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Top 10 Tips To Be Successful In Nursing School

Posted by Kate Malmberg, revised by Sara Giboney Tuesday, May. 14, 2024

Tips to Be Successful in Nursing School

As you begin your nursing education, you may wonder how balancing life and nursing school is going to work.

You, like many students, may plan on working part- or full-time during college. Balancing your personal and professional life while finding time to study can be a challenge. 

At Nebraska Methodist College (NMC), faculty and staff encourage student success and provide the tools they need to achieve their goals. 

Whether you decide to pursue a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or an accelerated BSN that you can complete in one year if you already have a college degree, you’ll want to be prepared with nursing school success tips. 

The following tips for nursing students are from former faculty member and NMC Master of Science in Nursing graduate Kate Malmberg on how to excel in nursing school, whether in the classroom, online, in clinical settings or on examinations. 

1. Persevere Through Nursing School Challenges

Nursing school is rigorous no matter where, when or how you take it on. At times, you will feel challenged academically and personally.

But your college experience will allow you to grow in ways you never imagined and start a rewarding career.

Persevering through nursing school may mean facing some of your personal fears or overcoming misconceptions. Keep an open mind and be open to learning new things during nursing school. 

Once you complete your studies, the rewards are tremendously satisfying.

Read more: How Hard is Nursing School? Challenges of Becoming a Nurse

2. Prioritize Your Study Routine for Nursing Success

Prioritizing studying should be your top priority during nursing school. 

Each day comes with a list of things you have to accomplish. As a nursing student, studying needs to be at the top of that list. 

Envision your goals as a series of achievable steps rather than one long, formidable journey. You can do anything if you divide time into a manageable period, such as one day, one class and one semester at a time. 

Make studying one step in your daily routine. Every marathoner knows it’s easier to keep pace than catch up once you fall behind.

Top 10 Tips to Be Successful in Nursing SchoolManage Time Effectively in Nursing School

Time management in a nursing program will help you find balance between your personal and academic life.

Nursing school study tips include:

  • Making to-do lists.
  • Prioritizing the most important tasks.
  • Avoiding multitasking.
  • Limiting distractions.
  • Setting boundaries by saying no.
  • Blocking out time on your calendar for specific tasks.
  • Using structured time management like the Pomodoro Technique.
  • Batching tasks.

Read more: Balancing Life, Work and an Accelerated BSN Program

3. Cultivate Accountability in Nursing School

As a nurse, you’ll be tasked with many challenging situations as you care for patients. Your responsibility is to work as part of a team and strive for personal accountability.

Do not ask your peers at work to do tasks that you wouldn’t do yourself.

As a nurse manager, I had a dialysis patient who presented my team with a challenge: a horribly clogged toilet. A care tech came to me and asked what to do. I asked them to get three pairs of gloves and a biohazard bag, and I took care of the problem. He told me later that because I didn’t push that task onto someone else, he gained a new respect for me.

4. Lead by Example: Role Modeling in Nursing

Nurses are part of a team of healthcare professionals, which is why it’s important to be a leader and hard worker.

If you notice that there are supplies that need refilled, take the time to get the needed supplies to help your team. 

Being a team player is an important aspect of being a nurse. 

5. Seize Learning Opportunities in Nursing School

Opportunities lead to experience and experience leads to confidence.

Attending nursing school will give you learning opportunities that help you feel confident starting your career as a nurse.

You may not think you’re ready for a particular task such as placing a catheter, but being a student is the time to learn, not on your own without guidance. 

6. Encourage Curiosity: The Importance of Questions in Nursing

Every question has value, especially when you are caring for patients. 

Nursing school is the time to ask questions and practice your skills with faculty and clinical staff.

Asking questions is critical for every nursing student. Before you ask, check your resources, such as the syllabus, texts, emails, class notes and fellow students.

After you complete nursing school, you’ll continue learning. Technologies, therapies and treatments will continue to advance, and you have to progress with them. Continue asking questions after you become a nurse to learn from more experienced nurses and healthcare professionals.

7. Build Confidence for Nursing Excellence

Knowing what you’re doing and why you’re doing it gives you confidence to do your job as a nurse. 

That same confidence will help put your patients and their families at ease. Just as they can sense your anxiety, they can also sense your confidence.

How to Have Success in Nursing School

Develop Critical Thinking Skills

During nursing school, you’ll learn how to develop and improve your critical thinking skills.

You will set yourself up for success if you focus on developing critical thinking skills. You’ll be able to predict, respond and act more effectively as a nurse.

Tips for becoming a better critical thinker include:

  • Keeping an open mind.
  • Becoming a good observer.
  • Knowing how to regulate your thoughts and emotions.
  • Learning how to analyze data and information quickly, but thoroughly.
  • Being an effective communicator.

8. Trust Your Instincts as a Nursing Student

As you grow in your job as a nurse, your inner voice will tell you a lot.

When a situation doesn’t feel right, take a pause to speak up or ask questions. Once an action is taken in the clinical setting, it’s difficult to go back. You want to feel confident moving forward with patient care.

As you listen to your intuition more, it will feel more natural.

9. Patient-centered Care: Focus on the Individual

As a nurse, you’ll have an ever-growing list of daily tasks to accomplish.

One patient may require more time than expected. Never rush through your next patients so that you can catch up on your task list.

Give your full attention to the patient in front of you. Your patients will appreciate feeling like they’re the only patient you have. Personal care begins by caring for each person.

Read more: Watson’s Theory of Caring: Foundation of a Nursing Program

10. Stay True to Yourself in Nursing

Each of my students has a reason they chose nursing. Some cared for a family member growing up. Others had a family member who was a nurse and a role model. My mother was a nurse, and she was the reason why I decided to become a nurse.

Just as important as those external influences are the reasons you chose nursing. Dedication, compassion, patience, empathy – every great nurse shares these qualities and puts them to work during each shift.

They’re also the qualities of every successful nursing student. Keep those qualities in mind with every class you take.

Succeeding in a BSN program is possible with the right preparation.

Taking the Next Step Toward Your Nursing Career

If you know what to expect, have a support system, know your financial plan and have good study skills, you’ll be prepared to start your BSN program.

While pursuing a nursing degree is a commitment, you’ll feel accomplished when you graduate and you begin a rewarding career as a nurse.

Ready to jumpstart your nursing career? Explore our BSN program for more details and take the first step towards a rewarding future in nursing!

Schedule a visit to campus and meet with an admissions coordinator to learn more about NMC’s nursing program. 

Topics: nurse education, student life, lists, nursing, bachelor's degree, bsn, accelerated nursing