Nursing school is a difficult endeavor, no matter what level of degree you are earning. Between going to class, studying for exams, completing clinical hours and managing personal responsibilities, it can seem hard to keep up at times.
Despite the hard work, a career in nursing is extremely rewarding, and just earning your nursing degree is a major accomplishment. As an aspiring nurse, you may be wondering how to be a successful nursing student. If so, here are some tips on how to stay on top of it all while earning your nursing degree.
Table of Contents for RN to BSN Nursing School Tips:
- Set Realistic Goals
- Discover Effective Study Methods for Optimal Learning
- Stay Positive in Day-to-Day Life
- Manage Your Time Well
- Network and Connect
- Establish and Maintain a Support System
- Stay True to Your Passion
- Why Earn Your BSN?
Set Realistic Goals
Success in an RN to BSN program means staying driven and setting realistic goals for yourself. Rather than holding yourself to an impossible standard, focus on doing your best whenever you can, and when you make mistakes, learn from them and move on. For example, it’s not realistic to be perfect and study every second that you’re free — you must balance your school life and personal life.
Setting both larger and smaller goals is extremely beneficial to your success as a nursing student. As an RN looking to earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), you’ve already established larger goals of wanting to expand your career options and make a positive impact on the lives of your patients. However, sometimes you must look at things at a micro level and set smaller goals, like reading a few chapters of your work each week. Smaller goals also help you stay motivated by giving you a frequent sense of accomplishment.
Discover Effective Study Methods for Optimal Learning
One of the more widely applicable nursing school tips is understanding how you learn best. This is important no matter what degree or academic program you’re undertaking. The modality of how you’re completing your RN to BSN degree can also play a part in how you can cater your learning based on how you learn best. Here are some common learning styles that can help you identify how you can learn best in your nursing program:
- Visual: Visual learners learn by remembering things they see. This type of learner studies best using pictures, outlines, graphs, patterns, drawings or other visually stimulating text. Incorporating various colors into studying or note taking is also beneficial for these learners.
- Auditory: Auditory learners best recall and understand information by hearing it. These learners often enjoy in-class discussions and participating in groups as well as listening to others, or even themselves, talk. Listening to lectures, text-to-speech and verbally processing information is important for this learner.
- Hands-on/kinesthetic: These learners learn best by doing. They thrive when it comes to demonstrations, labs, experiments and hands-on activities. Any type of activity that involves physical movement is ideal. They may find taking active breaks useful while studying or turning their lessons into experiments.
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Stay Positive in Day-to-Day Life
Having an intense workload while trying to balance a personal life can be challenging. However, to be a successful in a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, it’s important to stay optimistic and look on the bright side as much as possible. Understand that there will be setbacks, but try to look for solutions and move forward, rather than dwell on them.
Continuing to work hard and stay motivated will be essential. If you don’t reach a goal, don’t give up; instead, set a new goal and reward yourself once you reach it. This will help you to stay positive and keep moving forward, even when you won’t feel like it.
Manage Your Time Well
Time management is a necessary skill for any nursing student. To avoid burnout, you must schedule time to relax as well as time to study. Students often sacrifice a good night's sleep for a last-minute study session. This can seem like a good idea at the time but can have negative side effects in the future.
Use a planner to schedule out your time in advance to help with procrastination. Write down tasks you need to complete each day. This will help you to identify free time where you can prioritize non-academic activities. Sticking to a schedule will not only help you feel more organized, but it will also help you minimize stress throughout nursing school.
Network and Connect
With many RN to BSN programs being offered online, it can feel difficult to connect with your classmates and professors. This, however, makes it even more important. Forming connections with other students and your professors can make you feel more comfortable in your environment and create valuable relationships in the healthcare industry.
Clinical rotations give you an opportunity to not just learn advanced hands-on nursing techniques but also to connect with other healthcare professionals. These are important connections to make and maintain throughout your career.
Connecting with your professors is equally as important. Your instructors have a wealth of knowledge and aim to prepare you to be a successful nursing professional. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification, suggestions or their take on relevant industry-related issues. It’s important to learn more from them than simply what’s in the curriculum.
Establish and Maintain a Support System
Having a solid support system is important when you’re going through time consuming and demanding endeavors. While completing your degree, one nursing school tip for success is to make sure you have people around you that are rooting for you and can help when it gets tough. Whether that is babysitting a child, picking up food during a late-night study session or just providing verbal support, having a system of those who care about you is important to a successful academic career and life in general.
Stay True to Your Passion
One of the most important nursing school tips you can receive is to let your passion motivate you. Your success in your Bachelor of Science in Nursing program will ultimately be driven by your passion for the career. As a nurse, you are most likely passionate about the healthcare field and caring for others and therefore are taking steps to further your education and your career. When the workload becomes tough, it’s important to remember this and persevere to reach your goals.
Why Earn Your BSN?
Taking the next step in your nursing career and enrolling in an RN to BSN program can be both an exciting and intimidating decision. However, you can be assured that there are many benefits to earning your BSN degree.
One of these benefits is increased job opportunities. A 2020 AACN survey of healthcare organizations found that just over 41% of hospitals and facilities require new RN hires to hold BSNs. In addition, the survey revealed that more than 82% of employers strongly prefer hiring BSN program graduates.2
Another BSN benefit is a substantial and promising salary expectation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses have a median annual wage of $75,330 as of May 2020.3 If you choose to advance your education further to pursue higher-level nursing positions, such as a nurse anesthetist, midwife or nurse practitioner, these estimates become even greater. As of May 2021, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners have a median annual wage of $123,780, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.4
The College of Nursing and Health Care Professions at Grand Canyon University prepares students to fill evolving healthcare roles as highly qualified professionals. Learn more about earning your Bachelor of Science in Nursing through GCU's RN to BSN program.
1Cannot be used in conjunction with other GCU scholarships or awards.
2 Retrieved from NurseJournal, Top 10 Advantages of a BSN Degree, in September 2021
3 The earnings referenced were reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”), Registered Nurses as of May 2020. Due to COVID-19, data from 2020 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may also impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the BLS. BLS calculates the median using salaries of workers from across the country with varying levels of education and experience and does not reflect the earnings of GCU graduates as Registered Nurses. It does not reflect earnings of workers in one city or region of the country. It also does not reflect a typical entry-level salary. Median income is the statistical midpoint for the range of salaries in a specific occupation. It represents what you would earn if you were paid more money than half the workers in an occupation, and less than half the workers in an occupation. It may give you a basis to estimate what you might earn at some point if you enter this career. You may also wish to compare median salaries if you are considering more than one career path.
4 The earnings referenced were reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”), Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives and Nurse Practitioners as of May 2021. Due to COVID-19, data from 2020 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may also impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the BLS. BLS calculates the median using salaries of workers from across the country with varying levels of education and experience and does not reflect the earnings of GCU graduates as nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners. It does not reflect earnings of workers in one city or region of the country. It also does not reflect a typical entry-level salary. Median income is the statistical midpoint for the range of salaries in a specific occupation. It represents what you would earn if you were paid more money than half the workers in an occupation, and less than half the workers in an occupation. It may give you a basis to estimate what you might earn at some point if you enter this career. You may also wish to compare median salaries if you are considering more than one career path. Grand Canyon University can make no guarantees on individual graduates’ salaries as the employer the graduate chooses to apply to, and accept employment from, determines salary not only based on education, but also individual characteristics and skills and fit to that organization (among other categories) against a pool of candidates.
Approved by the dean of the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.