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. πŸ˜‰
  • 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. πŸ˜‰
  • 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.

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The First 2 Weeks

Nursing school has officially started! I cannot believe it has already been two weeks. I have been wanting to write since the end of the first week and already realize that posting once a week may be more challenging than I had hoped.  In preparation for school starting, I was able to order my scrubs and books ahead of time. I was also able to access the online portion of the class a week before. Even that slight advantage has not given me a head start! You dive right into everything at 100mph and there is no stopping in sight!

The first week was great. My general excitement was at an all-time high. I was getting to now the other people in my class. Our first lab was on vital signs so I felt very confident in the first exam, which we had this past week. I got an A! This second week, however, has been a lot harder and more intense. There is so much to learn! We have been working on skin and neuro assessments. For me, these are not hard tasks. What is hard is memorizing the steps and the methods without forgetting anything. Today I really felt the pressure. I cried. It was a good cry. An overwhelming cry of realization that this is real and it’s going to be real hard. I’m ready, but damn this will be a crazy 24 months!

I am still working on my study methodes so that is part of some of the frustration I’ve had. I am hard on myself and I do overthink sometimes so my amazing tutor keeps bringing me back into the sandbox. πŸ˜‰

Anyone else just starting nursing school? Please share your experience! I will do my best to keep this blog updated often. I’m taking Health Assessment and Transforming Care right now. This is one of the rare times I will be taking more than one class at a time. I’m already thankful there are only 3 weeks left in health assessment, not because I don’t like it (I LOVE IT!), but because balancing more than one class at a time is hard.

That’s all for now!

I’ll Always be a Student

Before I found my passion in birth and midwifery, I thought I would be a teacher and before that, I had no clue where I was going. I declared a major in business for good measure and after my 2nd year, realized I had a strong affinity towards English. I had a pretty ridiculous English professor who was disliked by a lot of students, but I loved him. I thought he made learning language arts fun and interesting. I read The Catcher in the Rye three times between the 3 classes I had with him and decided I’d best be an English teacher. I did well in his classes, and all other English classes I had. I transferred to a university, met my Β husband in our senior seminar class, and graduated with my BA in English. I thought that putting off a year before teaching school would be a good idea. And then it was another year. And then I was pregnant! And here we are. Teaching English was never a passion. I just liked it and did well enough to convince myself I’d want to teach it. Not so. I birthed my first baby and just like that, a calling appeared.

Despite my wavering from becoming a teacher, I have also learned that I LOVE learning. I love school. I’ve always had to work hard at it, too. I was not the kind of student who gets straight As easily. I have to work my butt off sometimes, depending on the class, for a B! And yet, I still love it. I love that I am always challenging myself and furthering my knowledge of something I am so incredibly passionate about. It really is a great feeling.

That said, I recently found an incredible blog, Notes From A Student Midwife, and we could not be more alike. For the first two years after Logan’s birth, I denied this passion for midwifery. I didn’t let myself want it. I considered becoming a doula and childbirth educator and none of that felt right, nor was it conducive to our family.

Anyway, this lovely lady writes a great blog that I can identify with strongly. She’s just a little ways ahead of me in nursing school (I’ll be applying in the fall or next winter–I hope!) and this post is awesome. If you are applying for midwifery programs, here is a great list she breaks down on how to do it. I’m leaving it here for you, dear readers, and for myself so I may look back on it when that time comes. Happy Friday!

The Interview