Prepare for nursing school

nursing_signNursing school is tough! Being fully prepared can make the world of difference.


Opinions range from reading many nursing books to reading nothing but fun books while you can.

I recommend you get a daily devotional book and start reading it every day with your significant other.

Pick up some pocket reference books. has several.  You may not have access to a computer, and many hospitals have “no smart phones” policies, so it is important to have pocket reference books.

Get used copies of your textbooks.

Very few will be helpful later in life, including studying for the NCLEX.  Other than the pocket reference books, hold off on buying non-required books until you have an idea on what you will need.

I eventually bought a care-plan card set with premade care-plans that would fit in my pocket.

Cheat sheets:

Don’t purchase any cheat sheets yet, but you should have some blank 3”x5” note cards so you can make cards with the information you need, such as phone numbers and passwords.

Also, take a sheet of paper, divide it into rows and columns and have a column for every patient, and a row for every 30-minute time block during your shift.

Record the important patient information at the top and then mark the times when scheduled meds and tasks are due.  List unscheduled required tasks at the bottom.

This will keep your day organized and will remind you which tasks to do next.


As opposed to setting specific goals, make a priority list.  You may have seen the picture that says, “Nursing school:  good grades; adequate sleep; social life.  Pick two.”

Decide what is most important in your life.  If something is important to you, protect the time required for it.  Nursing is all about prioritizing tasks.

There is never enough time, so make sure you can live with the sacrifices you make.


If you must work, find a job that will help your nursing resume.  Give early notice for the times you can not work.  Be upfront and honest with your employer.

Some will try to make you work when you can’t.  If your employer isn’t supportive, find a new job, but give them a chance to work with you.


Your nursing school will have a specified ‘uniform’ for you to wear, so your choices will be limited.  If you’re allowed choices, white is an awful color.

It is nearly impossible to keep clean.  Pockets equal happiness; get a lot.  Most importantly, get shoes in which you can stand in for several hours per day.

I’m a fan of rubber Crocs (closed toe) because I can throw them in the wash, use bleach on them, etc.  Get shoes you can clean … really.

Calendar vs. PDA:

There are plenty of nursing apps available for smart phones and the built in calendar is great to keep organized.  If there is no restriction on using them, get one.

If they are not allowed during clinical times or in class, then use a pocket-sized calendar.

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