Now that I’ve starting nursing school, there is a lot of things that I wish I would have known as a pre-nursing student. Here are 10 tips for pre-nursing students that I wish I would have known before starting nursing school.
Also if you are a pre-nursing student just starting your journey to nursing school, be sure to check out my last post! Just click the link below.
Tips for Pre-Nursing Students
1. Find the Schools You Want to Apply for Before Taking All Your Classes.
A lot of the pre-requisite classes for nursing school are similar. You need to take your core sciences, basic social sciences, statistics, etc. However, a lot of schools vary on certain requirements and some schools throw in extra classes that they want you to have. Look into classes before application time so that you can fully plan out your classes, extra-curricular, and the like instead of struggling to find a school with the classes that you already have.
2. Get Experience in a Healthcare Setting
Volunteer in a free-clinic or hospital, work in healthcare (maybe a CNA or phlebotomist), or shadow a nurse. Before fully committing you should know what working in a patient care setting is all about. This is something that I regret wasn’t apart of my pre-nursing experience. While I did volunteer at a free-clinic and shadow a PA once, I haven’t had a chance to get much experience in a healthcare setting. As a result, I feel like there are so many unknowns and questions I have. If I had gone the route of a CNA, I could have had a lot more experience working with patients and nurses.
3. Trust Your Gut
If you’re struggling to find your ‘why’ or keep going back and forth on nursing then trust your gut. There are going to be times as a pre-nursing student, nursing student, and nurse that are going to be STRESSFUL. If you’re just becoming a nurse because you don’t know what else you should do or you feel like it’s expected of you then it’s going to be hard to push through. This is going to be a huge part of your life! Make sure it’s something that you actually want to do and trust your gut if you think it might not be.
4. Plan Your Classes Methodically
Make a plan for the order in which you’re going to take your classes. Some science classes like A&P or microbio require other core sciences to be taken first. Make sure you take your core science classes early and don’t wait to take them. Keep in mind you might have to retake some of your classes if you don’t get a good grade in them. Some classes are also only offered during certain times of the year, especially if that class is a part of a series. in order to not take 3+ years in pre-req courses, you’re going to have to plan out your classes.
You’ll also want to plan to take your hard classes accordingly. If think you’re going to struggle in a class like A&P, consider your surrounding class and workload. Make sure to lower your courseload that quarter/semester or if possible work less during that time.
5. Realize that everyone is on a different timeline.
Don’t compare yourself to others. If it’s taking you longer to get through pre-nursing than someone else, it doesn’t matter! If you are older (or younger) than your counterparts, it doesn’t matter. Your timeline is going to be different than everyone else because we all go through different experiences. Make the journey enjoyable and don’t just idolize the end result. Pre-nursing always feels like it has taken FOREVER. I get it, but if you rush it because you think you need to be in school by a certain time then you will become more stressed and may even start to struggle in your classes.
6. Find an Effective Way to Study
Everyone learns differently. Find an effective way to study that works for you now so that you can rely on it in nursing school as well. Classes don’t usually get easier, so if you build good study habits early on then you can rely on it in the future. Personally I find notecards to be highly effective. I have found that I need to go over a single notecard a max of 7 times before I know the information. Some things stick better than others so I don’t always need to go up to 7 times before I’ve learned the information. This might not work for someone else, you just have to figure out what works for you.
7. Don’t Depend on Your Teacher to Learn the Material
Since everyone has different learning styles and some teachers are better at conveying information than others, don’t solely rely on your teacher. If you don’t understand something that you need to know, look in other places. Youtube is a great resource that has so much information for any class you have to take. Crash Course was one of my favorite channels to rely on for basically any class I needed to take. If you search for specific concepts you can also find lots of videos for all sorts of topics.
Google can also be your friend for practice questions and Quizlet for flashcards. Most colleges and universities also offer tutoring on-campus if you need help in certain areas. This was extremely helpful for me when I was taking chemistry and calculus because I could be walked through equations.
Anyways, there are so many resources out there so if you aren’t understanding something, don’t just rely on your teacher. Seek out other resources.
8. Actually Study
The information in nursing pre-requisite classes is really important! You need to know this stuff since the material in nursing school will build on top of it. That’s why nursing school requires these classes in the first place. You should actually be studying! This will help your grade, but also help you learn the information. If you try to get by with cheating or doing the bare minimum you are going to struggle later on.
9. Surround Yourself with Others that Have the Same or Similar Goals
If you surround yourself with other people who have the same or similar goals, you’ll feel more motivated. Collaborative environments are also beneficial for shared success between you and your peers. If you know others who are pre-nursing and pre-med or just other students in your classes, work together! If you get stuck or need to work out a problem you can work together. It’s also just nice to have a community of others to talk things over or just get what you’re going through. Your family and friends probably won’t get what you’re going through because they haven’t been in your situation.
If you don’t know anyone in a similar place as you, join a Facebook group! I’m a part of a couple of nursing/nursing student groups and it really feels like a community. I also was a part of a pre-med club at my university and there were a lot of different speakers and shared resources that helped get through pre-nursing.
10. Make Sure You Have Your Vaccines, Titers, and AHA Certified CPR
I didn’t know stress until it came to making sure everything was prepared to begin nursing school AFTER being accepted in the middle of a pandemic. Save yourself the struggle that I’m going through!
If you know the school you want to go through, look at their website to see if they list the vaccines you’ll need. If they don’t list it some basic ones to find your records for are MMR (2 doses or titer), Hep B (3 doses and titer), TDAP (booster within 10 years), TB (2 Step or Quantiferon within the last year), and the Varicella vaccine. If you can’t find records for these then go in and get the immunizations again.
Also if you already have CPR, make sure it’s certified by AHA. Many programs require that your CPR is certified by the American Heart Association and if it isn’t your school may have you retake it anyways.
If you can prepare these things ahead of time, it will be a lot less stressful during the 1 month you may be given upon acceptance if something goes wrong (like you test negative for Hep B on your titer and need the first two doses 1 month apart before the program).
I Hope Those Tips Have Been Helpful!
If you are currently in nursing school, let me know any other tips for pre-nursing students you have in the comment below!