In nursing school, you were taught how to care for patients and to think critically. In Nurse Practitioner school, you will be studying medicine with the caring component that you learned from nursing school. It will be challenging, demanding, and overwhelming at times. The journey is tough, but it will be worth it in the end.
There are many strategies that students use to get through Nurse Practitioner school, but here are my top 10 tips that I’ve found most helpful in being successful as an NP student!
Strong Support System
Figure out what your goals are and make them known to your family and friends. It’s hard to stay on track if your friends are constantly asking you to go out with them when you should be studying. Having a strong support systemwill make your journey to become a Nurse Practitioner a lot easier. School should be very high on your list of priorities and you should surround yourself with people who are going to help you reach your goal. This may be a difficult time, but remind yourself and others around you that it’s only temporary.
Keep your school material organized by having each class in separate binders. Invest in white boards, cork boards, multi-colored tabs, and stock up on your favorite writing utensils. Organize your school work by the week so you don’t miss any assignments. Graduate school is hard enough; keeping your work organized and neat will make your life a little less stressful.
Cut Down Work Hours
Besides family, school should be your top priority. Ideally, it would be best to not work at all while in Nurse Practitioner school, but this isn’t always feasible. Work as little as you can, so you can maximize your time studying and completing assignments. Take out some loans if you must; you’re investing way too much money in school tuition to compromise your grades and education.
Make friends in class and become study buddies. While more and more Nurse Practitioner schools are becoming available online, it is possible to have a social presence online! It’s also a good idea to have someone who will help remind you about due dates, brainstorm with, and keep you motivated. Having friends in Nurse Practitioner school makes it more bearable.
Have lots of coffee handy. Invest in a coffee maker or even a Keurig machine to save money instead of stopping by the coffee shop. You’ll definitely need coffee to get through early morning classes and late night study sessions. If you’re not a coffee drinker, find a drink or snack that helps you get through the day such as tea, water, granola bars, etc. Just remember to keep it healthy.
Invest in comfortable scrubs that are both functional and stylish. Being comfortable and having lots of pockets for your tools will increase your efficiency at work. Invest in a good white coat for future clinical rotations. I have the Ellody & Emma W. white coats and they fit perfectly. It was difficult finding a white coat that is both flattering and the perfect length (I’m 5’3” for reference).
Scientific studies have found evidence that wearing formal clothing versus casual clothing increases confidence, creativity, and test scores. In short, if you look good, you’ll feel good and perform your job better. Your patients and preceptors will also have more trust in you if you exude professionalism and confidence.
Calendars & Scheduling
Plan your schedule ahead and mark down due dates of assignments and tests! Planning ahead will allow you to coordinate school, work, and your social life. Doing this also helps you gauge how busy you may be at any given time, and give you time to prepare in advance.
Block out times of your day dedicated to studying and school assignments. Treat these time blocks as if they were scheduled for work or class. Don’t miss them or rearrange them. You can plan your other appointments and social events around your study time.
It’s important to have good communication within the healthcare team. In Nurse Practitioner school, it’s important to have good communication with your professors. Most professors are very understanding and know that things don’t always go as planned. Keep a good relationship with your professors and let them know ahead of time if you have any conflicts. Professors will usually allow extensions or will accommodate for you to make up class time or work, as long as it’s reasonable and you speak to them ahead of time.
Not all Nurse Practitioner schools arrange clinical sites for their students. If your school doesn’t find preceptors for you, I recommend starting the process of cold-calling practitioners as soon as you get your acceptance letter. The process can take a while, but remember that you are not alone and that there are many other students in the same position.
Have Fun & Relax
Occasionally, remember to take time for yourself, relax, and enjoy life. Go watch a movie, eat at your favorite restaurant, or even binge a few episodes of Stranger Things. Take a vacation, or a staycation. Taking these small breaks gives your mind a chance to rest and refresh. It also gives you something to look forward to when the semester gets tough.
About the author:
Vy is a nurse on the cardiac intervention unit and a Nurse Practitioner student. She loves Harry Potter and coffee. Vy has very supportive friends and family including her boyfriend, who is a Family Medicine Physician. Vy loves to pick her boyfriends’ brain about medicine any chance she can get. In her free time, she indulges in Netflix shows & movies. She also loves giving advice and help to others regarding nursing school, nurse practitioner school, or medical school. Follow Vy on Instagram!