Getting through nursing school is no small feat.
Whether you are working towards your undergraduate degree in nursing or if you have decided to go back to school in order to earn an advanced degree, getting through nursing school is no small feat.
In fact, there are many people who find themselves completely overwhelmed during the process. There are so much information and practical knowledge that nursing students are expected to learn in a relatively short amount of time, that it is no wonder that nursing school is arguably one of the more stressful academic endeavors out there.
That being said, there is certainly a lot you can do that can make the process of earning your nursing degree a bit easier. You should be prepared to dedicate a great deal of time and effort to the process, and there will be no escaping many of the stresses associated with, nursing school; however, with the right preparation and consideration about your specific path, you can complete your nursing degree without losing your passion for nursing.
Here are four tips that can help you to survive nursing school regardless of what sort of degree you are working towards.
1. Choose Your Program Wisely
Before you even enter nursing school, you will want to do your research to find the right degree program for you. These days, schools are constantly working to make themselves as appealing as possible to prospective students. However, the nursing school that you choose is too important of a decision to make based solely on creative branding and marketing tactics.
You want to choose a school that carries the same philosophies about nursing that you hold yourself. It is also important to consider location in your decision-making process. There is something to be said about the connections that you make in nursing school playing some role in the job that you are able to land upon graduation.
If you can’t see yourself living and working in a particular city or state, it might be worth looking into schools that are located somewhere more preferable.
The type of degree program that you go with is also an area where you have some flexibility. For instance, while there are a great many students who thrive in the traditional classroom setting, it is also possible to earn your nursing degree online. This can be a great way of working at your own pace without the constraints of having to physically be in class all the time.
This is a particularly enticing option for nurses earning advanced degrees. Nurses who are looking to earn their Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, for example, can do so while still maintaining their day jobs through any one of a number of great online DNP programs.
2. Know Your Goals
Once you have found the right nursing program for you, it is time to sit down and dedicate some time to thinking through your specific goals. You know that nursing school is going to challenge you, but the last thing you want to have happened is to lose your steam while earning your degree. The best way to combat this is to know precisely what your goals are. By knowing your goals, you can always reference them and remind yourself that you are not simply studying for the sake of it.
It can also be helpful to physically write out your goals on a piece of paper. Keep that paper nearby whenever you might need it. If you find at some point that your motivation is flagging, you can go back to that written outline of your goals to remind yourself about what is waiting for you at the end of the process.
3. Master Time Management
There is no getting around the fact that your schedule, while you are in nursing school, is going to be hectic most of the time. This is particularly true for those students who choose to work through school, as with those who might be earning a graduate degree while on the job. The key to surviving such a hectic schedule is to accept it and plan accordingly. This will require you to become a master of time management.
Time management is the practice that involves organizing your schedule in the most optimal way. You will need to be strict with yourself about what things in your schedule are the priorities and which are the time-wasters. Bear in mind that you will only need to make such sacrifices in the short-term while you are earning your degree.
Mastering time management also involves understanding yourself and the ways in which you can be most productive. For instance, if you know that you are more productive in the mornings, try to load your schedule in the morning with the things you truly need to focus on. Time management can be a great way to make the most of the time that you have throughout the day.
4. Give Yourself a Break
One of the things that can lead to burnout, both mentally and emotionally, is neglecting to give yourself a break from time to time. Even though you are going to be working incredibly hard throughout nursing school, you must bear in mind that you are only human. Without giving yourself adequate breaks, you can lose your steam and motivation all too quickly into the process. Even something as simple as a 20-minute walk each day can help you to refocus and recharge just enough to carry on.
Self-care is something that you are going to need to prioritize once you are working in the field. This is because nurses spend so much time catering to the needs of others that they can easily let their own needs fall by the wayside.
This doesn’t make for the best mentality when you go into a shift. It is best to get yourself into the habit of practicing routine self-care while you are still in school so that you can understand the signs of burnout once you are in the workforce.