Hey everyone! I hope everyone had an awesome first week of may last week! I can’t believe it’s already April. For me, this means I’m a quarter of the way through nursing school. Gasp! Can time really fly that fast? I know I must sound like a broken record, because I marvel many times on how time flies.
Having past 10 weeks into nursing school and heading into Med Surg 2 and soon pediatrics in the upcoming months, I think I now have somewhat of a grasp of what nursing school is like and some great resources that pre-nursing or incoming nursing students can take away.
First off, despite sounding like a broken record, nursing school is incredibly fast paced. There really isn’t a single healthcare program out there that does school and clinical rotations simultaneously. By this, I mean, didactic courses in combination of clinical rotations in a single semester, let alone all semesters. Medical school is often divided up — didactic and rotation, with maybe some combination in between. PA school is the same. Pharmacy school may be the closest to that. Respiratory Therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy…all the same, it’s all spread out. Nursing school is one of the only few professions in which didactic and rotations happen together. Add an accelerated program on top of that and you really have things moving at 2-4x the rate that you may be use to.
So, studying becomes not just a priority, but what to prioritize. Writing this blog post may not be my biggest priority at times, which is why finding time is quite important. However, when I have time to study, what to study is incredibly important. I really want to encourage you to figure out your study type — are you visual? Auditory? Are you hands on? Do you know? If you don’t know, I think before starting nursing school, or if you are in the midst of the trenches of nursing school like me, find out. I realized I’m a visual & hands on type of person. This means reading a book isn’t always the best way to go for me personally. If you’re like me, what do you do? Here’s what I like to have with me when it comes to studying. Some may be quite out there when it comes to techniques, and some are methods that you may have heard of before. As I always say, you do you to succeed. If it doesn’t work, switch it up, and do that quickly. If it works, hey, this blog post may be a waste of time.
- Pinterest — the place for ideas for outfits, make up dupes, and interior design is also an awesome place to find nursing topics. For Med Surg, I went to this to learn disease pathologies and mneumonics. As a visual learning, I like the cartoons that may come up on my pinterest that can help me learn things such as the differences between Addison’s Disease and Cushing’s Syndrome. I also learn my meds as well. From Beta Blockers to Ace Inhibitors, there are some helpful images that can help with memorization.
- Mosby’s Spiral Notebooks — I currently own 2. I have the Mosby’s Pharmacology and Mosby’s Pathophysiology spiral notebooks that are good for clinicals (particularly quick go tos when faculty and nurses ask you what things are for or pathology of a specific disease). I love these because they make learning fun. I know learning isn’t always fun (trust me on that), but sometimes, when you have to learn heavy detailed entities, having something broken down into visual cartoons helps stimulates the mind. I will say that these don’t go into as much detail as the book or as advanced as a med surg text book. If you need a quick go to or strapped for time and in need to learn certain things, I think these are great go to. I learned about these from YouTuber Justine G. Feather (https://www.youtube.com/user/Jujubml). She’s a Canadian YouTube vlogger who has her license based in Canada. When I first learned that I would be going to nursing school, she was one of the first few nursing vloggers I watched to get tips on how to study. I definitely recommend her if you’re a new nursing student. She’s pretty cool. 🙂
- YouTube — Speaking of YouTube. Without getting side tracked with makeup vloggers, this is a great tool for studying as well. During my last block, I had to learn about a ream of paper of material for a final that included new material (i.e. liver and bile related diseases). Now, normally, I’ll go with powerpoints. However, for this particular final, I had other projects and tests within a 72 hour span. If you wondered what it was like to have no time…this was the time. So, I resolved a need to learn via video and I used YouTube. Khan Academy and another Youtube vlogger now turned great nursing resource (really, you all should check this site out!), Michael Lineares (https://www.youtube.com/user/SimpleNursing) is a great resource to learn med surg material. I learned liver cirrhosis, esophogeal varices, and various treatment options that probably would have taken maybe 4-5 hours…in an hour…I was a top scorer on my final (not the top score, but I did pretty well) on my final, because of this. The very next week, I had an endocrine exam, did decent, but I felt that had I watched maybe some of his videos or utilized my time more wisely on incorporating this into my schedule, I probably would have done a lot better.
- Nurselabs.com –> For all you who need a good resource, this is an awesome source. From careplans to mneumonics, I use this for in class group projects or let’s say for clinicals, I get a patient where there’s a medical diagnoses that I’m unfamiliar with or how it relates to what a patient has or why a medication someone is taking relates to the medical history, I love going to this to fill in the blanks/question marks that I have. It’s not the end all be all, but it’s a quick easy go to resource for this.
- NCLEX RN — For all you prenursing students out there and incoming nursing students, I would love for you all to know that you will live and breath NCLEX questions. From the moment you enter nursing school till you leave, the faculty, classes, your tests, and your exit exams (Yes, those exist for professional school), you will learn how to work with NCLEX style questions. Don’t do it if you’re not in nursing school yet. As a mentor had advised me previously, to start before nursing school would not be good, because it’s essentially another language and method of test taking. However, for those in nursing school, you will most likely sign up/pay for testing services such as HESI or ATI. I’m not familiar of all the types that are out there besides the two, but normally these are the two most commons testing sites that many use (i.e. HESI/ATI). You will take mid-semester or block type exams. To help with practice on top of the assignments you take, I do recommend the premium app NCLEX RN. I have this on my phone, and every so often when I’m waiting in line for coffee, or just have some time to spare, I’ll pull this app up and practice NCLEX style questions. The thing is, I do HESI fundamental exams EVERY block, and this counts not only towards your grade, but for my particular program, it counts towards success when taking the NCLEX. We have to hit benchmark to pass. It counts a lot towards our grade. If we don’t hit benchmark it affects our grade. More than that, we probably will get a lovely letter from the school as well (sacastically said). Essentially, it’s not good. So, despite my busy schedule, when there is some time, I do take a few of these questions a day (I average 2-5 questions). I don’t take questions on things I have yet to learn. I focus my time on med surg and fundamentals, but I think it’s a useful tool to ensure that you have adequate exposure to NCLEX questions so that after you complete your program and go through your exit exam (for me it will be a 160 question HESI), as well as the actual NCLEX, you would have been so exposed to this, that you will understand how to take this test. This is of course, on top of all the knowledge acquired. 😉
So there you have it, my top 5 resources for studying. I would go for 10, but, with such a busy schedule, I’m going to go back to study. Let me know if this is useful for you all, I always love offering resources to others going through or will go through nursing school. I know I’ve had help from mentors in the past as well as found out about these resources that have helped me. Some nursing schools may be competitive, but I am lucky that my cohort and school do not strive on competitiveness but on team work and learning to be great nurses, so I’m glad to share these resources and others if you all want more!
For now, here’s to more studying. 😉