well on your way to passing the NCLEX and doing super well on your nursing tests if you take full advantage of everything Sherpath has to offer!
Using Sherpath to study for tests
Doing practice questions is such a great way to study for tests because it allows you to get acquainted with the different styles of nursing questions. Whether it is knowledge recall, select all that apply, or application/analysis, Sherpath has every kind of question to prepare you for nursing tests and the NCLEX!
Understanding and learning concepts
Before you take quizzes, Sherpath has lessons for each chapter that reviews key concepts in the chapters of your textbooks and breaks it down for you to better understand the material. Along the way it tests your knowledge to make sure you are retaining the information and understand what you are learning. Taking notes on the lessons is super beneficial because it helps you retain key concepts and have them on paper to help you review and study later.
In my classes, the weekly Sherpath quizzes are graded, so we get an extra 100 points towards our grade. When professors give you the opportunity to earn additional points to boost your grade, it is so important to take complete advantage of that! Not only do those quizzes prepare you for the tests, those points will raise your grade and give you an extra cushion if you lost a lot of points on your tests. Do not solely rely on those Sherpath points, but use them as a nice cushion if you fall once or twice. Study hard, prepare yourself, manage your time well, and you will do amazing!
Preparation for the NCLEX begins the moment you start nursing school, and Sherpath is a great resource to study for your classes and to prepare for the NCLEX!
Written by Yu Liang
Imposter syndrome. Signs and symptoms include a lack of self-confidence, feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and irrational fears of incompetency. I thought I was the only one, but it turns out many of us can relate to this. If you ever feel like you don’t know anything - like you’ve only made it through this far because of pure luck - I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong. Nursing school is hard; getting in is hard and staying in is hard. The fact that you’ve made it as far as you have is a testament to your hard work and dedication to a selfless career. As someone who feels like a fraud all the time, here are some tips I have for mitigating imposter syndrome
Imposter syndrome is not necessarily a bad thing to have. It keeps me grounded and motivated to learn more. It’s a reminder that there is always room for improvement, a core element in nursing. The key to battling imposter syndrome is not letting it keep you from being a better nurse/nursing student. Don’t let your own mind limit you from applying to opportunities you think you’re not qualified enough for and remind yourself that you are not alone in the way that you feel.
Written by Tien Duong
All nursing programs consist of didactic and “hands on” experiences, which are called clinical sections. In my nursing school, every semester includes lectures, simulation labs and clinical rotations. I have been lucky to have had amazing experiences through clinical in the Texas Medical Center in many specialties such as psychiatrics, geriatrics, pediatrics, maternity and med-surg. This clinical rotation created so many opportunities for me to be a better version of myself and helped me achieve one of the highest nursing student awards in my school.
So how did I overcome all the long hours of tiring and overwhelming clinicals to obtain the most knowledge and make a good impression on my nursing staff and clinical instructors? Here are some tips based on my own experiences that are helpful for nursing students who want to be outstanding and ace your clinical rotations.
My preceptors normally have 3-4 patients per shift. Each patient is on a different level of care based on their individual health conditions. I always first logged in to the system to read through the patient medical summaries, their latest vital signs, lab data and daily medications. I noted this information down and learned about my patient on my own while waiting for my nurse in the beginning of the shift. Patients with the most symptoms and medical diagnoses are always the ones who take up a preceptor’s time and keep you on your feet. It is hard to remember all of the patients, so I always picked one that represented most of them. I learned their medications by heart before entering the room, assessed them to see if any signs were different with their chart, and applied all the nursing skills that I could practice on those patients. At the end of the day, I already knew a lot about that most difficult patient, so I would pick them to do my care plan and save time on paperwork.
Some of my clinical days were not busy. Sometimes, your slow days may be busy days for others. When I finished all my assessments and had checked on patients and completed charting, I would have some free time. To make the most of that, I reached out to other nurses and charge nurses to see if they needed any help. Even if it was just checking patients’ vital signs, it was a big help when that floor was short on staff. This is not only a way to help people, but also a way to make a connection. I got several references thanks to being helpful. The charge nurses even sought out my clinical instructors to compliment on my willingness to help and work hard.
A lot people think that clinical instructors are intimidating but at the end of the day, they are our teachers. They are there to teach, observe and guide you to success through nursing school. There are many health problems, pathophysiology, and diseases mechanisms that I do not know. When I could not understand them completely, even after researching, I did not hesitate to ask my instructors so I could learn more. Their experiences and stories helped me to understand tremendously and inspired me to be a great nurse in my future career. Do not be afraid to look “dumb”! Remember that you are still students and asking is a way of learning
At the post conferences, my classmates and I always shared our experiences of the day together. I heard stories on what they had done for their patients, some of which I had not had the chance to do. Through the point of view of others, I could get more knowledge for myself and vice versa. Also, clinical days are not always smooth. One of those days may be a bad day for you and your clinical mates. We shared how rough it was and encouraged each other to do better next time. Through clinical, I made so many friends who are now my second family.
We never know what is waiting for us on a new clinical day. Maybe a good friendship, maybe heaps of useful knowledge or maybe a valuable letter of recommendation. I got all of them, plus an award nominated and voted on by the faculty. So remember to always come prepared and take advantage of your clinical rotations.
Written by Kirsten Anderson
We all know pharm is a tough class, but it’s something all of us nursing students have to go through! As new quarters are starting, it is always so important to look back at information from previous quarters, especially your drugs! And if you haven’t taken pharm yet, you should do everything you can to prepare yourself for what’s to come!
That being said, my favorite resource to use is the 𝗡𝘂𝗿𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗞𝗲𝘆 𝗧𝗼𝗽𝗶𝗰𝘀 𝗥𝗲𝘃𝗶𝗲𝘄: 𝗣𝗵𝗮𝗿𝗺𝗮𝗰𝗼𝗹𝗼𝗴𝘆 book! This is great for anyone who has taken pharm but needs those constant refreshers or are preparing for the NCLEX®! It covers everything from pharmacologic principals, to 19 different categories of drugs!
So how do I use this resource?
Practice questions: The best way I retain information is practice questions! So, the fact that this book has tons of practice questions and solutions has been my saving grace! The questions also emphasize critical, practical, and relevant information that helps you absorb the material in the best way possible.
Study and Test-Taking Tips: Another one of my favorite features are the study and test-taking tips throughout the book! In each chapter there is a section with a hint or trick to help you memorize the type of drug and what it does!
NCLEX Preparation: Like I said, this book is not only for those who are new to pharmacology. Everything you learn in this class will most likely be built upon throughout your schooling. Upon graduating, the NCLEX is your next beast and it WILL have pharmacology questions. So, this book is not only great for your classes, it also makes NCLEX prep a lot easier! The answers given are not just A or B, but actual answer explanations are used to help the student retain as much as possible!
Anatomy Review: There is no shame when it comes to not remembering every little detail from A&P, but when it comes to learning drugs and medications, we need to how they are going to affect the body. At the beginning of every chapter, there is an A&P review of the system relating to the content in that section.
Organization: Unlike big textbooks, there are not a lot of filler words and unnecessary information. Since this is about key topics, you will get everything you really need to know. I love the bullet point lists and neat tables, it makes all the information easy to read and memorize!
Studying on-the-go: Last but not least, another awesome feature about this book is the fact that it is not just a book! You can scan the QR code on the front page to access free mobile content! These online audio summaries cover every chapter and can be listened to anywhere!
This is how I love to use my Nursing Key Topics Review: Pharmacology book, as it has made one of the hardest nursing school courses one of the easiest and most fun to learn!
Written by Kayla Urbino
I recently had the opportunity to volunteer at my nursing school’s New Student Orientation. While I was there, I heard a speech by the head my nursing program and she said something that really stuck with me:
“The professors are here to help you, and they want you to succeed.”
I have thought about this idea for some time now and find great comfort in it. Being apart from them this semester has been hard, but I have witnessed that my professors truly do care.
My nursing faculty has gracefully led us through this transition to digital learning, trying to change the curriculum as much as possible to fit what is going in the world right now. Not all of us have computers that fit the standards of testing or have good, strong internet connections. However, they have tried their best to try and accommodate everyone. Some of the teachers have never gone through something like this before, and now they need to learn how to record video conferences for classes and clinical hours.
The more time I spend in the nursing program, the more I appreciate the professors. They have shaped who we are as nursing students and serve as an example of the kind of nurse we will be when we graduate.
I can think of many instances when a professor showed they truly care for us. A week after lockdown, one of my clinical professors actually reached out to check in with me. He asked how I was doing, if I was working, and how I was handling what was going on in the world. It was a conversation that lasted no more than 5 minutes, but to me it meant a lot. That I am not just another face in the crowd and that they actually wanted to know how I was doing.
Similarly, I have had the pleasure of having a very nurturing first-semester clinical teacher. She always responds to emails or texts regarding recommendations, scholarship letters, or just life advice. At the end of my first semester, she mentioned how her office will always be open for us and to come back and visit her when we can. I have tried to go visit her every semester since then and it’s like going to see a friend. She has not only been a teacher but a mentor.
All in all, I strongly believe that nursing school does go by quickly, and to enjoy the ride. That never again will we be in a program so stressful and tiring yet so rewarding. Enjoy the ups and downs of nursing school, even the little bumps along the way, and appreciate your professors. They do care. Ask for help if you need it because they want to make you the best possible nurse you can be.
Written by Kayla Gonzalez
Hello everyone! My name is Kayla and I am going to be starting the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley this upcoming August (Fall 2020)! Getting into nursing school is definitely a big accomplishment! While this is an amazing achievement, this is also a huge responsibility that should be prepared for before even entering Nursing school.
Committing to nursing school is just as important as any other life-long commitment in our existence. Entering nursing school can be challenging, nerve-wracking, and demanding. The new transition to digital learning is especially monumental to nurses as getting hands-on training is a necessity to our education. It is essential to not get overwhelmed with these changes as we are all going through it with you! We can get through this and come out victorious! These are just a few of the ways that you can start preparing for your entrance into nursing school.
Invest in a Planner: Purchasing a planner that is specific to your lifestyle and needs will help you with consistently using your planner for all aspects of your life and scheduling things ahead of time! Planners will aid in organizing your life both socially and academically during your nursing school years. Deadlines for assignments and documentations are essential, therefore making sure that they are submitted on time should be a priority. If your professors have begun uploading the syllabus for the course, it would be beneficial to sit down with your planner and gradually begin to fill out the due dates and exam dates in your planner before even starting nursing school.
Set a Routine and Hold Yourself Accountable: As I mentioned above, if you haven’t experienced online courses before, the transition to digital learning can be overwhelming, complex, and tedious. The key thing to do is treat digital learning as if it was already how things planned to go. Set boundaries for yourself and wake up early to check in to your courses and assignments for the week.
Get dressed as if you are going to class and plan out what assignments you are doing for each day of the week and hold yourself accountable. Accountability is going to be one of the motivating forces that keeps you going despite the online aspect of your courses this semester. Some courses may be held synchronously or asynchronously, but it is your job to keep track of the ever-changing conditions.
Communicate with Professors: Do not hesitate to ask for help! It’s important to reach out to faculty if there is a question about assignments, exams, homework, etc. Take advantage of office hours and any additional resources, such as tutoring, to help you understand the material better. Connecting with faculty is also a great way to start networking and showing your commitment to learning.
Self-Care: Incorporating self-care in preparation for nursing school should be a priority as well! Make sure to pay attention to what your body needs, whether it be taking a break from studying to prevent burnout, participating in movie night with your family or staying active.
Remember that we are all in this together! You can do this, and we all believe in you! Find a healthy balance of ensuring your mental health and self-care is at an optimum level along with your preparation for nursing school!
Written by Kayla Del Mundo
2020 is the Year of the Nurse. Florence Nightingale once said, "To be ‘in charge’ is certainly not only to carry out the proper measures yourself but to see that everyone else does so too.” I feel as if the class of 2020 is a testament to this quote. We were the bunch of future nurses experiencing a pandemic that brought together the meaning of nursing and the duties that we will fulfill as Registered Nurses in the work field.
No one expected the world to be dealing with such a huge pandemic crisis 6 months ago, but it happened. I was starting my senior year of nursing school just months away from getting that BSN and RN license. I was expecting to do my senior preceptorship in my dream unit, Labor & Delivery/Postpartum. I was expecting to be with my friends in the study room, counting down the seconds until our exit exam and finding out we passed nursing school. I was expecting to have a big celebration with my cohorts at our pinning ceremony. I was expecting many things this year that unfortunately did not pull through because of the pandemic. And that's okay!!! There was no book on how to go to nursing school through a pandemic, but since we've been in this quarantine style learning for 6 months, here are 6 things I learned during my last year of nursing school.
- If you love online classes, that's awesome! If you're more of an in-person learner, this pandemic situation may have been a struggle. Adapting to a new learning style may be difficult at first but ensure that you are staying organized and managing your time wisely. It's important that we don't slack off even though we are stuck at home doing school all day, every day.
- I had to include this in here because for me, it's an understatement. I never was a person who took naps but being on my butt in a chair for 5 hours can do a lot to your body. Ensure that you are taking breaks and even a nap to recharge yourself for that next lecture or even clinicals.
