Things I Have Actually Learned in Nursing School

In just under two years, I have mastered skills such as taking a manual blood pressure, performing a head-to-toe assessment, administering IM injections, and much more. But the things I will really take away from nursing school weren’t even learned in class. Here are just a few, in no particular order:

  1. How to sleep literally anytime, anyplace – broad daylight, the passenger seat, the bench in the hall at school. . .
  2. How to eat a 6″ sub in under 10 minutes
  3. How to sneak into the patient kitchen for saltines and water without being noticed
  4. That most people in nursing school aren’t worth your time
  5. That a select few people in nursing school will sometimes be all that keeps you sane and are more valuable than even the best Littmann stethoscope
  6. How to prioritize a variety of tasks such as clinical paperwork, studying for exams, completing research papers, showing affection to significant others, and sleeping
  7. Group projects were created to handicap the grades of good students
  8. SIM patients can and will vomit on you
  9. If you’re not early, you’re late
  10. People who are not nurses usually have no idea what nurses do, despite the fact they have probably had a nurse take care of them at least once in their lives
  11. There are opportunities for academic experiences that your program and/or school will not tell you about that you can find and take advantage of
  12. Patients appreciate that, as a student, you have time to attend to their less critical needs, like a warm blanket, having a pleasant conversation, or being able to take your time with total-feeds
  13. Attending four-hour lectures will give you the beginnings of disuse syndrome
  14. Coffee is a necessary ingredient for life as we know it
  15. Some patients have the most interesting tattoos in the most interesting of places

Tips for Studying for Finals (Full Article)

It’s that time of the school year again–the stress, the business, the assignments, the exams. . . Yes, it is (both fortunately and unfortunately) time for finals. As the end of the semester is fast approaching, here are some tips on how to end the semester strong:

1. Practice NCLEX-style questions

Questions in the back of the book, NCLEX review books, NCLEX review sites. . . Get your hands on as many NCLEX questions as you can that are relative to your course. Practicing this way will test your knowledge and critical thinking regarding key concepts and prepare you for the style of exam you will be taking.

To change things up a bit, try making your own NCLEX questions for each chapter, and then quiz your friends (see below).

2. Study group

Selection of the people you will study with is important. Try to pick 1-3 other motivated, professional students. Students who like to gab or goof off may be fun to hang out with, but they may not make the best study partners.

Work through your NCLEX-style questions together. You will have differing perspectives and be forced to defend your opinion, and you will get to hear other students’ rationales for their reasoning. Alternatively, everyone could pick a few units to review, and then take turns teaching the main points to the group. This way, everyone gets a review, and no one has to review every unit or chapter covered throughout the semester.

3. Study environment

Choose a quiet place away from the distractions of the home. Going out to study can boost productivity. Choose a place with just enough going on to keep you interested in working, but not so much that you get distracted. A library is an excellent place to study for a few hours. Coffee shops may be more crowded, but you get the added benefit of coffee/tea/juice and snacks while you work. Those with small children may find working at home after the kids go to sleep to be helpful

4. Take care of yourself

Take frequent breaks when studying. During a day of intense studying, taking 10 minutes every hour or 30 minutes every few hours can help you to recharge and come back fresh to study more. During a week-long study-fest, taking a half-day or day to do relax has a similar effect.

Make sure you are getting adequate sleep, even during finals week. The temptation to cram into the wee hours of night may be great, but don’t get so caught up in reviewing just one more section that you deprive your body of the sleep it needs to function at peak performance. You’ll need that brain power to pass your final exam.

Along those same lines, be sure you are getting adequate nutrition. Don’t let the stress of finals allow you to neglect your health by not eating or by binging on junk food. Try to focus on healthier choices that will pack a punch, like vegetables and lean meats. Limit your caffeine intake, as well. Don’t forget the power of water! We’ve all learned that dehydration can impair mental cognition–this goes for you too!

5. You’ve been studying all year

Believe it or not, you’ve been studying long before this week! In general, the concepts you will be tested on are ones you have learned, studied, and been tested on all semester. Use this to your advantage. Focus your studying on areas you know you struggled with and take comfort in the fact you will not have to study as hard on subjects you understood easily.

6. Make lists

Make a list of what you want to study, and check off as you get them done. This way, you can keep track of what you’ve done and what you still need to study. This will also help you to budget your time wisely by knowing how much you have left to do. You can prioritize more easily because you can see everything that is left and determine what is most important to study first.

7. Exercise

Exercising can boost your positivity and motivation and helps to refresh your mind. Plus, it takes the edge off any jitters before you sit down for a few hours to focus. Taking a hike, using the treadmill, and playing with a pet are just a few great ways to get your heart rate up.

In short, study hard and take care of yourself in order to perform at your best. Good luck to all my fellow students out there!

The Day There Was No Coffee (My Stomach and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day)

You could also call it, Armageddon, or, alternatively, The Day Clinical Stood Still. 

Pair “The Floor Is Actually Quiet Today” with “I Haven’t Eaten Since 2200 And Its  1000 And There’s No Coffee,” and you get a stomach you can’t ignore. I ate my 6″ sub at 1300 in 3 minutes, flat. 

Add “Everything Is Taken Care Of” to “Patient Who Takes Care Of Herself,” and mix well with “Students Talking On and On About Alcohol and Getting Ratchet” as the alternative to critical thinking exercises.

Ok, so not exactly a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day (try telling that to my aching tummy), but enough to earn a sigh, eye roll, and another stomach growl as I stare at the milkshake my patient’s family brought for them. . .