Nursing Student
New Grad

5 Nursing Students Share How to Succeed in Nursing School (Kick this Semesters Ass)

succeed in nursing school - 6 Tips

I talked to 5 current and previous nursing students and asked them what advice would they give to new nursing students . . . Here’s what they said.

Listen to the episode here:

6 Tips to Succeed in Nursing School


  • Just Breath
  • Learn How to Manage Your Time
  • Show Interest in Clinicals
  • You MUST Work Hard
  • Develop Test Taking Skills
  • Discover Your Learning Style

I want to personally thank Jessica, Taylor, Rikki, Luis, and Jenna for being willing to share their advice.  We’re all in this together!

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Podcast Transcription

In 1998 that sounds so weird to talk about it like that. I promise I’m not one of those people who’s like, I walked up Hill both ways to school when I talked to my kids or anything. 

In 1998 when I was a red between my sophomore and junior year of high school. So during that summer I went on a 50 mile backpacking canoe trip. Now prior to this, I had never even backpacked five miles. 

So I didn’t have the gear. I wasn’t prepared. But we plan this trip, right? It was, it was me and like five other guys and my dad and a couple of other guys. And we planned this 50 mile backpack trip in the mountains in Arkansas. So I took off with a terrible backpack that I think I got at a thrift store, a cotton sleeping bag that probably weighed 35 pounds. And we took off hiking up these mountains on the very first night of our trip. You know, I was smart enough to not to bring a tent, of course. Uh, but on the very first night of the trip, I laid my sleeping bag down on the grass and went to sleep at about two in the morning. It started pouring. It was a summer rainstorm and it just poured and poured and poured. 

When I woke up in the morning, I was about 10 or 15 feet down the Hill from where I went to sleep at night and my sleeping bag was drenched, of course, and I didn’t really sleep that night, but my sleeping bag was drenched. And of course, like I said, it was a cotton sleeping bag. Let’s start it out at 35 pounds. Now I weigh 230 pounds because it was soaked with water. And so for the rest of this backpack trip, for the next four days, the next four nights, I was walking around with this soaked sleeping bag. No tent. What clothes? What everything. Now the reason I tell you this story is because at interest’s in G, I’m very fortunate to hear from thousands and thousands of nursing students around the world, and so we hear a lot of struggles. We hear a lot of of what people struggle with in nursing school and my concern is we start semesters, we start nursing school not knowing what tools we need, not knowing what we need to actually succeed. 

So today I’m going to share with you six different tools, six different strategies that you can use to kick the semester’s ass so you don’t end up like high school John stuck in the mountains drenched. Okay? I’m going to give you six tips, six strategies to help you succeed during this next semester, crush nursing school and come out on top. Now the first tip I’m going to share with you is to just breathe. Trust yourself. You’ve done the hardest part of nursing school with is just getting in. So many people apply. So many people don’t get in. You got into nursing school, so take a breath, smell the roses, and trust yourself. Now I want to share with you two clips from members of the NRSNG Academy who share some advice on this. The first one’s from Jessica and she talks about the importance of just breathing, trusting yourself. 

I recently just graduated from the university of Texas medical branch in Galveston with my BSN. Um, and I will be working in a mixed ICU in a hospital and seeing Antonio. So I’m really excited about that. Uh, my advice for new nursing students would be just breathe. Honestly, I know that, you know, it just sounds kind of cliche, but it’s so true. I know that when awry Cerner’s in school, I was just so overwhelmed and I was scared and nervous and a lot of the times you just have to take a step back and just realize that it’s already a huge accomplishment to be accepted to nursing school. So I’m just kind of, you know, just take it one day at a time when we’ve got a time, one class at a time, one semester at a time and just focus on what you’re doing at that time. 

This next piece of advice comes from Ricky, who’s also a member of NRSNG Academy and she talks about the importance of taking care of yourself, doing new things, making friends, and realizing that your preparing to become a nurse, but you’re also still a person. You have to take time to breathe, to step back, to get out of the books and to just enjoy this portion of your life. 

Take care of your mental health. That is a really, really big thing and you’re going to learn that along the way. As important as it is to be a really great student, it’s also important to take care of yourself. You can’t just be in the books all the time. It just isn’t good. And trust me, I’ve, I’ve experienced it. Um, do some extracurricular stuff. Meet new people. Those people are gonna make your experiences with students so much better. Trust me, I’ve met some really cool people in nursing school and I couldn’t imagine my life without them. I think my biggest point here is going to say, get rid of that. I’m just a student mentality. You are a future RN and a professional in training, um, you are going to be that one day that nurse that’s at the bedside and you are going to be the one in charge. You really, really need to get rid of that. I’m just a student mentality. You can still impact your patient’s lives as a student because they’re going to see you as the nurse. 

