10 Pieces of Advice for Nursing Students

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Nursing student studying for the ABSN program

One important piece of advice for nursing students is to do your research for resources that will help you succeed. If you’ve found this blog, it seems like you’re doing just that. Way to go! The Notre Dame of Maryland University Accelerated 2nd Degree ABSN program is a high-quality nursing program that can be completed in as few as 15 months. Over the past few years, we’ve spoken with many graduates of the program to compile the best nursing student advice. If you want to know how to succeed in nursing school, keep reading for our list of the top 10 tips for nursing students.

1. Plan a Study Group

Your nursing school cohort is the group of people who enrolled in the program at the same time as you. They’ll attend the same classes, labs, and clinical experiences as you. Because they understand the demand of the program and the course material, they will be a fantastic resource throughout the program. By forming a study group with members of your cohort, you will all be able to learn from each other.

Starting a study group with your peers can benefit you because other students may have understood concepts in the lesson that you missed and vice versa. Sharing your various perspectives on the course material can be a great way to retain key information and approach tough concepts from different angles. Moreover, since you’ll need to make sacrifices in your social life during the program, study groups will give you an outlet to spend time with people while still working toward your goals.

Nursing student sitting at desk working on computer

2. Don’t Underestimate the Program

As we alluded to above, your social life will take a backseat while you’re in the ABSN program. Since the Notre Dame ABSN program runs on an accelerated timeline, you’ll be learning a lot of information quickly. This will require you to dedicate substantial time to reviewing the information to make sure you have a thorough understanding of all covered material. The good news is that because the program is accelerated, that social sacrifice will only last for about 15 months. It’s temporary, and will be well worth it when you embark on a successful nursing career.

We ask students to treat the program like a full-time job because that’s the time commitment required to succeed. Between classes, labs, and clinical placements, you’ll have a very full schedule.

3. Identify Your Learning Preferences

Understanding how your brain receives and retains information will help you succeed as a nursing student. Because you'll be completing your coursework, studying, and tests on your own if you're enrolled in an online-based nursing program, it's even more important to understand how you learn best. Your ability to use the resources your instructors provide to comprehend the material will depend on how you set yourself up for success.

There are four main categories of learning preferences: audio, visual, reading/writing, and tactile learning — also known as kinesthetic learning. It's beneficial to determine which method works best for you so you can maximize the efficiency of your study time and better retain important ideas. Start by taking this free online VARK questionnaire to identify your learning preferences.

4. Schedule Study Time

Once you better understand your learning preferences, you can develop effective study techniques. We recommend scheduling your study time based on type. In nursing school, you’ll be studying for quizzes, exams, labs, and the NCLEX, all while attending class. To avoid cramming, we suggest using a color-coding system to designate when and how you plan to study.

5. Get Organized

Organization during nursing school is essential for keeping you up to speed on course materials and ensuring you maintain a balanced life. Having a schedule is beneficial for more than just studying. To stay on track and reduce stress, creating a daily schedule is a wonderful way to balance your workload while attending nursing school. Over time you will determine what scheduling method works best for you, but a blank weekly calendar or planner is a great place to start. A digital alternative could include an app or spreadsheet.

ABSN student notebook with class notes

Whichever platform you choose, make an hour-by-hour itinerary of your day, including:

  • Class periods
  • Study time
  • Appointments
  • Breaks
  • Exams
  • Labs

By planning your days, you can better manage your time, prioritize your tasks, and remain on schedule. Don’t forget to schedule some break time to recharge while managing all nursing school demands of you.

6. Connect with Your Instructors

Don’t be afraid to contact your instructors regarding how you are progressing in the class, whether that means sending an email with your questions or scheduling a meeting to discuss an upcoming exam. Networking with your instructors can not only provide valuable mentorship opportunities, but can also be instrumental if you need a letter of recommendation down the road.

7. Seize Opportunities

Whether it’s in class, lab, or clinicals, always volunteer for new experiences. One of the most crucial aspects of nursing school is getting hands-on experience. Spending time with competent, experienced nurses will probably be one of the most useful aspects of your studies. You may also get the chance to interact with diverse patient populations, which will help prepare you for your nursing career.

nursing student using stethoscope

8. Focus on Your Goals

If becoming a nurse is your dream, you must prioritize completing the Notre Dame ABSN program and passing the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX-RN). The ABSN program is rigorous, but upon successful completion you will be able to sit for the NCLEX and be one step closer to changing lives as a nurse. When the program challenges you, keep that vision in mind and remember why you wanted to become a nurse.

9. Practice Self-Care

Make time for your mental health even when you’re busy with your nursing studies. While pushing yourself will drive success, if you push yourself too hard without taking breaks, you run the risk of burning out.

While attending nursing school, it's crucial to maintain a healthy balance by engaging in enjoyable activities that benefit your mental wellbeing. Try a nighttime stroll or stopping by to meet friends and relatives for a quick coffee to obtain that breath of fresh air you need in between studies.

10. Get Started

Don’t put your future on hold. It all starts with an initial phone conversation with one of the Notre Dame admissions counselors, who can help you determine if our ABSN program is a good fit for you. Complete this form to get started today!