7 Nursing School Tips from an Accelerated BSN Student
Using these nursing school tips for success can help you thrive in an accelerated nursing program. Tips include holding yourself accountable, making studying a habit, showing up prepared, learning from your mistakes, setting a schedule, taking advantage of learning opportunities and using available counseling services.
Starting nursing school can be a challenge, especially when you’re entering an accelerated nursing program. These programs, like the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program at Concordia University, St. Paul, condense nursing curriculum into as few as 16 months. That means you’ll really need to focus and dedicate yourself to reach your goals and succeed. Our nursing school tips will help you create a plan for getting through school.
We sat down with Brie, a graduate of the ABSN program at Concordia St. Paul, with locations in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Portland, Oregon, to hear her nursing school tips for success. She’ll share specifically what it takes to be successful in a fast-paced nursing education that combines online coursework, skills labs and clinical experiences.
1. Hold Yourself Accountable
Accelerated nursing school takes a high amount of grit and tenacity. You’ll need to focus and put school first. Nursing faculty will facilitate the achievement of your goal, but accountability to accomplish your goal is personal and rests with you.
Of the online coursework in particular, Brie stresses:
You have to have this drive to succeed. Because it’s not like we have a scheduled lecture time, so you have to hold yourself accountable, learn the material and reach out to your nursing faculty or academic advisors when you need help.Brie, Concordia St. Paul ABSN graduate
Reaching out when you need help also means getting to know your cohort, forming study groups and taking advantage of instructors’ office hours, because as Brie says, “The instructors are amazing.” If you don’t think something was clear, let your instructor know. Everyone learns differently, so you may just need something explained differently. Take responsibility for your education, as this will help you learn the material as quickly as possible.
Wondering if nursing school is worth it? Consider these six factors to help you decide if the ABSN program right for you.
2. Make Studying a Habit
Speaking of studying, keep in mind that with an accelerated nursing curriculum, waiting until the night before the big test to study will not get you far. You’re going to cover a lot of content in a short period of time, and that requires making studying a daily habit. Every assignment is designed and selected to help you master the content, so essentially by completing the assignments, you are also studying for exams!
It may take a few weeks to get into the routine of studying, so be patient with yourself, and give yourself time to adjust to the new normal. Students generally spend 40+ hours studying each week, so be prepared to have this be your major focus for the next 16 months. With a little time, you’ll get settled into the routine of accelerated nursing school.
Curious how nursing school works in an accelerated BSN program?
3. Show Up Prepared
How to succeed in nursing school also means showing up prepared when you have in-person learning experiences. Before attending skills labs, make sure you have completed the assigned coursework. “You have to come prepared,” Brie cautions. “Are you ready to do what you need to do? You have to do the work ahead of time.”
By putting in the work to prepare ahead of time, you’ll be ready to learn and get the most out of your skills lab sessions. Nurses are expected to be prepared to care for a variety of patients, and that preparation starts before each skills lab or clinical learning experience.
4. Learn From Your Mistakes
In nursing school, you’re learning skills and techniques often for the first time. You’ll likely make mistakes during your labs, but that’s OK because you can learn from them before working with real patients. The beauty of skills labs is that they provide the opportunity to practice in a supportive environment. Many skills require validations to demonstrate competency. There are limited opportunities to reattempt skills validations, but it takes a growth mindset to not let a mistake or failure set you back.
It can be intimidating, but the professors will always be supportive, and even if you make a mistake, the professors will say, "At least it was here, and now you know what to do differently."Brie
In addition, following simulations as part of your clinical learning experience, your group will participate in debrief sessions in which you discuss how you performed and how you can improve. This allows students to learn not just from scenarios they participated in but also those that other students participated in. This is also part of encouraging a growth mindset and reflective practice. Nursing students learn from their performances as well as their peers.
5. Set a Schedule (and Goals)
Another of the key nursing school tips for success is to create a daily study schedule for yourself. This will help keep you on track with studying and completing assignments, and it will also ensure you remember your required in-person labs and clinical learning experiences.
For Brie, setting a schedule helped her to stay on top of her studies, ensuring she never missed an assignment or lab. “The very first day we get access to Blackboard [the online learning management system], I print everything out. Then I just add due dates to my calendar. Some people go week by week; I get the big scheme of things first so I can see which weeks are going to be heavier than others in terms of the timing and expectations,” Brie explains.
Every week I sit down and I make an outline of what I have to do and when I have to get it done by, and then before I go to bed every night, I make a list of three things that I have to get done to have a reward for myself.Brie
For Brie, a reward could be something simple like watching a TV show or buying a latte. Self-care and rest are important components of being able to maintain the pace of learning required in an accelerated program.
6. Take Advantage of Additional Learning Opportunities
Depending on your learning style, it’s important to optimize your retention by using the best methods for you. The strategies for how to succeed in nursing school include incorporating a variety of beneficial study strategies into your routine.
“The textbooks have wonderful resources that I don’t feel like a lot of the students know how to utilize or use,” says Brie of the links to supplementary interactive case studies found online. By taking advantage of all the resources at your disposal, you can ensure you’re learning in the most interactive, efficient ways.
Learn more about how online learning can benefit you in nursing school.
7. Use the Counseling Services Available to You
One of the most important nursing school tips is to take care of your mental health. All Concordia University, St. Paul, students are welcome and encouraged to take advantage of the free academic, career, mental health, and personal counseling services available to them. “Remember that as a student, you have access to the counseling center, because it’s hard,” Brie says.
Throughout your ABSN program, seek assistance from instructors, success coaches and others who are here specifically to help you excel in nursing school. Everyone needs to be able to talk about their experiences and connect with others. Plus, if you’re overwhelmed during nursing school, it’s important to be able to manage that stress. Clubs like the Student Nurses Association also have social and community service events which helps with camaraderie.
Remember your health and wellness come first, for when you’re at your best, you will have greater success in nursing school.
Don’t Put Off a Rewarding Career In Nursing
Life as an accelerated nursing student can be challenging — requiring self-discipline, hard work and a lot of studying — but it will be well worth it when you graduate ready to sit for the NCLEX-RN®, the last step toward a rewarding career in nursing. The learning you will do is active, so you can apply the content to a variety of situations, just like real nursing care.
If you feel called to a career in nursing, don’t wait. Fill out our online form today to find out how you can earn your BSN degree in as few as 16 months with Concordia University’s ABSN.