- Transitioning from on campus to online was a shock to everyone. Your school probably wasn't prepared to have to close down or make changes within the curriculum. It's completely frustrating and I get it. I was a part of the many programs that had to do their skills check offs online and do clinicals online (Swift River for life!). Your school’s deans and professors are doing everything they can to provide you the best education in different circumstances.
- Staring at the screen all day can do damage to your eyes. Blue light glasses help to block out the blue light emitted from screens. One of my favorite blue light glasses is on Amazon! Effective and affordable!
- My friends and I always met up with each other to study for quizzes and tests but not these past 6 months. Of course, we had to maintain the social distance of 6 feet apart, so we did the next best thing: Zoom Study Meetings! It's the best way to stay connected with your friends while getting work/studying done.
- I know that it is hard to accept that you cannot see your nursing friends right now. But we just have to make the best of the situation. Reminisce on the times you guys had at school and think of all the memories you could make after graduating nursing school and passing NCLEX®!
But if you are a nursing student right now, something I want to tell you is everything will be okay. You are on this path of nursing for a reason and do not let any external barriers get in your way. There's a world full of sick people waiting to be treated. Although the circumstances aren't what we expected it to be, we need to remember that the future is bright. Provide yourself a good foundation with positive affirmations.
I AM capable of passing nursing school.
I WILL be a Registered Nurse.
I CAN do anything I set my mind to.
Written by Hannah Lease
Amidst COVID-19, many changes have taken place around the world. This is also true regarding nursing programs. Some nursing programs have stopped their courses completely until further notice. Some have switched from in-person courses to online and clinical hours taking place inside the hospital have been halted until further notice. Although we all understand these changes have been made not only for our own safety but for the safety of everyone else, these changes can leave nursing students wondering how to go about these adjustments. I may just be one of many nursing students, but one thing I know for certain is that as long as you have the determination, self-discipline, organization, and time management skills, this bump in the road will only prepare us to become even stronger nurses someday.
When I began researching different accelerated nursing programs, I was torn between programs that were online versus in person. I ultimately took a leap of faith and chose an online-based program which I am even more grateful for with the current circumstances and since COVID-19 has created so many changes for those in traditional nursing programs. While others were left feeling uncertain after being switched from in-person lectures to online, all I’ve wanted to do was tell these students how this change will not alter their ability to still become great nurses. There are many ways to power through and make the most out of your nursing program, even if it is online.
The first key to success with an online nursing program is determination. Just because you are not meeting in person for the time being does not mean that you can lose sight of your end goals. Staying determined to keep turning in all your assignments on time, writing out your own notes, answering practice questions, working ahead instead of falling behind, and so on, will continue to keep setting you up to reach your goals.
Self-discipline, time management, and organization with an online-based nursing program are all HUGE. Since you are not always meeting up with your classmates, professors, or instructors, it is solely up to you and you alone to hold yourself accountable. Get a planner, dry erase board, notebook, or whatever you will put to good use in order to keep tabs on what you need to be getting done on a daily and weekly basis for your classes. I tend to treat my days like an actual “workday” where I will work on my courses from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. I will develop a set plan of attack beforehand that could consist of me working on one class from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., take a lunch break, and then finish the day with another class from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Within those set timeframes for each class, I listen to the lectures online while simultaneously viewing the PowerPoint presentation and look up anything in the book that I may still be struggling with. Once I am finished with the lectures and readings, I make sure to write out my own notes and/or type out topics that are helpful towards a study guide. Finally, I ALWAYS finish up with Elsevier Adaptive Quizzing (EAQ).
When I say that EAQs have been a game changer for my success in my nursing program, I truly mean it. The more exposure I get to the material in a question format, the better understanding I begin to have overall. Being able to have rationales for every question, whether you get the question correct or not, adds even more learning. I always strive to do at least 20-30 EAQ questions a day, which can end up being hundreds of practice questions by the time of my exam! Anyone can make 20-30 EAQ questions a day happen no matter how busy they are – do them while you’re on the couch watching TV, when you’re lying in bed before you go to sleep, do 5-10 at a time in between assignments, etc. I promise you that it is doable, helpful, and there’s truly NO excuse to not take full advantage of these Elsevier resources!
In the end, it’s important to remind ourselves that all these changes will not last forever. These changes may have created a bit of chaos in the beginning, but in the end how we choose to handle this phase of our nursing programs will play a large role in our actual nursing careers. Keep pushing forward, friends! No matter what, we will all be amazing nurses someday.
Written by Cierra Hickson
Going through clinicals from day one of nursing school to now - I have learned a few things along the way. There were always older students around me giving me their advice and I shrugged it off thinking my experience would be different. I am here to tell you, take all the advice you can. Apply the advice you need and help those around you. Nursing school is competitive, but overall, it is about teamwork. These are a few tips I have learned along the way from my clinical experiences.
Always be Prepared
There are going to be many opportunities in clinical and you want to make sure you don’t miss out on a thing. Be prepared from the start. Get rest the night or day before so you are on top of your game. Have all your supplies with you. I bring my stethoscope, scissors, tape, dry-erase marker, pens, sharpies, watch, and as soon as I get to the unit I stock up on flushes and IV cover tips. This ensures that I am prepared for clinical and showcases professionalism. The staff around you will appreciate you being prepared and will be more willing to find extra opportunities for you.
Introduce yourself to everyone
Every person you meet during your clinical experience is a networking opportunity! Each staff member is a potential co-worker, or reference down the road. Get to know the staff on the unit with you. Introducing yourself to the doctors may allow you to sit in on a few procedures, or even help depending on what it is! Get to know the respiratory therapist on the floor! They are filled with so much knowledge and will be a good source for A-B-C priority type questions. The techs on the floor will be your best friend. They will be able to help with your patient load and show you a few tips and tricks along the way. It goes without being said but, get to know the nurses. The nurses on the unit each have something different to offer. They have learned things along the way and can help you improve your practice. They will make great references later in life and provide an insight to how life after graduation will be.
Ask all your questions
When I go to clinical, I remind myself constantly that I am a student. It is okay to not know everything. It is not okay to not ask. The patients know you are learning and most enjoy you asking questions in the room regarding their care because they get to learn more, too. Don’t be afraid to ask. If you see a patient with a disease process you have never seen before, ask them questions about it. The best source of information is the patient. It will help you put a picture to the disease process and will aid you in studying later. If you are not sure why the nurse is doing a certain intervention, ask them. Ask why that med was given for that condition. Ask the “what-if” question. It is okay to ask; we are all learning. Your clinical experience is about you learning so that you can be that primary nurse, so soak it all in now!
Put yourself out there
Keep in mind this is your learning experience. Offer to do everything! It shows a good work ethic and will encourage the staff to seek more opportunities for you. If there is an IV to be started, a Foley to be inserted, a wound to be cleaned, offer to do it (with help or assistance is fine if you need). If there is a procedure going on, ask to sit in on it. If a patient needs something, even if it isn’t your patient for the day, offer to help out.
These are simple ways to put yourself out there during clinical that make you stand out. Like I said earlier, it’s about learning and networking. There are departments going on and off the floor throughout the day, just because it’s not a nurse doesn’t mean you can’t still ask them if you can help or watch. It is important for nurses to know the procedures and diagnostics for their patients. Every conversation, procedure, or intervention performed for your patient is a great opportunity to learn.
Written by Bailey Thom
As many of us are transitioning from in-person to online classes, studying at home can be very challenging. Our homes can be full of distractions: family members, pets, fridges, beds, Netflix… Altogether, you might find yourself less motivated and productive than usual.
As someone who used to spend all of their time studying in libraries and coffee shops, I have had to put in a lot of time and effort into learning how to study from home.
That being said, here are tips that work for me!
Prepare to study in similar ways that you prepared to go to the library or class. Especially if you are a morning person, set a specific time to wake up and get dressed. Establishing routines can help signal to your brain that “hey, it is time to get work done.”
Whether it is a dining room table or a desk, have a designated study space. Try to reserve your bed for sleeping and avoiding studying in it. I used to make the mistake of studying in bed but I found that I could not focus while studying and, when I wasn’t studying, I was not able to easily fall asleep. Don’t do it, friends. Lastly, keep your study space clean and organized – that way, you’ll spend more time studying and less time trying to find a pen that works.
Put your phone on Do Not Disturb mode. Turn off social media on your laptop. Try not to distract yourself while you are trying to focus!
I love to use the Pomodoro effect to guide by studying, which involves 25-minute work intervals with a short break (~5-minute) in between. After every 4 work intervals, you take a long break (~15-30 minutes). Bonus: I use an app on my phone that helps me and, as per above, not use my phone for other reasons while I am studying. However, you can use any timer to help keep track of time and to make sure you stay focused. Lastly, when you take breaks – make them guilt-free. Scroll through Instagram aimlessly (psst, you can check out my profile @baileybscn). These breaks are not meant for you to be productive so keep them that way!
Technology is amazing, hence why we are learning from home. That being said, there is no reason that you cannot continue to study with your friends! We all know that nursing students who study together, stay together.
I know there are dozens of different tips out there, which leads to my last tip: personalize your study habits to you. My tips are not going to be helpful to everyone. Finding what works for you may be trial and error and that is okay.
Happy studying, future nurses!
Written by Jehr Dotson
Before attending nursing school, I was able to study by writing a few things on flash cards and going about my day, often passing courses with As and Bs. That quickly changed after admission into nursing school. Not only did I have a load of coursework to study, but I had to study “learning how to study” before I could effectively learn any material …I’m sure any nursing student can totally relate to that!
Being a tutor for many nursing students as well as being a student myself, I can say the reason most students fail exams or pass with undesirable results is because they simply do not know how to study rather than not studying at all. Since my first semester of nursing school, I have invested in NCLEX® Prep books. When I suggest using an NCLEX book, the initial reaction is “aren’t those for people who are graduating?” My answer - absolutely not!
Using an NCLEX practice book is imperative to any student in nursing school. Why? Because NCLEX-style questions are typically what you will see on your exams up to and after graduation when you try to pass boards. Owning an NCLEX book will give you an opportunity to see how questions are structured, with lots of topics broken down into what you need to know.
The NCLEX book I use is the Elsevier Comprehensive NCLEX-RN examination book, 8th edition. Honestly, it is the best one I’ve used! It has every subject that you will see in nursing school from pathophysiology to critical care nursing. I use my NCLEX book to refresh on topics from the previous semester during school breaks and to ensure that I am prepared for my upcoming exams.
I am currently in my fourth semester of nursing school and this book has made learning critical care and pediatrics much easier. Learning material can feel overwhelming because it’s not always easy to follow along, but I use my book to get a baseline of what my professor would like me to know. Then, after taking notes from readings, YouTube videos, and lecture, I end the week off with my NCLEX practice book to help me narrow everything down.
Once I have gotten a pretty good idea of the material, I test myself using the questions provided in the book. There are over a thousand questions throughout the book and they are organized by subject and topic. I love that rationales are provided with each question. Not only am I developing better testing strategies, but I am able to see what areas I could improve in.
I recommend any student of nursing or graduate preparing to take their NCLEX examination to use an NCLEX Prep book. It always leaves me with a boost of confidence before my exams and wonderful grades to reflect.
Written by Mary Euline Olayon-Yaw, RN
Studying for the NCLEX can be daunting. The most common problem I ran into is not knowing where to start since the NCLEX tests you on content you’ve learned all throughout nursing school. One NCLEX resource that I found incredibly helpful in tackling this issue was the Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN Examination book. This review book was one of my top resources that I used to pass my NCLEX! Here are my top 10 NCLEX study tips when preparing for the NCLEX while using this review book!
As anxious and giddy as you are to start preparing for the NCLEX, remember to take a moment and celebrate finishing nursing school! You’ve made it this far for a reason, so be confident in yourself and your skills. You’ve got this! Good luck!
Written by Cindy Nguyen
I used to dread taking HESI exams after every course. Since the HESI specialty exams are not written by my professors, I was never sure exactly what to expect. These exams test on the entire course and everything is fair game, even the things that we did not get to cover in lecture or weren’t emphasized in classes.
My first HESI covered all of fundamentals; I learned the hard way that I needed to change how I prepared for these types of exams. My university set a minimum score of 850 and I scored in the low 700s, which is very poor. This was certainly not the first impression I wanted to give off to my professors and classmates, I felt embarrassed and heartbroken. The entire situation left me confused and discouraged as I did well on most of my exams throughout the course.
HESI exams require a high level of critical thinking for each and every question to help you prepare for NCLEX style questions. Preparing for these types of questions requires a careful combination of studying, practice and remediation.
When it came time for me to take version 2 of the fundamentals HESI specialty exam, I was determined to prove myself and pass. I started to look into outside resources to study for HESI exams and improve my performance answering nursing school question types. While researching, I came across the HESI Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN Examination book. The reviews I read online were very promising, students were scoring in the 1000s after utilizing this book (above the national average). Thankfully, I decided to purchase it. Here’s how I used it to prepare for my HESI exam:
After completing HESI V2, I felt like I accomplished the impossible. I went from a failing score to scoring in the 1000s! I was able to confidently say that I had mastered the content and felt prepared to answer fundamental questions when presented during the NCLEX.
