How to Survive Nursing School

Instructor: Carrie Soucy
Completing nursing school is no easy feat. If you're wondering how to make it through, check out this Top 10 list of nursing school survival tips and strategies.

Top 10 Nursing School Survival Strategies

To survive nursing school, you'll need to utilize effective study strategies and take care of yourself mentally and physically. Here are the top 10 tips for keeping everything in balance to survive, and even excel, in nursing school.

One: Join a Study Group

Many graduates say their nursing school study group played a critical role in helping them survive the rigors of their program. A strong study group can help you stay on track with your assignments, figure out concepts you're struggling with, and develop your interpersonal skills. Along with academic support, the peers in your study group can also provide much-needed emotional support during stressful times.

Two: Schedule Your Study Time

Nursing school instructors and students alike emphatically discourage cramming or falling behind on assignments. To effectively juggle your responsibilities during nursing school, keep a calendar of exam dates, tasks, and assignment deadlines and set aside daily study time. Make sure you create realistic goals and work on developing the strong time management skills that you'll need not only as a nursing school student, but also as a professional nurse. For help, check out this Time Management for Nurses course, which provides strategies that you can use in school and later in your career.

Three: Exercise

If you think you don't have time to exercise, think again. Exercise helps beat stress, boosts your mood and, according to some studies, even improves your memory (which will help you during that next study session). Physical activity can be vigorous or moderate, as long as you get yourself moving. If you don't already have a go-to exercise, check out this lesson on Movement Based Relaxation Techniques, such as yoga, tai-chi, and walking.

Four: Get Enough Sleep

As a nursing student, you may find it hard to get your brain to shut down at the end of the day, but getting enough sleep is important to your mental and physical health. If you have trouble relaxing, you may want to try keeping a journal by your bed so you can write down (and dismiss) all the thoughts and concerns running through your head. For additional tips on how to unwind, explore this short lesson on Relaxation Techniques, such as breathing exercises, aromatherapy, massage, muscle relaxation, and visualization.

Five: Maintain a Healthy Diet

Junk food and caffeine may seem like a good idea during study sessions, but in the long run, remember that your body needs proper fuel in order to keep functioning. At the very least, follow the advice you've heard since you were in kindergarten: eat a good breakfast. If you need help getting yourself on a healthy-eating track, these Healthy Diet Planning lessons are a good place to start.

Six: Study Smart

Studying is like most other activities: quality is more important than quantity. To maximize your study time, choose a distraction-free environment when studying, make a habit of reviewing your notes as soon as possible after class, and keep your textbooks from semester to semester for easy reference when needed. For additional study tips and strategies, check out these short lessons on Studying for College Success.

Seven: Reward Yourself

All work and no play makes for an unhappy nursing school experience. Time is valuable, but remember that you need a break now and then. To help motivate yourself through classes and study time, plan something fun as a reward for finishing a big exam or assignment.

Eight: Get Help

If you're struggling with a class, assignment, or concept and your study group isn't able to assist you, don't wait to pursue other forms of help, such as a tutor or an online study guide.'s self-paced online courses are broken down into short video lessons, making it easy to zero in on specific areas that are causing you trouble. See, for example, these Fundamentals of Nursing, Critical Care Nursing, and Human Anatomy and Physiology courses.

Nine: Get to Know Your Instructors

Be a visible, active member of all your classes and get to know your instructors. This not only makes it easier to approach them when you need help, but also allows you to develop valuable professional contacts you can use throughout your nursing career.

Ten: Be Confident

Just like 'The Little Engine That Could,' you'll be much more likely to succeed if you believe in yourself. Don't be afraid to ask questions and approach your assignments, especially in clinical settings, with confidence.

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