Hey guys! Happy 5 weeks for me!
I just finished what I’d like to call my first 5 week chunk of nursing school. For those who don’t know from my previous nursing student series blog, I am a student within an accelerated nursing program. The traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program is usually about 2 years. An Accelerated BSN prgm is 1 year. Crazy? Yes, I know…it feels that way.
I wanted to provide an update as I just got through finals and am taking a “me break” for a day to do self care. This includes no studying, but a day of R&R. Trust me when I say, that as a nursing student, you want to just sit and study to simply catch up and learn the material. If there’s one thing that I really took away and essentially to heart is the need to crazy study but also to provide self care to yourself. You won’t regret this as a student. Most of all, when you become that professional, you will also need these moments too. Nursing may be nice in terms of hours and pay. However, the reality is, because we are caring for people, who are our patients, who are complex humans just like you and I, you need these times to recalibrate yourself. So, strategy number 1 for study is this — take a study break and give yourself “me time.” Trust me again, you won’t regret it.
I’m not the kind who is an open book, so I’m not going to share my grades on social media. Just know that I met minimum requirement for passing and I’m proud that I’ve survived the first chunk of nursing school. It felt like hell week x5 weeks, but essentially, that was my goal that I wrote out on my Passion Planner — survive that first month. I’m glad that I did and I’m glad that I successfully am able to pass. Here’s where I’ll be real though — I’m learning to be a realistic person rather than a pessimist or even an overtly optimist. I gave myself a goal for nursing school to get above a 3.0 so that I’m able to take that next step, which is 1) pass the NCLEX and 2) Get into an MSN prgm (hopefully that of my choice). I’m often tempted to want to do better to lets say get into Sigma Theta Tau International (which is the honor roll of nursing, a privilege to be part of). I mean, who wouldn’t want that for their resume for grad school or even work? The thing is, this temptation is all because I really want redemption for my poor undergrad years. I’m often tempted to get 4.0 as a GPA because I want redemption for what my poor academic background as aun undergrad caused me — years of denials and rejection letters. I want to utilize this moment in life to show people that dreams take hard work, that career goals aren’t linear but a roller coaster ride, and most of all one can pick themselves up to move forward in attempt to meet that goal. So, for those of you out there who may be discouraged, do be discouraged, but I encourage you to get up. I know I had to many a times. So, I was surprised when my classmates told me that I ought to aim for As instead of mere Bs. I understand the reasoning. Don’t get me wrong, because they want to see me succeed. Part of me wants As, trust me, I love As as much as the next person. However, I see how such can lead to disappointment. So, I’m aiming for Bs and higher. This makes me strive harder for those good grades for a 2nd round of grad school (yes you heard me right…don’t forget that I already have my MPH). So, my first five weeks — I survived, I did decent/well (you can take a guess), and I’m taking a well deserved break.
Now, how did I study to get to where I am (i.e. Surviving a ABSN program). There are plenty of blogs and you tube videos out there on study strategies and how to survive a traditional BSN program. For those in one, I really want to encourage you to watch some of these videos because for myself, I learned something. Definitely do BEFORE you actually start just so you can try out concept mapping or learn what works for you. However, there aren’t many blog posts/youtube videos on how to study for an accelerated program like myself. Now, I’m going to give credit where credit is due, because when it comes to surviving, I have to say, I’m glad I survived. But props goes to all the parents who are in my program, and anyone else who is raising children (under 18) while going through such a program, because if you want survival, these are the men and women who are not only putting in grease to study, but are also raising kids. THAT my friends, isn’t easy. Props to them, for they know how the down and diry of studying while raising a family. For myself, I’m going to share what I did and what helped me when it come to memorizing chunks and loads of material in a very short amount of time.
1. Study — Set that time part. I hate to say it, you cannot binge watch your favorite show and study at the same time. I tried once, and I didn’t do so hot for a quiz. So, set that time apart.
2. Handwrite notes — In class, I use OneNote, but I also prefer writing out notes. This does require a good printer. My recommendation is if you are starting a program in January or if you know your printer is going to go caput near the winter (specifically near Black Friday), but yourself a laser printer. They’re now priced at about $100 or less and honestly, I love mine. I print out my lecture notes and then write notes on them in lecture, use a different color ballpoint pen and write out notes from the chapter that are PERTINENT. IF you’re the kind who can highlight an entire page, this helps you because you have limited SPACE.
3. Concept Mapping — For things like health assessment and disease notes, I’ll concept map. Justine G. Feather on YouTube has a great tutorial on concept mapping that I used (URL: https://youtu.be/ReXuXy4M7oY). I know many people like buying Papermate markers/pens to do concept mapping per YouTube or Pinterest or even Instagram. Honestly, if you’re on a budget, don’t go and waste your money on it. I went to Daiso and bought a pack of 30 markers for $1.50. Nursing school is expensive. There are other ways to spend your money, and it’s not on school supplies like markers. Concept maps can be complex or simple.
