One of the questions I consistently receive in my inbox goes something like this, “I am so overwhelmed. How do you balance school, being a mom, and still have time for yourself?” And while I am flattered that I put out the perception that I have it all together and give advice on the topic, that isn’t the reality. Some weeks, I feel like I am on top of my game, getting ahead on assignments, spending a lot of time with my family, and doing things that I enjoy. Other weeks, however, I feel like I am drowning in assignments, commitments, and household duties. The important thing that we must remember: we are only human. There are only 24 hours in every day, and some days we will get everything done that we set out to do, and other days we simply cannot. The biggest lesson that I have had to learn since the beginning of nursing school was to give myself grace and kindness on the days that I fall short. I wish that I had some secret to effectively balancing everything and excel in all areas all of the time, but my greatest lesson that I’ve learned after a year and a half of nursing school is that I cannot do everything.
That being said, there are ways in which you can try to allocate your time better and plan your week to try to get assignments and studying done so that you have time to do other things throughout the week. The first thing I do is take a look at the upcoming week in my planner and assess what assignments I have due to come up with a “Mental Game Plan” for the week. I try to complete the most time-consuming assignments first, get them out of the way, and then leave the quicker/easier assignments last since I know that I can knock them out. I study in small increments each day instead of going it all to cram last minute. Most of my schoolwork gets completed after 9:00 pm after my son has fallen asleep for the night. While staying up late isn’t the time I would prefer to complete studying and assignments, it is the best time for me to have quiet time and focus without losing out on family time during the day. It is one of the sacrifices that I make to make sure I get as much time as possible with my family. The most important thing to remember is that nursing school is only temporary. Whether it be with family, friends, sleep, or otherwise, making sacrifices is part of the journey. Some weeks may require more sacrifice than others, but all of the work is done to achieve the goal of becoming a nurse.
Written by: Kym Wisniewski
I have taken the NCLEX twice and have not passed successfully but I truly believe that the third time’s a charm! (That is a blog for another time!) Through those times of studying for the dready NCLEX exam, I have discovered many resources to use to prepare myself for the big day. Studying does come with a good, healthy mentality, so knowing that you have been taught everything you need to know and learning those test-taking strategies will be a fantastic combination to beat the beast that is NCLEX. Here is the study schedule that I plan to follow for my next attempt at NCLEX & the resources I plan to use.
Day of NCLEX Studying:
0600: Wake up & take a few deep breaths to start the day!
0630-0700: Meditate + do my workout for the day <3
0700-1030: STUDY TIME! Reviewing content from Remar VT & Mark Klemik Audios/Notes (Using the Pomodoro Method)** 30-minute study sessions with a 5-10 minute break per session **
1030-1100: Eat a small snack to refuel!
1100-1200: Review concepts from the morning
1300-1500: Go through a 50-75 practice question assessment through Archer Q-Bank
1500-1700: Understand and review the questions I got wrong with the rationales
1700-Night: No more studying, relax and be proud of your study session for the day :)
For the resources mentioned, Remar Virtual Trainer is an NCLEX-RN, and PN NCLEX review for individuals that want to refresh their nursing mind with the content learned during nursing school. It is a hefty price to pay that includes a review workbook and a study schedule, and videos to go along. Also included is a “Quick Facts for NCLEX.”guide with (as the title says) quick and straightforward high-yield topics that could be expected on the NCLEX exam.
Another resource that I recommend for test-taking strategies is listening to Mark Klemik. Mark Klemik is an ex-writer for the NCBSN who is responsible for producing the NCLEX questions/exams. His audios provide easy mnemonics and tricks to answer NCLEXstyle questions better. He also has available private tutoring and online video sessions for people to participate in.
Lastly, the Archer Q-Bank is my preference in testing my knowledge and practicing for the big exam. Many people use U-World but as a person who has taken the exam twice now, paying for a U-World subscription is not ideal. Archer Review provides asimilar format from U-World, which is the exact format of the NCLEX using vagueness of questions that can better prepare you for the exam. Subscriptions for the Q-Banks are less than $100, depending on how long you want to practice questions. They also have a content review that you can purchase as a combo at a discounted price!
The most extensive advice I can give anyone who plans to take NCLEX soon: Do NOT overwhelm yourself with too many resources. That was my mistake initially; Now I’ve done my research on the resources that I prefer, and you should do the same! Whatever you use, it’s all about taking your time to read the question and answer choices to see what the question is truly asking. Mastering that will help you kick the NCLEX’ butt!
Happy Studying to you all!
You are made for this! You WILL pass NCLEX! You WILL be an RN!
Written by: Kayla Del Mundo
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
During our nursing school journeys, we have heard many things about success in school and success in our future careers. Throughout my clinical experiences, I had the opportunity to shadow and meet so many incredible nurses who had great tips and tricks along with advice. But one piece of advice I will never forget I received from a nurse I had shadowed for a day, "Go ahead and keep building YOUR tribe; the earlier, the better." Hmm… that is an odd statement, and I thought about it all day. I already have my tribe- all my friends and family? What does she even mean?
Fast forward to my final quarter in nursing school, and one day as I sat filling out applications for graduate positions, cover letters, reading over letters of recommendations. Taking the time to reflect on my journey truly, like a ton of bricks, finally hit me. Just because I already had a "tribe" didn't mean it was done growing.
Remember, as a kid, hear your parents say, "it takes a village." Well, this is how I think of building a tribe. Yes, do not get me wrong, your friends and family will always be your number one support system!! They are the base and foundation of your tribe. But, never forget about those you met along the way that has helped or may one day help you in your journey. Your professors, the nurses you meet or shadow at clinical, the preceptors, your final rotation, your fellow nursing classmates! Think about it, what if one day one of those individuals interviews you for a job? Helps you find or land that dream job? Teaches you a concept or trick that you carry through your next 30+ years of nursing?
With every encounter, remember, you are building YOUR tribe. If there is someone you connect with, see if they would make a good fit! Introduce yourself, make a great first impression, ask questions, be present and engaged, be willing to help!! Those little things will make an everlasting impression on someone- and they will remember you don't you worry!! Some may want to keep in contact and want to get help with their future endeavors! They will want to be a part of your tribe- they want to watch you succeed and do great things!
There will come a time when you may need help with a job or something like getting a letter of recommendation. How amazing of a feeling to be able to send a quick email or have a phone call and have that help at the tip of your fingers? To have the support behind you at all times? When a future employer asks, "What do you know about ___ (put your name here), they have nothing but great things to say!
I don't know about you, but I would be nowhere without my tribe!
Written by: Haley Goff