How to Survive Nursing School | 7 Tips for Success

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

As summer comes to an end, and the new school year approaches again,  I figured that it would be appropriate to share some of my tips and tricks for how to survive nursing school. Nursing school is a roller coaster and is both rewarding, and overwhelming at the same time. In the past three years, I have gone countless hours without sleep, spent almost all of my of time stressing and even had some mental breakdowns here and there. Although nursing school is hard, you CAN make it, and you WILL become a RN if it is something you are truly passionate about. So, without any further ado, here are my top ten tips for surviving nursing school, and for being successful.

  1. Plan and organize - planners AND calendars are your new best friends.  As soon as you get the syllabus for the semester, go grab your planner and start filling in assignment due dates, tests, or quizzes. Look at your planner daily and cross of the things you've already completed and make sure you are aware of upcoming assignments and due dates to ensure that you're on top of your coursework. In addition I would also color code your planner and binders. I pick one color for each class and write all my assignments for the class in that color in my planner. Try using similar colors for your binder, or notebook for that class as well to keep things organized. Speaking of binders, organize those as well (with some dividers). Make different sections for homework, lectures, notes, and study guides, or whatever you can think of so your work is easy to find.

  2. Prepare for class AHEAD of time - read the designated chapters and take notes on them before class. This
    is something that I cannot stress enough and is something that has helped me immensely throughout my nursing school journey. Being prepared for class ahead of time will help keep you focused during class so that you can keep up with the teacher. If the assigned chapter is short read it the night before it's due. On the other hand, if it's long, do a few pages each night the week before you cover the reading in class. Even though it can be tedious to read such long chapters, it will really prepare you when you have to take tests, because you have not only read the material, but you learned it in class as well. In addition, take notes on the required reading. Even though you may want to take notes on the entire chapter (because let's face it, everything is important in nursing), just write down the main points. Many textbooks have objectives that are at the beginning or end of each chapter that are helpful guidelines of what content is most important.
    If your teacher uses powerpoints, print those ahead of time and take notes on what the teacher says that during lecture that is not on the slides. Trust me this is what nursing instructors will test and quiz you on! 

  3. Actually spend time studying - l have met A LOT of people who think that they can get away with studying the night before a test in nursing school and let me just say, that will NOT work and you will do poorly on your exams if you study the night before a test. Exams in nursing school contain a LOT of information, all
    of which you cannot memorize in a day. The best way to ensure you're spending enough time studying is
    to create a schedule. Write down goals for yourself for how many, and which chapters you plan to review that day or week while studying. Instead of trying to memorize all of the material in one night, study 3 - 4 hours a day a week or two prior to the test, depending on how much information the exam covers. If you put the time and effort into studying you WILL do well on your exams and get the grades you worked for. 

  4. Meet with your teachers - I know that meeting with teachers can be a scary thing and I've been there too.
    I used to never meet with my teachers (even when I was not doing my best), because I was afraid of what they would say. As of recently I have learned that teachers want you to come get help if you need it. Your teachers have office hours for a reason UTILIZE THEM! It will not only help you academically, but going to office hours often will show your teacher that you are really making the effort to succeed in a given class. 

  5. Go to study sessions - Over the past few years, I have found that study sessions or groups are one of the most effective ways to study. Many teachers hold study sessions themselves or have the TA or tutor hold the study session. You can also get a group of friends together and study that way. Nursing requires a lot
    of memorization as well as critical thinking, so getting together in groups and quizzing and teaching each other the important material is an effective way to study for the exams. You can cover the same material
    or break up the content by chapter, and then teach each other the most important topics you've learned. 

  6. Utilize social media - Both YouTube and Pinterest have many helpful resources for nursing students. You
    can find videos explaining how to place an IV, how to take blood pressure and so much more on youtube and watching them will become your new best friend. When you learn these skills in class the best way to review is to practice or watch videos. Pinterest also has a LOT of great study resources. Create a pinterest board filled with numerous study tips and tricks and some for specific topics. I find this extremely helpful because a lot of people post helpful memorization tools, mnemonics, charts, or pictures on Pinterest that are helpful study tools. You can find my "Study Tricks" Pinterest board HERE if you need some inspiration. 

  7. Practice, Practice, Practice - one of THE MOST effective ways to be successful in nursing school is through practice. Many of the skills you learn require practice to learn such as giving an IV, taking blood pressure, taking vital signs etc. Not only that, but studying for exams requires practice as well, especially the HESI's and NCLEX exams. Study for HESI exams, and in class exams by finding practice questions online, in your textbook or buy a practice HESI book (I recommend the "Success" book series or Reviews and Rationales
Those are all of my tips for surviving nursing school. Hopefully some of you found this helpful! Good luck nurses!


  1. These are great tips for anyone heading to school.

  2. I have gone countless hours without sleep, spent almost all of my of time stressing and even had some mental breakdowns here and there with this nursing personal statement.

    1. I totally understand, so did I. Despite that, it was totally worth it, and I am so happy to finally be a nurse!


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