Nursing is an extremely rewarding and fulfilling career choice. Nursing school is a very exciting and busy time in your life, especially toward the end of your education. Practicing good strategies for balancing your academic, clinical placement, family, and other obligations is important.
As a prospective nurse, it’s important to understand what you can do to improve your experience so you can be well-prepared for your future career. Here are some tips for balancing your life while attending classes, clinical placements, and studying for your nursing licensing exams.
- 1 Practice Good Time Management
- 2 Avoid Procrastination
- 3 Take Care Of Yourself
- 4 Allow Enough Time For Sleep
- 5 Use The Support Of Those Around You
- 6 Tips For Academic Success
- 7 Take Plentiful And Good Notes
- 8 Consider Studying With A Partner
- 9 Vary Your Study Locations
- 10 Consider How You Learn Best
- 11 Eliminate As Many Distractions As Possible
- 12 Making The Most Of Your Clinical Placements
- 13 Ask Questions
- 14 Treat Your Placement Seriously
- 15 Conclusion
Practice Good Time Management
Managing your time is difficult as a student. Some nursing students have more obligations than others to consider when creating a good time management plan. This can be very challenging, but it is achievable with good planning and discipline.
Considering your obligations for a week and making a plan or schedule is helpful. It’s also important to realize that things happen sometimes that are beyond your control that may make it necessary for you to reorganize your day. This is good practice for working as a nurse because nurse schedules can vary wildly due to the unpredictable nature of healthcare.
Of course, being realistic about what you can do in a day is critical. Trying to pack too much into each day for an extended period can lead to burnout and affect all areas of your life. Nursing can be stressful, and it’s important that staff use all the resources available to them during busy times. This is particularly important for those who are studying alongside their work placement.
Waiting until the last minute to take care of priorities can make life extremely stressful. It’s important to schedule time to catch up on tasks that take longer than expected. Using your time effectively and efficiently is crucial in avoiding last-minute stress.
Be realistic about what is most important and prioritize those tasks first. If there are particular things that you find yourself procrastinating on more than others, then you need to consider why that is and take steps to put yourself in a better mindset to take on the task and get it out of the way sooner rather than later.
Take Care Of Yourself
Being driven and highly motivated is great, but, as a nurse, it’s important to make sure you stay healthy and happy in order to provide the best care you can to your patients. Nursing can be very physically demanding. Eating a nutritious diet and exercising regularly will help you have the energy you need to get things done while keeping you fit and healthy.
Of course, everyone needs some time to relax and enjoy a hobby or pastime. Prioritizing self-care at home will help you perform at your best in the workplace. Don’t forget to make time for important things in your life, such as family, friends, and the activities you enjoy outside of work and studying.
Allow Enough Time For Sleep
Clinical placements are very important to take seriously; they are an excellent place to gain valuable references, and in some cases, you may even be able to land a position at the facility where you are doing your placement at. During your clinical placement, it is imperative that you are well-rested and alert so you can provide your patients with a high level of care while learning the skills you need to do your job well
While it can be tempting to work as much as possible to further your career, it is not a good idea. You need to get adequate rest to perform well in your placement and studies.
Even if you allow enough time for sleep, it may be that stress and having a lot on your mind makes it hard to fall asleep and stay that way. Doing something relaxing for at least 30 minutes before you want to go to sleep is a good idea. Avoiding computers, tablets, and smartphone screens is recommended. Try reading a physical book, listening to music, taking a relaxing bath, or doing whatever it might be that makes you feel relaxed in a healthy way.
Use The Support Of Those Around You
Using the support of friends, family, and partners is important when studying alongside a work placement. Ensuring that those around you are aware of your busy schedule means that you can maintain healthy relationships that can support you through your work. Partners, friends, and family are able to provide both emotional and practical support. Talking to loved ones can be an important emotional support, while friends, family, and partners can offer practical help by helping you out around the house, or caring for your pets or children.
If you have important exams that mean extra study time, be proactive in making sure that your schedule is cleared for the most part well in advance. Your loved ones will understand if you’re more busy for a time, and can be an invaluable source of help through a stressful time.
