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5 Pieces of Advice for Future Nursing Students

Portrait of a smiling young nurse holding clipboard at hospital. Satisfied female nurse outside operation theatre holding clipboard. Proud female doctor in scrubs looking at camera.

Ask almost any nurse, and they’ll have tips and tricks for success as you pursue your nursing degree. Whether the secret lies in eating peanut M&Ms while studying, or having a lucky stethoscope by your side during training, everyone has a secret to how they earned their degree. Here are a few golden ideas that nurses – and professors – would agree can help you to achieve your dreams.

1. Experience and Education Go Hand-in-Hand

Many nursing students say they’d love to go back in time and get some experience under their belt before commencing nursing school. Working as a certified nursing assistant or an emergency medical technician can give a prospective nursing student the basic knowledge before the start of coursework and help students make connections that can provide an edge after graduation.


A lack of hospital experience needn’t be a barrier to earning your BSN. There are many departments and offices that rely on volunteers and interns to help improve the patient experience. Your professors may be able to provide more insight and ways to get involved.

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

Often the material you learn builds on earlier concepts—think of this early material as the foundation of a building. If you attempt to build on a foundation that isn’t solid, the bricks you place on top will come tumbling down. For example, if you can’t insert a needle incorrectly, you’ll struggle to put in an IV line.


It is important to make sure you have a thorough understanding of tasks and concepts as you encounter them to ensure the more complex material makes sense. Consider setting up study groups – virtual or in-person – with your peers to quiz each other on the material and help each other learn or setting up time to discuss the material and any questions you have with your professors. You don’t have to earn your degree alone; there’s a whole community that wants to help you succeed.

3. Talk to Senior Nursing Students

Senior nursing students are a valuable source of advice. Your school may assign you a nursing student mentor, but if not, try to find someone who’s had experience with the course. They can enlighten you about a professor’s teaching style, give you tips about clinical locations, and even pass on their old textbooks or study notes.


When you graduate with your BSN, stay involved with your university. Volunteer to mentor someone or help new students on their journeys. Not only will your help be invaluable, but you might learn something yourself. You may never fully understand a concept until you can teach it to someone else.

4. Go Beyond Required Reading

Nursing graduates insist that the assigned textbooks should be only a starting point, and it’s useful to get a pathophysiology book and an NCLEX review book as well. Use these from the start of your degree when looking over new material to gain a complete understanding. EBooks are a great alternative to the paper varieties as they’re generally more affordable and less cumbersome to carry.

5. Adopt Smart Study Habits

Some nursing students think they need only to listen to their assigned lectures to learn, but they’ll lose much of the information they’re told. Good lecture habits are proven to aid retention. It is important to read the key points and chapter outlines each lecture will cover beforehand so already have some understanding of the material. After the lecture, spend 30 minutes to an hour synthesizing the information you’ve learned. Make sure you don’t procrastinate, as you’ll retain less information the more time passes.


There are bound to be times when you think nursing school is just too hard, but with the right attitude and this advice in mind, you can earn degree. If you like the convenience of an online nursing degree, check out Maryville University’s online DNP program.

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