Now, trust me, I know how hard it can be to just step back. I’m very, uh, unifocal type of person. I get very hyper focused on one thing at a time and I did the same thing in nursing school and I’ve shared that story several times about how I became over-focused on nursing and nursing school during school and actually withdrew and then went back and finished. But I don’t want that to happen to you. I want you to take a step back, trust yourself, and just enjoy the process. You can’t study all the time. You need to take some time out, breathe and trust yourself. Tip number two is time management. Time management matters so much in nursing school, you’re going to be given 4 million pages to read 60 assignments and 32 patients to take care of, so you’ve got to learn how to plan and study and budget your time. 

I was never really good at time management and and planning ahead so much until I started nursing school, but you have to learn how to do this. There’s a couple of tips I can I can share with you. The first would be to get a planner that works for you. You don’t have to get the same thing that everybody else uses, but you need something that works for you. What works best for me is Google calendar. It’s free. It’s on my phone, syncs with a computer and I can schedule everything in their color code. It had to do list. I really like Google calendar. That’s the best one for me, but we’re going to share another tip. This one’s also from Jessica and she talks about what she uses or what she used in nursing school, a planner and a whiteboard system. 

I bought like a jumbo whiteboard that is in my, I’m still in my room and just like wrote out, um, my week, my month, everything. Like it’s really good to just write things down in either like a planner or a whiteboard somewhere that you can see it. 

The biggest tip I would give you guys is to find something that works for you. It’s not going to be the same for everybody, even on the floor. And that’s why when we created our, um, nursing report sheet database, we provided 32 of them because what works for one person, what works for one nurse isn’t gonna work for everybody. So find what works for you and then dive into it and make it work even better and better for you. Tip number three is to fall in love with nursing. We all went into nursing for different reasons and then we get to school and reality hits. But it’s important that you fall in love with nursing. What was that reason that you wanted to be a nurse? There were a couple of driving factors for me, and I’ll be honest, one of them was the work schedule that I got to be home with my family more. 

Another one was the income that you make with that work schedule, but another reason was that I really love anatomy and physiology. My favorite topic in my bachelor’s, my first bachelor’s was anatomy and physiology. Loved it so much. I love learning about the body. I love what what it is. I love how it works together and I love how disease processes work and how we can treat them and cure them and heal them. So you need to find what it is about nursing, whether it’s pharmacology, whether it’s clinical, whether it’s talking to patients, whether it’s anatomy and physiology, find what it is that you love about it and dive into that and really fall in love with those things. I want to play a clip from Taylor, who’s also a member of the NRSNG Academy and she talks about the importance of falling love with nursing. 

The more effort and passion and studying you dedicate to the material, the more you will fall in love with it and the more you will feel confident in your skills that you’re developing and it’s so rewarding. So dedicate that extra time, that extra few minutes, a day to studying and really knowing that material like your patient’s life is on the line cause one day it really will be. 

Now one way you can do this you guys is to step up and and open your mouth during nursing clinicals and talk to your talk to your clinical advisors, talk to your preceptors and show interest. This is going to help you in a lot of ways. It’s going to help your instructor see that you’re interested, you’re engaged and I promise you that’s going to pay back dividends when it comes to grading time when it comes to clinical assignments, but also it gets you experienced to see the things that you want to see, to get first choice in clinical and find and learn about things you haven’t learned about yet. Now, Ricky shares with us the importance of doing this. And I like what she says here, where you show interest and you get a chance to do things that you haven’t done yet. So here’s what Ricky says. 

So I would say express your interest when you’re in the clinical setting. Let your instructors know what skills you haven’t done, but would like to learn how to do, um, different medications you want to learn about, et cetera. So they can assign you patients, um, to facilitate your learning and make you a better nurse in the future. 

No, I agree with that so much. Now being a nurse and being a preceptor, now that I’ve graduated nursing school and work with so many nurses on the floor, those nursing students that come in and show interest in acting engaged and ask questions and ask to see new things are those nurses, nursing students that I love working with the most, I can tell they’re gonna make a great asset on the floor someday. And I can tell they’re interested in, they’re interested in what I’m doing. So I want to share with them more. And I want to find more experiences for them. So when you’re on the clinical floor, show interest, ask questions, ask for difficult assignments. This is the best time to learn. When you have a preceptor, Andrew or a student, find those difficult patients, find those difficult cases and tried to get experience doing those things. 

My advice for new nursing students is that you have to work for those grades. They will not be handed to you. Oh my goodness. I’ve seen too many friends and too many nursing peers start off nursing school thinking will be a piece of cake and not really dedicating themselves to the material and watching, you know, just nursing school slip through their fingers so easily. And it is a huge first lesson. I experienced it the first time. I didn’t even get into nursing school. Um, how much more effort and studying you really have to put into it. 