I followed the exact same process for every HESI exam afterwards, including the HESI Exit. Not only did I pass, I scored in the 1000s. According to my scores, HESI indicated that I had a very high probability of passing the NCLEX-RN. Fast forward one month later, I passed my NCLEX in the minimum of 60 questions.
I continually tell my classmates how this is the best book I have ever spent money on. Here's why: it's clear, concise, and to the point. The book points out the most important information for you to know on a topic and ways to answer questions. There are charts, pictures, and graphs that further illustrate concepts. All of these are great for studying for those HESI finals, exit exams, in class exams, and the NCLEX.
Written by Koralys Rodriguez
Hello everyone, my name is Koralys Rodriguez - or Kory for short! I have about one year left until I have that RN next to my name, and I couldn’t be more excited.
As healthcare workers and students, the importance of reflection is something that is always stressed. In my personal life, and especially in light of recent events, reflecting on my ethnicity and culture is something I’ve been doing a lot more of. And this process of reflection has gone hand-in-hand with my growth as an advocate in healthcare.
I was born in Puerto Rico into a strong, diverse Latinx family. I grew up learning English and Spanish simultaneously. I was raised to be proud of who I was, and to represent my culture wherever I went.
I can’t count all the times in my life where I’ve looked at my differences as disadvantages, or as flaws. None of that was an issue for me when I was younger. But the older I’ve gotten, the more evident the cruelty in this world has become.
From subtle snarkiness and microaggressions, to blatant racism and even threats, the world is no longer sugarcoated for us. And these are the kinds of situations that make you want to change who you are to fit inside the bubble of what other people want.
Without even realizing it, I started to change myself to fit a mold I was never meant to match. This was the case until I started working in healthcare - when my perspective really changed.
Living in a southern state in an area with relatively low diversity, I started to realize the impact I could create as a Latinx healthcare worker. Over the past few years, I’ve had numerous opportunities to work with native Spanish-speaking clients. Many of these individuals had never received proper translations or culturally comprehensive care before I became a part of their care team. Some had never even seen someone who looked like them in the healthcare system before meeting me.
I’ve realized that I was never meant to change myself to fit into a system. Instead, I was meant to be who I am, unapologetically, and to change that very system! We can all do the same. Created change starts with us! And most of the time, it’s the little things that can make the biggest difference.
We all have our own strengths - our own qualities that make us unique. Now more than ever, we need to reveal the power of this uniqueness to help create a more open-minded and diverse healthcare system globally. The future of what healthcare looks like depends on us.
Are we actively working to create a more positive environment? Are we actively holding true to the basic principles of beneficence, non-maleficence, justice and respect? Or, are we conforming to a system that is outdated - one that has actively excluded people for not fitting the “mold”?
As healthcare workers and students, we are called to be ADVOCATES. We need to use our differences to make a difference
Resources for Hispanic and Minority Nursing Students:
While not all groups are available for students or for every location, these are all great resources and organizations to look into as you continue in your nursing journey!
Written by Courtney Franklin
I bet when you received your acceptance for nursing school, you never thought you’d be taking some of your most vital classes through a computer. When COVID took over our world, it unfortunately changed the way most of us did nursing too and left most of us wondering…what now? If you’re anything like me, you thrive off of face-to-face interaction, hands-on learning, and a set schedule. Because of this, I already knew that moving to a virtual format would not come without challenges. Because I attend an accelerated BSN program, my classes change every 8 weeks. With that being said, I am currently in my 4th online class and I wanted to share some tips and tricks I have found useful in making the most of being a virtual nursing student.
Form a Routine.
This is so very important. Being at home can make it easy to fall into your usual day-to-day routine and push off school related tasks. This is an easy way for you to fall behind. By creating a daily schedule, you are putting yourself back into a routine and practicing self-discipline.
Be Active in Class.
Although your professors may not be right in front of you like they would be in a traditional classroom, it is important to know that you still have your faculty’s support. If you are not understanding a concept, don’t be afraid to ask because chances are someone else in the classroom doesn’t understand as well. I know it can be intimidating to ask questions during online lecture, but the only silly question is the one left unasked! Remember that this is your learning experience and keeping an open line of communication with your professors is an important part of your success.
Use a Planner.
I cannot stress this enough! It is so easy to lose track of deadlines and due dates when your days seem to run together. Taking a day out of the week to fill out your planner will help you tremendously by allowing you to see what is due when and also how much extra time you’ll have from week to week.
Connect with Classmates.
Remember that during this challenging time, you are not alone! Connect with your classmates and set up virtual study dates. This is a great way to bounce ideas off of each other and to gain a different point of view on concepts of nursing.
While this is a very trying time for most of us, it is important to remain optimistic. As future nurses, resilience is important, and this is the perfect opportunity to practice that personality trait. We did not ask for this and unfortunately it is the way of the world right now so keeping an open mind and remaining positive is important. Remind yourself of why you want to a nurse and remember that this is only temporary!
Written by Kirsten Anderson
As most nursing students know, nursing school exams are not your average exam. It takes mastering a concept and applying that concept to a patient, to get that passing grade. Upon entry, most students don't know that nursing exams are NCLEX based. This means that your old study habits of strictly memorizing flashcards should be thrown out the door. In nursing school, you are learning how to deal with a patient, and that's what your focus should always be on while studying for an exam. Do not worry, once you get the hang of those awkward "action-based" questions, you will rock every test! Until you get used to these intense exams (and even once you do), you will definitely struggle with testing nerves or anxiety. Newsflash, this is totally normal! Testing anxiety is something I have struggled with, even more now that I am in nursing school. But don't fret, I have a few tricks and resources up my sleeve that I use to help get rid of my pre-testing jitters!
Practicing positive pampering is a concept I came across while engrossed in the Saunders 2020-2021 Strategies for Test Success book. This is an idea that is essential for having a healthy academic mindset and easing your skittish testing thoughts. Positive pampering is when a person learns to take care of themselves from a holistic perspective, allowing one to focus on academic and non-academic tasks. This creates a healthy balance, which leads to a clearer mind and an overall, more relaxed mentality. So how might one achieve this so-called "positive pampering," and how will it help reduce testing nerves?
Tip #1: Become Familiar.
The most obvious, yet effective way to get rid of testing anxiety is confidence. Building up confidence by becoming familiar with and understanding your learning objectives is a way to avoid failure and nervousness. The key here is to know when to stop with the academics. Make sure you have explored and found your unique way of retaining information. There are several learning methods and techniques, find one that works best for your learning style! Testing anxiety stems from the fear of failure, so practicing your material and studying in your own way will reduce some of that doubt!
Tip #2: Get your body moving.
Moving your body is a simple way to reduce testing anxiety or even anxiety as a whole. It is always important to get some movement in, especially if you're at a desk all day! The best part about this tip is there is no right or wrong way to do it! From taking a 3-mile jog to a short walk around the block, it gets your mind off school and gets those endorphins flowing! This is a great way to achieve the "non-academic" portion of positive pampering.
Tip #3: Balance Diet.
Not only should your mind be balanced, but your diet should be too! Believe it or not, diet has much to do with mental health. Establishing a healthy and balanced diet is helpful not only when it comes to test-taking, but will also help you long term! Eating lighter, well-balanced meals with complex carbs and proteins are vital when it comes to getting the most out of your meals. Allow food to be your fuel and energy source! That being said, try to avoid caffeine as a primary source of energy because chances are, it will contribute to the jitters and anxiousness when testing time arrives!
Tip #4: Just Relax the Night Before.
The most important tip to remember is this: RELAX. Often students (myself included) study all week for this big exam. Next thing you know, exam day is tomorrow, and everything you know and learned goes out the window and BOOM, anxiety kicks in. You start to doubt your knowledge and worry, which leads to a major cram session the night before the big day. By doing this, you are subconsciously creating that doubt by feeding into your nerves. Put the books away the day before the test and use that day for the ultimate self-care day. Do all of your favorite things, go on a walk, anything but study! At this point, you have already spent time studying and becoming familiar (refer to tip #1) with your materials and are good to go.
You will do great on that next exam and go in with a clearer mind now that you can properly positive pamper!
Good luck to all of my nursing peers. I wish you all the best throughout your programs! I cannot wait to take on the healthcare field together as one!
Written by Angelys Centeno
Each and every one of us experiences nursing school in a different way. One thing to always keep in mind is that you are about to begin a journey on a life changing career path. One that requires a lot of hard work, dedication, and many sleepless nights.
Before you start your nursing school journey, make sure you know what qualities a nurse must embody. A nurse is an advocate for their patients - meaning you stand up for them at all times. A nurse is caring, loving, and can put all of their personal problems aside to care for someone else. Are you ready to start your journey?
To help get you ready, here’s my survival guide to starting nursing school:
Expect things to be different…
I am currently a senior nursing student and I remember when I first started nursing school. I thought my life would remain the same only with school as an addition to my life. Boy, was I completely wrong. You have to know that nursing school is very demanding, and you must learn how to balance both your personal life and nursing school. So, the takeaway here is to remember that your life will change, because nursing school will become your number one priority.
Learn how to say no…
This is a very important to note. While you’re in nursing school, life outside remains the same. Life does not wait for you - meaning that events and holidays still occur with or without you. You must learn how to say no in times where you should be putting school first. For example: let’s say you have a test next week, but the day before your exam it’s your best friend’s birthday. You have two choices. Either study in advance and attend your friend’s birthday outing, or tell your friend ‘no’ and that you will make it up to them after your exam. The takeaway here is learning how to say no to things that can be a distraction. Remember, nursing school is only for a certain time frame – and it is important to do well so that you can become the best nurse possible.
Put your schoolwork first…
In nursing school, you must learn to put schoolwork first. This is the biggest tip I can give for being successful in your nursing program. Whether in a planner or on your phone, write down all of the things you have to accomplish throughout the week. Study in advance and don’t leave things for the last minute.
Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX…
I cannot stress enough how useful this book has been to me in nursing school. It has all the information you’ll need from your first semester to your last, and I love that it’s broken down by body system. It also gives you in-depth rationales and test-taking strategies for each practice question to help you be successful on exams. This book will get you used to the types of NCLEX-style questions that you’ll also see on course exams. It also comes with access to online resources and the ability to make custom quizzes using a ton of different filters.
Test-Taking Strategies for Beginners:
Written by Victoria Basler
It can be extremely overwhelming when you’re trying to remember all of the information nursing school throws at you. At times, it may feel impossible to memorize the action, origin, and insertion of all the muscles in the human body, all signs and symptoms of hypo/hyperglycemia, or the adverse effects of Digoxin. The bottom line is that our brains need help remembering and memorizing these key topics when it comes to nursing. I’ve found that using memory aids and mnemonics helps me remember important information easier. Here are some of my favorites:
These are just a few examples of so many memory aids and mnemonics available to nursing students, and they are super helpful when it comes to exams! You can find these memory aids and mnemonics anywhere, but most of them I found in my Elsevier textbooks. If you’re having trouble remembering important information, you can even try coming up with your own memory aid or mnemonic device!
Written by Kayla Del Mundo
When I was a little girl, I always had trouble keeping up with my work in school. After being depressed about it for a while, I knew I had to change my mentality and become a more driven, positive, and lively person. Nursing school in general is a lot to take in so having a strong and positive outlook towards your journey to be a registered nurse will get you through! Here are some of things that I continue to do each term to ensure that I am motivated and feel positive to continue to achieve this BSN degree!
Personally, I like to make "term goals". My school term is ten weeks long, and there are plenty of items to check off during this time. You can adjust your goals to however long your semester/quarter is, but I've learned that having smaller goals broken into my term makes it more exciting to achieve. For example, this term with my Public Health rotation, one of my main goals is to average an A for all my exams. Another one could be for clinical where you make it a goal to successfully administer at least two IVs. Whatever it may be, the smallest goals/wins are the best (which transitions into my next point...)
CELEBRATE THE SMALL WINS
If you’re like me, the biggest win you've had so far is getting accepted into nursing school! You are still in your nursing program and CRUSHING it! You want to be able to celebrate the little things that you do. Whether it’s getting a passing score on your exam, killing your validations check offs, or having a really good day at clinicals—GO CELEBRATE! Bring your nursing buddies with you for a bite to eat, a nice drink, or head to Disneyland (this is my favorite celebration after each term).
I think this is CRUCIAL when it comes to studying your material and just keeping up the motivation to study at all. Your brain and energy levels can only take on so much information at a time - sometimes a break is necessary. I know a lot of my nursing friends would say that time is precious, but a healthy mind is too.
I use the Pomodoro Technique in my study sessions. This technique can also be used outside of school, and improves productivity and efficiency in everything that I do in my daily routine. The Pomodoro Technique has six steps:
If you were to only take one thing away from this blog post, please make it this... Positive affirmations have gotten me through some of the roughest, toughest, and most rewarding situations in my time during nursing school. Putting things out in the universe gives a sense of hope in the goal that you strive to accomplish. Examples of positive affirmations that I always tell myself are that "I will be a Labor & Delivery Nurse", "I am good enough to be in nursing school.", "I can accomplish anything I put my mind into." Anything that says that you are, can, and will be is a possible affirmation. I recommend writing these on sticky notes, or even on a bathroom mirror, somewhere you can see them every day as you work toward your reality.
