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How to Make a Successful Transition to Nursing School

How to Make a Successful Transition to Nursing School

Posted on 19 May 2022 by Khadijah

Student Ambassador Highlight

Mastering the Challenging Journey to Nursing

In 2017, Hodges's office job left her feeling unhappy and unfilled.

Around the same time, her oldest son had open heart surgery and Hodges saw the power of positive nursing up close and personal. "The nurses were so reassuring," she says. "At that moment, I knew I didn't want to answer phones anymore. I wanted to help people in the way the nurses helped me during a scary time with my son."

She soon applied to St. Charles Community College to earn enough credits so she could enroll at Goldfarb as an undergraduate student.

"Of all the nursing schools in the area, I chose Goldfarb because it had the reputation of being one of the best," Hodges says. "Being associated with Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Hospital meant I would get a quality education I can rely on to get a good job and meet my career goals."

Hodges started as undergraduate student at Goldfarb's West Campus in Fall 2021 and will graduate in April 2023.

As a 29-year-old non-traditional student, Hodges admits the transition to nursing school was challenging. She is the baseball coach for one of her son's team and is often time-strapped running between games and baseball and soccer practices in addition to her classes.

"My husband and I talked it through from the beginning and he is very supportive," Hodges says. "Managing everything is about balance. I have to dedicate a certain amount of time to homework and then I can relax and spend time with my kids. I also get creative with my study time."

That means you'll find Hodges studying her pharmacology cards in the bleachers when her son isn't on the field. She also brings her laptop to study during soccer practice. And she records lectures in class so she can relisten to them when she is driving or at the gym to reap the benefits of repetition. She seamlessly weaves all this into her life as a mom.

Hodges' parenting persona follows her to the classroom. As a natural leader, nurturer and mentor, Hodges is known as the "class mom" by students in her cohort. She embraces the role.

"We have 22 students in our cohort," she says. "We have different backgrounds but we all talk, participate in a group chat, and work well together. I'm happy to be a helping hand to others and share ideas when they ask me how I handle school and family.

16 Can-Do Tips for New Student Success

Hodges shares valuable, proven tips for success as you begin the challenges of nursing school.

1. Establish good habits the first week.

Get into a routine with non-negotiables baked into your plan. That means you've worked in enough time for sleep, exercise and anything else meaningful to you or that you enjoy.

2. Hit the ground running.

You'll get lots of information the very first day. Goldfarb is a rigorous program and the pace is faster than community college. Professors use every minute and often start teaching at the very first class. Be ready to take notes and start your nursing education right away. Expect no easy, slow days. Breathe.

3. Make a schedule of what to do and when.

Time management is your friend. Prioritize what you need to do, and map it out using a planner or your phone. For example, get up at 6 a.m., go to lecture from 9 a.m. to noon, then relax, have lunch, or go to the gym from noon to 2 p.m. Study from 2-4 p.m. When you set expectations and structure, you're more likely to stick with it. Plus a written schedule helps you find free time. And you'll be less likely to procrastinate.

4. Set aside 30 minutes per class per day to study.

Nursing school is not like community college. The expectations are higher for reading, studying and understanding the material. Dedicate the time necessary to absorb all the information.

5. Take a break.

Your brain needs time to process all the material so take at least a 5 minute break every 30 minutes when studying. Stand up, step outside, or drink some water. Then get back to it feeling more refreshed.

6. Be prepared to make sacrifices.

You have to make sacrifices to get what you want or else what you want gets sacrificed. That means some nights you can't go out with friends. Find your "why" to keep you motivated on tough days.

7. Be accountable to yourself.

You are the captain of your education. You determine if you succeed or fail.

8. Get to know your classmates.

Other students are experiencing the same things you are, which creates a natural bond. School is not a competition. Participate in group chats so you can support each other.

9. Set realistic expectations about your grades.

It's much more difficult to get an A at Goldfarb than it was in high school or college. If you don't do well on an exam, get up, brush yourself off, and keep going. Recognize Bs are OK in this rigorous curriculum.

10. Find your people.

Find those who study like you and push you to succeed with support and encouragement. Meet in study rooms on campus and use the white boards to teach each other. You also can join one of many clubs at Goldfarb to meet people who have similar interests or backgrounds.

11. Find a mentor.

The Mentor Collective at Goldfarb connects people with similar interests to guide you. Use resources available including peer mentors, peer leaders and ambassadors.

12. Ask for help when you need it.

Turn to faculty, peer leaders, advisors, Ambassadors and mentors. Everyone at Goldfarb wants you to be successful. Plenty of people are ready and willing to jump in to help you. They want you to walk across the stage and get your diploma. We root for each other—because we're made for this.

13. Step out of your comfort zone.

Nursing school is an opportunity to try new things. Talk with someone new after class. Many people are waiting for someone else to take the first step. To broaden your horizons, say yes to something you usually say no to.

14. Take time for self-care.

Drinking enough water, exercising and getting to bed at a reasonable hour is important. It's easy to get burned out with everything going on so making time for self-care is essential for the long haul.

15. Pace yourself.

Don't fall into a non-stop go-go, study-study routine and lose sight of why you are becoming a nurse. A burnt out nurse is not a good nurse. Use your downtime to recharge. Get outside, take a walk, or call a friend rather than just scrolling through your phone. You need to decompress with things that lift you up.

16. Balance your priorities.

Think of priorities as a plant. When you have multiple priorities, you have to water them all. Take time to study, but don't forget to take care of your physical and mental health, and spending time with family and friends. Remember, nursing school is temporary and you want those important relationships around when you're done.

5 Extra Tips for Non-Traditional Students

As a busy mom, spouse and student, Hodges has mastered the art of juggling. In addition to her tips for all new nursing students, she shares these special success tips for non-traditional students like her.

1. Get creative in finding study time.

With family responsibilities such as kids' school, sports and other activities, carving out time to study is challenging. Listen to recorded lectures as you're driving or with earphones in the bleachers. While your child has soccer practice that doesn't require your focus, hang out in the car or on the sidelines with your laptop or study cards.

2. Find a support system outside school.

Enlist your parents, in-laws and friends to help with child care, picking up kids from school or practice, etc. Get your village together and share your calendar with them.

3. Communicate with your employer.

Going to school full-time while trying to work is difficult. If you need your income while you're in nursing school, talk to your supervisor about flexible work hours. To supplement her family's income, Hodges works PRN as a patient care tech so she can pick up hours as her schedule allows.

4. Let it go.

Mini-sacrifices are necessary when you're a student, spouse and parent. Laundry, an immaculate house, and four-course dinners may have to be set aside at times.

5. Communicate with professors.

Let your professors know you have kids or a spouse or other details in your life that can impact your classwork. If you're open and honest with your professors from the start, they may be more flexible when you're in a pinch due to your life situation.

Good luck with your exciting journey ahead! Goldfarb is here for you every step of the way!



Comments (2)Number of views (239)

2 comments on article "How to Make a Successful Transition to Nursing School"

Jessica Allen

6/4/2022 1:32 PM

Great article and great read and tips!!

Janine Russell

6/6/2022 9:23 AM

Wonderful and inspiring life story! Great tips for all students.

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