8 Tips for How to Prepare for Nursing School

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It can be difficult to navigate entering the nursing field with all the stresses involved in a rigorous nursing program. The good news is that you are not alone. Here are eight tips from Notre Dame of Maryland University to help you know how to prepare for nursing school.

nurse using laptop

Deciding to start pursuing a BSN degree through nursing school is a major life choice, especially if you’re looking to change career paths. It’s reasonable to want to know how to prepare for nursing school. With the right expectations and preparation, you can successfully earn your degree and enter an exciting and rewarding field.

With Notre Dame of Maryland University’s Accelerated 2nd Degree Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program, we make it possible to graduate prepared to enter the field as a nurse in as few as 15 months. We offer robust support to our ABSN students throughout the process, as completing a baccalaureate-level curriculum on an accelerated timeline can be a challenge.

As you consider taking this next step, read on through these eight tips on how to prepare for nursing school.

1. Make a Financial Plan

The first thing you’ll want to cross of your list before nursing school starts is creating a feasible financial plan. Not only will you need to finance nursing school, but you’ll need to set aside funds for living costs and housing. We do not recommend you work full-time while in the ABSN program due to the time commitment involved in completing assignments, labs and clinicals, so making a financial plan beforehand will be instrumental in your nursing education.

2. Talk to Your Support Network

Between online learning, completing assignments, studying for exams, and completing clinical rotations, you will have a lot on your plate as a nursing student – especially since this will all be over the span of just 15 months. It is important to understand what will be required of you and communicate this to those closest to you in your life in order to help manage expectations.

Time management and organizational strategies will be key to your success as a nursing student, as will having a strong support network. Make sure your friends and family understand that while you care about them, you need to focus on your nursing education for the next 15 months. As such, you may be less active in your social life. Let them know their support means a lot, and their understanding will be instrumental to your success.

Even through the most challenging of times, it’s also important to remain calm and remember why you want to be a nurse in the first place. Whether it’s the thought of entering a rewarding profession or the career advancement opportunities that become available to you with a BSN, you’re choosing a valuable career.

2 nursing students reviewing coursework

3. Fulfill Prerequisites

On the list of what to know about nursing school, prerequisites are one of the most time sensitive. To be eligible to apply for the Notre Dame ABSN program, you’ll need to complete six ABSN prerequisites that will help set you prepare for your nursing classes.

To meet the prerequisite requirements of the ABSN program, you must have completed the following prerequisites with a minimum grade of C or higher within five years prior to enrollment:

  • Basic Statistics
  • Survey of General, Organic and Biochemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Anatomy & Physiology I + II
  • Ethics

The content in these courses is at the core of everything you’ll be learning as a nursing student. These courses serve to ensure you begin the Notre Dame ABSN program with all the necessary baseline knowledge needed to succeed. They’ll also give you a great idea of what to expect from our ABSN curriculum.

Nursing student studying and smiling with text "12 Questions to Ask Nursing School Admissions"

If you have questions about entering into an accelerated nursing program, here are answers to 12 common questions for admissions counselors.

4. Create Study Space in Your Home

Since you will be completing much of your work independently, you might benefit from a dedicated space to focus on your classes. Set up a quiet corner or area in your home where you can watch instructional videos, complete assignments, and study. It is important that you put effort and concentration into your work time to retain as much from your classes as possible.

Remember that you are not just studying to pass the classes and your NCLEX-RN® - you are studying to become an excellent nurse. This means dedicating space in your life to make your work time a priority.

5. Get Organized

Traditional nursing students have a lot going on in their lives, but ABSN students have the added complication of starting clinical rotations and labs earlier on in their nursing school experience. As such, it would be a good idea to establish some organization in your life in and outside of school before beginning your classes.

Try getting started with a calendar or planner. This will help you stay on top of your due dates, clinicals, and other important weekly events. Create a running to-do list that will keep the work from piling up. Don’t forget to organize your belongings as well. Make sure that you have everything you need for classes and that they can be easily found and put back away for when the semester picks up pace. These things will help you control what you can and make the basics a little easier when things get hard later.

NDMU student wearing stethoscope and smiling

6. Join a Study Group

With a busy schedule and potentially completing your classes online, it can be difficult to find connection with peers and staff on a day-to-day. An easy remedy to this issue is to form or join a study group. Not only you get to spend time with like-minded people, you will be working at the same time. As an added bonus, working in study group can boost your productivity and retainment of information. A 2014 study showed that implementing small-group study sessions can help raise exam scores significantly.

7. Implement Self-Care

With all of the hard work that comes with nursing school, the hardest part can sometimes be knowing when to slow down to take care of yourself. Remember that in a future nursing career, you can’t be of any help to your patients if you are burnt out.

Learning to effectively implement a self-care routine is one of the single most important things to know before nursing school. Regularly carrying out self-care rituals can help keep you going. Get your body moving and go on a walk or to the gym. Grab dinner with a friend occasionally, or maybe take the night off to stay in and rest. Self-care looks different for everyone, but regardless of what it means to you, it is important and a key part of succeeding in a rigorous program such as the Notre Dame ABSN program.

family holding two kids outside

To learn more about how to fit nursing school into your life, read all about the life of a nursing student.

8. Find a School/Life Balance

Lastly, remember that you are a person outside of school. While the nursing program should definitely be a high priority, it doesn’t need be your only priority. Make sure to be setting healthy boundaries in your life and don’t feel guilty about incorporating rest into your life. We recommend that you don’t work during the ABSN program so that you don’t become overwhelmed.

This practice may even help you become a better student and a better nurse because you will have more energy and motivation to give your best effort in all you do at NDMU.

Notre Dame of Maryland University is Here to Help

Notre Dame of Maryland University’s 15-month Accelerated 2nd Degree Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program is specifically designed for students who desire an accelerated transition into the nursing field. Whether you prefer to complete nursing coursework online via our hybrid program or in the classroom, we offer a learning method that’s right for you.

Nursing student smiling while at locker

If you’re unsure whether your prior educational and life experience make you a good fit for the Notre Dame ABSN program, one of our dedicated admissions counselors can help you make that determination.

Are You Ready to Start Nursing School?

Now that you know how to prepare for nursing school, are you ready to live up to the challenge and pursue a degree that changes lives? It all starts with an initial phone conversation with one of the Notre Dame admissions counselors, who can help you determine if you’d be a good fit for our ABSN program. Complete this form to get started today!