Nursing is one of the best and most fulfilling professions in the world. Nurses get the opportunity to impact lives every day. The profession also has a decent pay. However, becoming a nurse, just like most professions, takes hard work. Some students drop out of nursing school before they get to graduate. Drop out can be as a result of difficulty handling the classwork, financial struggles, life issues and a realization that nursing isn’t what one expected when they signed up, among many others. Thankfully, there are steps one can take to ensure they don’t drop out before completing their course and realizing their dream of becoming a nurse. If you are a nursing student or aspiring to be one, consider the following tips:
1. Review Your Goals and Make a Commitment to Achieve Them
Why did you join nursing school in the first place? What goals do you hope to achieve once you get a job as a nurse? Constantly reminding yourself of the end goal can keep you going even when things in school seem to be tough. If you drop out of school, you will miss out on your end goal. Therefore, keep reviewing your goals and make a commitment to keep going no matter what you experience along the way.
2. Avoid Comparison
Whether it’s age, work life balance, or school performance, avoid comparing yourself to others. Everyone has their own reasons and struggles and thus every journey will be different. One will join college immediately after high school and another may prefer to start a family first before they pursue their studies. When it comes to schoolwork, some will grasp concepts faster; others will be slow but sure. At the end of the day, when your journey started, and how quickly you learn, doesn’t matter provided you reach your end goal. Use the performance of others as a motivation to work harder not as a gauge of whether or not you should be in nursing school.
3. Plan Your Finances Well
Lack of enough funds is among the reasons why people quit nursing school. Therefore, before you sign up, take time to plan your finances well. It’s easy to find out how much school will cost because most colleges will have the complete fee structure on their websites. If anything is not clear, you can always contact them. Check the total figure to see if your savings, current job, student loans, government funding or other aid available will be enough to get you through college. When planning your finances, don’t forget you need to eat and pay for other day to day expenses, take care of your family if you have one and have some fun.
4. Have a Calendar and Timetables
What days will you be attending school, going to work, spending time with your family, travelling and taking exams? Have a calendar with an outline of each. Also, you need a time plan for each day. For instance, there are days when you may have to go to school, work a few hours, do some assignments and care for your family. Without a clear time plan, you can end up spending more time on some and neglecting others. A detailed time plan can also prevent procrastination. It’s so easy to miss a deadline when you have not set a specific time to work on your assignments. Try to be very specific when planning your time. For instance, instead of writing ‘study’ on the to‐ do ‐list for the day, state the specific topic that you will be studying. Also, be very specific when assigning time to each.
5. School Life Work Balance
One of the biggest mistakes that people make is abandoning their life outside school once they start college. While you may have to cut the amount of time you spend with your family, travel or go to the gym, you shouldn’t cut it out completely. Give your schoolwork all the attention you can without neglecting life outside school. You can easily achieve this if you have a calendar and well planned timetable. When making your time plan, don’t forget to take into account the schedules of the people in your life. For instance, a parent studying nursing should consider the schedules of her kids. Plan your time in such a way that you will be able to study without interruptions, but still get enough time to spend with other people.
6. Consider Online Studies
If you are a nurse going back to school to advance your studies, you could consider online programs instead of enrolling in a traditional college. Online colleges allow students to learn at their own convenience as you can choose a specific time of the day to dedicate to your studies. Others have flexible plans which allow students to complete their studies fast or over a longer period of time depending on one’s availability. Online studies also offer the benefit of being able to study without having to commute to school every day. Actually, with this benefit, you can easily complete a degree that is not available in your region. For instance, if you want to advance to a neonatal nurse practitioner and the course is not available at nearby colleges, you don’t have to wait until you move to advance your career. You can sign up for an online course with any college that has the program in your country.
7. Be Organized
In addition to having a good time plan, check on your physical organization too. Work on things like where and how you keep your notes. If you study from home, keep your study area organized. Disorganized and cluttered spaces can not only make you unproductive, but they can also cause stress. Therefore, consider investing in some cool folders for your papers, a backpack for your books, and a comfortable reading desk with storage drawers. Keep everything else away from your reading space. However, you can add some décor and flowers or plants to the room to beautify and lighten up the reading space.
