Nursing School is as popular as it is difficult to get into. Each year, thousands of potential nurses apply to prestigious nursing programs, hoping to gain acceptance into a popular school and learn the skills needed to be a successful nurse.
If you are one of those potential nurses wanting to submit your application to a nursing program but you don’t know how to prepare, this guide is for you.
This article will highlight important factors to consider when preparing for nursing school.
Steps To Prepare For Nursing School
1. Establish a Schedule
Many potential nursing school applicants shy away from submitting their applications because they worry they won’t have proper time to devote to their studies or their jobs outside of school. One of the main things to remember when applying for nursing school is to create a schedule you can stick to.
Let’s say you work as a waiter to supplement your income and put yourself through school. You do not need to give up your job to become a successful nurse, rather etch out certain time periods throughout the week to focus on studying, class, and work.
If you break down your schedule into segments, you will find it much easier to keep a routine similar to the one you had before nursing school.
This will also help when you move on to working as a nurse. You will need to plan out time to relax, manage children if applicable, and work without reaching burnout.
Self-care is a huge factor in maintaining a healthy and effective schedule. Plan time to engage in activities that bring you joy and peace that have nothing to do with work or studies. This could be anything from reading a book to meditating to sharing a phone call with an old friend.
Set aside time when you can relax and unwind without thinking about your schoolwork or job requirements. They will be there once your self-care routine is complete. Plus, when you engage in self-care activities, you will find it much easier to return to a productive work or school environment.
One of the best assets you can factor into your schedule is a designated study area. Find a room or an area with no distractions and a place you can comfortably do your work. This can also be the place you work on notes when you start working as a nurse.
2. Complete All Of The Prerequisites
Prerequisites are classes or certificates required before you jump into a new program or school. For nursing school, some prerequisites include anatomy, biology, and microbiology. Each school is different, so one school might offer anatomy in combination with another class.
Schedule a meeting with the head of admissions to find out which prerequisites count toward your nursing school. You can get more specifics by chatting with an employee rather than hoping your courses count toward your nursing admission.
Prerequisites offer some guidance about what you will learn in nursing school. Anatomy, for example, focuses on the inner and outer workings of the human body and helps prep you for treatments when you practice being a nurse or when you become a nurse.
Make sure to study important information from your prerequisites because you will most likely review the same information in nursing school.
3. Shadow a Nurse
The best way to see what a day on the job looks like is by attending a day on the job. Several doctor’s offices and hospitals offer days for interested nursing students or potential healthcare workers to shadow staff. When shadowing a nurse, you will follow them around during their workday and observe how they handle issues, navigate daily tasks, and help patients.
Shadowing alerts you to trivial moments during a nurse’s workday and can also show you what you need to work on in nursing school and what you already understand.
Shadowing a nurse is a great environment to ask the nurse questions you might be nervous to ask a professor or questions you think a professor might not answer as thoroughly as the nurse. Also, when shadowing a nurse, you will work with someone who specializes in a specific department.
If you shadow a pediatric nurse, you will see how the nurses interact with the patients and how they treat the kids in treatment. You can see how you like the specific environment in which you are shadowing or if you want to move to a different unit. Maybe the trauma unit is more up your alley.
Contact local hospitals and doctor’s offices to see which ones offer shadowing. You can work with your school counselors or teachers to set up appointments.
In addition to shadowing nurses, potential nursing students can also interview medical professionals in person or on the phone. During these interviews, students can ask any question about nursing they have, including what a day on the job looks like and what required experience.
4. Volunteer At a Hospital or Doctor’s Office
Shadowing a nurse is when you follow them around and mirror their actions. Volunteering is another way to prepare for nursing school because it shows you what the nursing environment looks like. Several hospitals and doctor’s offices employ volunteers to help out with tasks that the doctors or nurses might not get to during the day.
While working in a medical setting, you will get a feel for the pace of the medical field and understand more about your identity as a medical worker. Maybe you thought you wanted to work with babies, but after volunteering with them, you realize you want to work with older adults.
Plus, gaining volunteer experience before applying to nursing school looks great on a resume.
5. Study For The TEAS Test
The TEAS test is the official nursing exam that determines who gets into nursing school and who needs to retake the test. Each nursing program requires a different passing score for admission, but it is important to prepare a few months in advance.
You can join study groups, purchase TEAS prep guides, or seek out a tutor to help you ace the exam. The exam focuses on algebra, reading, science, and English. To earn the highest score possible, study a little bit each day leading up to the test.
6. Study Groups
Depending on your learning style, you could benefit from forming a study group devoted to getting into nursing school. Some students retain more information when they work together with other like-minded peers.
If you know a few people interested in pursuing nursing, you can create a weekly study group. Meet one day of the week at a specific time in a given spot and review information, ask questions, and study together.
If you don’t understand a certain chapter in your biology textbook, maybe your classmate can help you. When working as a nurse, you will need to communicate with others on the job, and if you don’t understand something, you need to be comfortable asking for help.
Study groups also help students learn different information from different students. One student might take extensive notes in anatomy but not microbiology. Study groups allow you to meet up with individuals who all take the same courses and see where you’re struggling and what you understand.
7. Take Breaks
Studying nursing material is essential to passing the TEAS test and becoming a nurse, but if you don’t do anything besides study, you will harm yourself more than help yourself. One of the biggest components of studying is to break it up. It is best if you take breaks to retain information.
If you stare at a screen or reread the notes from your lecture for too long, you might glaze over the information and not remember it when asked about it on the TEAS.
To avoid this, when you feel yourself getting restless or tired, eat a snack, go for a walk, play a game, or do anything to get your mind off of your studies. This way, when you return to studying, you will have a fresh mind.
8. Understand and Respond, Don’t Memorize and Regurgitate
Everyone wants to earn good grades. But, if you put too much time into thinking about grades instead of the information you need to know to succeed as a nurse, you will run into trouble. When studying, avoid memorizing information for the sake of memorizing it.
Make sure you understand the information and how to apply it. Memorizing information is great for tests. But when working in the medical field, you need to know how to treat a patient because you understand their condition, not because you memorized how to treat a cold.
If a patient has a cold but is allergic to common cold medicine, you need to be able to tell them alternative methods to remedy the cold. If you spent your nursing school studies memorizing instead of learning how to handle cases, you won’t be able to help the patient.
Once you learn how to comprehend and respond to information, you can receive good grades and pass your classes.