Written by Brandon Thompson
As we all know, nursing school requires time, dedication, and commitment. We spend hours away from our friends and family because we are either studying for an exam, writing a paper, completing EAQs or; catching up on assigned readings, practicing for skills check off, and catching up on more reading… (the list continues until the end of the semester).
On most days, before the COVID-19 outbreak, we are on campus for lectures, didactics, study sessions, and clinical sites. This valuable time spent away from our families is used to cultivate a professional relationship with our collogues, instructors, and various members of the healthcare team. This relationship creates the opportunity to form future references which is very important when job searching. Your time in nursing school should have meaning that makes you a better person both professionally and personally.
Here are a few ideas on how to make the most of your time in nursing school:
Building Relationships with Faculty
My professor once told me that I am accountable for my education, which is very true. You need to show initiative when it comes to nursing school. Go to office hours, ask questions, explain to faculty your ideas about the program – like what can be better, or changed. Form a student group and involve your instructors.
In an example, here is what I did this past semester:
I had noticed that during didactics, my peers and I struggled to remember what was practiced during class time. Most of us had different understandings of how to perform some of the skills and conflicting information was being shared. We had eight instructors for didactics, and we always receive eight different explanations for one concept. To help solve this issue, I initiated a 15 minute round table discussion at the end of every class where students and faculty discuss what was learned during that day, what skills were not understood, and address any questions that remain. Taking initiative like this shows leadership skills, your ability to think critically, and to maybe even be a future charge nurse.
Ideally, you want to volunteer in some healthcare capacity, but any volunteer opportunity is great – especially once doing what you’re passionate about. This is a great way to not only show off your various skill sets, but to learn the different scopes of practice in each profession. Make sure to add this to your resume and always put your best foot forward. A job or a recommendation might come out of this.
Shadowing is similar to volunteering, but also very different. To shadow an MD, RT, RN, PT etc., you have to be the initiator. You must put yourself out there to land a shadowing gig. Your academic performance, your nursing skills competence, your past experiences, and a solid recommendation from your faculty or your volunteer project will aid in your shadowing opportunities. See how these aspects build on each other? Because of my clinical presence, my care plan writing, my ability to ask questions when in clinical, and willingness to observe new procedures when on a unit; I was offered to shadow a PICU RN (my clinical instructor) anytime I wanted to. This is how you build relationships with members of the team. Yes, we are students, but we are held to the standards of an actual nurse when on clinical.
Never show up to clinical unprepared. Read up on your patient’s conditions the night before. Become familiar with the labs and medication your patient is on. You are a rock star when you show up to clinical prepared with questions and knowledge about your patient. Ask questions about why your patient is on a certain medication. Be engaging in your reflection session and during shift change. Your SBAR as a student nurse is a tool that helps to show not only your communication skills, but your competency as a nurse. Always have a solid recommendation in your SBAR. Your nursing peers on the unit will develop a level of respect for you and will probably request you as their student nurse. Last semester, I was unsure if I heard course crackles on my patient when auscultating the lungs. For my SBAR, I recommended that the nurse verify lung sounds because I was unsure. The same thing happened when I thought I heard Mitral Valve Regurgitation. L1 nurses, for my program, falls within a certain scope. It was not within my scope to diagnose regurgitation, so I recommended the nurse or MD take a listen.
If you are not working, spend your “free” time in nursing school doing hobbies that you love. Create an image outside of your professional image. Personally, I’m a beekeeper. I also have two 30-foot herb gardens, I tutor middle schoolers who are interest in STEM, and I hike. That is how I spend my “free” time. These activities add to my resume and show that I have other interests outside of nursing. You become relatable to your patients and you can share stories about hiking with a patient who is anxious. Basically, add it to your arsenal when partaking in therapeutic communication.
At the end of the day, your time is your time; what you do with it is up to you. But I believe nursing school is a growing experience. Once we’re out, we are a new person.
Written by Benjamin Ordaz
Nursing school is truly an amazing journey. You learn what interests you the most in the medical field, you gain a vast amount of knowledge in health care, and it pushes you. It pushes you to be a better person and health care professional. In some aspects of nursing school, it becomes a challenge and sometimes we feel a sense of resistance when we try to move forward. I am going to provide you with four tips to help you minimize and overcome those challenges that arise in nursing school.
Using these tips has helped me to be successful in nursing school, and I hope they do the same for you! You control nursing school; nursing school does NOT control you.
Written by Yu Liang
It’s the night before an exam and you’re cramming. Again. Last exam, you said that you wouldn’t procrastinate anymore, just like when you said that for the previous one. This used to be me. It worked when I was in high school, but in nursing school… My GPA is a reminder that cramming does not work. Not only is this ineffective because no information is being retained, but I was also setting myself up for unnecessary stress and anxiety that could’ve been prevented. I went into every exam feeling groggy and unprepared. I’d tell myself, “I don’t have time to read the textbook”, or “I’m too busy to study today”. But the truth is, you do have time. You just don’t know how to manage it effectively. Here are some tips to keep yourself from procrastinating:
Implementing these habits made me better at managing my time. I’m no longer scrambling to submit assignments before 11:59 p.m. I’m walking into exams feeling confident. Most importantly, I’m a lot happier and less stressed out. These tips helped me turn into a better student, and hopefully they’ll help you as well!
Written by Tahmina Naseri
For me, having self-confidence means you can pass your exams and achieve great outcomes in nursing school. You can also gain high confidence when you put the time and effort into learning, studying, and practicing.
After you put the time and effort in, it is good not to doubt yourself. Always go with your instincts and believe in yourself. You should strive to have confidence in your answers and your knowledge. Don’t doubt your correct answers and overthink and change the answer.
Having good confidence in my knowledge and test-taking abilities has improved my grades in nursing school. I have been using Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN® Examination to do practice questions. I complete practice questions in the book every week, and review all of them before the exam.
Doing practice questions has helped me gain confidence in my knowledge because it helps me understand what I know and what I am struggling with. I make sure to read the rationale for the right and wrong choices for every question. This helps me understand how to critically think about different concepts and increases my confidence in my critical thinking abilities.
It is also important to continue to take your confidence with you to the clinical setting. In the clinical environment, it is essential to have confidence in your patient care and critical thinking. This can help save a life.
Confidence does not mean knowing everything — it means that you are able to ask questions and ask for help when needed. It is important to believe in your knowledge and have confidence in yourself. This will help improve your critical thinking and patient care.
Written by Breagh Fitzgerald
Born in Boston and raised in a small town south of the city, I always assumed my love for Massachusetts would keep me in my home state for my college years. However, when I was applying to nursing programs, I decided to look at every available opportunity. As a dual citizen of both Canada and the United States, I had a wide range of options I could explore.
As a university student with three years of biological sciences under my belt and no degree at the time, Canadian schools became more attractive. Most advanced nursing programs in the U.S. require students to have an undergraduate degree, while some Canadian programs do not.
My school search led me to Cape Breton University (CBU), located on the small island of Cape Breton Island. This was the clear choice for me as they offer three programs for students looking to become an RN: three-year direct entry from high school, a two-year advanced Standing Pathway, and an LPN-to-BScN Pathway. The two-year advanced option really appealed to me because, with nursing being my passion, I wanted to immediately start chasing my dreams.
An important factor when deciding on a Canadian nursing school was the NCLEX® officially being offered in Canada. With this expansion, I could receive my NCLEX-oriented education in Canada and have the option to work in both countries.
With the NCLEX implemented in Canada in 2015, CBU’s nursing education faculty knew they needed to start adapting their learning plan to the NCLEX requirements. Elsevier, a global information analytics company specializing in science and health, had the resources CBU was looking for and the partnership began.
After the first year of using Elsevier resources, CBU students produced a passing rate of 92% on their first NCLEX exam, with the national average, according to the Canadian Council of Registered Nurse Regulators, being just 69.7% for first-time test takers. If that doesn’t make a nursing student jump for joy, I don’t know what would!
I am currently in my second semester of the program and am already preparing to attend my second clinical rotation on a cardiac medical-surgical floor. As I continue my education at Cape Breton University, I am constantly receiving affirmation for my decision in choosing this school. CBU, along with the partnership with Elsevier, has designed their semesters to optimize student success. I am excited to see where my nursing career will take me and I am grateful to be surrounded by the resources I need to build the foundation to become a great nurse.
Written by Ariana Speight
It’s the night before your first day of clinical. You can’t sleep because you’re thinking of every possible bad outcome that could happen to your patient. You can’t stop thinking about how you will mess something up. You get to clinical in the morning and it is not as bad as you think. The patient you are assigned to is very kind and the day ends up being great. I am sure every nursing student is familiar with this feeling and experience. As a nursing student who has completed two semesters of clinicals, here are some tips that helped me survive and excel in my first clinicals and beyond.
Get everything you need ready the night or morning before clinical.
If you set everything up and make it easy for yourself to grab everything and go, you will not be stressed about forgetting something or packing something you may not need. For every clinical, I have a small notebook and pen to write down reminders for my patient tasks, vitals that I need to chart, and anything that my nurse may tell me throughout the shift. Just remember to not write down any patient identifiers! Second, I always have my stethoscope; it is a necessity! I suggest an MDF® or Littman® for school, I have an MDF and I love it! Next, be sure to always have a watch. I use a scrub watch that I attach to my scrub top because I have a personal preference of not having anything on my wrists to avoid getting it wet or keeping germs around. You will use your watch for tracking medication administration times, glucometers, vitals, and SO much more. I also keep my penlight with me for vitals and anything else you may need it for. Since you will be washing your hands a lot, it is important to keep some unscented hand lotion with you to keep your hands moisturized. Sometimes this is not a necessity because hospitals provide their own hand lotion for you to use. Depending on your shift, be sure to pack lunch or dinner. Pack foods that will give you energy and keep your mind and body fueled for the shift. Make sure to pack and drink LOTS of water. You need to stay hydrated so you can be your best for the patients. Last thing is compression socks. If you have long 8+ hour shifts, these come in handy. If you pack all these items and keep them in a neat place and ready to grab before clinical, you will be all set!
Don’t be afraid to ask questions or ask for help.
You do not know everything and will, of course, need help or clarification. Do not think you are being a burden by asking your clinical instructor or registered nurse a question. They were in your shoes before and should understand. You may have nurses on the unit that are irritated or unwilling to help, so I would just approach them politely, but do not hesitate to ask questions. You are in the hospital to learn and become the best nurse possible. This is a cliché, but no question is a dumb question! Take advantage of the learning experience in the hospital and the opportunity to see RNs do what you will be doing in just a few years.
It is so important to be humble in clinical. Admit when you don’t know how to do something or don’t know the right answer. The last thing you want is to make a medical mistake because you did not admit that you couldn’t complete a task properly. It is better to get a nurse to demonstrate the skill before you perform it to be sure how to execute it properly.
Relax and enjoy the experience to learn.
Last but not least, just relax! You are a nursing student in clinical to learn. No one expects you to know everything and be able to complete every task on your own. That is the joy of nursing school! You are there to grow and take advantage of the opportunity to learn new skills in a hospital setting. Enjoy the amazing chance you get to preview your future profession in nursing.
From my first day of clinical, I was reassured that this profession is what I want to do. Nursing is such a rewarding field because we get to care for people at their most vulnerable moments in life. That is a great role, and we get the incredible opportunity to provide care for our patients. I hope these tips help you get through clinical. We got this!
Written by Mary E. Olayon-Yaw
Tests and exams in nursing programs are a breed of their own. They propose very different challenges than the tests taken in prerequisite courses; relying simply on memorization is not enough. For these tests, you must filter out each possible answer and use the material you’ve learned in a way that provides you with the most correct answer.
One of the biggest challenges I have endured in college was transitioning into what one could call the “nursing school life.” It was difficult to adapt to this new way of answering questions and it began to affect me psychologically. As a result, I failed my first three tests. The entire situation was incredibly discouraging as I was never the type of student to have problems in school, much less fail tests consecutively.
Eager to bounce back, I received advice from fellow nursing students and watched dozens of YouTube videos about test-taking skills. I realized that there was an entire “test-taking toolbox” for me to use in the way I study and approached future tests. As I started implementing these new strategies, I instantly saw the positive impact it would make on my grades. Five quarters of nursing school later, I feel more confident than ever in my test-taking skills. There is definitely a method to this madness that everyone is capable of learning. Here are the five test-taking strategies that have had the most positive impact for me:
Using ABCs, nursing process, and Maslow’s hierocracy — Refer back to these when you’re caught in a prioritization question! Airway, breathing, and circulation is the order of priority of nursing action in most cases to keep a patient stable and alive. The nursing process or ADPIE (assessment, diagnosis, plan, intervention/implementation, and evaluation) is another tool to use for systematically providing patient care. Whereas, Maslow’s hierocracy is the order of human needs that must be followed to provide effective patient care.
