7 Tips for First Year Nursing Students

To be a good nurse one needs to be knowledgeable, a quick responder, and a compassionate soul who understands the patient’s pain. While the last trait is developed throughout one’s life, the first two need to be learned in nursing school. 

Nursing education is going through a transformation phase and registered nurses or RNs with a bachelor’s or associate diploma are adjusting to these changes dynamically. A nursing student may be clueless in their first year and any amount of mental preparation to handle what lies ahead can fall short when required. One might come across many study tips for nursing students. However, the real way to deal with the pressure of preparing oneself to be a nurse is beyond study plans. 

So here are seven tips that can help a first-year nursing student be a confident, compassionate, and knowledgeable nurse without losing their mind:- 

  • Focus on learning the objectives

Nursing education traditionally was conducted in a classroom pattern, where an experienced nurse instructor will deliver lectures, give assignments, conduct exams, and grade students.

In this form of pedagogy-oriented methods, often learners fail to understand the need-based approach and reasoning behind any activity. Moreover, they would memorize tough concepts without even understanding them.

In the current world and going forward in the future as well, the hiring pattern for good nurses will not just depend on how much they know the topics they learned in the nursing courses, but how well they know and how quickly they can apply in a simulation model. So focus on a concept and need-based learning. 

  • Understand what works for you
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Everyone has a style of learning that suits their ability to comprehend and learn anything. Few can adapt if required, and few may not need to adjust but hone their existing skills. For example, some students have to take notes as the lecture is going on. Others will concentrate and listen in a classroom, retain as much as possible and go back and study to understand their lessons. It is better to understand your style of learning. If it helps you achieve the learning outcome of any given lesson, then go with it. If your style is not suitable, try adapting to one that helps the cause. 

  • Ask questions

When your profession is directly linked to the betterment of patient care in the healthcare industry, no question is silly or small. If you don’t know something, just ask. Get your doubts clarified and don’t let not knowing something be a barrier to your progress in your nursing education. 

  • Strategize

A nursing student can be overwhelmed right from day one with the sheer amount of studies and clinical rotations to start with. Instead of being scared, be smart and focus on developing strategies to achieve in bits and pieces, mastering one thing at a time

Be part of study groups – Study groups should be your go-to option whenever you have subject-related doubts that can be clarified by peers. They also help you be at your competitive edge and not allow you to be complacent in any aspect.

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Organize – A good nurse is a well-organized person. Be it a timetable, a nursing bag carrying all the required essentials, or the availability of the required notes and supplies, learn to organize everything. This will be a trait that will help any nurse throughout their career. 

Study regularly – Nursing courses are comprehensive with practical clinical rotations that give students insight into applying their knowledge.

Stay calm – The first year can be daunting for many nursing students before they learn to understand how not to be overwhelmed. Take regular breaks, practice meditation, and yoga, use aromatherapy to elevate your mood and calm your nerves, run, paint, and do whatever it takes. But learn to be calm. Panic is your worst enemy and you have to master it. 

  • Spend wisely on resources

College education comes at a cost and nursing students should learn to prioritize their needs in a way to optimize their means and resources. Understand the difference between need and want and spend for the needs first. You may want twenty books covering the major topics but you may need only five of them. Use the library or borrow from other students in your study group. Even the nursing supplies list is comprehensive. Scrubs, compression stockings, and comfortable shoes are needed from such a list but the latest medical watch can be an extra item that should be bought only if you have excess cash. 

  • Take care of yourself
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A nurse is a caregiver and to be a good one, you have to learn to take care of yourself. Without proper sleep or nutrition, you will experience burnout. To deliver safe standards in patient care, nurses have to be energetic, positive, and enjoy good mental and physical health. If you make poor food choices you will lack concentration at work and cannot give your best shot. Be regular with your meal timings, eat healthy food, carry a snack in your bag, and don’t compromise on your sleep timings. 

  • Remember to have fun

Don’t miss the fun that comes with any profession. Lighten up with co-workers over mundane conversations, take a walk, eat a favorite meal, and rekindle with family and friends whenever you can take a short break. Be disciplined with this journey, but remember to loosen up and enjoy the journey of becoming a nurse. Often senior nurses look back and feel that they should have had more fun when they were still at it. 

No amount of preparation is enough to know what to expect as a future nurse, but if you make a mental note of the above points and devise some of your own, it will help you make the right choices. It is a long road to becoming a great nurse, but it starts with your choices and attitude from the first year of nursing school. So learn to have fun and work smart right from the first year of nursing school.