"What do I do if I'm overwhelmed in nursing school?"

The test is in two days and it covers three weeks' worth of notes. You've barely started reviewing, let alone studying, and every time you think you should start, you get a feeling of panic and choose one of the following behaviors: text a friend about seeing a movie, get your nails done, go shopping for a new outfit, Doordash some lunch, dive into a video game, zone out on Netflix...


Whatever your favorite avoidance behavior, we all know that it's easier to dodge something tough than confront it. Nursing school, however, makes that innocent behavior impossible. If you duck the work, you're going to fail.


Now is the time to stop being a procrastinator. That will be a whole other post sometime soon.


If you ARE doing the work and you're still overwhelmed, make sure you're using the following strategies:


1. Break down the material into bite-sized chunks.

Go over a single class period's material within a few days of when it was taught, and break up your studying itself into 2-3 days. It's never a good idea to try to absorb a whole bunch of new material in 6 hours straight.


2. Stay caught up.

Plan out your week with built-in study periods, or you're going to fall behind first. Put them on your calendar as appointments so that you know they are not supposed to be free time. If you fall behind, cancel any other non-vital commitments you've got until you're caught up. Your friends/family will understand! (And if they don't, screw 'em. Who's gonna fail the class and pay for it to retake it? Them or you?)


3. Make a study system and stick with it.

What's your system? Do you make flashcards? Maybe you just rewrite the notes over and over again. Some people need to listen to the full audio of the class to absorb the info. Others find they remember things best when their bodies are otherwise engaged (eg, exercising, knitting, walking). The most important thing is consistency with what works for you. Need a study system? Here you go.


4. Incorporate outside help into your routine.

Most decent nursing programs will offer FREE help through professor open hours or a weekly study group for nursing students. Others encourage you to go to the academic support system on campus.

It is essential that you use these resources. First of all, they will ensure you do your best to study on your own before you show up and look clueless. Second, they will help you understand concepts better than you would on your own. Third, if there's a dispute over a grade or some other academic issue, it will look much better that you have been seeking help than if you didn't.


If you're completing these steps and you feel like 1-on-1 tutoring would be better, don't go to Wyzant. Check out my NCLEX Simplified tutoring services instead- we frequently work with students in their first semester and the consultation is free! Or maybe topic lectures would work better to study on your own time. Just don't suffer alone.


5. Reward yourself for hard work completed.

Remember all the avoidant behaviors above? Use those powers for good! Engage in all of them and more when you force yourself to work hard and get to enjoy the result. That's what it's all about in nursing school!


What other strategies do you use that weren't mentioned? Every little bit helps.

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© 2016 by Lisa Chou

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