Pay attention to strategic key words in the questions such as “best,” “priority,” “initial,” and “most appropriate” — This is the most important tip for prioritization questions! In these types of questions, there is likely to be multiple “correct” answers, however, the key word determines which answer follows the order of priority. This can be combined with tip #1 when choosing the most accurate answer for priority-type questions.
Example question: The nurse is assessing the client’s condition after cardioversion. Which observation would be the highest priority?
Correct Answer: B — Think about airway from the ABCs. Understand that maintaining a patient’s airway is the highest priority and written out as a nursing responsibility when a cardioversion is done.
Delegation/assignment-making questions require you to understand the scope of practice for nurses versus other parts of the care team (i.e., CAN/UAP can help patients with ADLs, LPNs can do med passes, etc.). Understand the different roles of the care team so that you know which tasks may be delegated and which tasks require a specific team player.
Use a process of elimination — When you really don’t know the answer, it’s best to work your way backwards. Try narrowing the choices down to the last two. You will have a better chance of being correct when only choosing from two answers versus guessing between four. This is a strategy that I only use when I’ve exhausted all my other test-taking skills and have no clue which answer is actually correct.
Do not change your answer! — UNLESS you are 100% sure that your original answer is not the correct one. You chose it first for a reason, so what’s making you second-guess it now? Trust your gut and instincts!
These are just a few of the test strategies I’ve learned over the past year and a half. One book that I highly recommend reading for more test-taking skills and tips is Saunders Strategies for Test Success. It does a great job of breaking down and explaining how to take nursing school tests and what the benefits are when using specific strategies. I’ve also decided to incorporate this book into my NCLEX® review. After all, the NCLEX is essentially the ultimate nursing school test. Nursing school can be difficult and nursing school tests will be challenging, but just remember that you made it this far for a reason! You can do this!
Written by David Nguyen
Hey everyone! My name is David Nguyen and I attend nursing school at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. Nursing school is very tough, but it is worth it in the end when you reach your goal and become a nurse.
Everyone has their own journey full of twists and turns during nursing school. I believe it’s important for every student to keep in mind that your grades don’t necessarily define your intelligence or your worth. Although your grades may weigh heavily on how success is perceived, every action leads to growth, including your failures. Your family and friends will be prouder of your perseverance in achieving your degree than what your grades may or may not be. Always know that your time will come, and you need to keep up your determination and resilience in order to get that degree. Just breathe and focus on what you can get done now.
Here are some tips to help you succeed and grow throughout your nursing school journey:
Meet with your professors during office hours. Your professors are great resources when you are having trouble understanding certain concepts that were covered in class. They want to see you succeed. Developing relationships with your professors will also help open the door to future opportunities, such as using them as a reference for continuing education, scholarships, internships, and jobs.
Push yourself, because no one is going to do it for you. Be aware of what you really want, chase after it, and don’t let anyone stop you. Start by allotting time in your schedule to focus on your studies and stick to it. Nursing school is hard work, but it helps you build resilience.
Breathe and focus on the present moment. It’s okay to take some time off for yourself. Always reach out to your friends, family, and professors for help.
Remember to enjoy nursing school and its journey. Build friendships with your classmates and power through it together. At the end of the day, nursing is a profession that people pursue because they love it with all their heart.
Lastly, believe in yourself. You can do it, and everyone is rooting for you!
Written by Erica De Haro
The life of a nursing student can get very busy. However, it is an exciting time in our lives where we are introduced to a whole new world. We learn the language of nursing and manage a complicated course load while studying for countless hours and participating in clinicals. In the midst of our crazy schedules, I believe it is important to find balance. I am a big advocate of implementing balance into my life and I love to inspire others to do the same!
Here are some tips on how to achieve balance in nursing school:
Planner: A planner will help you master time management. Organizing your assignments, quizzes, exams, and volunteer events will aid you in staying on track. Managing your time should be about simplifying how you work to relieve stress, rather than squeezing multiple tasks into one day. Remember — work smarter, not harder.
Self-care: The director of our nursing program always reminds us to make time for ourselves, whether it’s watching a movie, spending time with loved ones, or going for a hike. Taking time for yourself is so important for your wellbeing. Find what works best for you to help reduce stress and prevent burnout. If you want to take care of others, you must first take care of yourself.
Practice healthy habits: Get six to eight hours of sleep each night, drink lots of water, eat nutritious foods, and exercise. As a nursing student, your emotional and physical wellbeing play vital roles in achieving academic and professional success. Establishing healthy habits early on in nursing school is essential to revitalizing your energy and incorporating wellness into your everyday life.
Ultimately, I hope you enjoy the beautiful journey of being a nursing student. Throughout all the challenges you may face in nursing school, always remember to find your balance. Take the time to learn and grow from these experiences and never forget how far you have come. Invest in your mind, invest in your health, and invest in yourself.
Written by Hannah Lease
Hi, everyone! My name is Hannah and I am just a few weeks shy of finishing up the first semester in my accelerated nursing program at Marian University in Indianapolis, IN. To say that nursing school, in general, is a big commitment is an understatement. Trying to cram all of that learning and preparation into just 16 months…well, I am still trying to figure out how to describe it! Going into my program, I didn’t really have a set game plan for how I wanted to study. This is especially the case since the material I am learning is completely different from what I studied in my first degree. Little did I know that upon purchasing my books (all published by Elsevier), my studying concerns would go out the door. I quickly realized that with all the extra resources Elsevier offers, my new studying go-to would instantly become Elsevier Adaptive Quizzing, better known as EAQ.
For each of my nursing books, Elsevier offers an EAQ to generate quizzes based on the specific chapter(s) in the text. I can choose either the “Mastery” option, where I’m served unlimited questions until I level up in the topic(s) of my choice, or I can select the “Custom” option, where I pick a set number of questions in the topic(s) of my choosing to achieve a higher level of mastery.
I cannot express enough how much EAQ has helped not only myself, but my fellow classmates. Leading up to every exam, my classmates and I discuss how we plan to review as many Elsevier Adaptive Quizzes (EAQs) as we can because we know they have helped us be well prepared for our previous exams. I’ve learned that the more adaptive quizzes I can get under my belt, the more confident I feel walking into my exams.
I think a lot of us agree that we can only read the same information over and over again for so long until it starts to make us go stir crazy! That’s why I think it is so important to take a break from reading assignments and listening to lectures, and instead put your brain to the test by quizzing yourself over the material you’ve been reviewing nonstop. By taking EAQs, it makes the material come together in a way that you will be tested on, not only making you a better student, but also a better nurse in the future! In the end, we aren’t spending the majority of our time studying and taking our nursing exams to pass our classes…we are doing it in preparation to help save lives, take care of loved ones, and to make a difference in the world of nursing.
The moral of the story is this: don’t ever stop doing the most for yourself and your future career as a nurse. Work hard at your assignments, listen to your lectures as often as you can, find your tribe of like-minded classmates that push you to succeed, do all the EAQs you can and then some, crush your exams, and finally, CELEBRATE! Nursing school is hard, but with each exam you are one step closer to earning those letters behind your name — and Elsevier is there to help you every step of the way.
Written by Ariana Speight
Let’s face it, we have all heard, “Wow, nursing? How do you have a life?” My simple answer to that question: Balance. We are all familiar with the time commitment that nursing requires — between studying for tests, preparing for clinicals, gathering patient information, or writing patho papers and care plans for patients, nursing school is a huge commitment. On top of nursing school, I’m always learning how to balance relationships, social life, volunteer work, exercising, a job, and my relationship with God. Here are few of my tips for maintaining balance in the crazy life of a nursing student!
Disclaimer: My life is not perfect and never will be. I am still learning to apply these tips in my own life, and they are helping me daily.
Plan Your Weeks and Days in Advance
Having an organized agenda is very helpful for me. Before a new month begins, I go to Blackboard and write down every assignment so I don’t forget anything. I am always on top of my assignments when I write them down, but if I don’t, 9 times out of 10 I will probably forget about them! If I have plans during the week or on the weekends, I schedule my studying around what I have to do. This helps me ensure that I can have free time without worrying about missing an assignment. I have specific time frames to study, and I plan out what I’ll be studying during those times. I prioritize study time before fun events or time with friends so that when I do attend these events, I am not stressing about an assignment or test the entire time.
Communication is Key
Nursing is a huge time commitment, and some may even say you will lose friends because of it. That may be true for some people, but if you communicate with your friends and family that you’re busy, they will understand. For example, “Hey friend, I have a big pharm test tomorrow and need this time to study, can we make time to hang out on Friday? I have been so occupied with studying this week and I would love to spend time with you soon.” It’s as simple as that. If you’re at a school that’s far away from family, you may even say, “Hi family, I’m sorry I haven’t called recently. I have been busy with nursing. I will call first thing in the morning. I miss you and I can’t wait to see you very soon.” Communication is key to keeping healthy relationships because no one can read your mind if you don’t tell them what’s going on. We all get caught up in the business of life, but communication allows everyone to be on the same page.
Do Not Procrastinate — Plan How Much You Will Study Each Day
I have learned to plan full-on study days periodically throughout the month. I’ve also found that planning what I will study each day allows me to stay focused and have valuable study time. For example, I will write in my planner: One hour to study for health assessment test with a break in between, then study for my check-off final for another hour. Planning out my study time prior to when I start has been beneficial for my productivity. If I start studying blindly, my focus is all over the place and basically non-existent.
PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN!
My phone is my biggest distraction. I can easily admit that I love checking Instagram and always go to Twitter for a good laugh. However, I’ve learned that leaving my phone in my dorm, as hard as it is, helps me to grind out a good study session without the distraction of my phone. If I have my phone with me, I try to put it on the opposite side of the room and turn it off. Having it out of sight while I’m studying helps me to focus on the task at hand.
By using these techniques, I have learned how to balance daily tasks without the anxiety of not knowing how I will finish everything. Some days feel much longer than others and I do get stressed, but planning and finding a balance has helped me preserve my sanity throughout nursing school. Being a Christian, a great source of my positive mindset also comes from being at a like-minded university that encourages us to lean on the grace of God to get through our days.
I hope that you take it day-by-day and remember, you are doing amazing! We all have our own journeys and each journey is beautiful. Whether you are a new college student in nursing school, or a single mom of two trying to balance being a mom and a student, you are doing the best you can with the cards you have been dealt. I pray you all find the strength you need to get through the hardest days of nursing school and enjoy the easier ones. Keep pushing through, you got this!
Written by Morgan Brittain
Hello friends! My name is Morgan and I am in my second semester of nursing school at University of Arkansas–Fort Smith. Nothing personal against nursing school, but there's no denying that it can be stressful at times. Between worrying about exams and balancing your personal life around when to study for them, it can seem as though you never get the chance to just relax.
I know what it’s like. After taking an exam and finally getting caught up on making study guides, you catch a moment of peace. Then it hits you. In just a year, you will be faced with the most crucial and life-altering test you may ever take — the NCLEX. This was a very constant, panic-inducing thought for me. That is, until I discovered the best study workbook for visual learners ever to be written, the Illustrated Study Guide for the NCLEX-RN® Exam, 10th Edition, by JoAnn Zerwekh, EdD, RN.
When I first got this book, I began flipping through the pages and was immediately impressed with the colorful illustrations and eye-catching diagrams that really captivate the reader. Since I am a visual learner, I find that associating pictures with the content really helps me retain information.
Another thing I really like about this book are the Test Alert! boxes featured throughout that highlight key concepts frequently found on the NCLEX. There are symbols to accentuate high-alert medications, as identified by the Joint Commission, and for one of my favorite details — nursing priorities. The book also has symbols that identify pediatric and adult nursing priorities. I really appreciate this feature because we all know how much our instructors love nursing priority questions.
Just when I thought this book could not get any more convenient, I discovered that it comes with a corresponding code that allows you to access additional resources on the companion Evolve website. The website includes very helpful study material, such as practice questions and mock exams that you can take in study mode or quiz mode.
When you take practice tests in quiz mode, you receive feedback after each question, as well as a complete rationale for each option. I love seeing feedback and rationales because I always want to know exactly why the answers I choose are incorrect or correct, so I can do better on similar types of questions in the future (I tend to overthink my answers and it sometimes causes me problems). The book and its online resources offer more than 2,500 practice questions that are similar to those found on the NCLEX exam, so there is plenty of testing information to help you prepare.
Just for kicks, I signed in and took a 50-question test on a section we were about to cover in one of my classes. I actually surprised myself and did better than I thought I would. So, it might also be beneficial to use the practice tests to help prepare for class exams on different subjects. Just a thought!
I really think this book will help me when I begin preparing for the NCLEX exam, and calm some of my usual jitters, because I will be so well prepared. I highly recommend this book!
Written by Mary Euline Olayon-Yaw
Clinicals! They’re something we’re all excited to be a part of as nursing students - especially if it’s a rotation we’ve been eager to precept in. It’s a time where we can use our new skills and begin to gain real experience. However, most of us forget that before we can begin clinicals, we must go through skills check-offs with our instructors to evaluate those newly learned skills. Skills check-offs can definitely be a nerve-racking time if you are not prepared or are prone to overthinking. After all, who doesn’t get nervous and have their minds go blank with their instructor right in front of them?
