Top 5 Nursing School Tips

Written by Rachel West, MHA, MSN, RN Director of Education - IntelyEdu, IntelyCare
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Reviewed by Jeanne Kal Senior Manager, B2C Content, IntelyCare
Students exchanging nursing school tips in a library.

Looking for nursing school tips? You’ve come to the right place. Whether you are new to the field, switching your studies to nursing, getting back into nursing, or looking to advance your career in healthcare, pursuing an associate degree in nursing or bachelor’s degree in nursing is a big decision. If you’re still deciding where to go to school, you may want to consider Excelsior College. They offer an exclusive discount on an LPN-to-RN program if you already work as an LPN for IntelyCare.

If you’re going back to nursing school as an adult, you’re likely managing getting a degree while continuing to work. You may also be raising a family or be responsible for caring for loved ones. Getting a nursing education is a lifestyle change, no matter if you’re attending classes part time or if you’re considering accelerated nursing programs. Not sure how to study in nursing school? We can help you get organized.

How to Study in Nursing School: Tips for Success

  1. Get organized.
  2. Connect with others.
  3. Make your own nursing school study plan.
  4. Think differently.
  5. Practice self-care.

Regardless of where you’re at, these tips for nursing school study habits will help you with time management, self-care, and finding balance in your life, no matter what you may be juggling outside of your school work.

You’ve worked hard to save up for nursing school. You also put considerable effort you’re your school and work schedules so that you can maintain an income while you get your degree. Now it’s time to make the best of nursing school and thrive all the way to your graduation day.

Follow these extremely practical nursing school tips for success, whether you’re studying to be an LPN or RN. We’ll see you in the field.

1. Get Organized

There’s a reason this is at the top of our list of nursing school tips. You’re expected to learn and retain a lot of information for a variety of different classes and subject matter all at once. Paramount to how to study in nursing school is having a clear plan for how you take notes, manage your time, and manage your course materials as you go. And keep in mind: the sooner the better!

Put all of your assignments, due dates, project milestones, and lab/clinical days and times in a calendar as soon as possible

Having all your deadlines in one place will help you stay organized when you’re going back to school to be a nurse. You can use a physical planner book or a calendar app on your phone — whatever works best for you. You may also want to consider blocking off study sessions (no more than an hour or two at a time) on most days of the week. This will help you make sure that you set aside consistent time for studying.

It’s important to be organized before it’s crunch time for exams. If you find yourself disorganized and struggling to keep up, slow down and take the time to get your ducks in a row. This becomes more difficult the further along into your courses you get.

Do not cram for exams — it won’t work and you will be exhausted

Whether you’re going back to school for nursing with a bachelor’s degree or you’re starting from square one, know this: You are going to have a lot of information thrown at you. This information needs to be fully absorbed, because all these individual pieces will come together to create the whole picture of healthcare. This high-level learning cannot happen in a weekend’s worth of cramming.

Learn the ins and outs of your textbooks

Something you’ll discover when going back to school for nursing: Reading textbooks is very different from reading magazines or novels. Textbooks have different highlighted sections and supplemental information. Whether you’re using physical or digital textbooks, you should familiarize yourself with what the highlights mean and where to find additional information and texts.

If you have digital versions, you can often find great note-taking features, search features and embedded dictionaries. If you have print versions, we recommend sticky tabs from your local office store to mark important pages for quick and easy reference. And remember, your textbooks are just one tool in your nursing study guide toolkit. You need to know them, but don’t rely on them as your only resource.

2. Connect With Others

Your ultimate goal is to get your degree so you can move up in your nursing career, so actively putting effort into making friends may seem inconsequential as far as tips for nursing school go. But making friends just might help you perform better.

Making connections with your peers can lead you to forming study groups — one of the best nursing school study tools available to you anywhere. Have regular meetings where you can compare notes and have in-depth conversations that further your understanding of the topics covered in classes. You may choose to study with friends, but make sure that if you do, they don’t get you off-track. Remember, your best friend might not be your best study partner. It’s okay to seek new connections for the sake of studying only. Many nursing programs will organize study groups. Ask your professors for information on how to access them.

The connections you make in nursing school can give you a valuable support network after graduating. You never know what opportunities arise from the relationships you make. Plus, it’s more enjoyable to do the hard work of earning an education alongside friends that support each other.

Connect with your professors

Fact: Nursing school is challenging, so don’t be afraid to acknowledge this to yourself and others! If you find yourself unable to raise your hand in the classroom, going to speak to your professors during office hours is another great way to get some assistance. Ask them to recommend any good study tips for nursing students that they’ve seen yield positive results. Making a connection with your professors can help you foster a relationship with them that may come in handy throughout nursing school and beyond.

Ask questions in class

Among the top tips for nursing school: Raise your hand — often. That said, it’s common for students to feel uncomfortable asking questions. But if you’re confused about topics covered in class, or if you feel the lecture is going too fast, chances are you’re not the only one. Plus, nothing shows your professor that you’re an engaged learner more than asking questions.

Try teaching someone who doesn’t know much about the topic you are studying

Having to explain your course work in simple but comprehensive terms to somebody else can help you learn the content. If you can teach it, you understand it.

3. Make Your Own Nursing School Study Plan

If you’re struggling with how to study in nursing school, consider using PowerPoint or flash cards to pull information together as you are learning. We recommend PowerPoint (or an equivalent software) because it lets you insert photos to help you visualize the content easier.

Practice questions are your friend

The more questions you answer, the better you will be at answering questions. Seek out and answer as many practice questions as possible for each of your courses and answer them as a means of studying in nursing school. Be sure to read the rationale behind the questions’ answers even when you answer them correctly. Again, nursing isn’t just memorizing, but understanding the theory behind everything.

Set up your studying space for success

Everyone studies in nursing school a little differently. Usually people find quiet, undisturbed spaces most helpful for studying. Seek those spaces out. Consider the library or a quiet corner of your home.

4. Think Differently

Keep in mind that the way you studied in high school, for a previous degree, or even in your previous semester of your current program, won’t necessarily work when training to be a nurse. Learning is a journey and life changes as you go along. Be prepared to vary your nursing study methods as you go.

Get creative

One of the best ways to help our brains learn is to engage as many parts of it as possible. Consider drawing a picture or a diagram to explain a certain concept or task you’re learning about. Don’t worry if you feel like you aren’t an artist! The important part of this sort of exercise is thinking about how you will make a picture out of a concept. Ask yourself what will convey the concept the best.

Try drawing a concept map

Concept maps are a great way to both get your creative juices flowing and to connect the pieces of information that need to be absorbed in order to truly understand what you are learning. Lots of resources exist to help you learn how to draw a concept map.

5. Practice Self-Care

If you find yourself stressed out with your studies, always know that it’s okay to take a break. A healthy work-life balance goes a long way to restoring your focus and helping you retain the information you’ll need on your exams.

The methods are different for everybody

There are many ways to practice self-care. Try meditating, doing a hobby you enjoy, taking a nap, cooking an elaborate meal for friends, or anything else that can help you clear your mind and reset. Be active in finding ways to decompress so you can come back to your studies with a positive approach.

Play the long game

Practicing self-care doesn’t just help with your success in nursing school, it can also help you stay motivated, focused, and fulfilled in your nursing career and in life in general. Give yourself time and flexibility to develop positive habits that will benefit you greatly when you begin working in nursing jobs.

Find Your First Job Right Now

We hope these nursing school tips help you feel more confident. Need help getting that first job after graduation? Learn how IntelyCare can match you with nursing jobs that will be a great fit for your first step, and every one after that.