Preparing for a Clinical Shift
When I first started clinical placements in nursing school, I was constantly unsure about what I should be packing, preparing, and doing to make myself feel more organized. I want to share some of the tips I have picked up along the way.
Routine, routine, routine: This is so important! I have curated a routine that allows me to ensure I always have what I need for my shift. These steps work for me, and something different may work for everyone; feel free to build off of this.
1. Ensure your lunch is packed and ready in the fridge the night before: The last thing you want the morning of a 12-hour shift is to sleep in and not have time to pack nutritious food. Nursing is a hard job, and you want to make sure you have adequate brain power packed in your lunch bag!
2. Layout a clean pair of scrubs/socks the evening before: I have had a panicked morning or two early on in my schooling where I was digging through the dryer in a frantic search for my school uniform scrubs. Laying this out the night before your shift will save time and stress!
3. Print out any necessary documents 1-2 days before: This helps prove to your instructors and nursing staff that you arrive prepared and show off your organizational skills. Plus - if your printer runs out of ink, you’ll know before it’s too late!
Nursing school is all about adaptation. Keeping up with the course load and managing your personal life, relationships, work, and everything else can be delicate. Figuring out how you learn best is an integral part of studying effectively and not only learning but retaining the material. What works for some people may not work for all. Using resources such as YouTube videos, flashcards, and more can help to solidify information. Personally, I wouldn't say I like reading textbooks. I find that I do not retain the information. Therefore, I have had to develop a system that worked for me by creating my own course study guides and using other resources and material to fill in any blanks.
What's in my Bag? Nursing Student Essentials
Every person has their essentials in their gym bag, makeup bag, or purse, but nursing students having essentials that can help through their nursing school journey. There’s a huge pile of items I've collected throughout my three years of nursing school that I believe EVERY nursing student needs to succeed. Below are some of the items I highly suggest if you are going into nursing or a current nursing school student.
I am the messiest person in terms of keeping all my things together in one place. Sometimes, it is like a treasure hunt trying to find my penlight. But, yet again, RekMed saved me with their compact organizer that I use as my pencil pouch and clinical essentials organizer. The organizer is a hard-shell case that can keep it all together and protect all your valuables.
Specialties: Where Do I Belong?
During and even before my nursing school career, people always seem to have the same question. “Do you know what specialty you want to be in?” Before nursing school, I knew the answer to that in 2 seconds! But as time went on through school, the more experiences I had in all the amazing specialty groups, the answer progressively changed. I would think about my original answer and then make a pros and cons list about a new specialty I am interested in! The process went on and on, and there is no specific timeline of when this must be done, but I did want to take the time to share some advice and tips that might help you along the journey of making that choice!
5 Tips to Stay Organized in Nursing School
There is no denying that a lot comes with being a nursing student – exams, assignments, clinicals, group projects, and more. There is just always something to do! So how do you keep up with all these mounting work?
Imposter Syndrome: Do I really belong here?
In my opinion, nursing students are high achievers. Acceptance grade percentages are on the rise, and you have to be pretty darn smart to get an acceptance letter. But, people don't always talk about what it looks like once you're in.
It’s that time of the year, or time of your life, or time of your choice where you finally begin looking for a nursing job! But first thing’s first, congratulations on making it this far! It is an extremely remarkable achievement to make it to this point, as nursing school is no easy feat. You made it through late nights, exams, clinicals, maybe even a few tears (hehe), and more – so celebrate!
Now let’s begin!
The process of applying for a nursing job varies from person to person. One may want to use prior to graduating nursing school, while others may want to wait until after writing the NCLEX exam. Some may want to apply to RN Residency programs, while others may want to go through traditional orientation programs directly. The options and possibilities are endless!
My journey involved applying for a nursing residency program I was interested in two weeks prior to graduating, where I was offered a position a few days before graduating. Thus, the choice of when to apply is unique to you!
Here are a few tips I found beneficial while applying for jobs as a former nursing student:
- Begin by reflecting. Think about what kind of nursing experience you would like to get into and reflect on your previous clinical experiences to see if you enjoyed a specialty. It helps to have a realistic idea of what kind of position you’d like to apply for.
- Do research. Based on your reflection, begin researching the position that you are interested in as a new grad nurse (or as an upcoming new grad). Think about whether you’d like to apply for an RN role directly or if you would like to go through a nursing residency route.
- Job Search. Once you have an idea of the position you are interested in, begin looking for jobs specific to your interest – and take NOTE of their qualifications. In general, write down what you need to have to apply for the positions. It also helps to see if you qualify for those positions. A lot of the time, job qualifications can include “one year of related work experience,” but don’t let this keep you from applying for the position. This is when your clinical experience comes into play.
- Revamp/organize your resume. Reach out to your school’s career services (if offered). A lot of the time, they offer resume feedback on how to improve your resume. OR you could reach out to your guidance counselor/professor for resume feedback. OR you could look up online resources (even through IG/Youtube) on ways you can improve your resume/make it stand out!
- Apply! Once you know which type of position you’re interested in, go ahead and apply and hit that submit button (along with all the information they need, such as your resume, cover letter, and any qualified certifications)!
