Four Tips Nursing Students Can Use To Avoid Becoming Stressed Out Nurses

Nurses begin forming  good habits while in nursing school. Nursing school can be challenging. It takes persistence. Focus. Balance. The latter being the trickiest. Not providing balance in your life can lead to stress, exhaustion, burnout and an unsuccessful bout in nursing school. Burnout nursing students are highly susceptible to becoming burnout nurses.

Self-care habits are essential for nurses and can help combat the stressors of the field. If you’ve yet to figure out how to manage stress through self care, you will inevitably feel overwhelmed when assuming your professional role.  

Here are four habits that will make your transition from nursing student to nurse smoother and allow you more time to hone your skill.

Watch what you eat

Eating on-the-go is convenient. Grabbing a bag of chips or candy from a vending machine is easy. Foods high in fat can make us feel sluggish and decrease our body’s natural ability to fight stress. Try eating healthy meals by following a nutritious food plan. Meal prepping is an easy way to achieve this. 

  • Incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet
  • Eat breakfast daily
  • Ask your physician about multivitamins
  • Drink 6-8 glasses of water
  • Pack healthy snacks for long days of lab, study, or clinical time
  • Avoid fried foods, refined sugar, alcohol, and excessive caffeine

Stress can weaken the immune system. Try increasing your intake of citrus fruits, which are high in vitamin c–a stress-reducing antioxidant. 

Journal

Journaling is an excellent way to express your thoughts and feelings and to relieve stress. Take a journal with you daily. Anytime you feel stressed, write down what triggered it. It’s a great way to track stressors and figure out ways to prevent or relieve them. Your journal shouldn’t be all about stress, however. Every day write a gratitude list. This list will contain the things you’re thankful for. It’s a great way to shift your focus onto the positive things happening in your life. 

Relaxation techniques

Relaxation techniques, such as meditation and yoga are great ways to build self-awareness. Find a quiet space and practice deep breathing. Sitting with your back straight, breathe in through your nose and out your mouth–slowly and deeply from the abdomen. Turn off your phone, laptop, and tv to avoid distractions. Once you’ve mastered deep breathing in your quiet place, you can practice it on-demand. Anytime, you feel overwhelmed or stressed practice your deep breathing exercises. It’s an excellent way to:

  • Control your breathing
  • Slow down your heart rate
  • Become self-aware
  • Reevaluate your surroundings

Essential oils are another great way to induce relaxation. Effectiveness can be trial and error, but once you find your oil or combination of oils, incorporating them into your routine can be highly beneficial. 

Be S.M.A.R.T

We all know your long-term goal is to graduate, pass NCLEX  and land your dream nursing job. First, you have to make it through your nursing program successfully. Focus on one class, one simulation lab, or one clinical at a time. Set short-term and long-term S.M.A.R.T goals.

  1. Specific
  2. Measurable
  3. Attainable
  4. Realistic
  5. Timely

Write out your goals in your journal or place them in an area that you see daily. Reward yourself when you accomplish a goal.

 

Self-care is beyond important. Incorporating a few good habits will make your nursing school journey easier. Don’t forget to use your new habits when you become that fantastic nurse you’ve dreamed of to continue beating burnout.

 

About the Author

Portia Wofford is a staff development and quality improvement nurse, content strategist, healthcare writer, entrepreneur, and nano-influencer. Chosen as a brand ambassador or collaborative partner for various organizations, Wofford strives to empower nurses by offering nurses resources for development–while helping healthcare organizations and entrepreneurs create engaging content. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter for her latest. 

How to Effectively Study For Nursing School Exams

Entry into nursing school comes with many new and exciting challenges – including a brand new way of studying! Beware, there are no test like nursing school tests. All memes aside, the exams in nursing school are just different and so should the way you prepare for them. With the sleepless nights and last-minute cram sessions that many of you will face in the upcoming weeks, developing study habits that will help you succeed on nursing school exams can be quite overwhelming. After consulting with expert nurse educators to find out what helps their students soar on exams, we’ve come up with these helpful study tips and we want to share them with you! 


Here are five ways to study for nursing school exam success:

 

ORGANIZE AND REVIEW ALL RESOURCES PROVIDED


Nurse educators, instructors and professors work diligently to supply their students with many additional resources to help facilitate learning. If you have not already done so, you should organize all of the supplemental information and give it a thorough review, along with your course textbooks. This will help to greatly improve and validate your understanding of the nursing concepts and content that will show up later on your exams. Be sure to take the initiative to do this on a weekly basis, regardless of how much you dread the tedious task of organizing your binders and reading through every single word. Just think of it this way – the worst thing that can happen is that you might just learn something new!

