Monday, February 14, 2011

Nursing School

Hey Guys! So school makes it really hard to film a video. I rarely look nice enough to put up a video on the internet haha. I figured I can write a blog post and then as soon as I can film I will. This will be super long so if you aren't interested in nursing stuff then don't read it haha. If you are then I hope it helps a lot :)

We currently have class two days a week. Monday from 9-12 and 1-3 and then Tuesday from 1-3. My teachers use power points and a few handouts for our classes. I sit in class and look at the power points and then anytime a teacher emphasizes something multiple times I change the font to red. That tells me that topic WILL be on the exam and that I really need to focus on it. I really don't read my textbook at all unless I can't grasp a topic from the powerpoint or if we are told to look at a figure. I have a bit of a photographic memory so reading too much actually hurts me more than it helps me. Now i'm not telling you to not read your textbook but you need to study in a way that helps you the most. Everyone is different so don't take my advice and then get mad if you fail. For my program we must get a a C to pass which is an 80.
The way that I study for exams is to use a 5 subject notebook. I re-write the power points in my own handwriting because I cannot study printed text.
You also absorb a lot by re-writing the power points because your brain organizes it so you have to make sense of it. Example of my study guide...
Sorry that it is blurry but it's a video still. I only highlight when the teacher stresses that something will be on the test for sure. That's the same info that I change to red font on my power points. 
I generally try to start my study guide one week before the test. This doesn't always happen but I try to make the effort so that I can take my time and not rush. In reality I'm doing it 2 days to 1 day before the exam. Once I finish the study guide I read thru it 3-6 times before the exam. If there is something to memorize then I'll do that  separately. Once again photographic memory means it doesn't take me long to memorize so some ppl have ways to help with that. Generally if I do my full study guide and read thru at least 3 times I can easily get an 80. 
For the final exam I sit down and read through my study guide as much as I can and then take the final. Another thing I am known for is making a grade distributor. I use my syllabus and make an excel document that I can put in grades I have received and see what I need to make to get an 80, 90, etc. It is super helpful when you are at the time of your final and you see that you can get a 50 and still pass the class. Do I shoot for a 50? No, but it makes you feel much more confident. As to making the grade just have to be savvy with Microsoft Excel. Example of mine...
In the blue squares you type in your grade and it will formulate your class average. That way you can say "alright if I mess up and get a 50 what do I have to make to still pass the class??"

We have clinical 2 days a week for 7.5 hours each. We used to do 12 hour days once a week but we are required to do 15 hours this semester so they made us separate it into two days. Not my favorite but oh well. Clinicals are on Wednesday and Thursday from 6:45 until 2:15ish. 
Breakdown of our days...
On tuesday our assignments are made at the hospital. Meaning after my 3 o'clock class ends I go to our assignment sheet and get the patient's room number and initials. I then go and see if the patient has been discharged (happens a lot sadly) and if not then I go into the computers and get their diagnosis, meds, labs, diagnostic tests, nurse and physician notes and any other information I can get my hands on. You then go home and research the information and learn about the meds. I have come up with a sheet that helps me organize everything for each patient that is easy to read and not a billion pages to shuffle through when my instructor asks a question. I will put a picture below, if you are interested in the sheet just email me For some reason they are hard to find online but i'll gladly share mine. I have another version that has more pages if you are interested in that. I also have a sheet for assessments. *Note - some programs require specific papers so check this beforehand. 

Overall this has helped me a ton. The meds are not ALL the meds but just PRN (as needed) so pain meds, nausea meds, and what not. Anything that I need to keep the time for myself because the computer can't tell me that Room A is due for his pain med IF he wants it. The other sheet is basically the same thing but much bigger and more room. My assessment sheet is very basic and is mainly just to keep me from forgetting to check something. My sheet is one page but the one I document at the hospital is at least 6-7 pages. A lot of an assessment isn't measured so it's in your head but my sheet reminds me what to do especially with a chatty patient who distracts you often. This is my assessment sheet...

*Once again if you want any of these please just email me. 
Ok so back to clinical. You do all of your work the night before and then show up the next morning. I get there 6:15-6:20 so that if my patient went home (major bummer) I can start looking up my new patient. If not I get any new labs, meds, nurses notes, orders, and what not. I always check my chart incase the physician has visited and wrote new orders. Then we get report from the off going nurse and introduce ourselves to the new nurse. Tell them who I am, what patient I have, if i'm giving meds, and what I am allowed or not allowed to do. We also go in and introduce ourselves to the patient as the primary nurse and student nurse so they know what to expect and just incase they don't want a student we can talk to them and see what they say. Then we go get our assessment done, pass morning meds and then do whatever is needed for the day. If you only have one patient then you get relatively bored so we help out with other patients as we are allowed. When you have 3 patients and are giving meds your day feels like about 15 minutes for 7 hours haha. What you are allowed to do will start out very basic (basic needs) and then progress as you check off on your skills. We can do anything now except for PCAs and other things like that. Then at the end of the day you find out if you will have the same or different patients the next day. If you have different then you have to repeat the research that night....not fun at all. 

Whew that was long. If you have any more questions let me know and i'll add them at the bottom. Hope this helps a lot :)


  1. Thank you sooo much for writing this blog definitely helps me out a lot since I will begin my nursing clinicals this August. I did have some questions though haha:

    Since I am currently not taking any classes until my clinicals start in August, are there any books or subjects that you suggest I read or study prior to the start of clinicals that may help me? Right now, I am rereading my anatomy and microbiology textbooks as well as rereading my class powerpoints, but I am unsure what else I could study.

    If I understand correctly, you are in an associates degree program (I am also). Are you going to go back to school to get your BSN? I am not sure if I want to or not, since I do not wish to become a nurse practitioner or anything like that. But would you recommend getting your BSN? And if you do go back and get your BSN, would you take your classes while working as a nurse?

    Thanks so much for the time and effort you put into making this!! Very helpful :D

  2. Anytime at all. I think that if you have CNA where you live i'd refresh those skills in your head. Other then that not really. Clinical is much more of improve on what you know...the rest you will learn there. Maybe refresh on lab values so you can understand the patient's chart easier. I am doing an associates degree and I do plan on getting my bachelor's. First off they are trying to phase out ADN nurses to make them more of an LPN. That's why a lot of LPN's are getting their degree now as an ADN. I would get it for job security, more knowledge, and you do get paid more as a BSN even if it's minimal. You also have to do continuing education as a nurse such as classes and workshops to keep your license. Getting your degree for 2 years or so will count as that. I do plan on working while I do it unless I decide to do it when we have kids or something and I take time off.