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Dealing With Anxiety During Nursing School Exams

nursing school test anxiety

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Want to know how to deal with test anxiety in nursing school?  We can help you get past the stress and help you feel confident in your test taking abilities!  Listen in with Kati Kleber for dealing with that anxiety.  When all of the answers are correct answers… it might be a nursing school exam! #nursingfamily

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Podcast Transcription

What’s up guys. My name is Jon Haws, RN CCRN within our sng.com where our goal is to give you the tools and the confidence that you need to succeed in nursing school on the in clicks and in your life as a nurse to help you succeed on this journey. We’ve created weekly cheat sheets that we send to you every single Friday to sign up at over to nrsng.com/freebies that’s interesting. [inaudible] dot com slash freebies and every single Friday we’ll send you a cheat sheet on pediatrics, OB, med surge, mental health, ICU, critical care, every single aspect of nursing care to help you succeed. That’s nrsng.com/freebies all right, now let’s roll into the show. 

What’s up people? Welcome to the podcast. Today I’m talking about how to deal with anxiety in nursing school exams. My name is Katie Kleber. Thank you so much for joining me, so I felt like myself. This was something I talked to people about. But the more I’ve been online and the more I’ve met other nurses that have gone through the new graduate nurse process, a lot of us struggle with anxiety. But I don’t think a lot of us want to say anything about it because we’re nurses and we’re not supposed to be anxious. We’re supposed to be cool, calm, collected. And being anxious is not something typically synonymous with nursing. And I honestly thought if I’m anxious I can’t be a good nurse and I just need to experience stuff more so I don’t be anxious and worried. Well not the case. And I felt like I had a lot of anxiety in nursing school specifically. 

So I’m going to, I’m going to talk about anxiety with nursing school exam specifically. Anxiety is a huge, a huge topic and it can um, translate into depression. It can be related to a lot of things. And I want, I want to focus specifically on this because it’s such a big topic. So I’m going to focus on like you know, you know, anxiety is such this big topic. I’m going to focus in on anxiety in nursing school related to exams for this podcast specifically because I think we could talk for a really, really, really long time about just this topic in general. All right, so let’s, let’s say you suffer from anxiety and you’ve got nursing school exams and you freak out about them. Well I get it. Uh, I feel your pain. So I’m going to talk about a couple things that are really important to consistently do. 

So one of the most important things I think when you suffer from and have and deal with anxiety on a regular basis is preparation. We cannot, I cannot over S over explain how important appropriate preparation is for nursing exams. And let’s just take out that anxiety piece. Like if you aren’t prepared for these exams, the second you see those questions, you’re going to get anxious because you don’t know what to do. So we have some resources available to help you kind of prepare for exams there. You know, one of the most important things is to prepare when you’re going to study, understand all of the exams and deadlines because there’s quite a few and making sure your preparation includes, not just reading, getting through, reading assignments, but understanding those reading assignments. So going from basic comprehension to truly understanding and applying those concepts. So if you can do that and prepare appropriately, you know, your mindset is a lot better. 

Your understanding is much deeper and very not superficial. Um, a lot of my previous exams and, and S in classes that were not related to nursing, my prerequisites, I could study the night before or maybe two nights, two nights before and that would be enough. But it’s not like that in nursing school. So you gotta be ready for what’s ahead consistently, you know, make sure that you prepare for those exams. Another thing that’s really helpful for anxiety with nursing school exams, and I know this sounds kind of hokey, but I promise it’s not meditation. Meditation actually when you do it, maybe two twice a day for 10 minutes and it’s not very long. But if you can do that, maybe when you wake up or when you’re going to bed, it lowers your anxiety threshold. That’s like science. That’s not me just fluffing around about that. No, truly you’re lowering your anxiety threshold by doing some meditation. 

So if you can do that in the morning and at night, that can make such a big difference. If you’re diligent with it, I want to encourage you to try it for a week and see if that helps. Um, and one thing I like to do personally is some yoga that helps me kind of breathe and focus and that can really lower your anxiety and does lower my anxiety threshold. So if you can get, you know, there’s a lot of great YouTube videos that are free. I like Yogi yoga with Adrian on YouTube. It’s free, she’s great. Get some 10 minute ones are easy, that are really helps you kind of calm down. And also when you’re within those exams, start to feel yourself getting anxious. You can go back to the breathing that you really are familiar with during that, um, meditation or that yoga experience so that you go back to that and it enables you to breathe and focus in on the task at hand. 

Another thing that’s helpful is to make sure if it’s truly something you really do struggle with and you’re, you need someone else to know about it because if you experience a panic attack, you want someone in your clinical environment and in your classroom environment to be able to recognize that and get you where you need to be, if that makes sense. Whether that’s helping remove you from that environment and supporting you in the hallway, in the bathroom, helping you get your medication if you need that. Um, so that’s really, really important to do. So I would encourage you to have a person in both the clinical setting and the classroom setting because you may be with different groups of people. Um, so I actually asked some people online about this and someone said to me, I tell my clinical instructors that I have anxiety at the beginning of each rotation so that they’re aware and a little more understanding if I need some, an extra second to answer questions. 

And if my heart and mind are racing, it is a lot harder for me to concentrate when being quizzed while completing a task or preparing medications. This helps them understand that if I need a second, it isn’t because I don’t know the answer. It is because I need a second to breathe and bring my heart rate down. The last thing I want is someone getting frustrated and attacking me with a ton of questions. When my heart is racing faster each second my face is burning red and I can hardly concentrate on what they’re saying, let alone spit out a coherent answer. I have gotten to the point where I can now say I just need a minute and they give it to me, no question to ask and it really helps calm me down. So I think that’s really important. Communication is key. Um, a lot of people, you, maybe you think that other people because it’s so present in you that others will be able to pick up on you being anxious. 

