Nursing School Survival Kit

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Top 10 Things Needed in Your Nursing School Survival Kit

Amy Brock, MSN, RN has spent nearly two decades in the field of nursing. Her extensive professional experience includes work in Emergency Departments, Endoscopy, Oncology, and as an Urgent Care Family Nurse Practitioner. Most recently, she became an Associate of Science in Nursing instructor at Southern Regional Technical College.

Based on her own experience as a student and as an instructor, she has developed an essential toolkit for surviving and thriving in Nursing School:

ONE: A Great Support Network

It is essential to have support during nursing school. Your support network can be made up of anyone supportive of you. For some of you, it may be your family while others may feel like your family is making your challenges of nursing school harder. Some of you may feel uplifted by your closest friends while others feel like your friends are trying to distract you from your studies. Your support system can include colleagues, church family, neighbors, or other people within the community. If you do not have a support group, make one with your classroom peers. Surround yourself with those who are uplifting, helpful, and supportive of you during this challenging year of your life. You may need help with your children, your home, meals, or simply someone to provide understanding. Whatever your needs are don't be afraid to ask for help and let them know exactly what they can do to help.

TWO: A Designated Place to Study

There is a great deal of studying required for the ASN program. Picking a spot to study is key to having successful study sessions. Pick a study location that is free from distractions. If your home environment is great for studying, then pick a space within your home that feels comfortable to you. You will be spending a great deal of time here for the next year. On the other hand, family and home responsibilities can often be distracting when it comes time to study. Sometimes freeing yourself from distractions may require going to a library or the college campus. Maybe the great outdoors is exactly what you need while digging into your nursing content.

THREE: Time for Self-Care

This is a critical component needed in nursing school. Often nursing students are bogged down with work, school, family, friends, bills, unexpected emergencies, and the list goes on and on. You have so much on your plate that self-care seems impossible. Make time for it anyway! Self-care is the time for you to recharge your batteries. You cannot give of yourself if you have nothing to give, and you have nothing to give if you don't take time to recharge. Examples of self-care activities include exercise, meditation, prayer, sleep, drawing or painting, writing in a journal, reading, an uninterrupted hot bath, or plugging in music and tuning everything else out. Maybe the thing that recharges you isn't on this list. Make a list of things that make you feel recharged, and schedule self-care on your calendar. You will need it.

FOUR: A Study Group

When you first start in your program you may not know anyone. Making friends immediately may seem intimidating, but opening up to a study group will help you through this program! It may take some time to find the right group for you. If you can't find a group that is formed, then form one. Set a date and location to study and meet up. You will find that your study partners may have heard something in class that you didn't, or maybe they are stronger in an area where you are weak and vice versa. The students who have been most successful in the program are those who built a support system with their study group.

FIVE: The Word “NO”

Now is your time to practice the art of saying “no.” You will have to say “no” more often than you would probably like to. You would think that the world knows you are busy, but the reality is that people don't stop asking you to do things because you are in nursing school. Unless someone has gone through nursing school then they do not have a clue how much of your time is dedicated to your studies. You may have constant requests for your time.

  • Can you come to the birthday party next weekend?
  • Can you bring the mac-n-cheese, turkey, and a cake to Thanksgiving this year?
  • Can you watch my kids?
  • Can you pick up an extra shift?
  • Can you stop by the store and pick up groceries tonight?
  • Can you make dinner tonight?
  • Can you…. will you…. won't you…

Just remember when you are saying “no” that “no” is a complete sentence. It is just that simple. No. You have committed yourself to completing this program. Saying “no” to all the distractions comes with the territory.

SIX: Your Syllabus

Keep your syllabus handy! You will refer to it often. If it can be found in your syllabus you will be directed to look there by your facilitators. Your syllabus is the guideline for your course. Requirements, readings, learning activities, course dates, and other pertinent information are all located in your syllabus. If you look at it the first day of class and then file it away without looking at it again then you will be lost. This is your map to keep you on course.

SEVEN: A Calendar

If you don't typically keep a calendar now is the time to start. Start each semester by filling out your calendar. Getting organized at the start of the semester will save you time and energy in the long run. It will help you stay organized in this fast-paced program. If you are using a hard calendar, it is best to use a pencil as events are subject to change. Otherwise, a digital calendar will work just fine. It is your responsibility to keep up with dates and deadlines. Creating a well-kept calendar will be beneficial to your success.

EIGHT: A Plan “B”, “C”, and “D”

Always have plans A, B, C, and D. If you have a designated person to watch your children make sure you have backups. Make sure to have a contingency plan for if your car breaks down, you run out of gas, or you have a flat tire. Your attendance in this program is required, and having backup plans will ensure that you can meet your obligations. Also, have a backup study location in mind in the event that your space has been invaded by noise and distractions.

NINE: Organization

You have opted for the LPN-RN Bridge program to cut your time to three semesters. You must be organized to keep up with the demands and requirements of this program. The theme of organization will carry throughout every aspect of this experience. This includes your calendar, assignments, study plan, notebooks, files, etc. If you struggle with organization, find the most organized person in your class and ask for tips. Also, you can meet with your instructors for advice. Just keep in mind that everyone organizes a little differently. What works for someone else may not work for you. Find what works for you and stick to it.

TEN: Grace

Have grace with yourself! This program is very challenging. You will have times when you feel like you are rocking it! Also, you will have times when you feel like quitting, and you don't feel cut out for this. You are going to have bad days! They are inevitable in this program and life. What you do as a result of those bad days is what will carry you through. Have grace with yourself. Be your own cheerleader. What you mentally say to yourself, and how you feel about yourself matters. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones and know that you are where you are supposed to be. You may slip. That is okay. You may even fall. That is okay. Just get back up and keep moving forward. The road to success is not a straight line. So have grace with yourself. Be kind to yourself.

If you are ready to become a nurse, we are ready to support you along your journey! Learn about our Nursing programs here:


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