When you start your nursing studies, you may feel intimidated by the amount and difficulty of the classwork facing you. Keep in mind that you’ll be learning in stages – you’re not expected to know everything right from the start.
The key to studying is learning how to concentrate on the material that is most important and not spend time on less critical content. Your course objectives and weekly assignments provide some guidance in that regard, and faculty may provide study guides that offers insight into what’s most important. If you’re in a program that utilizes material from outside companies, such as ATI and HESI, they typically offer supplemental learning material with case studies, review questions, NCLEX® preparation resources and additional reading material. These learning resources may be more concise and focused than your textbooks.
Reading assignments prior to lectures improves your understanding of the material. Take notes in class and actively engage in questions so you fully understand the content. It’s important to read your notes after class because that can save time later when you need to study for exams. Also, take advantage of tutoring services if available.
You may find a couple of external tutoring services quite helpful – they are Net Tutor (www.nettutor.com) and Smart Thinking (www.smarthinking.com). Typically, they are contracted by the nursing school. If your school doesn’t offer tutoring access, you can purchase the service directly. Both provide support for general science, math, and English as well as specific support for nursing courses. They can be a good value for students who can use additional assistance.
When studying your notes, try to understand the rationale for what was presented to gain a better grasp of the material. Remember, it’s impossible to memorize all the content; understanding the basic concepts, particularly physiology and pathophysiology, will allow you to rationally think through solutions to many questions.
Dr. Anders is recognized as a national and international expert on nursing education and minority health.