Tip number five is take advantage of all the resources that are out there. There’s skills involved with nursing. Obviously, you know, learning how to start a viz and all those types of things are skills, but they’re skills involved with being successful at nursing school. One of those skills is test-taking. Once you learn how to take tests in nursing school, you can then begin to focus more on the content because you have the skill set needed to do well on tests. We’ve actually created a free webinar that goes over 11 steps to taking nursing school exams. If you go to test-taking in our taking that webinar’s about an hour long, it’s free. You can take it anytime and it’s going to teach you. It’s going to show you how to do well on nursing school exams. I promise you they’re different than anything else you’ve taken. Taking this one hour to take this test is going to help you so much in so many ways throughout your nursing education. Another thing you can do is find what you’re struggling with, whether it’s test taking, which I truly recommend that everybody take the test taking webinar. That’s an interest in taking. Whether it’s EKG, medications, med surge, whatever it is. We have podcasts on it, we have nursing materials on it. This is a clip from Luis who’s also part of the NRSNG Academy. And he talks about the, the how the inner SNG podcast helped him. So finding that material of what you’re struggling with and then diving into that material is really important. Here’s what Luis said, 

I ended up taking from a college last semester and it was very overwhelming, especially for the first exam. Um, and then I ended up finding med master, the podcast and the template for pharmacology. And that ended up helping a lot because they narrowed it down to what I really needed to know about the medication. And I ended up doing much better at, uh, after I started using it, a lot of my friends had used it and I also recommended them the podcast and they loved it. They also did well and I don’t think we would have passed if it wasn’t for those resources that NRSNG has. So I just want to say thank you. 

The last if I want to share with you is to figure out what your learning style is. Everybody learns different. Some people are kinesthetic, some people are audio, some people are visual. I’m a very visual learner. I’m also a very kinesthetic learner, so nursing clinicals worked really well for me. I could read about starting an Ivy all day long, but I was never going to remember it until I did it and that’s how I am now. I don’t do well just reading and reading and reading. I dive in and I start doing and that’s how I learned. There’s a way you can learn your learning style. There’s a website called bark. It’s a Varco assessment, V. a. R. K. if you just Google [inaudible] assessment, I think it takes me, no, maybe five, 10 minutes is this assessment that then tells you what’s your best learning style is and then once you know your learning style, you can then begin to find ways to learn that way. What we’ve done within our S and G is we’ve tried to create ways for you to learn in every way. We’ve got audio, visual text, and then we try to show you some of the skills. Now Jenna, who’s a member of NRSNG Academy, she also talks about how this has helped her, how having different modalities and different ways of learning has helped her in her education. 

I joined NRSNG Academy last year around the holidays knowing that my second year would be much harder and I tell you I’ve cannot have gotten this far without them. They may think so clear. I love having videos and then things I can print out and I can write more notes on with a teacher. I am my third med surge class and we just get done with ABGs. Everyone else in the classroom looked mortified after the test was over and all I could think of the back of my head was, whew, I got it. And I just got my grade and I did and I couldn’t be happier. And if it wasn’t for NRSNG Academy, I wouldn’t have got there. So thank you NRSNG for making things a little brighter in a nursing student world. 

So I strongly encourage you to take of arc assessment, find out what your learning style is, and then find ways to learn that way. So now you’ve heard from five different current and previous nursing students, Jessica Taylor, Ricky Luis, Jenna. These are people who have become very successful nursing students, not just because they spend all this time in the books that are good test takers, but because they’ve adopted a method that’s helped them become successful in so many ways. If you take these strategies and these tips that they’ve shared with you and that I’ve shared with you, you’re going to do very well on nurse’s clearing to do well this semester. Not only that, you’re going to be much more mentally sane, which is very important as well. So I want you to take these tips. I want you to take these strategies and listen to these successful nursing students. 

These are five different students from different parts of the country who are all doing very well in nursing school. And what I want you to take from this and and from my experience as well, is that we’ve been where you are. We know how stressful we know how to Mandy, we know how hard nursing school is that you can do it. If we can do it, you can do it. So please trust yourself. These Bree, learn your learning style. Develop a time management strategy. Take care of yourself. Show interest in nursing school, fall in love with nursing. Take the test taking webinar. These things are going to help you. So great you guys. We love you. We’re so excited to have you as part of the innerS  and G family. If you would, do me a favor and share this with the nursing student who’s starting their first semester, who’s preparing to go to nursing school, I’d greatly appreciate that. If you’re listening in iTunes, it’s very easy. Or on your podcast app, you just click the share button, share it on WhatsApp shirt, on, tech shirt, on Facebook, whatever it is, please share with somebody who might benefit from hearing some of these success strategies for nursing school. We love you guys. Thank you for being here. Now go out and be your best self today. Happy nursing. 

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