Surviving your first semester

chalkboardGet to know your faculty and classmates. Keep in mind that the people sitting next to you in class will be taking this journey you for the next two to four years.

Don’t isolate yourself! Your classmates are sometimes the best source of vital information.

There are so many times when other students reminded me when the next assignment is due, introduced me to great sources of information, or showed me a really good nursing website or app. Other nursing students can be supports and even lasting friendships.

How to organize your workload. You have to be organized and know how to manage your time. Think seriously about your work hours if you are working.

Many times its better to cut down on work to give yourself breathing room at school (you can make up for the money with student loans or work study). Make sure you maintain a good school/work/life balance.

As for your workload, if you’ve followed the advice in the last paragraph, the most important thing is to not procrastinate! That’s the one thing that will get you in trouble and hurt the quality of your work. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Real nurses know that preparation is key. The same goes for nursing students.

Finding the right study style. Do you work well in groups? Are you good at reading and outlining important points from a textbook? Are you better at reading off of powerpoints? Making flashcards? Writing notes? Find the style that works for you.

Warning: if it’s not working, try something new. Sometimes we do have to leave our study comfort zone to improve. Ask successful classmates how they study, and work hard to try it their way until you find something that works.

Be on time. Tardiness is the worst and most preventable way to fail a nursing program prematurely. It reflects very poorly on you. Using the previous three points will all help you avoid ever being late.

  • Use your Peer Support Network: A common cause of being late is forgetting you were supposed to be there in the first place! A friend will always be there to remind you or give you a wakeup call before it’s too late.
  • Prepare and Organize: If you have to be somewhere the next day, have everything ready to go. Supplies, lunch, assignments, uniform, and anything else you’ll need. That will help you avoid the embarrassing moment of walking into a classroom just 23minutes late.
  • School/Work/Life Balance: This is essential. If you have a good balance, you should be getting 78 hours of sleep every night with still enough time to study and do homework. Oversleeping is another common cause of tardiness.

Kevin is the owner of Kevin’s Review and co-founder of Brilliant Nurse.

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