4. Break time — Yes, just like what I mentioned above, take breaks. After an hour give yourself 5 minutes. After 3-5 hours, give yourself 30 minute breaks. Also, another tip I learned. Try not to go into study right after a full day of lecture. What I do recommend is that after lecture, go over what you wrote for about 15 minutes to retain what you learned and write down what you may have missed. After that, go home, make dinner, go work out, go window shopping (my personal favorite), blog (sometimes…), scrapbook your planner (another personal favorite)…just don’t go back and study. Trust me. Give yourself a break and then study.
5. Reading — You have an average of 12 chapters to read per week (yes count them..12). For just one class, I had 8 chapters with over 240 pages to go over for a quiz the very next week. How do you read that much when you have another competing class or 2? You read smart. Read summary notes at the end of the chapter, objectives at the beginning of the chapter, headings of sections, bolded words, first and last sentences of each chapter. Use study guides if you like learning that way. There is not enough time to read every single word. If you are a visual reader who can memorize well that way, hey go for it. You do you.
6. Quizlets — MY FRIEND!!! Honestly, I have an awesome cohort, because we will share our Quizlet flashcards with each other to ensure that we do well. This may be a foreign concept since many times, professional schools can be incredibly competitive. Short story: once, I was giving a training on the National Diabetes Prevention Program, and I was critiquing how some students would teach a class on Problem Solving. I had students break out in tears because of stress caused by internal and external stressors. I felt so bad for them, yet glad that they used that training session to be open with each other and to voice out the level of competition they face. The cohort I’m in, we help each other, some more than others. However, we all thus far get along…we share our notes and study strategies…we all want to survive. If anything, the accelerated program that I’m in, we all just want to survive and say 1 and done. So, definitely check out Quizlet, I’ve been a fan prior to starting nursing school and I am definitely a big fan now. I normally use this to help with memorizing terms and such.
7. Study spots — You do you. You know yourself best when it comes to studying. If you are a group study type, find those small groups to study with. If you’re a quiet study type, there are libraries all over (some that may allow coffee mugs… :)). If you’re a cafe prson, go find that cafe. If you’re a home body, you go home and you study.
8. DO NOT binge watch TV shows — I’m not saying that you shouldn’t take a time out to watch an episode (or 2). If anything, an accelerated nursing program ought to kick that addiction to binge watch shows because you’re busy stressing out about what you need to know or what’s due the next day. Trust me…we all have to remind each other what’s due and what’s not. However, if you have the urge to binge watch something, save it for the end of the day before sleeping or for a down time moment. And if this is an issue for you on a laptop (this includes being a social media junkie as myself), do NOT take out that laptop. OR there are software out there that locks your phones, computers, and tablets for a specific time periods just so you can study. If this is something that you need, I would encourage you to purchase one of these as opposed to fancy school supplies. Remember, you are a nursing student…your priority is to do the best that you can and give what you can in terms of effort to succeed realistically while you are in school. Sacrifice those binging shows for breaks (i.e. Vacations). Nursing school is expensive. Don’t waste your already done hard work on something like this.
9. Use a calendar/planner — Enough said. If interested, I do have a blog post on this prior to getting into nursing school of why one is useful. It can be digital or it can be a handwritten one. Whatever floats your boat.
10. NO ALL NIGHTERS — Guys….I am not young. Even if you are, all nighters aren’t good for you. Guaranteed that the amount of material that you go through (especially within these past 5 weeks), you may want to do all nighters if you’re an nite owl (I am). This will lead to increased stress (within your body), prone to sickness (colds/flu), alteration of bodily metabolism and function, and most of all, patient safety. I start clinicals in barely a week (crazy, I know), but I have disciplined myself to stop studying by 1AM (sometimes 1:30AM) in in bed by 2. Waking up is another story. However, I will say this…I have averaged every week thus far the ability to get 6 hours of sleep each day within a week, more on days when I don’t have class (8 hour avg) and I did decent. My school policy pass rate for major exams/projects/assignments overall is 73%. This isn’t pass the class with 73%, it’s pass the major stuff. If I can do this (as parents in my cohort are as well), then you can too. No all nighters are needed for this program and I plan on keeping this as a goal for myself.
There you have it guys. Tips on how to study as an accelerated program. My favorite quote from a professor is how she described how those in the traditional program complain about what they have to know in 16 weeks. Our classes pull 16 weeks of material into 5. As much as I want to say, “Don’t complain!” I understand that even a traditional BSN program and an ABSN program is hard. It’s intense. It’s also incredibly rigorous. I hope these study tips help! LMK if you have any questions for me when it comes to studying for nursing school and I can answer any that you have. 🙂
See you guys while I continue my R&R before it all begins again. Up next on the nursing student series — what’s in my clinical rotation bag and what are rotations like. 😀