Nursing Student Hacks: Easing back into medical or nursing school after summer break
Nursing Student Hacks: Easing back into medical or nursing school after summer break
by Lauren Diffendarfer
posted on Aug 1, 2016, at 9:39 pm
ALL GREAT THINGS COME TO AN END – summer break (which is arguably the greatest thing to happen to college students) is not an exception. There are few things as a nursing or medical student more difficult than the dreaded transition of summer to student mode. The professors and curriculum in nursing and medical school don’t exactly care about your struggles with the alarm clock and probably won’t give you much of a break during the first few weeks back.
Both your brain and body need adjustment to academic life, so preparing for the transition is critical in the world of health care studies. We’ve complied some college hacks to help you achieve success as a medical student all year round!
1. Keep a calendar
The overworked, overtired and overbooked medical student – it’s far too common, and this is no way to be productive and successful! Keeping a calendar, such as a desk calendar or digital calendar like Google Calendar is a great way for you to visualize your schedule. Allot time each day for lectures, readings, studying, meals and time with friends and family.
2. Keep a daily planner
In addition to keeping a weekly calendar, having a daily planner is a great idea for optimizing your hours and achieving your goals. A daily planner is your own progressive, personal work document that can help you prioritize.
Use a pen for things that are very important to your academics and use a pencil for things that are secondary so you can erase if necessary. At the end of each day, carry forward the things you can get done another day.
3. Utilize “to do” lists
This is much like a daily planner, but more focused on simply the tasks and assignments you need to get done specific to school. This is not a place for you to mark down your coffee date with your new friend, but a checklist of assignments and readings you must do today. Check them off as you complete them, and before you know it, you’ll be finished for the day!
4. Get to bed early
Summer is all about sleeping in and staying up late, as it should be! This makes getting up with the sun for those 8 am lectures nearly impossible. Instead of forcing yourself to painfully wake up 5 hours earlier than you’re used to, take the last 2 weeks of summer to adjust. Set your alarm clock 15-30 minutes earlier everyday, and try to get 8 hours of sleep per night. This will create less havoc on your circadian rhythm. No naps needed here!
5. Eat and drink smarter
In addition to paying less attention to your sleep schedule, summer usually means paying less attention to the foods and drinks you’re consuming. Eating well is crucial in your academic success and will help you to think clearly and efficiently. Save the excessive beer-drinking and take-out cravings for the summer, and start drinking more water, fruits, vegetables and lean proteins.
6. Set goals for the year and the semester
If you’re feeling unmotivated, begin thinking about the things you would like to achieve this upcoming semester and year. Setting long-term goals, like maintaining your GPA or getting a good grade in a challenging class, will encourage you to be more productive and keep you on track. Just be sure these goals are reasonable for you!
You may also want to read:“Your 10-Step Guide to Stress Management in Nursing School”
7. Find something to look forward to
School doesn’t mean you have to forget about all the summer fun hobbies you’ve discovered! Sure, you won’t have the time to visit the pool everyday or go out with friends on a Wednesday night, but you can still allot “you time” into your week on a day when you have less to do.
8. Get involved
A great way to get back into things at school and possibly make some new friends is by getting involved in an activity or club. If you’ve already completed your first year of medical or nursing school, you may have felt too overwhelmed to consider joining a club. Finding others who share common interests with you, such as a sports league, volunteer activity, student council, or fraternity or sorority will allow you to feel more connected in your school’s social scene outside of class.
9. Be an early bird
If you struggle with having tasks thrown at you the minute you walk into the door, getting to campus a little early can relieve some of this pressure. Finding a preferred seat, organizing your notes, gathering your thoughts, and simply getting situated before class begins is often the only way to get some alone time before being bombarded by your classmates and professors.
10. Clean out your inbox
Summer vacation may mean not checking your school email address for months. When you finally log into your account on the first day of classes, you’re completely overwhelmed with missed emails and spam. Clean out your inbox a week before class begins. Tackle emails by importance, delete the ones from old courses you don’t need and filter through spam addresses. Re-starting your school inbox is a great way to start off with a clean slate this upcoming semester.
11. Read those syllabuses
We get it – it’s boring and probably not all that accurate, but reading up on the syllabus before class starts will get you as mentally prepared as possible. It’s also a great way to begin to organize your calendars and a tool to help you start thinking about your semester goals. In addition, many teachers may post a preliminary assignment to be completed before class begins and may include materials you’ll need to buy or bring to class. Better safe than sorry!
12. Break the ice
It is very possible that you will find yourself in classes with medical and nursing students you don’t know. Be brave – be the one to ask a fellow student if they want to have coffee or form a study group. Staying connected with the individuals in your new classes can form friendships, but can also serve you in times when you have quick questions or miss a class.
13. Be picky about commitments
A friend wants to meet for study group in a library across campus, miles from where you are. Instead of you having to meet her miles away, be picky about your commitments and meet at a study spot in the middle of you and her! Learn to compromise with yourself, your friends and family about commitments. Crazy Uncle Joe can come the weekend after finals, not before!
14. Use online resources and apps to help you stay organized
Technology is out there and waiting for you to utilize it, as you’re a part of the generation that knows it best! Take advantage of apps for college students like these:
- Scribd – online library where students can find millions of different documents important to their studies, sharable by everyone.
- EasyBib – Creates citations for research for you!
- Freedom – Minimizes distractions from your smartphone by blocking certain apps, like social media applications, while you’re studying.
- Studious – A homework planner that reminds you of important deadlines and information about upcoming lectures.
- Chegg – Many students have probably heard of Chegg especially after realizing just how expensive textbooks are. This app lets you find gently used textbooks for as cheap as they come!
There are also several useful applications specific to the health care field, which can help optimize your studies:
- MedCalX – A popular medical calculator that calculates medical scores, formulas and scales at your fingertips.
- Eponyms – With more than 8,000 medical eponyms out there, this handy app can help you associate and identify diseases.
- Daily Rounds – This is a digital journal that keeps users up to date with the latest clinical cases from medical schools all over the world.
- BioDigital – This is an app that allows you to explore the most comprehensive sets of human anatomy (and in 3D)!
15. Learn to say no
There are things you have to get done and there are things you don’t, it’s that simple. Instead of trying to be super student, learn to say no to requests that aren’t necessary or as important to your academic success. Getting a reading done the night before class? Do it. Doing your roommate’s hair for her sorority formal instead? Not worth it. Learn to say “no” and put yourself first by being greedy with your time.
You can do it! How do you get your mind back into the swing of school after an extended break? Comment below!