nursing school must-haves and apps

Tulo, my constant study companion.

One thing I used to search for before I was a nursing student was other blogs that talked about what one needs the most to be a successful, organized nursing student. One list does not fit all, but I do think combining different ideas is nice and you can decide for yourself what works and what doesn’t.

It was not until I was a good month into nursing school that I actually learned how to study, at the ripe old age of 31. Seriously. I’ve never been the A student, but I tried my hardest. I grilled my nurse friends about what they did to study and honestly, you just have to figure out what works for you. First, I had to find out how I learn. I knew that I learned well doing things hands-on and was very visual but how am I supposed to translate this into a study method? I realized that re-writing my notes from power points was exactly how I was going to learn best. This was both visual and tactile and skills were hands-on learning opportunities so I combined those things together and came up with a pretty good study method. So here is a list of some of the many things I do and use to help me throughout nursing school. Feel free to share and comment what works best for you.

  • PENS! I invested in tons of pens. Sharpies, ballpoints, and all the colors. Because of all these pens, I also picked up some cute pencil bags from the dollar section at Target. 😉
  • Concept maps: Our instructors gave us a couple formats to try out and the best ones for me are web-shaped. You can google nursing concept maps and find tons of options.
  • Plain white paper: I tried using regular lined notebook paper to write notes, and something about the lines really didn’t work for me. Sounds silly, but really-I now write my notes out on copy paper and use different colored pens to create notes that make sense to me. My fellow nursing buddies have even asked for copies. 😉
  • Laptop: I started out nursing school using a Windows PC and within 3 months it was not working for me. I invested in a Mac and love how I can use apps on my mac and my phone and they sync up. I also got a free Microsoft office download from the school that works with Mac so I don’t have to convert my files from Pages to Word anymore.
  • Printer/Copier/Scanner: I also got a new printer. The one I had previously worked just fine but was way too slow for my needs, it used ink up way too quickly and the scanner didn’t work anymore. Having all three features is a must for nursing school.
  • Evernote App: This app is a note-taking GEM! Especially if you use a Mac and an IPhone. I can type notes up on my computer from word or directly into the app and read my notes while out and about on my phone. I can also add photos, graphs, and PDFs that are important. AND I can share notes with friends–and they can share with me! There is a small group of us who do this and it’s so nice!
  • iStudiez Pro App: I use this app to keep track of my assignments and due dates. I can make different sections for different classes and add what I need. I also have an alarm set up to remind me the day before and the day of. Because of this app, I have not missed a due date! There are so many things to keep track of this helps so much.
  • NCLEX RN Pro App: I paid $30ish for the full version of this app and it is amazing. A few thousand questions in all areas of nursing that are actual NCLEX questions. To pass NCLEX (when I am done with nursing school), it is recommended that you do 50 questions a day–yes, A DAY! I admit I am not that good about practicing everyday but its a great tool to have. There are also special lists about lab values and abbreviations and meds and more that are helpful.
  • Amazon Prime Music App: We have Prime because we use Amazon all the time so you could certainly use Pandora or Spotify, but I personally love Amazon. There are tons of stations on this app and since I commute to school, I MUST have good tunes. I also use this app to find great relaxation playlists and study music. Some of my favorite satations are Alt-J, Hozier, Summer Jamz, 90s Pop, and The Lumineers. These stations keep be going. I love music! Maybe next summer I will be able to go to some concerts!
  • Sleep: Obviously to be healthy, we need sleep. And when I was awaiting nursing school to start, I worried so much about how I was going to get enough sleep. I NEED sleep. Like, more than 4 hours otherwise I have no energy and cannot function. My husband, on the other hand, only needs 5 or so hours and he’s good to go. Part of my self-care and overall lifestyle is needing a good amount of sleep and this includes naps. Yes, I manage to do well in nursing school and take naps! I really didn’t think it was possible but it is and is SO important. I will sacrifice other activities to get the sleep I need. That’s how important it is to me.

And that is where I will leave off. There are other little things I’m sure that I cannot think of, but this is a pretty solid list of what I need on a day to day basis to get through nursing school. Like I said, it is not easy, but it is fun and will be more than worth the hard work and sacrifices when I’m finished.

halfway through maternal-newborn

Back when I started this blog years ago, I assumed that once I was in nursing school I would be able to document my everyday life as a student nurse. HA! There are just far too many other things on my plate to worry about and this blog, and writing about what I have been up to, is the least of my worries. However, I still want to be present here. It is not going to be enough, but it will be something.

Since June, I have been in maternal-newborn/OB classes and it has been wonderful! The learning and labs have been so fun and truly light up my soul with passion as I have learned so many new things. A few people (seasoned nurses) have gently tried to tell me that *maybe* I will change my mind about becoming a labor nurse and midwife someday. I kindly tell them that my passion grows daily for women’s health and that has not changed in the least. If anything, being in the area I am passionate about has only made me more excited and hopeful for my future as a nurse.

Despite my strong passion and excitement for this class, the last month and a half have been pretty insane. I had to take a med calc exam THREE times. We only get 3 chances and the mistakes I made the 2nd time were so silly. Three chances was all we are given and thank GOD I passed the exam on Thursday! Focusing on that exam and on the second exam for the class (yesterday) eat up any free time I have outside of family time and work. I truly felt a huge weight fall off my shoulders as I passed that med calc exam. I feel like I can really focus and enjoy the class more. The stress surrounding that was so bad my migraines and other physical pains resurfaced. And there is nothing like pain to make you want to curl up under the covers despite how much work there is to be done.

Nursing school is just as hard as I expected it to be. There was not a moment leading up to starting nursing school over a year ago where I thought “Nah, this won’t be THAT hard…” Nope. It’s hard. Getting through it requires so much self-discipline, focus, and support. My support comes straight from God, my family and very close friends. Self-care has been incredibly difficult for me to make a priority. I know that sounds bad. How can I possibly take care of others if I am not taking care of myself?! Trust me, this is a huge work-in-progress. In fact, writing here is one of the things I cam doing for myself. I know that I will wish I had spent more time documenting nursing school, so better late than never. 😉

On Monday, I start 4 weeks of maternal-newborn clinicals in the hospital. I am so excited! I cannot wait to put my hands on a pregnant belly, feel for positioning and contractions and connect with a family as they welcome their baby! I’ve been to several births, but only has an observer and never as the nurse. This week is going to be epic!