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Balancing Act: Realistic Time Management Strategies for Busy Nursing Students

Nursing school is a commitment; it is an emotional, financial and personal investment. 

You have the heart and the desire to become a great nurse, so you dedicate yourself to being an excellent nursing student. Then you find out - while it is rewarding, nursing school is also challenging! No one breezes through nursing school, and almost every student will reach a tipping point where changes must be made in order for goals to be achieved. That's normal, and how we grow as individuals. With that in mind, we've outlined some of the most common issues that nursing students face and ways to overcome them.

  1. Class Attendance:
    1. Attend every class.
    2. (Yes, it is that simple.)
  1. Bad Study Habits:
    1. At the beginning of each quarter, set aside time to MAKE time. Use a calendar where you can see the entire quarter, in full. This will help you make the most of your time, and set realistic goals for yourself.
    2. List all of your assignments, exams, and personal commitments on one calendar.
    3. Set personal deadlines to complete tasks before the last minute. Load up your smartphone or other type of automated reminder system with important dates. 
    4. Understand that studying is additional time reviewing material, whereas reading the chapter for class and completing assignments are considered NOT study time.
    5. Set up time throughout the quarter (never more than three consecutive hours) to study each week.
    6. As you are reviewing material before the test, write questions down to remind yourself to ask your professor BEFORE the day of the test.
    7. Find out if you study better in a group or on your own, and do that.
  1. Test Anxiety:
    1. Every student experiences test anxiety, so do not feel that this is your body trying to attack you personally.
    2. Remember to breathe. After every page of questions in an exam, set your pencil down and take one deep breath.
    3. Do not huddle around your friends before the exam and try to learn something brand new in the 10 minutes preceding the test; your brain doesn’t work that way.
  1. Breaking Down NCLEX-Style Questions:
    1. Read the questions slowly.
    2. Cover the answers when reading the question and think about what the answer might be before looking at your choices.
    3. If you get it down to two answers, rewrite the question as a statement filling in each of the possible answers to see which sounds better as a true/false statement.
  1. Balance:
    1. Find time away from nursing school, even if it is limited.
    2. Don’t cut off family and friends entirely. Although you may need to reduce social activities, it is important to keep your support network strong.
    3. Reward study time and difficult assignments with doing something you enjoy. (i.e. crafts, TV, video games, exercising, etc.)

Remember to be kind to yourself and always look out for "future" you when it comes to managing your time. Don't sweat the small stuff, and explore ways to improve when specific challenges keep cropping up. Although nursing school is not for the faint of heart, we know that those who are called to become great nurses are not faint-hearted in the first place! 

Shawn Clark, M. Ed.

Shawn Clark, M. Ed.

Student Success Coordinator

Shawn Clark is the Student Success Coordinator at the Galen Cincinnati campus.