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What to Know Before Your First Day of Nursing School


Congratulations! You’ve earned your coveted seat in an exclusive nursing school program. Now what? Aside from the usual first day of nursing school jitters you may experience, your new life as a nursing student can be extremely exciting and terrifying at the same time.

Here are some helpful tips to get your feet wet before you start your journey to becoming a registered nurse:

Be Prepared

Being prepared before your first day of nursing school is a big part of survival and will help you start your semester organized.

As first-timers and rookies on campus, your guidance counselor will generally create your first semester of courses with you and sign you up, print out your schedule, and send you on your merry way. Take that paper, go to the bookstore, and grab copies of your syllabi ASAP. Get a head if you can on the readings, or glance over the different topics that your professor will cover.

Stock up on highlighters, Post-Its, big three-inch binders, and endless amounts of black pens. Your clinical and lab professors will provide you with a list of items you will need beforehand (lab coat, stethoscope, medical scissors, clinical uniform, white sneakers, name badge, etc.). Make sure you have these items on hand prior to the first day of nursing school.

Find a group of nursing friends

Making connections early on is a crucial part of your success during nursing school. Find at least one other nursing student that either lives in your dorm, near you, or shares a similar schedule. This is important so that you can have a study buddy to help you understand topics when you do not, and vice versa.

If you lack knowledge or understanding in a topic, another nursing student in your study group may be there to pick up the slack and help out. This will also come in handy as you may have tests every week, and by dividing up assignments between your friends will lighten the course workload. Don’t be afraid to open to new other nursing students. It’s important to have at least 2-3 study buddies in your group to help with the course load reading and assignments.

Keep your eye on the prize

Before you start your first day of school, remember one thing—there are people who are placed on waitlists who are itching to take your spot in your nursing school program, so don’t take it for granted.

If you find that becoming a registered nurse isn’t for you after a few weeks, that’s okay too. But if you are in it for the long run, stay focused, stay driven, and stay organized. Keep a routine that includes healthy meals, some sleep, and social activities to keep yourself sane, and some alone time to recharge. Stay on top of the reading, and don’t be afraid to go to your professors for help, especially when it comes to testing.

If you feel discouraged after your first test, which can be devastating for a first-time nursing student, don’t be afraid to schedule to meet with your professor for a time to discuss your test. A nursing multiple-choice exam is extremely different from any other multiple-choice exams you will ever take. On a nursing test, every answer is correct, but often you are asked to find the best answer, which alone can drive you insane. So stay focused, utilize your nursing school buddies, and don’t be afraid to seek help when needed.

Failing a class is not the end of the world

Although failing a class is not ideal, it can be considered a blessing in disguise. For example, maybe you have to repeat your medical surgical nursing course over. You will have an advantage because you will know what to expect and how the tests will be. And, since you already studied the material before, you may not have to re-read every single assignment.

You may be more successful the second time around. You can focus on the lectures more instead of worrying about taking every single note. Bring your notes from last semester to consult during class and add in new information or information you may have missed or gotten wrong last semester.

Understand how to study

Identifying proper study skills and finding out what works for you early on in the semester is one of the biggest lessons learned in school. That’s why it’s crucial to approach your new teacher to see how you can best prepare for the exams. Remember, each teacher has their own way of conveying the test material in class. Some borrow more from the textbook, some present all the information you need to know via class notes. Knowing your teacher’s specific method can really help you study efficiently and perform more successfully.

Apart from studying alone, it can also help to partner up. If you failed a course and have a buddy that has failed as well, it would be helpful to try to re-group with those classmates during your second go at it. It will make things easier for you both as you can bounce ideas and study tips off of each other, and can both recall how the exams were structured. Since you both have been exposed to the content, it’s easy to help each other refresh your memory.

Content shared from Kaplan

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