10 Tips for Surviving Nursing School

You thought you were ready when you applied to nursing school and were thrilled when you were accepted--but now you may be wondering what you've gotten yourself into enrolling in nursing school. No need to worry. There are plenty of nursing student resources and advice available to help guide you through the challenging, but fun experience. Here are 10 nursing school tips to get you started.


1. Work on Time Management

Important things to work toward include:

  • Being prepared for exams
  • Ensuring papers and projects are completed on time
  • You aren't late for clinicals (ever!) or class
  • You have time for things that aren't nursing school related

2. Be Realistic

Consistent good grade are great for the ego, but not always possible, particularly among nursing students. The vast amount of information you learn covers everything from basic biology to in-depth social and ethical issues. Be realistic about what you'll be able to achieve.

3. Invest in a Good Calendar or PDA

Some people prefer paper agendas while others work best with technical toys. Choose what works for you, and use it consistently. Note all important dates including:

  • Exams
  • Papers (when to start, timeline, due date)
  • Clinicals
  • Appointments
  • Study times
  • Relaxation and fun time

4. Consider Buying an NCLEX Study Text

When asked for nursing school tips, some graduates suggest first-year students buy the latest NCLEX study text. The study materials can help you learn the question style and presentation. This prep can give you a head start so that when it comes time to study for the actual exam, you'll know what to expect.

5. Ask for Help

No matter what you've heard, nursing instructors don't spend hours plotting to make your nursing school experience horrible. While every teacher is different and you may not "click" with all of them, know that they are there to help you become a good nurse. Your nursing instructors can be some of your best resources.

6. Work with Other Students

Nursing isn't a solitary profession. Teamwork is vital to being a successful nurse and providing the best care to patients. Begin this team-centric ethic early by working with your fellow nursing students to organize study groups, practice procedures, or just support each other.

7. Be Ready for Clinicals

You have to let yourself shine in clinicals. It's normal to be nervous, but don't hide and hope the teacher doesn't see you. This is your time to practice what you've learned.

  • Be on time (early is better)
  • Be prepared: review nursing care plans ahead of time, learn about what you're going to be doing
  • Listen and watch the more experienced nurses
  • Don't overstep your boundaries

8. Be Confident

Nursing school can make a strong person wonder why she went into nursing. Doubts planted in your brain can sprout and spread like weeds if you don't keep them in check. While being cautious is prudent, you need to believe in yourself and be strong in your commitment to the profession you've chosen.

9. Take Care of Yourself

You've heard it many times: you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else. You need to be in the best shape of your life to be able to take on the physical, psychological, and emotional aspects of nursing school.

  • Eat right
  • Exercise
  • Get enough sleep
  • Make time to relax

10. Learn From Your Mistakes

Making a mistake is every nurse's worst nightmare. But nursing school is place where you can make mistakes. Take advantage of your time in nursing school to ask questions, try new procedures, and learn from more experienced nurses. If you mess up, admit it, fix it, learn from it, and move on. You'll be a better nurse because of those mistakes you made.

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