But a lot of people are Brady, you know, don’t notice that stuff well or you may be much better at concealing it, um, than you realize. So maybe not people around you may not realize that you need a little time, that you need help, that you need a little bit, a little a second to answer a question or you need some support or whatever. So communicating before things happen is key. So letting your clinical instructor know is really important. I think your professors should know as well. You know, if you’re in the middle of an exam and that’s happening in your are truly having maybe a panic attack and you need to exit the room, but they’re very staunch on don’t leave the room, you know, they need to understand that you need to be able to do that. So it’s a lot easier to communicate that beforehand than in the moment. 

So if you know that no matter where you are in nursing school, there is someone in that room that understands this struggle that you have and they know that when they, you need to be supported, it helps you relax more because you know somebody’s got your back. So I encourage you to do that. Another thing, um, with nursing school tests and anxiety is to get enough sleep. You know, someone else that I was asking about this, they said a tired me is me with more anxiety. And if you are having exams, you want to be at the top of your game. So that means that you can’t stay up late then I, before you got to make sure you get an sleep. So that must mean that you have to plan when you’re going to study so that you’re not forced to stay up late to study, to understand the information that you’ve allocated enough time throughout your day or throughout your week before this exam so that you’re not the night before 11th hour studying all night. 

It’s important to get enough sleep. Um, make sure too that you have, if you need to, um, touch base with your physician and let them know, Hey, I’m going through nursing school, like this is going to be a very, um, stressful and, and potentially make me more anxious. Is there anything specific you recommend they may recommend? Consistent counseling sessions, um, maybe monthly, biweekly or something like that. Um, to help identify maybe some specific coping techniques for in the moment stuff, um, or go over some certain situations. You know, there might be a lot of trial and error and figuring out what works for you. So working through that with a professional, um, I can’t overestimate how our over explain how important that is. And also too, you’re going through nursing school knowing that at the end of nursing school you’re going to have to sit for the end clicks, the big board exam. 

So you want to be able to prepare yourself consistently throughout school so that when you sit down for the end Clegg’s that you have your anxiety controlled to a, uh, a degree that you’re able to sit there and, and take that test successfully. So that’s really, really important. Um, and if you have really bad test anxiety, I really, not just generalized anxiety but just anxiety specific to nursing school tests. I think it’s really important to communicate that to your, um, communicate that to your professors. So I, I um, I also asked somebody else about this and I want to give you, tell you specifically exactly what they said. I have really bad test anxiety and as suggested by a psychologist, once I review every test and quiz, it helps me because I can see where I made stupid mistakes and I can see if my errors were, were knowledge gaps or just me reading the question too fast or not being able to concentrate properly because of an attack. 

Knowing this helps me be able to calm down a bit better before tests and even during if I know my mistakes are not knowledge gaps, I can run mine myself that I know this information and if I breathe and I will have the ability to think clearly and get to the right answer if it is a knowledge gap, I just study a ton and I’m convinced I am prepared and that also helps me, um, just tell myself that I’ve done as much to prepare that I could and I couldn’t really have done more to get prepared. Most professors or universities are pretty strict about test reviews, but I just tell them that I have anxiety and reviews help me and they’re typically eager. You’re eager to help. I swear by reviews, I always do. Right? I always do all right on my first, but once I see what the professor is looking for and where and why I made mistakes, I do much better on the next ones. 

My very first nursing midterm in school, I got a 57% not even close to passing. I went for a review and got 87% of my next one. It has worked so far throughout my three years of nursing and have been able to ACE most of my classes. So that’s an example, anonymous example, but of someone that figured out what worked for them and communicated, reviewed, um, and if you know, you can’t hurt to ask, it absolutely cannot hurt to ask if you can do this. You stand so much to gain, so much to gain. And what’s the worst they’re gonna say no. So a, not every school is going to let you do this. I would hope many would, but this may be another very real practical way to help you get through these exams and really not only just get through them, but truly learn the information so that you are more prepared for the [inaudible], more prepared for patient care and finally more prepared to take care of patients as a registered nurse. So thank you guys for listening. Um, anxiety does not define you as a person or as a nurse, whether it’s preparing for nursing during your post-graduation or on the job. Remember it does not define you from being fantastic. You work your butt off to help your plate patients, so please make sure you’re doing the same for yourself, so thank you guys. Stay well. 

All right. All right. All right. I hope that was helpful today. Guys. I hope that gave you some motivation, some inspiration to go out and to be your best self, to go out and to become the nurse that you want to be, to make a difference and to do the best work that you can. Listen, we’re here to help you along your [email protected] our goal is to give you tools, incompetence to help you in nursing school on the in clicks and in life. One of those tools we created is our Friday freebies, these weekly PDF cheat sheets that you can refer to on the clinical floor in the classroom and just throughout your entire career as a nurse. To get these cheat sheets head over to nrsng.com/freebies that’s nrsng.com/freebies you guys, if you need anything, we’re here for you. You can reach out to us on social media or via [email protected] we want you to succeed. We want to help you along the way. We’re here to hold your hand. We’re here to give you the tools, the confidence that you need to achieve success in this journey to nurse, or as you guys know what time it is now, it’s time to go out and be your best self today. Happy nursing. 

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