I remember when I had my first skills check-off. I was beyond nervous and could feel the anxiety start to inch forward. I know I’m not the only one who has felt this way. Looking back, I realize that the mistakes I was marked off on could’ve been avoided with better preparation, which in turn, would’ve allowed for greater confidence. Here are a few tips that I’ve found to be extremely helpful for skills check-offs!
#1 – Go to open labs
Take advantage of open labs! Open labs are reserved time slots for students to come in and use the skills lab to practice. This is a huge help because it allows students to practice their skills with the proper equipment. Repetition is key when it comes to learning a new skill. The more times you do an action or skill, the better your muscle memory will be. This is especially the case if you’re using the proper equipment over and over again. There’s no better place to practice than in an open lab!
#2 – Create a step-by-step guide that works for you
Imagine trying to sing a song without the lyrics after only hearing it a couple of times. That’s exactly how I felt when performing some of the skills my first time around. Some skills can have several steps and the thought of properly executing all of them can be incredibly overwhelming! To help overcome this, I like to organize a “step-by-step” guide on how I would perform a specific skill. I still follow all the proper techniques given and required, but rearranging the sequence to perform it in a way that fits me better ultimately helps me remember the steps for a specific skill.
#3 – Role play with your classmates
The best way to make the most of skills or open lab is to form small groups of two to three people. Have one person be the nurse, one person as the patient, and one person as the evaluator (If you only have two people, then the patient will just have to double as the evaluator – anything works, just be creative!). Each person will then rotate through each role, which will give everyone an opportunity to act out the skills. It is also important to look at the rubric, provide feedback, and make mental notes on which areas you may need to improve in. I’ve found that practicing these skills in a group environment has not only been a more fun way to learn, but more engaging as well. This method has resulted in me improving my understanding with the skills I learn as well as being more confident in each skill I perform.
Written by Leann Indolos
You’re 3 weeks into another semester of nursing school and you realize that you can’t remember the last time you watched a movie or called your parents. You can’t remember the last time you took time to do something fun, but you can definitely remember how many nights in the last week you didn’t get enough sleep and how many hours you’ve spent studying for your upcoming exam. It’s true that nursing school is a challenging and fast-paced program that requires intense dedication, but that doesn’t mean it should completely consume your life.
People often believe “nursing students have no life”, but I’m here to tell you that statement is so far from the truth! In fact, I have found more life since I started nursing school. After a few months of trial and error, I found a way to juggle working 12 hours a week, spending quality time with my family and friends, exercising 4-5 times a week, and volunteering, while still succeeding in my classes. I believe a rich and full student life is possible for every nursing student with just a few helpful tips:
It’s important to focus on nursing school and take breaks from it too. Finding balance is an excellent form of “self-care” and will help you to have a happy, healthy, and full life which will ultimately help you in becoming an amazing future nurse.
Written by Taylor Scruggs
Nursing school is extremely stressful. No one can argue with that or say otherwise. However, knowing how to handle the stresses of nursing school is vital to your own mental health. After all, you can’t take care of other people if you’re not functioning at your best. For me, my friends are my everything. I don’t think I would have made it this far in my program without them. When I entered the nursing program at Tuskegee University, I knew a few other students but wasn’t particularly close to any one person. However, now I can proudly say that I will be graduating in May of 2020 alongside 5 of my best friends.
With nursing, I need to study a little bit each day in order to feel like I’m not drowning in school work or falling behind. However, I don’t always have the internal strength or motivation to study – sometimes I just want to be lazy. To overcome this feeling, my friends and I will gather in our study group and ensure that each of us are reviewing and understanding the information we’ve learned in class throughout the week.
On nights before tests, I’m known for pulling all-nighters. I know this method isn’t necessarily recommended by professors, but it works for me. It helps my friends and I to have the information fresh on our minds right before walking into a test. I’m a night owl, so late night studying is easy for me and I can always stay awake. My friends, however, don’t always possess the same energy that I do when it comes to pulling all-nighters. We will buy each other coffee and energy drinks (even though as nursing students, we know that they aren’t the best for us) in order to get through the rough hours of the night. When we can’t be together before an exam because of late night work schedules or health issues, we’ll improvise and use Facetime to quiz each other.
In order to be a successful nursing student and enjoy some of the best years of your life, it’s important to maintain a healthy balance of work and play. To do this, some of my classmates and I get together at least once a week for dinner (typically on Sunday nights). A couple of us buy the food while the others cook it, and we spend quality time together outside of the nursing building. This is honestly my favorite day of the week - something that I always look forward to over a long week of studying.
My friends and I also attend our school’s football games together. It helps to go to these events with other nursing students because we can set goals for each other to make sure we don’t lose an entire day. We tell ourselves that we can be at the game until a certain time, but we can only go to the game if we get through specific chapters or sections of notes the night before. Holding each other accountable ensures that we end up being successful – together.
If someone doesn’t receive the grade they hoped for, there’s always plenty of shoulders to cry on. We let each other know “it’s just one test” and that “we’ll work harder for the next one”. This has been one of the hardest things for my friend group to get through as we tend to lean on the side of perfectionism. Knowing this, we remind each other that we’re never going to be perfect and that trying to be perfect will only lead to disappointment. We can only do our best. Having people in your nursing school journey who continue to push you is an important part of getting through those hard times.
All in all, I absolutely love my nursing friends. They are the rocks that hold me down when I feel like I can’t do it anymore. When we graduate, many of us hope to move to Hawaii and begin our nursing journey together – and I can’t imagine it any other way.
Written by Hannah Shay
Nursing students are over-achievers. It is in our blood. We beat ourselves up whenever we forget an assignment, don’t study as much as we told ourselves we would, or fail a skills check-off. Being so tough on yourself can take a toll on your mental health. We must remember that it is ok to make mistakes and it is ok to not be perfect.
Self-care is more than just face masks and excuses for binge watching Netflix. Self-care is taking the time to give yourself what you deserve mentally, physically and spiritually in order to make sure you are the best version of yourself. Throughout the last semesters of nursing school, I have learned a thing or two on dealing with stress and anxiety.
Written by Alexis Alexandre, “Nurse Lexi”
My nursing school schedule consisted of lecture, labs, simulations, and clinical rotations. Although simulations place students into “real-life” scenarios to enhance learning, I feel the best experience is gained through clinicals. By the time I graduated from nursing school, I logged more than 500 clinical hours. I had clinicals in a wide variety of specialties, such as geriatrics, pediatrics, maternity, critical care, and adult acute care. Clinical rotations are a huge part of the nursing school experience, allowing you to put your nursing school knowledge into practice. The more hands-on experience you gain as a student, the more comfortable you will be with performing nursing skills.
While clinicals are a great tool, they can also be very overwhelming and a source of anxiety if you don’t know how to make the most of your time. I’ve looked back on my clinical experiences and gathered some tips that will help all nursing students excel during those 8- to 12-hour clinical shifts.
Take the more difficult patient
If your clinical instructor lets you choose which patient you want to assist during the day, choose the patient that has a more complex medical history. You will end up having a more interesting shift. I would usually choose patients who needed bedside procedures, such as a thoracentesis or a cardioversion, so that I could observe and learn about how the nurse prepares and assists with those procedures. Also, taking these complex patients will allow you to be exposed to a variety of medications that you may not have seen in practice before.
If a nurse or CNA needs assistance with caring for their patient, be the student who is always willing to lend a hand. Being helpful will allow you to see more types of patients and get more experience with patient care. Also, if you would like to work at that specific facility upon completion of nursing school, it will work in your favor to be as resourceful as possible.
Seek out opportunities
There will always be a lot going on in the unit, and sometimes there may be procedures that your clinical instructor didn’t know were being performed. If your nurse has a patient that is going down for a diagnostic procedure, ask your clinical instructor if you can go with them to observe! As a student, you must advocate for yourself to ensure you are getting the most out of your clinical experience. In my last semester, I asked to observe central lines and nasogastric tubes being inserted. I also offered to insert Foley catheters and change central line dressings in the presence of my clinical instructor.
Take advantage of the hours that you’re spending at your clinical rotations. This is the time to ask questions, learn, and even make mistakes. The nurses you’re shadowing know that you are a student and don’t know everything, and that’s perfectly okay! Be a sponge, be helpful, and be proactive!
Nursing Students’ Favorite Resources to Study for the NCLEX-RN Exam
If you’re looking to cover everything the NCLEX-RN Exam could possibly ask you, look no further! Between the book and its companion online Evolve resources, Saunders Comprehensive Review offers 5,200 NCLEX-style questions in every major content category (and quality in-depth rationales for each answer). Utilizing the online aspect of this text also means customizable exams or study sessions that are tailored toward individualized remediation and retention.
Another pro - this book has extra emphasis on question areas of high prevalence on the NCLEX exam, such as delegation, prioritization, and triage/disaster management. Saunders Comprehensive Review condenses the massive amount of information covered on the NCLEX into easily consumable pieces of high-value material. This way, you can spend more time studying what you’re sure to see on the test.
We also love the organization of this book and how its efficient overviews can shorten your study time. Key concepts, tips and test-taking strategies are emphasized throughout the text to draw your eye, and alternate item format questions are highlighted with a special icon. Priority Nursing Action boxes list actions for clinical emergent situations requiring immediate action, including a detailed rationale and textbook reference. Pyramid Alert boxes spotlight important nursing procedures and shortcuts for remembering key information. Page references for each question guide users toward an Elsevier nursing textbook for further study and self-remediation. If you’re searching to review a specific topic, the easy-to-use index lets you quickly locate questions for a given topic or body system.
This book makes studying a piece of cake! And to top it off – this NCLEX review comes with 75-question pre- and post-tests that cover all content areas in the book in the same percentages that they are covered on the NCLEX-RN test plan.
“I loved this book! It helped me pass my exams for school and the NCLEX. I didn’t really feel like I needed any other study guides for the NCLEX, because between the book and the Evolve site, there were tons of questions.” - Melissa Wilson, RN
If you’re interested in purchasing Saunders Comprehensive Review for the NCLEX-RN® Examination, 7th Edition, visit Elsevier’s Evolve website to see why it’s our best seller in the NCLEX prep category!
With this invaluable guide to strategic test taking, you can master critical thinking, problem solving and time management skills as they relate to NCLEX-style questions. Think back to when you were applying for college and studying for the ACT or SAT; You may remember hearing: “it’s all about knowing how to take the test.” The same is partly true for the NCLEX. Although you won’t pass the exam with strategy alone, it’s extremely helpful to lean on NCLEX specific test-taking tips when coming across questions that seem confusing. This book will most definitely help you learn how to look at a question, understand exactly what it’s asking, prioritize the answer options and use process of elimination to your advantage.
There are 1,200 review questions included in this book and its online counterpart – including alternate item formats. The rationale for these questions is beyond thorough, including proven tips and real-world hints to confidently evaluate and identify the correct answer in an any question type. Priority concepts for each question help you link your concept-based classes and NCLEX prep. Another cool feature is self-check button that you can use when you’re practicing questions. This lets you see if how you arrived at your answer is the best strategic approach for that question.
This book is just as useful for your first day of nursing school as it is on graduation day. Why? One of the most unique parts of this NCLEX review book is a chapter dedicated to Reducing Test Anxiety and Developing Study Skills. For higher level strategy, prioritization, pharmacology, triage/disaster management, and delegation chapters prove extremely helpful as well. This emphasis on comprehensive test preparation helps you develop, refine, and apply the reasoning skills you need to succeed throughout nursing school and on the NCLEX examination.
“My favorite thing about this book are all of the sample questions and the nursing tips included with rationales. I’m looking forward to reading the entire book and learning new tips for nailing the NCLEX!” – Brianda, Nursing Student
Visual learners will also like Saunders Strategies for Test Success – featuring colors, bold designs and fun cartoons. Get your copy today and become a pro-test taker!
Learning to adapt to different types of NCLEX-style questions is one of the hardest aspects of studying for the exam. But don’t fret, this book has you covered! As the title implies with “Q & A,” the variety of question types that this book offers can’t be beat. It includes all alternate item format questions: multiple response, prioritization, fill-in-the-blank, illustrations, charts and exhibits, video and audio questions, decision making and critical thinking skills. The questions are even organized to match the Client Needs and Integrated Processes found in the most recent NCLEX-RN test plan. After using this book and Evolve site to practice there will be no surprises; you’ll know exactly what to expect when you sit for the NCLEX.
One of the greatest differentiating factors for this text is the unmatched depth of rationale provided for each of the 6,000+ questions (for the correct and incorrect answer options). Questions come with a detailed test-taking strategy and clues for finding the correct answer. There is also a Priority Nursing Tip included with each question, highlighting need-to-know patient care information.
Like the Comprehensive Review, Saunders Q & A Review for the NCLEX-RN also has 75-question pre- and post-tests that mirror the official test plan. Unique to the Q & A book, however, are introductory chapters for each content-specific section of questions. Brief but extremely useful, these chapters have academic and nonacademic preparation guidance for the licensure exam, advice from a recent nursing graduate, and transitional issues for the foreign-educated nurse.
