9 Nursing School Tips for Success

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If you’re looking for nursing school tips for success, you should start with tapping into your school’s resources. For example, take advantage of customized guidance from your admissions counselor. Success in nursing school is also dependent on strong time management skills, nursing study tricks like mnemonics and good self-care practices.

UST nursing students studying at table

The robust demand for registered nurses (RNs) doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. If you feel drawn to a career in nursing, you may be wondering how to apply with prior non-nursing education and how to succeed in nursing school. Here, you’ll find some top nursing school tips for success so that you can not only know how to get through nursing school, but how to thrive while there.

Of course, your experience with nursing education will be shaped in large part by the school you choose. If you choose to apply to the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program at the University of St. Thomas Houston, you’ll receive the benefit of extensive student support resources, including a dedicated admissions counselor and an academic success coach.

Talking with our admissions team will help you get the ball rolling. When you speak with an admissions counselor about the University of St. Thomas Houston’s ABSN program, they’ll answer all your questions. They can review your academic history and unofficial transcripts with you and help you develop a plan for completing these courses in time for your target start date in our ABSN program.

Once enrolled, you could complete your degree in as few as 12 months, enabling you to become a working nurse far more quickly than you’d likely thought possible.

two UST nursing students working in lab

Still on the fence about earning a nursing degree? Check out these six reasons why it’s worth it!

1. Success in Nursing School Begins with Your Admissions Counselor

Along with helping you determine which prerequisites you may need to take, our admissions counselors are here to offer you support. Once they determine you meet our Accelerated BSN admissions requirements, a member of our admissions team will help you apply for your target start date in August, January or May. They’re also available to answer any questions you may have about our program and getting into nursing school.

2. How to Get Through Nursing School with Prerequisites

When applying to nursing school, the best way to get ahead is to be prepared. This starts early in the application process, where we will work with you to see which prerequisite courses you may need to take to be ready to start your journey toward becoming a nurse.

Make sure to take your prerequisites through the University of St. Thomas so you can get a feel for how our online platform works and be ahead of the game when you start the program.

woman sitting outside with laptop

3. Know Your Learning Preferences

Our 12-month program is intensive, so knowing how you learn best will give you a leg up. What works for others to retain information may not work for you and understanding that before you get into the weeds will certainly pay off in the long run.

Everyone learns in their own way, and you probably have a good idea of your own learning preferences from your first degree.

Tips for Learning According to Your Style

Here are some quick tips on studying for different learning preferences:

  • If you like to process information through visual representations, color coding your notes or using highlighters might drive home concepts for you.
  • If you learn best by talking through concepts and ideas, a study group could be beneficial.
  • If you are an auditory learner, YouTube lectures or nursing podcasts could be a good resource to supplement your studies. Plus you can fit those in on the go!

Mnemonics Are Essential Nursing School Tips for Success

Other tricks, like using mnemonic devices can help you remember information. One example of this that you may already know is ROY G BIV- a mnemonic device for remembering the colors of the rainbow. Each letter stands for a color: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. You can use this trick to represent terms and concepts in the nursing curriculum as well. Tools like this give you a creative way to digest the material, rather than taking standard notes or trying to memorize the information.

Here’s a quick look at some common nursing mnemonics.

  • HELLP – HELLP syndrome is a severe, life-threatening complication of pregnancy. HELLP is an acronym for: Hemolysis, Elevated Liver enzymes and Low Platelet count.
  • MACHINE – This mnemonic can help you remember how to diagnose hyperkalemia. The acronym reminds you to look for: Medications, Acidosis, Cellular destruction, Hypoaldosteronism, Intake, Nephrons and Excretion.
  • White on Right, Smoke Over Fire – Not all nursing mnemonics are acronyms. This one helps you remember the correct placement for EKG leads. The white one goes on the right, the smoke (black lead) goes over the fire (red lead).
  • Diabetes – There are also nursing mnemonics to help you quickly assess a diabetic patient. Hot and dry = sugar high. Cold and clammy = need some candy.

By understanding your learning preferences and getting creative, you are more likely to retain that knowledge.

Regardless of how you learn, perhaps the biggest skill to have to be successful in nursing school is learning to manage your time well.

UST nursing student practicing skills on sim manikin

4. Manage Your Time Well

No list of nursing school tips for success would be complete without a look at time management. In fact, success in nursing school as well as in the work environment depends on it. Nursing school will prepare you for a career that demands acting with urgency, wearing multiple hats and approaching tough situations with a can-do attitude.

Managing time for your assignments, tests, quizzes and coursework will be the key to your success in the program, and will help you prepare for the NCLEX (nursing licensure exam).

Not only are these skills critical for figuring out how to get through nursing school, but they also come in handy in everyday life, so why not start practicing now?

