I have learned that adapting to the fast paced nature of the curriculum while balancing personal life is essential to one’s overall wellness. You have taken the pre-requisite courses, the GRE, and are ready to embark on this exciting journey. Little did you know, you hit the ground running after orientation. It feels as though you’re on a treadmill. First off, let me remind you that you are not alone. Secondly, as an accelerated nursing student who is in the final stretch of her program, let me provide you with some survival tips:
1. Time management.
Accelerated nursing programs are essentially cramming the last two years of a traditional 4-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree into a little over a year. You will be taking a pretty hefty course load as an accelerated nursing student, so having some type of planner/to-do list is crucial.
2. Create a study technique that works for YOU.
Everyone has their own way of studying. Some like to study alone, some like to study in groups. You will find those people in your class who can simply listen to the professor and review the lecture slides once over a day before the exam while you’ve been slaving away with your 50+ note cards for the past week. If you find that note cards work for you, stick with it. If you like making your own study guides with charts, stick with it. If you like reviewing the lecture slides and re-listening to the lecture over and over again, stick with it.
This means knowing when you need to give yourself a break. Your body needs sleep, it needs to hit the gym to sweat the day off, it needs that day of retail therapy. Whatever it is, remember that balance is key. Take your mental health days (or a few hours of study break). Don’t neglect your mental, emotional, and physical health.
4. Don’t compare yourself with others.
It’s definitely easier said than done. Just remember that the main goal is to get through the program, pass the NCLEX, and get that RN licensure. It’s so easy to compare your grades with others, or to be more involved in something than others. My advice is to just try your best while maintaining a good balance between school and personal life. If you need those extra hours or days to study, use them and strive for the grade you want. If have an interest or a passion in something, find those opportunities and experiences for yourself and no one else.
5. Remember your big picture goal(s).
Getting caught up in the stresses of upcoming assignments and exams comes with the territory of accelerated nursing programs. You may have those moments where you’re thinking if all this stress and lack of sleep/personal life are worth it. This is where I tell you to take a breather. Remember why you wanted to become a nurse in the first place. Remember that you were chosen out of thousands of applicants to join this amazing network of health care professionals. Speak with alumni, attend the lecture series or seminars your nursing school hosts, and surround yourself with inspiring people. Don’t lose that flame and energy you remember having the first day of school.