How to Excel on Your Nursing Degree

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So, you’ve just enrolled on a nursing degree? Fantastic. You’re about to embark on an exciting new chapter of your life. The following top tips will help you give yourself the best possible chance of graduating with flying colors and achieving your career dreams. Let’s dive right in.

Studying for Your Academic Modules

For those who have been out of formal education for a while, the prospect of going back to college for either an undergraduate nursing degree or a graduate program can be daunting. One of the most useful pieces of advice is to brush up on your study skills before enrolling. This will make it much easier for you to understand and remember the topics you’re taught during the academic modules of your course. 

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Begin your assignments well in advance of the deadlines, so you don’t feel rushed and can truly do your best work
  • Don’t simply read your notes or textbooks multiple times and expect the information to stick. Instead, actively test yourself on the material to boost retention
  • Have regular study sessions throughout the week, rather than trying to fit everything in on one day
  • Allow yourself short breaks when studying to clear your mind and boost your motivation
  • Form a study group with other students on your course so you can help each other learn and make sure none of you are slacking off
  • Ask your teachers if there’s anything you don’t understand – it’s best to clear up any confusion right away
  • Try explaining what you’re learning to someone else, to highlight the parts you don’t fully understand yet

Making the Most of Your Clinical Placement

Your clinical placement is a key part of your course and involves you working in a real-world healthcare setting under the supervision of an experienced professional. It’s where you put what you’re learning into practice, hone your skills, and ultimately become a more competent nurse. 

To get the most out of this learning opportunity, try the following tips:

  • Observe your mentor and other nurses in your placement setting closely
  • Always show high levels of motivation and enthusiasm to develop good relationships with those you’re working with
  • Ask questions if you’re not sure about something
  • Seek out opportunities to learn more or take on additional responsibilities
  • Proactively ask for feedback wherever possible and appropriate, to get an accurate image of your abilities
  • Take effective action in response to feedback, to ensure you address any issues or weaknesses
  • Look at the outcomes you’re expected to achieve, and assess how you can not only meet but exceed them
  • Communicate frequently with your mentor
  • Always act professionally, for example by showing up on time, dressing according to the workplace policy, and respecting patient confidentiality
  • Pitch in as part of the team

Tips for studying online

If you went for a more flexible study option and chose a distance learning course like the online nurse practitioner program in Texas, you might be wondering how you can ensure you succeed with a virtual degree. The good news is that you just need some prior preparation and self-discipline. 

You can give yourself an advantage by:

  • Creating a dedicated study space at home where you can work in peace. Try to set up your desk ergonomically to avoid back pain and ensure it’s well lit to prevent eye strain.
  • Plan out a study schedule that suits your preferred learning times and fits around any existing work or family commitments you have. Then, make sure that you stick to it.
  • Sign up for a free, short online course before your degree program starts. This will help you to get familiar with the process of online learning and figure out how to make it work for you.
  • Read blogs by other distance learning nursing students for some insider tips and firsthand accounts of what it’s like.
  • Get your family on board, for example by asking your partner to take the kids out for the day while you study.
  • Make use of apps that block you from accessing social media and other distracting websites while you study, to help you focus more effectively.
  • Mix things up now and again by working in a different location, such as a coffee shop or local library. Not only can this refresh your motivation, but you’re less likely to waste time if you’re surrounded by other people.
  • Set up an online study group with your cohort and work together over Zoom.

Looking After Your Physical and Mental Health

Believe it or not, a big part of succeeding academically comes down to your mental and physical health. Living a healthy lifestyle and prioritizing your wellbeing will help to ensure that your cognitive powers are at their maximum and give you the best chance of getting top grades. 

Here are some guidelines to try and stick to:

  • Eat a healthy diet that’s rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes.
  • Avoid junk food such as processed meat, salty snacks, and sugary sweets. 
  • Drink six to eight glasses of water every day to stay hydrated. This helps to keep your memory and concentration at their best
  • Avoid energy drinks, sugary sodas, .and alcohol – coffee is fine though.
  • Go for a walk in nature to get some fresh air and sunlight, boost your mood, and heighten your productivity and creativity
  • Do some form of exercise every day – this will also prepare you for long nursing shifts on your feet. From dance and yoga to tennis and kickboxing, anything fun and active will do.
  • Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep a night. This will help you to feel alert and refreshed when you wake up, plus keep your cognitive functions at their strongest.
  • Try meditation or breathing exercises to calm your mind and improve your focus. Apps such as Calm and Headspace have some great guided options for beginners.
  • If you find yourself feeling demotivated, remind yourself of why you enrolled on your nursing degree, and visualize your life after graduation. You could even make a vision board to help it feel more real.
  • Ask for help if you need it and make use of your college support services – it’s what they’re there for.

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