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Here is a declaration: if somebody told you that nursing school is not easy, that person is telling the truth. However, it does not mean that there is nothing you can do about it. In fact, nursing school can become a playhouse when you know which keys to strike hard and which are to press gently.

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Photo credit:howdonkey

Sure, you will have an average of four-six quizzes per day (half of them is unannounced), six-hour straight lectures of diseases you diagnose to yourself occasionally, a 15-30 minute lunch break, payment slips that can rupture your eyeballs, irregular sleeping patterns, and little to no social life but the perks of being in a hospital is priceless.

So here are my 8 unsolicited survival tips in nursing school and with honors if you are really determined:

1. Know which things to study and which to skip. As annoying as it can be, the teacher will just ask 15 questions from a three-chapter coverage quiz. Let’s face it: nursing books are sedatives and every chapter is approximately 70-100 pages. I bet you don’t want to spend the entire night finishing just one chapter. Focus on things that matter. For example, when you know the pathophysiology of the disease, you will also know the manifestations and how these are managed. Side effects of medications should be focused on more because this is where all your nursing responsibilities are anchored on. It is not your job to mind the chemical names, much more the structures. You. are. not. a. chemist.

2. Write fast and don’t let a key word escape. Once again, this is college. Teachers will not wait for you to finish copying their slides. They will say a lot of things not included in the slides. Usually, these are the things usually coming out in tests so you have to write fast while listening fully. Use your own shortcuts (so your lazy friends won’t be able to understand it). This skill will become handy while you are in review centers where lectures travel at 45 mph. Remember, you will receive endorsements and write verbal orders from doctors later on in your career. Train yourself early.

3. Find a hobby. Third on the list of 8 survival tips in nursing school is finding an outlet. Some days it gets peaceful in the nursing arena so you would need things you can occupy yourself with to keep your sanity intact. Go out, read a book, swim, take pictures. Do whatever floats your boat.

4. Develop obsessive-compulsive traits. In clinical duties, your ten fingers are not enough to count the number of things you need to bring. Trust me when a thing as small as your nameplate can make you cry because you left it at home. Hello, extension duty! Start being organized in your notes (you’ll need them when you start reviewing), uniforms (nursing students wear layers of uniform!), and case forms. Also, in the area, you need to double check everything: the flow rate of your IVF, documentation, patient data, and medications. It always pays to check frequently on things under your responsibility.

5. Don’t force yourself too much. Don’t study when you’re not at ease and ready but bear in mind that sooner or later you have to face those study materials for tomorrow’s quiz! Discipline yourself. Know when to exert effort and when to keep it chill.

6. Eat healthy. I know how hard it is to resist fast food chains but you wouldn’t want to end up with a clogged artery in your 30s, right? Take supplements (Vit.C and B-complex) to boost your body’s defenses and processes. You’ll need the strength later on for sleepless nights and hell weeks.

7. Be passionate with your study. Don’t do things half-ass. Submit requirements that you can be proud of. You wouldn’t want your teacher’s eyes to burn at the sight of obvious mistakes because you are very excellent at being mediocre. Be creative. Ask questions. Don’t settle for just another cliché output. Strive to be different. Influence your classmates. Inspire your patients. The nurse’s effort in school is directly proportional to the quality of care she can give.

8. Have fun. Of course, a few shots of your favorite drink would be nice to celebrate your achievements. Have fun because you deserve it, what with all the long exhausting days of a nursing student!

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Iris is the recipient of Florence Nightingale Award in her class. She has genuine passion and interest in Endocrinology, Renal Nursing, and Nursing Research. Decided that the Nursing profession called her, she is serving the nursing community through writing or blogging for health-related educational websites and assisting students with their undergraduate thesis.