The Insider's Guide!
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o say that nursing programs are challenging is an understatement. The sheer volume of information you need to learn and the demands on your time can feel overwhelming. How have others managed to get through school with their sanity intact? Nurses who have been there say there are several things you can do to increase the efficiency and efficacy of your studying. The simple suggestions below will make a world of difference.
The most important thing you can do is to form study groups with your classmates. Studying with others incorporates one of the basic principles of learning trainers use: Tell, Show, Do, Review. Your teacher tells you the information you need to learn, and shows you how it works. Relying on this alone, you will only retain 20% of what you were taught. When you go over it again on your own, your retention increases to 60%. It is only when you add the "review" factor - sharing the information with others - that your retention skyrockets to 90%. Study groups help fill in the gaps - others may have information you missed, or may be able to explain a concept in a way that makes more sense to you. With study groups, members learn from each other, reinforcing key concepts and critical data. Additionally, study groups provide encouragement and moral support - everyone benefits!
This may sound crazy, but it really helps you in the long run. Use your course outlines and read material the day before it will be covered in class. This way, concepts will be familiar to you and you can focus better on what is being taught. You will retain more information, ask better questions and you will find your note-taking is more focused.
No one likes it, but it works. Some students type their notes up after class - it gives them a chance to streamline information and add things while still fresh in their memories. Other students tape lectures, then play them back in the car for reinforcement. Still others use the tried and true method of flash cards - quick, easy bites of information written on index cards, or flippable question & answer cards.
This cannot be stressed enough. Set aside a little time each day, or a chunk of time each week, to pamper yourself. Read a good book that has NOTHING to do with nursing; take a long walk at dusk; relax in a bubble bath with some soothing music and an aromatherapy candle. Everything else really CAN wait - you deserve at least 30 minutes a day to take care of yourself. It is all too easy to reach the burnout level if you eat, drink and sleep school. Your studies will be more effective if you allow for some time to relax and recharge. Making time for yourself will, in the long run, help you be a happier, more balanced, whole person (and a better student, too!).
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