How to Get Through Nursing School Successfully

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Is nursing school hard? It can be, but there are helpful strategies for how to get through nursing school successfully. Learn what to expect, do what you can to prepare, acquire good time management practices and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

Nurses in class writing in notebooks

Leaving your current line of work to become a nurse may be the most impactful career-related decision you’ve ever made. Becoming a nurse offers the potential to make it your life’s work to help others in need. Plus, as a nurse, no two days are alike; each shift will be filled with learning opportunities.

Speaking of learning opportunities, your first step in switching careers is to apply to and get through nursing school. Is nursing school hard? Yes, it can be, but don’t let that hold you back. At Marian University, we provide extensive student support to those in our Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program, including Student Success Coaches, to help you figure out how to get through nursing school and how to study for nursing school.

If you’re ready to work toward becoming a nurse, you can explore best practices for how to be successful in nursing school here.

Is Nursing School Hard? Here’s What to Expect

One of the first steps in learning how to succeed in nursing school is to understand what you can expect from the experience. That may enable you to prepare before beginning your coursework. Every nursing school is a little different, but they all generally involve nursing concept coursework combined with hands-on learning experiences.

If you’re earning your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) on an accelerated timeline, such as in Marian University’s ABSN program, then it’s essential to keep up with your coursework and labs so you don’t fall behind.

You may be able to complete your nursing coursework online for greater convenience and flexibility. However, nursing school can’t be completed entirely online. You’ll need to visit campus for nursing skills and simulation labs and complete clinical rotations (“clinicals”) at area healthcare facilities. Clinicals provide opportunities to practice delivering patient care.

Marian ABSN students working with simulation manikin

Want to learn more about nursing simulation labs? Check out this blog on the things you’ll learn and why they’re important.

What Makes a Successful Nursing School Student?

It’s only natural to want to do well in nursing school. After all, your ability to retain the information and develop nursing skills will significantly affect your career and the outcomes of your future patients. So, what makes a successful nursing school student?

There are lots of best practices for how to be successful in nursing school. Some of the top ones include:

  • Enduring motivation: You will face challenges in nursing school, but if you’re motivated to succeed, you definitely can.
  • The right mindset: It’s crucial to treat nursing school as if it’s a full-time job. Be punctual, complete all assignments on time or early and display professionalism.
  • Time management: Nursing students are busy! You’ll need to juggle course lectures, assignments, labs, clinicals, and study time — good time management skills are a must.
  • Self-awareness: It’s essential to know your limits. When you don’t know something and can’t figure it out, don’t be afraid to ask for help or clarification. It’s also important to know when to take a break. As important as studying is, sometimes taking a break is necessary for restoring mental clarity.
nursing student in front of mannequin

Advice on How to Get Through Nursing School

Let’s take a closer look at how to get through nursing school and how to study for nursing school.

Get Prepared Before Starting Nursing School

You should start preparing for nursing school when you decide to pursue a career as a registered nurse (RN). With the help of the admission advisors at Marian University, you can learn exactly what to expect from the admission process, completing your prerequisites, and the nursing school itself.

Getting organized before starting your nursing education will help you establish a healthy pattern you can carry through nursing school.

Stay Organized Throughout the Admissions Process

When you are going through the admission process, make sure to stay organized.

Take notes about information that you need to send in with your application, such as your transcripts, and add important due dates to your calendar. This should include your target start date, application deadlines and appointments with your advisor.

It’s also a good idea to keep a small notepad with a list of questions. You can add new questions as they occur to you and discuss them during your next phone call with your admission advisor.

Complete Any Prerequisites You’re Missing

Completing your ABSN prerequisites is an integral part of the admission process. Through online classes, such as the ones offered through Marian’s Adult Programs (MAP), you can complete your prerequisites as quickly as you want or take your time with them.

Doing well on your prerequisites not only means meeting the minimum grade requirements, but also helps you establish a foothold for your nursing education. If you aren’t sure about how you will do in online courses, start with just one or two at a time.

If it has been a while since you were a college student, this is an excellent time to readjust to studying and taking exams. The prerequisites also offer an opportunity to get accustomed to the online learning format, which can be particularly helpful for adult learners who have never participated in an online course.

marian student studying

Focus on Comprehension, Rather Than Memorization

You may need to revamp your study practices when you finish the prerequisites and begin nursing school. How to study for nursing school is different than other courses of study. This is because, for a nurse, it’s more important to develop critical thinking skills than to memorize everything.

Of course, it’s still important to memorize essential nursing concepts, like how to identify the signs of a patient in ketoacidosis or how to respond to a cardiac arrest in the ICU. However, critical thinking skills are a nurse’s bread and butter. A nurse with critical thinking skills can assess a clinical situation, run through a list of possibilities in their mind and then identify the most appropriate response to that situation based on the available information.

That’s why the national licensure exam for nurses—the NCLEX-RN—strives to evaluate nurse candidates based on their analytical reasoning and critical thinking skills rather than how much information they’ve memorized.

Embrace Active Studying

Another smart method for how to succeed in nursing school is to use active studying techniques. Active studying techniques encourage more robust cognitive engagement with the material. In contrast, passive studying involves simply reading information and highlighting important facts.

Here’s a quick look at some active studying techniques to try:

  • Actively participate in group study sessions and group discussions.
  • After reading a passage, explain it out loud in your own words.
  • Take turns teaching the material to a study partner.
  • Answer practice questions.
  • Try to relate theories to case studies. Even better, read the first part of a case study (where the clinical situation is presented), then pause and consider how you would respond. Then, read the rest of the case study to see what happened.

Recognize When You Hit a Rough Patch

Although some nursing classes are relatively easy for you, others may be difficult. It’s important to know when you’re struggling and even more important to reach out for help when needed.

These signs indicate that you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed:

  • General anxiety about your performance in classes, labs, or clinicals
  • Feeling tired much of the time
  • Disinterest in classes
  • Having difficulty relaxing

To avoid feeling overwhelmed, check out this other post on what to do when you hit a rough patch in nursing school before you begin your classes.

How to Succeed in Nursing School with the Right Support

The real secret to how to be successful in nursing school is to recognize that you aren’t going through it alone—and to know when to ask for help. If you decide to attend Marian University’s ABSN program, you’ll benefit from support and guidance from numerous individuals, including:

  • Admission advisor: Your dedicated admission advisor will be there for you through each step of the admission process. Your advisor can help you with:
    • Determining your eligibility
    • Discussing your education goals
    • Creating a personalized academic plan for admission
    • Staying on track throughout the process
  • Academic Success Coaches: Our nursing students can work one-on-one with an Academic Success Coach. Your coach can help you with virtually anything, including:
    • Study strategies
    • Learning preferences
    • Time management
    • Goal setting
    • Academic and student support resources
  • Faculty and clinical instructors: Although the coursework is online, you’ll still receive extensive support from your instructors, both online and face-to-face. You can drop by their office, email, call, or chat through the e-learning platform.
  • Fellow cohort members: You’ll be going through nursing school with a group students who will all experience similar challenges and triumphs. Take the time to develop friendships and lean on each other for support.
  • Family and friends: Nursing school requires a significant commitment. Don’t hesitate to contact your family and friends for emotional support or practical assistance.

Begin Preparing for Your Nursing Career Today!

With our hybrid learning approach, Marian University’s ABSN program can enable you to graduate with your nursing degree in as few as 16 months. Embrace a new direction for your future and explore how you can make a positive difference in the lives of others as a healthcare professional.

Contact our admission team today to get started!