Tips For Academic Success
Finding time to study may seem challenging, so it is good to have some strategies to help you make the most of your time.
Take Plentiful And Good Notes
The notes you take are important. For starters, you learn things better if you write them down. Notes help you have the information you need the most in a concise format. Great notes mean you can create a study guide that can help you concentrate on the information you need the most for exams, papers, and other work.
Consider Studying With A Partner
Having someone to study with can be very useful and help you both stay on task. During study sessions, you can quiz each other and rely on one another to discuss and explain concepts you are struggling with.
A study session with a buddy can also be an opportunity to have a bit of fun. A reward at the end of a successful study session can boost your mood and provide a welcome break from a day’s hard work. The reward can be anything you both enjoy, such as catching up with a television show, taking a walk, or eating some particularly good food.
Vary Your Study Locations
It is easy to get in the habit of studying in the same spot every time. This can become boring and eventually make it harder to concentrate. Even if you have to study at home, you can switch desks or rooms, or even try working in the garden. Alternatively, consider studying at the library, a favourite coffee shop, the park, or anywhere with a comfortable, suitable space.
Nurses working toward the same or a similar qualification can meet in a study group to compare notes and motivate each other. This is particularly practical for those working on the same nursing placement. Study groups are a great opportunity to enhance learning, socialize, and bond with fellow students and colleagues.
Consider How You Learn Best
Everyone is different when it comes to learning habits and practices. It is important to be honest about your learning style and how you learn best. Some people do well with memorization exercises while others may need to write something down multiple times. All of this can depend on what kind of learner you are.
The time of day that you study can make a big difference too. If you are able to study during the part of the day or night that you are most alert and seem to learn the best, then you will make the best use of your study time. If you are not a morning person, then trying to study then is not the best use of your time.
Consider if you study best in shorter but more frequent sessions or when you can set aside longer blocks of time and plan your schedule accordingly.
Eliminate As Many Distractions As Possible
We live in a very distracting world. In modern times there is social media and unlimited distractions available via the internet. While it is important to find time to do things you enjoy and you absolutely should not neglect family obligations, it is important that you have some time that is solely dedicated to studying without any major distractions.
If you have to do so, silence alerts on your phone, and eliminate any unnecessary technology. It can also help to keep it simple when it comes to meals and snacks to save time. There are also a number of apps available that can help productivity and will stop you from using your phone for certain periods of time or can block the more distracting social media apps.
Making The Most Of Your Clinical Placements
No matter what level of nursing degree you are trying to achieve, you will need to complete a series of clinical placements to graduate and qualify for any licensing exams. Nurses advancing their careers through an RN to MSN NP course benefit from degree programs that offer clinical placement services. Wilkes University offers a 100% online program that allows you to choose from three specializations: family nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology primary care, and psychiatric/mental health.
Choosing the right clinical placement is very important because it is where you can apply all your previously learned knowledge and help treat actual patients. It’s important also to connect with your preceptor; your preceptor is the mentor you will be working under at a medical facility. They may be an RN, nurse practitioner, or physician, and can provide you with valuable knowledge and experience to help you through your education.
Keep a notebook with you during your clinical placement and write down anything of interest or any questions you might want to ask your preceptor. Asking a lot of questions will help you gain the most knowledge and prevent you from making assumptions or mistakes.
Writing down your questions is important because, in a hectic healthcare setting, you may have to wait a while until an appropriate moment to ask them arises; not all questions should be asked when you are trying to shadow your mentor while treating patients.
Treat Your Placement Seriously
Taking your clinical placement as seriously as if it were your permanent job is important to your success. You want to provide your patients with the highest level of care possible; you will learn the most by treating patients conscientiously.
Balancing academic and clinical placement success is possible. By creating a good schedule based on prioritizing tasks while practising self-care, you can succeed in all areas of your life while pursuing your nursing dreams.
Now is a great time to pursue a career in nursing due to the high demand and amazing opportunities it presents. There are online degree programs that you can do while maintaining your regular job. If you have prior higher education, you may qualify for accelerated programs that allow you to achieve your career goals faster than you think.