8. Find Your Best Study Time and Techniques
Some people prefer studying in the morning when the mind is fresh whereas others prefer night time when it is quiet and calm. Reading techniques differ too. You can read while taking some short notes, read and come up with questions you can use later to check if you grasped the concepts, use study questions to read through a chapter, use flash cards to remember concepts, or even read a chapter and go for a group discussion. Find the combination that works best for you and stick to it. If you love discussions, find a serious study group. Don’t go for one where you will spend three quarters of the time talking about politics or one where the members arrive one hour late. Look for people who are as committed as you are. You can even form your own group and invite others to join.
9. Create Friendships and Networks
Problems and challenges are a part of everyday life and they are not always a bad thing. Actually, some of the challenges you face as a student can teach you some things you would never have learned if you didn’t go through the challenges. Thus, whenever you go through tough times, stop and consider if there is a lesson you can learn from everything. Sometimes you will find the solution and lesson by yourself, but often, you may require the support and input of others. This is why you need to invest in friendships and networking. Having people who will listen to you, encourage you, or give you a solution can keep you going while in nursing school. Be friends with other nursing students, your professors and nursing professions. Don’t forget people in other nursing professions. While they may not help you find a solution for your nursing related challenge, they can give you the encouragement and support you need to keep going.
10. Follow Blogs, Vlogs, Social Media Profiles, Forums, Podcasts for Nurses and Nursing Students
This will be a great way to connect and learn from people you don’t meet in person every day. From the above, you can learn more about other people’s experiences in nursing school and as nurses, how to overcome challenges and even some nurse jokes to add some humor to your day. Therefore, instead of spending all your free time watching TV, get your phone or computer and search for some useful or fun content.
11. Eat Healthy and Drink Water
You are working on becoming a nurse, you are advocating for better health and thus you have to work on being healthy too. Taking care of your body is also essential because you need to be energetic and well to complete your education. A poor diet can make you sickly and give you some anxieties. This could end up reducing your productivity and focus. Therefore, no matter how busy you are, aim to eat healthy foods. Have a menu plan for each day to avoid unhealthy snacking. And most importantly, don’t forget to drink your water. Having a refillable water bottle, setting some reminders on your phone and making use of water drinking apps are some tips you can consider to ensure you meet the recommended water intake.
Regular exercise is something else you should consider as it will keep you healthy and help you build your career. There are so many ways to exercise. You can join the gym, buy some home workout equipment, walk, run or cycle, buy some exercise equipment and workout from home, find a sport you can play, go swimming, join a dance class, or workout from home with the help of online workout programs. Exercise has an impact on your mood and can help in relieving stress. Other benefits include lowering the risk of illnesses, stronger bones, relaxation for stiff muscles, healthy weight, better energy levels, better brain health and memory, and improved sleep. Thus, when you are feeling tired, fatigued or stressed out at the end of the day, consider a workout session.
Enough sleep is essential for your day to day performance, concentration and overall well-being. With nursing school, your days will be busy, but this shouldn’t keep you from getting enough rest. When you don’t get enough rest, you may have a hard time concentrating the next day. Also, you could end up making some mistakes. When this happens, you may presume it’s due to your inabilities when, in actuality, it’s because you didn’t give your body enough time to rest. Therefore, don’t work or read when you should be resting. If you feel like you are lagging behind in school, work on your time plan and review your reading style.
14. Ask for Help
When you have a good reading timetable and plan, and you are taking good care of yourself but you still seem to be struggling, ask for help from someone. This could be your professor, a nurse or any other professional, or a career coach for nurses. It could also be a financial advisor if you are struggling with finances, a marriage counselor where your marriage is affecting your studies, or a psychologist if you are always stressed out. Don’t quit school before you talk to someone about what you are going through. You can talk to more than one person depending on the nature of your problem.
When you plan well and take good care of yourself, you can easily get through nursing school and enjoy the career of your dreams. Work on maintaining a positive attitude throughout and you will achieve much not only in school but also in the workplace. Keeping a journal would be great as it will allow you to write down your day to day experiences, feelings, your challenges and thoughts about your career and life. You can do this at the end of the day as a reflection on your journey in school and outside school. Through journaling, you can ease stress and anxieties, discover your accomplishments, get some cool ideas to excel in school, and get a better understanding of your career.
The Yucatan Times