“I am currently using this book in my final semester of nursing school. It helps me to get in the habit of answering NCLEX style questions – and makes me feel confident that I’ll know what to expect when I sit for the test in a few weeks.” -Aya, Elsevier Student Ambassador
Visit Elsevier’s Evolve website to see if the Saunders Q & A Review for the NCLEX-RN® Examination, 7th Edition, is your perfect study tool.
Calling all visual learners! This NCLEX prep book turns content into context with colorful illustrations and mnemonic cartoons for almost every key concept. We’ve found that illustrations can make studying a bit more exciting by framing information in a way that you likely haven’t seen before in your classes.
This may be the best NCLEX study guide for you if pharmacology is a trouble area that needs attention. Illustrated pharmacology tables make key drug information easy to find, with high-alert medications noted by a special icon. There are also separate chapters on pharmacology and nursing management to help you dive deep into these areas as a part of your NCLEX preparation. For the topics you feel more confident about, you can simply review the appendix for that chapter and get a quick reference of related medications and nursing procedures.
Zerwekh’s Illustrated Study Guide for the NCLEX-RN® Exam, 10th Edition, takes an integrated systems approach that incorporates pediatric, adult, and older adult lifespan consideration in each body system chapter. If you’re a student who likes clear distinction between the differing medical symptoms and treatments for these demographics, this is a huge bonus. Special icons distinguish pediatric and adult disorders and identify content on Self-Care and Home Care throughout the text.
Not to be missed - keep your eyes out for Test Alert boxes throughout the text that highlight key concepts frequently found on the NCLEX exam. There are also 2,500 NCLEX review questions to choose from between this printed book and its Evolve companion website. Definitely a great choice when it comes to preparing for your big test!
“This colorful book kept my interest throughout my time studying. The images helped me a lot since I’m more of a visual learner and really stuck in my head while I was taking the NCLEX. I felt very prepared for my licensure exam after using Zerwekh’s Illustrated Study Guide!” – Greer, RN
Purchase your copy of Zerwekh’s Illustrated Study Guide for the NCLEX-RN Exam on Evolve for a visual learning experience.
You may be familiar with the HESI entrance and exit exams from your school’s nursing program. These tests are designed to challenge you the same way the NCLEX will and give a very accurate prediction for how you will perform on the nursing licensure exam. Rest assured, preparing well for the HESI will shorten your study time when it comes to sitting for the NCLEX. Whether you’re looking to prepare for your HESI or the NCLEX, this is a great overall comprehensive review. And for those taking both – it’s the perfect one-stop-shop.
If you’re someone who likes to break your studies down by specialty – this book is a great choice. Written in an easy-to-read outline format, the HESI Comprehensive Review breaks down chapters by clinical areas. This format stays consistent throughout the text, making it easy to move between topics as you’re studying. For additional support, keep an eye out for HESI Hint Boxes with important clinical information and concepts tested on the NCLEX and HESI. You’ll also find pharmacology tables that highlight the most important drug therapy content based on the latest evidence-based practices.
As far as preparing for NCLEX-style questions, this text offers 700 practice questions on the companion Evolve website. A strength of these questions is the new alternate item format – complete with fill-in-the-blank and prioritizing questions. With the option to study in quiz or exam mode, you can truly retain what you’re learning and take notice of areas that need extra attention. Rationales are also provided for any incorrect answers or areas of weakness to strengthen your understanding.
“At first, I was really nervous to take the HESI. But, after I took the entrance exam it was helpful to see the areas I needed to improve on and study more. Using this book and the HESI exam to study really did make the NCLEX feel like a breeze. I passed two weeks ago and am now a nurse in the NICU.” -Kate, RN
Shop now to pass the HESI and the NCLEX-RN with flying colors!
Written by Alyssa (Aya) Camille Vinzons.
It’s already 4:00 pm and you can’t believe how fast the time passed today at your favorite clinical placement. Only three more hours left of the shift. Another nurse on the same unit comes by to share that her patient hasn’t been doing well and had a difficult time with her surgery this morning. You take a walk to the patient’s room to assess her together. You feel your heart stop briefly, but you don’t understand why. That balloon-like belly looks so familiar, but you cannot recall from where. The patient’s nurse pulls up her chart so you can read through her medical history and ask questions. As soon as your eyes meet her name on the screen, it all comes rushing back — you had specifically requested to observe her surgery in the operating room when you were rotating in the PACU last week.
You remember how small she was, and how flaccid her limbs were as the anesthesia team transferred her from the isolette to the operating table. The procedure itself went by as quickly as watching an episode of Friends, but you remember how meticulous the team was in ensuring she was stable and safe to bring back upstairs. You don’t stay too long because you must prepare the next round of medications for your own patient assignment, but it’s only a matter of minutes until you see a flash of red in your peripheral vision (the crash cart). Flashes continue to cross your vision as nurses sprint back to the room to draw meds and set the metronome app to 100 bpm for compressions.
Compressions, pulse check, compressions, pushing meds, pulse check, compressions, pushing meds and blood for a rapid blood transfusion, pulse check. The cycle goes on and on. You know that they are only going to do this for so long, but the question is how long? Consumed by so many thoughts, you try to process everything going on in real time. Suddenly, the current moment hits and you realize everything has just…stopped. Hands are no longer on the patient, people aren’t frantically moving, and the rhythm strip has shifted to a steady flat line. Asystole. The patient has been pronounced dead.
As students, we thankfully do not experience these situations often. We’re assisting nurses with their patients on a unit for roughly 7-12 hours, one day a week, for 12 weeks’ time. Duties typically consist of learning to think critically about patient conditions and practicing hands-on nursing skills. Seldom are we prepared for the emotional and mental challenges that come with losing a patient.
Remember, it’s okay to cry and it’s important to feel. You might try to tell yourself to be strong, to hold back the tears by focusing on how you didn’t truly know that patient. However, it’s important to avoid this mindset. You can remain strong while also allowing yourself to embrace natural human emotions. No matter how brief your time may be caring for a patient, you do get to know them in some respect — and sometimes their family and friends, too. Allow yourself to mourn a lost life, but stay composed to console the family, provide psychosocial support, and deliver post-mortem care. Demonstrating respect to the patient and family is your priority.
Establishing emotional connections with patients is one of the greatest parts of nursing, but in times like these it’s also one of the hardest parts. If you need to cry after your shift or take a minute alone to collect yourself, that’s okay. Take the time you need, then leave your sadness at the door so you’re not constantly carrying around this emotional weight.
How can we keep such emotional burdens from negatively affecting our daily lives? The answer: the same way we separate work from home, or how we cope with life in general. For some, that might mean going to a mentor, friend, or significant other to share their feelings. Sometimes we need to express ourselves to someone with an understanding ear to come to terms with what has happened. For others, maybe they just need a night of self-care activities, such as a journaling, taking a warm bath, getting a massage, listening to music, reading a book, or watching a favorite TV show.
If we dwell on such emotions, it can become difficult to continue caring for others. We must take care of ourselves before we can take care of other people. We chose to pursue nursing as a career for a reason. We need to remember that reason, but also remember that there are many paths we can take in nursing. Some people may find that a situation like this has a severely negative impact on their psychological wellbeing — and that’s okay, too. If that’s you, be sure to carefully consider this when determining where you will fit best in nursing.
One of the beauties of nursing is that there are so many opportunities out there for us depending on our interests — working with children, working with the older adult population, oncology nursing or rehabilitative nursing, home care nursing, education, management, and so on. It might take experiencing a certain kind of situation to help some of us realize where we do or don’t wish to work. But wherever each of us ends up, we need to make sure we’re doing something we love, something we’re passionate about. That’s where we’ll excel and have the drive to become the best nurses we can be and provide the best possible care.
Written by Rashana Mahamane.
When it’s time to take the exit exam, many of us begin to feel overwhelmed. No matter which exit exam you’re taking, it’s a lot of material to cover and somehow remember for the exam. But, don’t stress!
A good study plan and study materials are all you need. The best thing you can do is identify your weak areas, meaning the information you remember the least. It’s also important to know your strong areas. How do you accomplish this? Take a practice exam. If you have the NCLEX Saunders book for RN or LPN/LVN, then you’re in luck because the online portion of the book comes with a pre- and post-test for the NCLEX. After taking the pre-test, you get results that pinpoint the subjects in which you’re strong and weak. The analysis of the exam is pretty detailed and creates a personalized, 6-week study guide that puts the different subjects in the order of your weaknesses (what you should concentrate on first, next, etc.). If you follow this schedule, a lot of the stress that comes with preparing for the exam will hopefully subside.
If you don’t have the book, that’s okay. Take an online practice test and review the material you got right and wrong. Pay attention to the areas where you missed the most questions. For example, maybe maternity, pediatrics, or cardiology. Based on the number of questions you missed, arrange the content in priority order from the subject where you missed the most questions to the subject where you missed the fewest questions. This organization will allow you to strengthen your weak areas and increase your chances of passing the test on the next try.
In addition to the pre- and post-tests, there are many practice questions available online. Those questions allow you to quiz yourself on the information as you study, enabling you to see how well you grasp the material. Once again, if you don’t have the book with access to the online practice questions, you can use any nursing quizzing program you may have purchased during your nursing program.
If you follow these tips on preparing for the exam, I have faith that you can ace it. Remember to challenge yourself, but don’t compare yourself to others. Wishing you all the success in the world!
Written by Joy Clark.
Now this may seem like a laughing matter for some, but I think it's something that can be (at least in part) attained.
My last blog piece was on living a balanced life, managing time wisely and making time for the things you enjoy. Those things may assist me in being stress free but there is more that goes into living stress free.
I actually wrote a research paper last year on the effects of stress in nursing school. Qualitatively, we assessed the positive and negative behaviors that developed due to stress. Surprisingly, exercise and healthy eating seemed to remain unchanged. However, a troubling change in sleep patterns emerged. The most distressing example of this, came from a student who reported that each night before an exam they would wake up every fifteen minutes to check the clock, despite setting six alarms.
The results of the study, aside from the change in sleep patterns, were fairly positive. We concluded that everyone found a way to manage their stress somehow but that no two-people managed it the same. I acknowledge that some level of stress is good. It enables us to push through for those all-nighters or make important, quick decisions. Yet living with constant stress is unhealthy, and leaves us feeling drained.
Let me briefly describe my own struggles with stress and share a few tips that I have found to be life-saving.
I’ll begin by stating I have never failed to turn an assignment in on time…yet. However, this past September I was more disorganized than I had ever been. Due dates loomed over my head and I felt unprepared for every one of them. I was not prioritizing my education and I felt like I was finishing my senior year strictly out of obligation. I was continuously fatigued. Finally, after complaining about the mountains of work I had and consistent stress, a good friend reminded me who I was.
I am an organizer. She encouraged me to make my lists and fill my calendars. Previously, I assumed I had so little time that I couldn't take time to plan. However, taking ten minutes to spend with my syllabi and daily planner so I could organize my assignments brought immediate peace.
I like to say that my house depicts my mind; when it is in a disarray, so am I. Yet, when it is clean and tidy I feel calm and organized. I lie to myself constantly saying that I don't have time to put my clothes away. Inevitably, it doesn't take long for piles of laundry to collect on my floor. Somehow, it only takes five minutes to actually put them away and I always feel so relieved when I’m finished.
There are many more things that can reduce your stress. Planning a girl’s night out, a night in, date night, studying ahead of time, getting assignments/group projects done ahead of time, even positive thinking can make a major difference in our week, and the list goes on and on. Every person is unique. If being an uptight planner doesn't work for you, that is ok! While nothing is going to take away pre-exam jitters, organization is what has made a big difference for me. I advise you to explore different techniques and find what works for you.
Wishing you a happy, less stressful, New Year!
Written by Meagan MacDonald.
Balancing a family, nursing school, and trying to have some sort of social life is not easy. Nursing school on its own requires so much time and dedication, plus having a family to take care of sometimes makes me wonder how I can get everything done.
When I feel completely overwhelmed I’ve found it’s best to leave the house, and either go to school or the public library. This separation between school and home makes assignments easier to complete since there’s less distractions. To be honest, most of my studying at home is done after everyone is asleep. For example, I have a 12-hour clinical, I get home, cook dinner, get the baby fed and ready for bed, then do some homework and get to bed at some point. Talk about a busy day? What is important for you to realize is that it’s all manageable.
After a long day in clinical, it’s nice to come home, take a breath, and hang out with my boys. This time stands as a reminder as to why I work so hard and do what I do. My husband works until 6 at night and leaves for work around 5:30 in the morning, so we both have very long days. After everyone is settled, and I finally do get to sit down to study, the house is quiet, and it’s time for me to accomplish what I need to for school.
My recommendation to anyone beginning nursing school would be to find that time slot, whether its early in the morning or after everyone goes to bed, to give yourself time to get your school work done and prepare for what you need. Also, don’t forget to give yourself some “me” time. Whether it’s watching your favorite tv show or getting your nails done, find time to do things that you enjoy and make time to relax.
I know balancing nursing school with the day-to-day sounds tough (and believe me it is), but it is totally possible and completely worth it.
