As a student nurse, we often have a lot more to cope with than students on other courses. We have to balance studying, placement, our social lives, outside employment and taking care of ourselves. Therefore, it is vital that we organise ourselves to try and minimise stress. I find organisation is key to me remaining calm especially through exam and assignment periods. On that note, I have come up with some tips on how to stay organised at a student nurse:
Get a diary or use a calendar
Diaries are an obvious and helpful way of remaining organised and scheduling activities around placement, for example. There are even companies online which have designed diaries especially for healthcare students (https://www.thehappyplannercompany.com/ for example, but there are other companies out there!) – these are great for keeping track of the usual daily tasks, but also help you keep track of placement hours, placement related tasks and university deadlines. I find using a wall calendar helpful in keeping myself organised, as it allows me to visualise my entire month in front of me in one go. It helps me rationalise my workload and realise when I need to take days off or how long I have left until a deadline. If you can’t afford to buy a wall calendar, as I know they can be an expensive luxury for students, you can make one yourself – this can be quite a therapeutic activity for some – or you can find printable calendars online.
Deadlines and Exams
My main tip is to look at the assessment schedules on SurreyLearn at the beginning of each year, print it out and have it somewhere you can see it such as a pin board. It provides you with all the information you need relating to how you will be assessed that year, for example how each module is assessed, when it is due and (most importantly) when you get the results back. Set reminders on your phone for the day before your deadline to prompt you to submit earlier than the deadline. Sadly, technology isn’t fool-proof and things can go wrong, so the earlier you submit the better to avoid unwanted penalties. When it comes to exams, try and make a revision schedule that is tailored to you. Everybody works and learns differently, so make sure your schedule and plan is personalised but also allows enough time for you to cover all the areas needed for the exam. Also allow enough time to be able to ask for help or ask questions if you’re confused or worried. Remember at Surrey, we are also fortunate enough to have SPLASH in the library who can help with assignment and exam skills, if you need any support or advice.
I always try to be organised before attending lectures. It can be difficult sometimes, as life gets in the way, but going to a lecture prepared means you get so much more out of it when you’re there. The Health Sciences lecturers at Surrey are amazing at putting up the lecture slides in advance, so at least try and have a read of them beforehand and make some notes, then once you’re in the lecture you can really focus on what the lecturer is saying rather than trying to jot down every slide and getting frustrated when they skip through too quickly (sadly we’d be there all day if they waited for every student to finish writing). Some Additional Learning Support students can audio record lectures to aid them in their learning. There is nothing saying that other students cannot record the lectures also, however make sure you get permission from the lecturer beforehand as some lectures and seminars might not be suitable, such as when there are external guest lecturers, due to privacy and confidentiality. Also remember that a lot of lectures at Surrey are recorded anyway and put on Panopto so you can always refer to these after the lectures too. Furthermore, Surrey Uni now has the MobileConnect feature in most of the main lecture theatres. This allows you to connect your earphones to the lecturers microphone via an app on your phone, which lots of students find helpful for concentration. Finally, don’t forget to do your pre- and post-session work as it’s all relevant and will help you to develop a wide depth of knowledge when it comes to an assignment or exam.
Getting into a routine can really help some people stay organised and keep on track with tasks and goals, but sometimes it can feel difficult when you’re having to get up at different times for placement and changing between day and night shifts. However, this is the reality of being a nurse and so it’s important to find a routine that works for you. It might not necessarily be waking up at the same time and going to sleep at the same time every day, as for most people this is not practical, but it could mean getting the same amount of sleep each night, showering when you wake up or before you go to sleep, or doing some reading before bed each night. This doesn’t just help you to stay organised but also helps you keep your body and mind in check and promote healthy wellbeing.
The most important thing to remember is to have fun and enjoy being a student nurse, as it’s such a wonderful experience that will fly by and be over before you know it! Being a bit more organised can just help things run a bit smoother and help ease stress during what is a full-time, intense course. Just remember everyone organises themselves and learns differently, so do whatever you need to stay on top of your work – and STAY CALM!
Disclaimer: This blog contains personal opinions of students only and does not necessarily represent the views of the Children’s Nursing team, School of Health Sciences or the University of Surrey.
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