Undertaking any kind of college level study is challenging. It involves pushing yourself academically in order to get as much out of your studies as possible, both to help you in your future career and to enable you to develop on a personal level too. Nursing students in particular often have a packed schedule of classes and clinical hours in addition to the assignments they need to complete. However, don’t let the potential difficulties put you off following your dream – success is well within your reach as long as you remember that taking care of your wellbeing (physical and mental) is as important as your studies. Looking for some tips? Read on for advice on how to give yourself the best chance of graduating from your nursing degree with flying colors!
You might be apprehensive about returning to college for a degree. However, the vast majority of mature students quickly settle back into the routine of academia. So whether you’re considering enrolling on one of Baylor University’s pediatric nurse practitioner programs or moving into an indirect patient care nursing role such as policy or management, you can feel confident that you’ll soon get into the swing of things. To help you out, try the following study tips:
- Do your reading and written assignments well in advance of the deadlines to avoid having to pull tiring all-night study sessions
- Study a little bit every day to keep the material fresh in your mind
- Ask your professors about anything you’re unsure of – they are there to help you and won’t think you’re a poor student for not understanding everything straight away (most people don’t!)
- Some people find it helps to use a pen rather than laptop to remember notes more accurately
- Try to recall information through quizzes or games – find online practice tests. Re-reading over and over is not a good test.
- Work in regular breaks to stay fresh and focus for longer overall
- Use an app that blocks you from accessing distracting websites in order to help you concentrate when studying
How to excel at online learning
These days many people choose to study for their nursing degree online rather than attending classes on campus. This is usually because the extra flexibility helps them to fit the course around their existing work and family commitments. If your nursing degree will be your first experience of online learning, the following tips will help you to get the most out of this innovative study format:
- Set up a dedicated study space at home. Ideally you want a desk where you can study and revise, that has enough room for your computer, books, stationery and any other materials you might need. Try to find a spot where you won’t be disturbed or distracted.
- Plan out a study schedule that suits you. This could mean setting aside blocks of time before work, during your lunch break, or in the evening before bed – whenever you can focus purely on studying. This will be more effective than just trying to fit in your learning and assignments randomly.
- Enroll on a free short course before starting your degree, to get used to the general process of virtual learning and teaching. Reading blogs by existing students can also be a great way to find out more about the experience of online study.
- Ask for help from friends and family when you need it, for example if you need a babysitter, a quiz master or a tasty meal which you don’t have time to prepare.
Staying healthy as a nursing student
As a nursing student, you dedicate yourself to learning how to take care of others. However, it’s equally as important to take care of yourself. Not only is living a healthy lifestyle good for your body, it will also help you to excel on your degree because it will ensure your cognitive abilities are at their best. Here are some of the main aspects to focus on:
- Diet – aim for meals packed with fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Try to avoid unhealthy options such as sugary sodas, processed meat and alcohol. Instead of reaching for energy drinks, opt for six to eight glasses of water a day to keep you hydrated (this is crucial for memory and concentration).
- Exercise – being physically active is particularly important for nursing students. This is because not only does it help you set a good example for your patients, it also prepares you for long shifts spent on your feet during your clinical placements.
- Sleep – a lack of sleep can impair your concentration, memory and ability to learn, so try to get six to eight hours of shuteye a night. If you struggle with this, avoid caffeine late at night, invest in a good eye mask, and stick to a regular sleep schedule (even on weekends).
Looking after your wellbeing during your studies
To succeed academically you need to look after your mental wellbeing and this is often forgotten. Try to choose the right options for you depending on your personality and preferences. You could:
- Meditation and breathing exercises
- Long walks in the countryside or along the beach
- Spending quality time with friends and family
- Engaging in a creative hobby such as music or art
- Journaling to work through negative feelings
- Taking a relaxing bath or hot shower
- Read (or re-read) a book or vegetate in front of a movie
- Dancing to your favorite music or singing along to your favorite songs
- Engaging in positive self talk whenever you’re feeling demotivated or negative
Try to make meaningful connections with the other students on your course too, whether you’re studying in person or online. That way you can help each other through the tough times, celebrate your successes together, and hopefully make some lifelong friends. Finally, never forget why you signed up to your nursing degree in the first place. This motivation and passion will ensure you can overcome any academic obstacles and push yourself to achieve your goals.