READ, WRITE, DO AND REDO


When it comes to nursing school exams, you must be well-prepared to succeed. In fact, it’s nearly impossible to over-prepare. One way that you can be sure to score well is to read, write, and review nursing content outside of classroom hours. Ever hear the saying “Practice makes perfect”? This also applies to absorbing the massive amounts of nursing content that you’ll need to know for your exams. A few practical recommendations include reading your textbooks and supplemental material, writing out key points and concepts, and practicing the ability to recall the information when challenged. Whether you choose to use flashcards or a notebook, writing the information down, then challenging yourself to recall the information, it is a great way to study for nursing school exams.

FOCUS ON WEAK AREAS OF UNDERSTANDING


Let’s face it – we all have our favorite topics when it comes to nursing content. Some students love labor and delivery, while others love cardiovascular nursing, and in these cases, students usually score well on related questions. The reality is that most nursing exams are complex and often cumulative, which may include several concepts that you may find challenging. By concentrating on the content that you find most challenging first, then reviewing the easier content after you’ve mastered the more challenging topics, you will improve your chance of rocking the exam. Don’t get distracted by your excitement for one particular area of nursing while you’re in school. You need to master all of the nursing school content to be successful – so tackle the hard stuff first, so you can have the opportunity to stay in the running of becoming a nurse!


TEACH YOUR DOG, CAT, FRIENDS, FAMILY – EVERYONE! 


Did you know that teaching is the highest form of understanding? This study technique helps to ensure that you are ready to ace your upcoming nursing school exams. By creating lesson plans with the content that is expected to be on your exams, you will be sure to cover all of the essentials during your teachings. You should create high-level test questions to ask your audience during your teachings, and be sure to restate the key points and rationale regularly to emphasize comprension. Some students find that being a student tutor is a great way to gain additional exposure to teaching and content mastery. Either as a tutor or part of a study group, nursing students who adopt teaching as a method for exam preparation often do very well on their exams.

FREQUENT & SHORT STUDY SESSIONS ARE BEST

 

It’s important to understand that studying for nursing school exams is more like a marathon not a sprint. Students who participate in extensive cram sessions the night before an exam are less likely to score well. Instead of procrastinating until the night before an exam to study, it is recommended that you study in frequent intervals for no more than three-to-four hours per study session. You may hold study sessions two or three times per day for several weeks leading up to an exam, but be sure to keep the sessions limited to only a few hours at a time. During the time in between studying, make sure to engage in activities that are healthy and relaxing – such as sharing a well balanced meal with family, exercising, or getting out of the house.

 

We hope that you find these five study tips helpful during your nursing school journey. Be sure to share this post with your nursing school peers, and contribute to this discussion by leaving your thoughts in the comments section below!

 

Reality Shock: What They Didn’t Teach You in Nursing School

Reality shock is something that you may have heard about in nursing school, but know very little about. Most nursing programs do not adequately prepare their students with coping mechanisms to effectively manage each phase of reality shock. 

Once you start your new job as a nurse, having straight A’s or being the most popular student among your professors won’t matter. You’ll have to establish credibility among all your new colleagues and that’s not an easy task. In fact, it can be shocking and quite intimidating.

Let’s discuss what reality shock is, and tips for managing each phase.

The Four Phases of Reality Shock In Nursing

The idea of reality shock is applied to those who are new to the nursing profession or new to a nursing speciality, where they go through a learning and growing transition. This process has four phases: honeymoon, shock, recovery, and resolution.

 

Honeymoon Phase

The honeymoon phase is a period of excitement for new graduates. You may be very excited to be joining the profession and find yourself eager to learn as much as possible. You will be guided by your desire to do your very best and become confident in your new roles and responsibilities. 

Tip: It is important to establish working relationships where trust and respect are demonstrated between you and your preceptors during this phase. This will help to minimize complications in the following phases of reality shock.

 

Shock Phase

The new nurse is the most vulnerable in the second phase – the shock phase, as this is when negative feelings towards your new role may surface. This is often when the new nurse realizes that the expectation of their new role is inconsistent with the day-to-day responsibilities and work flow. When nurses find themselves in the shock phase, they are at risk to quit, leave their unit, or experience burn out.

Tip: Critical strategies to ease through the shock phase include: finding a mentor for guidance, taking care of yourself physically and emotionally, being sure to get adequate sleep, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and having fun with family and friends. It is also essential that you develop a strong support network, and workplace buddies that have your back.

 

Recovery Phase

During the recovery phase, new nurses begin an upward climb back to the positive side. Now able to  consider all sides of your new role as a nurse, you will begin to see the job realities with a more open perspective. You can begin to accept the challenges of your day-to-day responsibilities, and find creative solutions to barriers in providing safe and effective nursing care. 

Tip: To ensure that you do not move back to the shock phase, it is important to seek out constructive criticism, and let your preceptors and mentors know where you are having trouble adjusting. Seek out clarification, and be sure to always work within your limitations. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know. Once you become confident in your roles and responsibilities, you will move to the resolution phase. 

 

Resolution Phase

The fourth and final stage, which is typically after one year of nursing experience, is the resolution phase. During the resolution phase the nurse fully understands their role and fully contributes to the delivery of safe and effective patient care. 