Quick Tips for Better Time Management

You can start by using a planner to mark important dates and deadlines, setting alarms or reminders on your phone or by taking time to plan your week around other commitments.

  • Make good use of spare minutes. If you arrive at a class early, pop open a textbook and spend some time reviewing the material.
  • Try reverse scheduling to find extra time for studying. For a few days, keep a logbook of everything you do and when you do it. Then, look for ways to reduce unnecessary activities (e.g. social media) in order to find more time for your schoolwork.
  • Begin working on major projects/assignments as soon as you receive them. Doing a little each day will be more manageable than leaving the whole assignment to the day before it’s due.
  • Good organization supports good time management habits. Make sure you keep all of your printed materials organized so you don’t waste time looking for items.

Don’t forget to pencil in time for YOU. Assignments, tests and studying are important, but scheduling time for self-care will help you manage stress and avoid burnout.

5. Schedule Self-Care

Self-care can include a lot of different things. It can be as simple as taking a walk or as complex as using positive self-talk and practicing yoga. The important thing is that you listen to your body and do something that refocuses you. Other ways to practice self-care include listening to music, eating healthy foods and getting enough sleep. These practices will be helpful when you begin preparing for the NCLEX exam, which you must pass in order to practice as a registered nurse.

Self-Care Resources

There are several self-care resources you can turn to as a nursing student. These include the following:

hand typing on laptop

UST offers extensive student resources, including those listed in this blog post.

6. Be Ready for the NCLEX

With the right amount of effort, passing the NCLEX is within reach if you take the test seriously. Although success in nursing school is certainly important, earning straight As or a 4.0 GPA in nursing school does not guarantee a passing score.

To be successful, plan at least one to two months of targeted studying for the test. The NCLEX is not a test you can cram for; you must make a plan and follow through to be successful.

The NCLEX is no ordinary test. Like many tests, the NCLEX is multi-choice; however, what makes it different is that many questions include multiple correct answers, meaning that you must choose the answer that is the most correct or appropriate given the situation expressed in the question.

This requires a different type of thinking. Luckily, our Accelerated BSN program utilizes NCLEX-style quizzes and tests to help you be as prepared as possible.

NCLEX Test Prep Simplified

Here are a couple tips on making the process easier:

  • Schedule study days. Make a plan for which days you want to dedicate to test prep. Plan out days to take practice exams, too.
  • Establish goals. Set realistic goals to help mark your progress and keep you on track. This can be completing a certain number of practice questions, mastering a concept or achieving a high score on a practice quiz.

7. Use Your Resources

UST’s ABSN program focuses on student success from the moment you begin the admissions process. Your admissions counselor is there to help you create an academic plan that sets you up to succeed on a timeline that works best for you.

Once you’re admitted, you can count on our nursing faculty and clinical instructors being available online, over the phone and in-person if you’re ever struggling with a course concept or specific nursing situation, so don’t be afraid to reach out. Our academic success coaches can also help you get set up with study resources or offer strategies for finding a healthy school-life balance.

two UST ABSN students working in sim lab

8. Make Use of Your Support Network

Nursing school won’t last forever. If you enroll in UST accelerated nursing program, you could graduate in as few as 12 months. However, it will be one of the most intense, challenging years you’ve had. Nursing school is tough by necessity, as nurses are literally responsible for the health and lives of their patients. Embrace the challenges with the mindset that success in nursing school despite the difficulty can translate to success in the healthcare field.

Although you may only be a nursing student for 12 months, it’s still important to maintain a healthy school/life balance as much as possible. Turning to your support network can help. During your time at UST, you’ll likely grow close to members of your nursing cohort, and you may feel comfortable leaning on them. Your fellow students may also become good study buddies for you.

9. Use the Time to Consider Your Post-Degree Options

Now that you know how to succeed in nursing school, it’s time to consider life beyond nursing school. Use your time as a student to reflect upon your post-degree plans. You can speak with your instructors about specialization pathways; learn what your options are and consider which of them appeal to you the most.

Clinical placements are another excellent time to explore your specialization options. You’ll have the opportunity to work across different healthcare settings and to work with a diverse spectrum of established healthcare professionals. Talk to them about what they like and dislike about their own chosen specialties.

You don’t need to choose a specialty right away, but before you do make a selection, take the time to review all of your options. Some of the most common nursing specialties include the following:

  • Acute care
  • Critical care
  • Cardiac care
  • Oncology
  • Pediatrics
  • Adult-gerontology
  • Psychiatric
  • Women’s health
  • Hospice

Make a Bold Call for Your Future

nursing student posing outside with stethoscope

Knowing what you need to do to be prepared for nursing school can give you a head start in choosing the best nursing program for you.

The admissions counselors for the ABSN program at UST are here to answer any questions you may have about our 12-month ABSN program. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you start your nursing journey.