How Nursing Students Can Organize Themselves for a Successful Semester

A reflex hammer sitting atop nursing school notes,.

Between class, clinicals, studying for exams, writing papers, volunteering and everything else on your to-do list, let's face it: Nursing school is tough. However, you can organize yourself for success. 

Here are four tips for organizing yourself for a successful semester.

1. Get a planner.

I don't care what kind of planner you decide to get: small, large, leopard print, plain, paper, electronic, whatever – as long as you have it. This is essential in staying organized by giving you a timeline for your due dates for papers and assignments, exam dates, clinical hours and other obligations and commitments.

If you have assignments and exams due in the same week, having this written at the beginning of the semester can help you schedule and utilize time efficiently, avoiding unnecessary stress when everything suddenly seems to be due at once. 

2. Make lists.

Piggybacking off my primary statement (see what I did there), you need to make lists. For each day, week or month, have a to-do list that you can cross off or highlight upon completing the task. At the beginning of the semester, take your syllabi and make lists of all of your readings, assignments, tests, quizzes, discussion board posts, papers, modules, vital sign check-offs and safe skill proficiencies. Crossing each task off will be rewarding and also help to keep you on track during the semester.

3. Review your lecture notes before class.

I know, I know. Your professors have told you this a million times, but they say it for a reason. To utilize your study time effectively and efficiently, you should review notes and readings before lecture. By doing this, you are maximizing your study time long-term.

If you review before class, you will have an idea of what your professor will be lecturing about for the next three or four hours. The lecture will be engaging, and you can focus on how the professor clarifies the information that you previously have reviewed and probably have questions about. Therefore, when you sit down to study after class, you can synthesize the material that you have already seen more than once. 

4. Make study guides.

If you ask any of my classmates, I am notorious for my nursing school study guides, so listen closely. This goes hand in hand with reviewing notes before class and utilizing study time efficiently and effectively. 

In nursing school, before each lecture, I would copy and paste lecture notes into a Word document. (Hint: You can review the material while doing this.) During class, I would write or type notes into the document based on what the professor supplemented or emphasized regarding their presentation. After the lecture, I would re-skim the textbook or find supplemental resources (Hint: ATI books) and fill-in-the-blanks to clarify the material that I learned. 

Ultimately, I would have a Word document for each lecture that included clarification from the professor and other textbooks and resources. I would be able to copy and paste individual lecture notes for exams into larger singular documents and print them to write on and study from, significantly cutting down on time trying to organize myself when it came time to review.

Summing it all up.

We’ve covered some tips on staying organized for a successful semester. Plan and organize yourself carefully. Read before class. Make lists and study guides. Staying organized can assist you in the most important tip for a successful semester: While learning to care for others, remember to make time and take care of yourself in the process.  

About Terrika Pereira

Photo of UB alumna Terrika Pereira.

Terrika Pereira graduated from UB School of Nursing’s traditional bachelor’s degree in nursing program in 2018. She is currently a student in our Post-BS to DNP Adult-Geronotology Nurse Practitioner program and works as a registered nurse at Buffalo General Medical Center. Terrika is also secretary of the Graduate Nurse Organization

Published September 11, 2020