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5 Tips For a Successful Semester from a Student Nurse

To guarantee a prosperous semester student nurse, Emily Milgrim, has gathered five tips to follow for achieving success.

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As I prepare to enter my sixth semester of nursing school at The University Of Pennsylvania, I know nursing school can be a lot to manage. Nursing school semesters are quite overwhelming between packed class schedules, long clinical days, and studying. Therefore, setting yourself up for academic, physical, and mental success is crucial. To ensure a successful semester, prioritize maintaining a balanced calendar. Here are five essential tips I’ve identified for succeeding in nursing school:

1. Keep A Planner And Stick To It

The best way to keep myself accountable and on-task is to plan out each day and week. For me, this looks like inputting classes, clinicals, due dates, social activities, and other known events in my calendar for the week. Then, I keep an additional daily “to-do” list of tasks I must complete that day. The key to this daily “to-do” list is not to overwhelm yourself. Usually, I limit myself to five items a day. This can include tasks such as completing a lab assignment, attending a study group, going to an exercise class, and more. Creating daily attainable goals is crucial to holding yourself accountable for schoolwork and self-care. Having a plan and sticking to it helps combat decision fatigue, which, as nursing students, is prominent.

2. Move Your Body

Studies show that regular exercise itself can improve memory and thinking alone. I know that students can need help incorporating a workout routine into their packed schedules, but there are far too many physical and mental benefits to neglect. So, if you are using your free time to exercise, it should be enjoyable. Consider exploring a workout class near your campus that you find enjoyable, bringing a friend along to the gym, and making the most of outdoor spaces for walking or jogging.

3. Clean Space = Clear Mind

Maintaining a tidy space while in school is important for many reasons. A clean environment, whether a dorm, apartment, or house, eliminates distractions. This allows students to focus and concentrate better while studying and working. Furthermore, a neat space contributes to an organized workflow. If students have to sift through stacks of paper and clutter, it reduces the time spent studying effectively. Finally, living in an orderly, clean space positively impacts overall mental well-being. A clean environment often correlates to a clearer mind. It reduces stress levels, creates a more conducive environment for being productive, and promotes good hygiene. Keeping a clean space is crucial for fostering a productive studying environment and is correlated to positive mental health outcomes.

4. Engage In Your Coursework and Resources

To enhance your overall educational experience, engaging in coursework and taking advantage of school resources is important. Succumbing to passively studying materials and skipping non-mandatory lectures is very easy. However, active participation in coursework and classes is essential to the learning experience and developing critical thinking skills. Additionally, utilizing your school’s resources enriches your learning experience. For example, go to the libraries instead of studying at home, get involved in research facilities, take advantage of academic support services, go to your professor’s office hours, and more. Students who engage in the resources offered to them can contribute to their overall academic success.

5. Find Time for Fun

Balance is a key to success in nursing school. Coursework and clinical rotations can be all-consuming, but you must make time for fun.

This can mean grabbing dinner with friends, visiting family on days off, going outdoors, and more. Dedicating time to activities you genuinely enjoy and spending quality moments with loved ones is crucial for sustaining a positive mental health status throughout the semester. Having fun also helps to reduce stress levels and prevents burnout. Finding positive outlets to take a break from academia promotes overall well-being and fosters a balanced lifestyle.

Emily Milgrim is a junior at the University Of Pennsylvania majoring in nursing. She will graduate in May 2025 and hopes to become a Nurse Practitioner.

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