- Prepare yourself for the job interview. I recommend looking up “common new graduate nurse interview questions” and practicing answering those questions. You can even watch online videos on how to prepare yourself for a nursing job interview. Other critical key tips are to: learn as much as you can about your potential employer, arrive on time (or be virtually online on time), dress for success, stay true to yourself/be courteous, ask questions, and thank them for the opportunity and time! Another helpful thing to remember is to reflect on your previous clinical experience (I think it will help with clinical scenarios that may come up during the interview).
Overall, give it your very best! This part of your nursing journey is simply another stepping stone, so don’t feel rushed and go at your own pace. You know what is best for you.
Although it may not be much, I hope this little post was of help to you. These were some of the few things that helped me in my journey, but reach out to your peers, mentors, and even professors for more help and guidance. Best of luck, I believe in you!
Love, Annika Grace
Written by: Annika Grace
It is no secret that nursing school is extremely stressful. There are deadlines, clinical hours, exams, papers, and seemingly endless amounts of information responsible for knowing. It is very easy to feel overwhelmed or anxious while trying to navigate through the experience. On top of the expected stresses that nursing school brings, we have been switched to virtual learning for a year due to the global pandemic, thus creating more stress, pressure, and responsibility for the students. Having to navigate through the added stresses of the pandemic and nursing school has been a unique experience, and there was no handbook given to understand how to cope and what to expect. I have personally struggled with anxiety and depression since I was in my pre-teen years, and it is always present in my life, sometimes more prevalent than others. Learning ways that work for me to cope with these things has helped me tremendously.
These are some of the things that have helped me cope with my mental health throughout my nursing school time. The top thing that I do to maintain a good balance is taking breaks and being kind to myself. It is easy to fall into the pattern of feeling like you “should” be studying or getting ahead whenever you have free time. I have learned that every single waking moment doesn’t (and shouldn’t) belong to nursing school. Having a good school/life balance is an integral part of not feeling consumed or overwhelmed with nursing school. Second, I have a good support system. I wouldn’t consider myself overly extroverted; however, I always get classmates’ phone numbers and reach out to them when it comes to school. I have since built an incredibly supportive group of fellow students with whom I can vent, ask questions and give/receive support. It is difficult to form your “group” during the pandemic; however, I know this last year would have been much more difficult without them. Third, I have created a space that is specifically dedicated to studying and schoolwork. I don’t study in bed and try to make sure that it is a quiet, peaceful place. This allows me to separate “class” from “home” and ensure that I can give each one the attention it deserves. Lastly, self-care is essential. Self-care may mean different things to different people. For me, it is eating well, taking time off, going outside, taking bubble baths, and watching my favorite shows.
There are many different ways to cope with the stresses and pressure of nursing school. It is important to determine which of these ways works to manage the negative effects that we may be feeling. Many resources may help you to cope with these things as well. Make sure to reach out to your friends and family and utilize your campus resources if you notice that you are struggling.
Written by: Kym Wisniewski
Many nursing students thrive on staying busy, constantly filling up their planners with checklists, and maybe downing a coffee on hand. I know I did! Sometimes, we get so caught up with trying to accomplish so many things at once that we don’t realize how much of a toll this “need-to-get-things-done” mindset has on us. In other words, we forget about balance.
Nursing school in itself is already hard. From classes to exams, to projects, to labs, to clinicals, to preceptorships – it’s almost as if we’re wired to function “on-the-go.” Often, many students find themselves in a position where their life becomes centered around nursing school and that they have no time for other things – but this doesn’t have to be the case. This is when self-care comes in. As a profession that seeks to provide care for others, I think it is so important to remind ourselves that we have to take care of ourselves first before taking care of others. That said, here are some of my self-care tips:
- Determine what self-care looks like to you. Self-care is unique to each person. Knowing what makes you feel good, de-stressed, and happy is a great place to start! Make a list and write down all the things that you enjoy. For me, self-care included binging TV shows that I loved (like The Office, New Girl, and Parks and Rec), talking to my loved ones (video chat/phone call), cooking homemade meals, taking long showers, and naps. LOVE naps!
- Understand that it is okay to set aside time for yourself. Because one can be so used to constantly reviewing or studying or always doing something, you must understand that it is okay to make time for yourself. Do not feel guilty about taking time to care for yourself.
- Schedule in your self-care. Yup! Write down your plan for self-care in your planner or calendar. This could be scheduling, getting your nails done or meeting your friend for lunch to catch-up. Scheduling it in means you have decided to make time for it – so follow through with it.
- Say “no” more often. This is easier said than done but learning to say “no” more often makes the difference. This can mean saying “no” to picking up a shift if you work or saying “no” to something you are uncomfortable doing. It keeps you from constantly overloading yourself, and it also helps with your mental health by allowing you to put yourself first.
- Practice positive self-talk. This practice has made the biggest difference in my mental health and my self-care. The things that we tell ourselves will either encourage and motivate us or limit us. Some ways to provide ourselves with positive self-talk is to: be grateful, visualize your success, not fear failure, and surround yourself with positive affirmations.
- Take care of your body. We only have one body, so we should take care of it. Rest, eat, exercise – however, caring for your body works best for you.
These are just a few things that have helped me throughout nursing school! Although it may not include all aspects of self-care, I hope that it still helps someone think a little more about incorporating self-care into their school-life routine. Remember, one of the most important relationships you will ever have is the one you have with yourself. Put yourself at the top of your to-do list, and the rest will fall into place.
Comment down some of your favorite self-care tips!!!
Love, Annika Grace
Written by: Annika Grace