8 Nursing School Tips for Success

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If you are thinking about going back to nursing school, you are probably wondering how to get through nursing school successfully. Some of the top nursing school tips for success in ABSN tracks like Mercer’s include studying effectively, being organized, and asking questions.

Mercer ABSN student standing in hallway

Whether you are thinking about going back to school to become a nurse, or you are just starting nursing school, you are likely aware of the journey that lies ahead. Nursing school requires a lot of hard work, and for good reason. After all, nurses carry a great deal of responsibility, making a thorough education vitally important.

At Mercer University, we understand the importance of a quality education for future nurses, and that understanding is reflected in our Second Degree Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing track. This track allows students to graduate in as few as 12 months, and the curriculum is comprised of three components: online or on-campus coursework, labs, and clinical rotations. While nursing school is challenging, our students have plenty of support from their professors and peers along the way. Being able to overcome challenges is a great skill to have as a nurse, and nursing school will help you to build this skill. And we have eight nursing school tips for success to help you along your journey.

two Mercer ABSN students sitting in class

Prepare for nursing school by finding out what makes it challenging.

1. Find Effective Study Habits

Finding effective study habits is the first tip on this list because it is essential to build a strong foundation for success in Mercer’s ABSN track. While you likely have developed some study habits thus far in your educational career, you must be prepared to adapt them to fit the fast-paced nature of an ABSN track.

Here are a few ways to refine your study habits:

Write it Down

Although technology is a great thing for productivity, it may be wise to consider the old-school way of taking notes. Students who handwrite their notes are more likely to remember them than those who type them, according to leading experts. Researchers believe this is partly due to the additional time it takes to write things down and taking notes by hand builds motor memory. Typing lacks the same motor memory benefits for many, and can lead to less engagement with the material.

Consider Your Surroundings

While online-based coursework grants flexibility in taking on material, setting aside an area of your home specifically for studying can help keep you focused. This space should be free of clutter and distractions, as these have been found to inhibit the brain’s ability to process and store information. If you plan on studying in public places, or live with noise from people or pets, you might consider getting noise-cancelling headphones to limit distractions.

Two Heads are Better Than One

In addition to studying on your own, there is great value in meeting up with fellow members of your cohort to study and review course materials. Studying with a buddy exposes you to other perspectives and learning opportunities, and the more you reach out to cohort members, the better you can support one another through the nursing track.

three Mercer nursing students sitting in skills lab

Consistency is Key

Your study habits should be just that: habits. Any nursing student will tell you that to complete nursing school successfully, you need to proactively engage with material to grow your understanding. If it was covered in your reading assignments, labs, online coursework, etc., it is fair game on tests and quizzes, thus making it crucial that you remain active.

2. Get Organized

Being organized is also another important component to success in an ABSN track. Because these curricula are accelerated, keeping track of all assignments and deadlines will be essential for your success. Plus, learning how to juggle multiple tasks at a time will prove to be useful in your career as a nurse as well. While there are many aspects to consider, the two main things we recommend you have organized during nursing school is your schedule and filing system.

Your Schedule

Setting a schedule not only keeps you on track with your assignments, labs, and clinicals, it can also be a major time-saver, helping you to prioritize tasks so you make the best use of your time. While Mercer’s easy-to-use online learning management system (LMS) features a built-in calendar, many students keep more than one calendar. Of course, what you do is up to you. Some students break each day into chunks while others note only key dates and times.

Your Filing System

Whether studying nursing theory via campus-based lectures or online coursework, you will be taking a lot of notes. You will need to reference these later, for subsequent courses and NCLEX preparation. Consider keeping all your notes in organized binders. (For example: using dividers and color-coded tabs for specific topics, highlighting the most important information, etc.) For students who keep their files in a digital format, similar concepts can be implemented, such as highlighting, color coding documents, and grouping files in folders based on topic.

Mercer nursing student sitting outside using laptop

3. Ask Questions

Don’t be afraid to reach out if you need help. Though students in Mercer’s ABSN track complete their coursework online, we make it easy to connect through our online learning management system’s built-in discussion forums and chat features. You can also contact your instructors through email, by phone, or in-person via office hours at our ABSN Learning Site. Many instructors even encourage students to text them with questions.

4. Set Goals

Setting goals will help you stay motivated while in nursing school. Long-term goals are great, but we also suggest setting shorter-term goals to help keep you on pace. Remembering SMART goals is a great strategy to ensure your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.