Written by Ari Anderson.
There is no question that life as a nursing student is nothing short of busy; somedays there is barely enough time in the day to eat and sleep! We can probably all agree that if we could stretch our day more than 24 hours or freeze time for a bit to accomplish all our tasks with ease, we absolutely would. Since this is not a possibility.... yet, here are some ‘nursing student life-hacks’ that I have picked up along the way that have really helped me with time management during my schooling.
Each student has certain things they do to help them achieve their necessary tasks daily. Some things work and some don’t for certain types of people and their way of accomplishing them. What are some things you’ve learned in nursing school that help you? Share them with us!
Written by Alannah Davis.
Nursing school can be very overwhelming at times, and sometimes you would rather go shopping or watch a movie instead of studying for an exam. When this happens later that night or the next day you are frantically trying to get everything you need to do finished in order to feel semi-prepared for your exam or to turn your homework in on time. Generally, everyone is guilty of this, including myself. This creates copious amounts of unnecessary stress, and in my case, a lack of sleep when I already don’t get enough. I have finally learned my lesson about procrastinating after countless nights of barely sleeping. Below I have included 5 steps to help you keep from procrastinating:
Written by Kate Dookie.
As nursing students, we are constantly busy. We have virtual calendars, paper agendas, and to-do lists to keep track of our slightly chaotic lives. Towards the end of nursing school, we have the privilege of adding “study for the NCLEX” and “land my dream job” to the ever-growing list of tasks. After years of studying, we will begin to pursue careers as nurses. So, as soon-to-be-grads, how can we make ourselves marketable to potential employers?
First, begin to network while still in school. There are many professional organizations that will allow students to attend, such as the American Association of Critical Care Nurses or the Society of Pediatric Nurses. Many of these meetings offer education regarding their specific specialty, so you can add to your education as you network.
Second, evaluate your previous work experience. Even if you have not worked in healthcare, many job skills will ease your transition into nursing. Have you served in a restaurant? You’ve mastered time management. Have you worked in customer service? You have good people skills and can connect with guests (and patients). Have you worked in retail? Your organizational skills are sought after. These job skills are important to broadcast when you begin to write your resume.
Next, assess your clinical experience. Did you have a unit you loved learning on? Did you connect with a nurse or a nurse manager on that unit? When you are learning in a hospital setting, introduce yourself to the nurse manager and ask what they look for in new hires. Ask your preceptor questions and learn as much as you can about the unit’s procedures. When units hire a new graduate nurse, they want to make sure you are teachable.
Above everything else, don’t give up! Decide on your dream job, develop your resume, collect a few letters of recommendation, and remember that you have put in years of hard work and studying to land this job!
Written by Justina Dreschler.
Getting involved in something takes time, effort and often times a financial commitment. Nursing school is a huge commitment in and of itself, so it’s easy to ask this question when it comes to leadership opportunities during nursing school.
Why should you get involved? Well, I can tell you from personal experience that it is worth the time, effort and energy! During my first semester of nursing school I was actively involved in my SNA chapter at my university. Before I knew it, I was approached by the previous President of the club and she encouraged me to run for a position and currently I am the President. I was not too sure about it at first because I was involved in other things and nursing school is already a big commitment. However, I am so glad that I chose to run because now I look back on all the opportunities that have come up because of my willingness to take a risk.
Some of the amazing benefits of being involved may include connections with local hospitals, professors, other staff at your university’s nursing school knowing who you are and willing to write recommendations, and the opportunity to attend conventions. In my time of being in a leadership position, I have been able to grow in my personal and professional skills as I interact with several different people to help coordinate events. I also have grown in public speaking as I have lead several meetings of up to 100 students, and spoke at different events in which hospital representatives attended. I have made a name for myself in the College of Nursing at my university and most professors know who I am and can see my work ethic by the amount of effort I put into the club. I have attended several conventions both on the state and national level and have been a delegate at both. I’ve been a part of national level change we make as the National Student Nurses’ Association when we vote on resolutions and join movements that are influential to give our patients the best quality of care we can.
Overall, I completely recommend getting involved because this blog post only scratches the surface of what I have gained from my time leading the SNA chapter at my university. I feel more qualified to take on the world of applying to several different hospitals as I have all this valuable experience under my belt. It may take some time and effort but it will pay off in the end!
Written by Ari Anderson.
“Begin with the end in mind” as said by Steven Covey, is one of my favorite quotes. In nursing school, we often get so wrapped up in focusing on the present and just “getting through” it all, that we tend to forget to also start preparing for the next step—getting a nursing job! Although the job outlook for nursing is positive, with the field expected to grow about 15% from 2016-2026 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018), this doesn't necessarily make things any easier for ‘new grad' nurses. Applying for new grad nurse positions is a competitive process and should be approached with strategy and extra care. There are many aspects of the application process that the student nurse should try their best to excel in and positively set themselves apart from the other applicants. Here is some advice directly from a nursing supervisor, an experienced charge nurse, and an experienced staff nurse who have all participated in the hiring of new grad nurses
The application is the first thing seen by the hiring managers before they even consider bringing you in to interview you for a position. Having a strong resume that sets you apart from the average applicant will help you better your chances of making it further in the application process. Here is some advice on how to construct your resume and a few things that hiring managers look for that makes your resume stand out.
The Interviewing Process
First impressions are extremely important and can make or break how the rest of the interview progresses. Here are a few things you should keep in mind before and during an interview, to make your interview the best it can be.
The Final Steps
After it is all said and done, then comes the worst part: the waiting game! Although in a perfect world, it would be amazing to be offered the job ‘on the spot', often times the hiring manager would prefer to meet and interview all of their options and then compare everyone so they can pick the new grad nurse(s) that they feel is the best fit. After an interview, it is always a good practice to send a follow up “Thank you” email. About a day after the interview, follow up with the hiring manager and thank them for their time and express how much you enjoyed the opportunity to speak with them. Finally, if there is a follow up call asking for further information, respond politely and promptly. These are all things that will positively affect the outcome.
Hopefully following these tips will help you get the nursing job of your dreams! Good luck to those in the application process and those who are approaching it. I want to give a special thanks to Barbara McGuinness, RN, MS, the Nursing Supervisor on the Heart and Vascular Unit at AAMC, Laura Kistler, RN, BSN, B-C, Charge Nurse on the Heart and Vascular Unit, and Diana Cole RN, BSN, an experienced staff nurse on the Heart and Vascular Unit for their help and feedback with this post.
Written by Joy Clark.
We have all heard that nursing students have no lives, seen the t-shirts that state "I can't I'm in nursing school", or heard people say "I'll sleep when school is over". However, I want to give you hope that this chaotic lifestyle isn't always the reality. I was not willing to simply stop living when I started nursing school.
I have always lead a pretty jam packed life. From working part time in high school, participating in sports, and taking AP classes. Then into college with 18 units, joining clubs and playing on intramural sports teams. My life has been full, but never overwhelming. Neither was my transition from my exhaustive prerequisites into nursing school. Time management has always been an area of my life I had to stay on top of.
Nursing school did change a few things. I no longer looked at assignments and did them in the order they were due. Instead, I learned to work as far ahead as possible. If I found myself with a free afternoon I would write a paper even if it was not due for another month. The syllabus usually does a great job outlining assignments and utilizing it to get as many projects done ahead of time really relieves a lot of stress. I also learned I needed more than just one day to study for an exam. On days I had extra time in the morning I would review PowerPoints from that week to keep the information fresh.
The most important part of balance is making sure you allow time for things you enjoy so you don't get burned out. Saturday's were my day off. I would sleep in, play ultimate frisbee, go out for lunch, volunteer at my church and then go out in the evening. I made sure that I saw friends outside my nursing world by getting lunch/dinner with them throughout the week. I strategized my study habits to ensured that if there was an event I wanted to go to, even one that was the night before an exam, I had studied sufficiently ahead of time.
Now you might be thinking this girl must never have slept. I usually managed 6 hours of sleep a night.
I pray that this gives you hope and relieves some of your fears if you are an incoming nursing student. Plan out your days, use your time wisely, and schedule in fun things! Spend an hour at lunch with a friend. Take a nap when you need one. Say yes to going to the movies on Friday. Just ensure that you are aware of your time spent and that you are focused when you are studying. Bring balance into your life.
“Wherever you are be all there” Jim Elliot
Written by Kate Dookie.
Nursing school is one of the most intense and stressful programs for students. Many hear how time-consuming and difficult it may be, but you never understand it until you have jumped off the diving board, head first, into your nursing school curriculum. Nurses have their own language, including nursing diagnosis, medical terminology, and the many abbreviations for all the above. It is important to remember, that it is difficult just to begin nursing school. If you are in your first semester, give yourself a pat on the back; you made it through all the prerequisites and entrance exams.
As you continue through your program, you will experience many accomplishments, a little anxiety, and possibly, a few bad days. It's important to remember that we all have bad days. There is not a single person going through nursing school right now that will not have a bad day. Bad days are okay. You might have a bad day because you didn't score as well on a test as you would have liked. Or, you did not pass your checkoff or dreaded simulation on your first try. Maybe, you had a tough patient during clinicals and it pulled at your heartstrings. No matter the reason, you have bad days because you care about your education and most of all, your future career. You care because you know how important your education is, because you desire to be the best nurse you can to provide exceptional care to your patients. So, when you have that awful day, tears are streaming down your face, and you consider giving up, just know that you are right where you are supposed to be.
On these bad days, give yourself a break. Find a way to relieve some of your stress, like going to the gym, taking a yoga class, cooking some comfort food, spending time with your family or friends, or escaping into a good (non-nursing) book. Have a friend that you call to vent to or go out to dinner with a group of your friends, they are there to celebrate the good times and support you during the rough days. Take the night off and remember the next day will be a new day, full of opportunity.
When you awake the next day (hopefully refreshed) take a minute to evaluate the previous day. What made it so bad? Did you not do well on that dreaded nursing school test? (Don't worry, those Select All That Apply Questions make us all cringe.) Evaluate how you studied and change what didn't work. This is trial and error. For me, using Elsevier Adaptive Quizzing helped ensure I really knew the information. After I mastered the concepts, I began my practice questions to prepare for the test.
If you didn't pass your checkoff/simulation, know you are not alone! Many don't pass the first time, and that's okay. The reason you have simulations are to prepare you for “real life” when you have graduated, and you have that beautiful license number that makes you a Registered Nurse. These can be difficult because they want to make sure you are prepared to assess and care for your patients in the field. If you didn't pass the first time, go practice! Remember that you are still learning, and you are preparing yourself to be a safe, exceptional nurse.
When you have a bad day because a patient really tugged at your heartstrings, know that this is because you truly care. Compassion and caring is something they cannot teach you in nursing school but are qualities that will make you a great nurse. Find a stress relief outlet like we discussed before and continue to use this as you graduate and become a nurse.
Bad days are okay! With the bad days, you will have many good days. Keep your eye on your long-term goals and know that you are one day further than you were yesterday. Keep pushing forward and be proud of your accomplishments, there are more to come!
Written by Alannah Davis.
Nursing school is a roller coaster of emotions, and to be completely honest the first year feels like you are going on the scary upside-down ride at the carnival for the very first time. You feel terrified during orientation and oh boy the first day of clinicals might be one of the hardest things you have ever done, but if you just keep pushing through you will realize that it is filled with experiences that will make it all worth it.
Nursing school coursework and clinicals are hard don't get me wrong but learning the tricks to keep yourself calm and focused are some of the most important parts.
Step One: Do NOT Procrastinate!!!!
This was the toughest thing that I had to learn. I was used to being able to complete a homework assignment or a project the night before it was due and not even bat an eye. Saving 100 practice questions for OB that were due the same day of the test was not the smartest move of my nursing school career, and my grade on the first exam definitely could vouch for me. If you know that you have an assignment due in a week and have a little extra time, make sure to do it then and skip the shopping trip.
Step Two: Actually Study.
I was never a good studier before this past year, but when my grades were not all A's like I was used to I decided I needed to change my study habits. I practiced studying the same day as I learned the material in class and not the night before the test. I am still guilty of not studying as much as I should until the last minute, but I have gotten a lot better. This takes a lot of practice and dedication, but in the end your grades will improve.
Step Three: Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help.
This is something that is very important that you must learn in order to succeed throughout nursing school. You have to realize that your professors are there to help you and not hurt you, as well as your peers in the classes above you. If you don't understand something or are even confused on assignment it is always better to ask someone who can point you in the right direction. Ultimately one day you will be in charge of saving someone's life so now is the time to get clarification on whether something is correct or not.
Step Four: Get Sleep and Take Care of Yourself.
This is the most important step that I have given to survive nursing school. Sleep is an amazing thing and you really don't retain anymore information after 2:00 a.m. On test day make sure you get plenty of sleep. Also make sure that you are taking care of yourself mentally and physically. You can't drink coffee and energy drinks or eat chicken nuggets for every single meal, even though I personally wish I could. You also need to have some fun. I like to go shopping, running, or mostly come home and visit my puppy.
If you just take a deep breath and realize that nursing school isn't impossible your life will be so much easier your first year! I hope this article helps.