FORMING STUDY HABITS: 10 WAYS TO SIMPLIFY YOUR NURSING SCHOOL LIFE 1. Stick to the plan. Track all projects, deadlines, exams and other activities relating to work and/or school in a personal planner or a pocketbook calendar. 2. Take notes. Place notes in outline format with headers, subheads and bullet points. Add items your lecturer refers to in the book. 3. Create flashcards. A quick and easy way to quiz yourself right up until test day. Use flashcards for making a file of diseases/conditions and their treatments, listing signs and symptoms, diagnostic tests and interventions. 4. Tape record. This is especially handy on "test review" days when instructors share what material is likely to appear on the exam. Remember to check with your instructor first! 5. Compare notes. Its possible that your classmates have information you didnt catch and vice-versa. 6. Use the textbook to your advantage. Outline each chapter, write down questions about concepts you dont understand and refer to other resources for extra help (i.e. the Internet, nursing journals, NCLEX review materials, etc.). 7. Stay informed. Attending class is important. You never know if a question asked by a fellow classmate or a piece of information not found in the book might be found on the next exam. 8. Ask questions. Get answers to questions raised in your book, ideas youre unclear on from lectures or clarify your notes. 9. Stay in touch with your instructor. Visit during office hours, send an e-mail, talk by phone and sit in the front row during class whenever possible. 10. Be exam prepared. Find out what the exam will cover and the exam format. Review points emphasized in class, questions in your study guides, past quizzes and end of chapter review sections.METHODS OF STUDYStudying AloneIf studying alone sounds boring, difficult or lonely, think again. The advantage ofstudying on your own is that you can do it on your own time without having to planaround the schedules of others.These are some tips for studying alone: 11. Decide what to study. This means figuring out what youll study, for how long and how many chapters, pages, problems or case studies you want to complete. Once youve set your "schedule," stick to it. 12. Complete difficult tasks first. If youre a procrastinator, start with something simple and/or interesting to get you motivated and on task. 13. Give yourself a break. Study for 50 minutes and then give yourself a 10 minute break. The break is a good time to stretch, relax or have a snack.
14. Change scenery. Often, locking yourself up in your dorm or apartment makes it more difficult to study, especially if youre studying in a room thats less than neat. Get out and study at a coffee shop, the library or the park. Youre likely to concentrate better and get more done. 15. Getting tired or bored? Put down what youre doing and start on a different task or subject. Stop studying when youre no longer being productive. 16. Keep your schedule practical, flexible and realistic. Make time for socializing, studying and sleeping. If youre someone with lots of time, develop good organizational skills. For those with an already busy schedule, re-establish your priorities so that you arent trying to do too much in too little time. 17. Repetition, repetition, repetition. Its true that practice makes perfect-read your notes several times over until you remember the important points. 18. Get plenty of sleep. Pulling an all-nighter wont help you if youre mind turns to gelatin by the time you arrive for the exam. Instead, study until your usual bedtime, then plan to rise earlier than usual the next morning for last minute reviewing. Youll find that your mind will be fresher and ready for testing. And dont overcaffeinenate!Studying in GroupsDont forget, two heads are better than one. If youre not feeling too confident abouta class or find it easier to learn by discussing study material, you may want join astudy group. Its a great way to share ideas and teach each other, but it can also beunproductive if discussion departs from organic chemistry to whos dating whom.Here are some tips for getting the most out of your study group sessions: 1. Threes Company. The ideal size of a study group is three. The smaller your study group, the more it will help you and members be more efficient, thorough and productive. This also places each member in the leader position. 2. Set goals. Each person should walk into a study session with a list of questions or goals to accomplish for that session. This will help keep the group on target and from wavering off the subject. 3. Group effort. Assign a portion of each chapter or assignment to a member of your group. From there, make up study questions for your portion and distribute copies to the others. And voila, you have your own practice exam. 4. No substitutions. Group study is not a substitute for individual learning and understanding. The key to learning is not the actual answer but the process of critical thinking. Preparing for your clinic 19. Select a clinical site. Sometimes this is not left up to your discretion but to the discretion of the school you attend. However, if you are given the option to choose where to complete your clinicals, its a good idea to do some background research. This includes finding out if the facility admits students, the nurse-to-patient ratio and the status of the facility (i.e. reorganization, labor dispute or extensive layoffs). The idea is to get your experience in a
facility that will provide you with the best opportunities for learning and growth.20. Adopt a uniform. What you wear to your clinical rotation depends on your school. But the key is to exercise good hygiene and dress appropriately. Your clinical uniform should be clean and not excessively wrinkled.21. Equip yourself. Before you run out and spend hundreds of dollars on expensive medical equipment, check out the list of suggested equipment provided by your school. Items youll likely need for clinical rotations: black and red pens, a penlight, a basic stethoscope, a calculator, bandage scissors, pocket-sized drug guide/clinical procedures handbook-or if youre tech- savvy, a personal digital assistant, a watch (not digital) and comfortable shoes. You may want a pocket-sized notebook or notecards to take notes and a pen. Often facilities use red ink and black ink for documentation22. Go to Lab. Whether your instructor expects you to sit through videos that explain clinicals and/or demonstrates those skills using medical equipment and mannequins during lab, take notes and pay close attention because this is where you can learn without worrying about making mistakes. The time in lab will help prepare you for your return demonstrations (an assessment of your ability to perform skills such as tube feedings, intra-muscular injections, or wound care) and for your clinical experience where youll perform your skills on real patients.23. Attend Clinical Orientation. This is your chance to ask all the questions you have and to get acquainted with the facility where you will be working. Be sure to know where you can find the following: fire doors and fire procedures, emergency equipment, dirty and clean linen, policy and procedure manuals, forms and supplies, patient kitchen and staff bathrooms. Gaining clinical expirience24. Insurance. Check with your school to see if you need to procure liability insurance prior to beginning clinical rotations. Several companies provide individual liability insurance. For more information about malpractice insurance for nursing students, check out the Nurses Service Organization25. Schedule clinicals. Be sure to schedule your clinical rotations with your clinical coordinator.26. Clinical objectives. If youre not sure what tasks you should be completing, refer to your schools clinical objectives for a checklist of items you should perform. The list will keep you on target as you learn new procedures and practice the ones youre not comfortable with or havent yet perfected.27. Learn through observation. Watch your instructor perform a procedure first. Then, when the same procedure comes up again, ask to be verbally guided through the procedure. Do not peform any procedure beyond the scope of usual practice for the student level, or perform procedures without supervision.
28. Practice, practice, practice. The best way to learn is to jump in and do the procedures. You may have some uneasiness on your first attempt but youll soon find that once youve done it, the easier it will become.29. Clinical errors. Any clinical error on your part should be reported to the clinical coordinator or preceptor. Based on the seriousness of the error, you may need to fill out an incident report. In addition, you may be asked to provide a written synopsis of the incident to the clinical coordinator, which will placed in your academic file.