To set a SMART goal, you must reevaluate your goal and make sure it fits each criterion. For example, if you want to get good grades, your SMART goal would be: “I want to ensure I get all A’s and B’s this semester by spending at least an hour each day reviewing material.” This goal is specific (“good” defined by A’s and B’s), measurable (both by grade and time spent studying), achievable (spending one hour each day is a reasonable amount of time), relevant (achieving this goal will contribute to your success in nursing school overall), and timely (the timeline is over the course of a semester).

mercer nurse smiling at camera

See how nursing can be a great career due to its high job satisfaction and outlook.

5. Treat Nursing School Like a Full-Time Job

Another nursing school tip for success which can see you through prioritization and time management is to treat nursing school as if it were your full-time job. You will likely be spending at least 40 hours each week on assignments and studying, so keeping pace in an Accelerated BSN track is a full-time commitment. We do not recommend working while in Mercer’s ABSN track, as the level of academic rigor and time spent studying requires your full effort and attention.

With that being said, the track can be completed in as soon as one year. Before you know it, after passing the NCLEX you will be able to start your career as a nurse. At that point, your time spent studying will have prepared you to be the best nurse that you can be.

6. Establish Support Systems

To help you get through nursing school and for your own well-being, it is important to establish support systems. Reach out to the people around you, at school and at home, who care about you. Make them aware of the size of the commitment you have taken on, and they will more than likely be ready to support you however they can. Maintaining interpersonal relationships is an important component of a happy and healthy life during school and beyond.

At School

Making connections with individuals at school will contribute to your nursing school success. Aside from being good study buddies, making friends with peers will help you to feel more connected while you go through the rigorous ABSN track. Your professors are also great resources for you. They want nothing more than to see you succeed, and because they have extensive knowledge and experience in the field of nursing, their insight is invaluable. Additionally, connecting with professionals during your clinical rotations is a great way to get a feel for what it is like to be a nurse, as well as an opportunity to establish mentoring relationships with nurses in the field.

nursing students practicing skills in skills lab

At Home

While making connections at school will no doubt contribute to your success, it is important to have a support system at home too. Your schedule can be full while going through an ABSN track, and it is important to continue to make time for family and friends. These people are often important motivators, and spending time with them can provide a much-needed break, allowing you to recharge before you hit the books again.

7. Take it One Day at a Time

When first starting the track, the scope and timeline may seem a bit overwhelming. That is why a “take it one day at a time” attitude is important. While planning ahead is important for success, focusing on today’s tasks without worrying about tomorrow’s will keep you focused and may reduce stress levels. Breaking down this year-long journey into day-to-day chunks can make it feel much less daunting, and before you know it, you will have graduated the track and be on your way to becoming a nurse.

8. Maintain a Healthy Balance Between School and Life

Our last, but not least, nursing school tip for success is ensuring you maintain a healthy school-life balance. While Mercer’s ABSN track can be completed in as little as 12 months, it’s important to continue prioritizing your personal wellbeing throughout this journey. Here are some suggestions on how to maintain that balance.

Practice Self-Care

With so much to learn, it can be tempting to spend much of your time doing schoolwork. Diligent though this may be, it is a recipe for burnout. Nursing is a demanding job, so it is important to establish the habit of practicing self-care now.

Some forms of self-care may include:

  • Getting enough sleep — For most adults, 7–8 hours a night is optimal.
  • Exercising regularly — The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of intense aerobic activity each week.
  • Eating healthy — Eat enough fruits and vegetables and limit alcohol, caffeine, and sugar consumption.
  • Taking breaks to clear your mind.
  • Practicing stress-management techniques, such as meditation or yoga.

These things help you to maintain a happier, healthier lifestyle, and as a nurse you will likely be advising patients to do similar things to take care of themselves. Leading by example and speaking from experience may even help develop trust between you and your patients.

Remain Confident in Your Ability to Get Through Nursing School Successfully

Mercer nursing student sitting at desk reading textbook

It might seem a bit cliché, but there is real value in maintaining a positive outlook and it may be a key component in completing nursing school successfully. Thinking positively can prevent us from sabotaging our best efforts. For example, if you walk into a test believing you will fail you may second-guess yourself on questions you know the answers to, whereas those with a positive attitude are less likely to doubt themselves.

With these tips as well as your own hard work and dedication, you will be prepared to complete nursing school successfully. If you are interested in pursuing a nursing education, contact us to learn more about how you can earn your BSN through Mercer’s ABSN track in as few as 12 months.