Have you decided to take the plunge into a career in Nursing and need to know what to expect and how to survive? Nursing is a great career with numerous rewards but first you have to make it through school and that can be difficult for anyone. Before you get started, it is best to have a few tips in hand and know what to expect so you can begin on the road to Nursing School success.
1. Make sure you have the money to attend school. You don’t have to have a fortune but you will need to know how your bills will be getting paid while you are in school. If you are currently working full-time, you may find that you have to cut down to part time and you should have a plan in advance in case this happens. Although you can go to Nursing school and work full-time, it is less stressful if you have a plan that allows you to work less or not at all while attending school. If you are now saying that it is impossible, consider taking out school loans to help pay the bills while you are in school. For example, if you are attending nursing school through a community college you may be paying around $1600 per semester but you can get about $5000 in Federal loans. The excess funds can be sent to you to help pay your bills while you are in school. It is important to realize that you do have to pay this money back but it is worth it once you are out of nursing school. You can also check with local hospital or your current employers who may offer scholarships if you commit to work for them for a certain amount of time once you are through with school. Make sure you know what you are going to do during Nursing school, plan ahead so you are not caught by surprise if you end up needing to work less to allow for more study time.
2. Allow time for family. If you have a family, make sure you plan time to spend with them. Nursing school is hard and stressful and can take a toll on you and your family if you do not continue to spend quality time with them. You might be thinking that nursing school is just a couple of years and the sacrifice is necessary because you will all be financially better off in the end. The truth is, you can not bring back lost time with your family so as I stated in tip #1, be financially prepared for Nursing school so you do not have to neglect your family due to school and work.
3. Do not miss class for any reason; make sure you have a back up plan for everything. If you have kids and a babysitter, have a back up babysitter handy as well. Make sure your back-up will be available the entire time you are in nursing school otherwise you will need an additional back up. The key to success is attending classes, hearing the information, studying, and retaining that information for tests and the real world. If you miss the first time the information is presented, you will miss your first presentation to that information and may have difficulty understanding it forever. Nursing school may seem boring and redundant at times but studies have shown that the key to success in any schooling is first to attend your classes. Do not make excuses, have back ups ready for everything imaginable; sick kids, flat tire, icy road, you being sick, and anything else that may force you to miss even one day of class.
4. Invest in books and other materials for nursing school. You have to buy certain books for nursing school but some books are not required and need to be at the top of your list. Buy at least two NCLEX books during your first semester of Nursing school and spend at least 1 hour per week practicing questions in sections that you have been studying in school. I recommend Lippincott’s NCLEX RN book and NCLEX for Dummies. The Lippincott book comes with a computer disk in which you can practice hundreds of questions on your home computer. Do not wait until your last semester of Nursing school to start using the NCLEX books, you will find if you use them early on some of your questions may be similar to ones your instructors put on your tests. Once you are in your second year, you need to start practicing questions for at least 2 hours per week if you intend to pass the NCLEX on your first try.
5. Study your book material and your skills. Nursing school can be difficult but you can ease some of the stress by allowing yourself at least 5 hours per week for pure study time. In your study time be sure to include time to practice your skills. You should have to purchase a Nursing kit in your first semester and this kit should include catheters, IV’s, dressing change kits and numerous other items that will aid you in your skills check offs. Nursing school is not just about being able to pass tests; you have to be proficient in hands on skills which means you must take the time to study these skills. Even if you do not have all the materials, use your Fundamentals of Nursing book to go through the steps of each clinical skill until you can do it with your eyes closed. Having a family member or friend watch your skills can allow you input on some part of the skill that you may not have realized you missed. However you end up studying while in nursing school, allow at least 5 hours per week for study and skills practice time.