Tip: It is important that you continue to focus on the positive aspects of your job in order to maintain ongoing satisfaction and career success. Engage in continuing education by earning an advanced degree, or becoming certified. When you remain engaged in your own professional development, you are sure to find fulfillment within the nursing profession. 

 

Here are some additional coping skills that you may find helpful as you transition into your new role as a nurse:

Focus on mastering your skills

Making sure that your nursing skills are being performed in the way that follows facility and state regulations will help you to avoid mistakes and help to build confidence. The first six months to a year is an important time for you to work on improving your ability to perform all client care and administrative skills independently, thus boosting your confidence and satisfaction within your new role.

Seek Guidance from experienced nurses 

Just because you finished orientation at your new job does not mean that you are all alone in providing client care. In fact, nursing is always a team effort, and you are encouraged to seek guidance and resource experienced nursing staff to help you when you need it.

When juggling the complex treatments, and patient care of today’s healthcare system, we all rely on one another to deliver the safest and most effective client care possible. Be sure to identify your learning needs as they arise and seek the expert guidance you will need to feel confident in your roles and responsibilities.

Find a nursing specialty that fits 

Not all nursing specialty areas are created equal. The expectations and responsibilities of nurses in an emergency department are very different than those of a medical-surgical unit. In many cases, new graduate nurses are eager to begin working and accept the first specialty that they are offered.

In the event that you find yourself really struggling with the specialty you are working in, be sure to discuss your concerns with your supervisor before deciding to quit. They will be able to identify your struggles and may offer effective coping strategies and/or specialty alternatives accordingly. Switching specialties within the first six months to a year is quite common, and many times healthcare facilities will accommodate your requests to keep you on staff.

We hope that these tips for managing reality shock help you as you transition from student nurse to professional nurse. If you have any additional tips you’d like to share, please leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

New Grad Nurse Tips: How to Safely and Effectively Delegate Tasks

When we ask new graduate nurses what they find to be most difficult as they are transitioning from student nurse to professional nurse, the majority say that it is delegation. This is because the artful skill of nursing delegation is one that can take years of experience to master. It involves transferring responsibility from one individual to another, while retaining accountability for the outcomes. This is a completely different role for the new grad nurse to get used to, especially since the opportunities to practice delegation are very limited during nursing school.

Since new graduate nurses are often hesitant in giving the responsibility of carrying out patient care tasks to others, this brings on additional stress to the transitioning nurse, which can result in poor time management and overwhelming workloads.

Let’s face it – nursing is not a one person show. It takes a team to safely and effectively care for patients. Since nursing is a team effort, it is vial that the new nurse master strategies for safe and effective delegation. To help new grad nurses better manage their roles and responsibilities,  we’re dropping gems on strategies for safe and effective delegation below. 

Decide when delegation is appropriate

Okay new nurses, here’s the scoop – You should NEVER delegate what you can E.A.T. The nurse is responsible for Evaluating, Assessing and Teaching. These are specific responsibilities of the Registered Nurse and should always be carried out by the RN. Delegation can begin after the RN has assessed the patient, and the condition and needs of the patient have been considered. The RN will prioritize the patient’s needs based on their condition, and differentiate between nursing and non-nursing tasks. Let’s not forget that initial assessment (including vital signs) are to be done by the RN, and therefore should not be delegated to the nursing assistant. Once you have assessed your patients and have considered their needs, now you can begin to think about whom you may delegate to.

Determine adequate skill levels 

It’s up to the RN to choose the appropriate person for the task. It is essential to know the skill level of each team member to match the task assignment appropriately. One easy way to accomplish his task is by getting to know your co-workers. Here are some questions you may want to ask to help you feel more confident about your decision in choosing:

Is this person licensed or unlicensed?
How long has this person worked within their role?
Has this person been validated for competence in performing the task?
Does the person feel confident that they can safely and effectively perform the task?
Does the person need additional training or instruction to complete the task independently?

Once you have asked yourself these questions, you will be able to move into the next phase of safely and effectively delegating.

Use clear communication when delegating tasks

In order for any task to be effectively delegated, nurses must give clear, concise and detailed instructions. This includes the purpose, any identified limits, and expected outcomes of the task. Also, the nurse must ensure that the person to assume the task can complete it within the expected time frame established. Nurses should consider that the person you are delegating to will be working with several other patients, so be mindful and set realistic, attainable goals. Finally, the nurse must always ask if there are any questions or concerns which promotes clarification and opportunity for the supportive personnel to disclose concerns related to the tasks.

Supervise the delegated work and provide feedback

To ensure the delegated work has been completed appropriately, nurses must offer direct supervision and feedback as needed. They must also be available in case an unexpected outcome occurs. You should never assume that the task was completed without validating it by checking that all components of the task have been accurately carried out. Be sure to build strong relationships with your nursing support staff by identifying areas of success and offering suggestions for improvement. And don’t forget to say “thank you”—it goes a long way!

Evaluate task outcomes

To ensure that the patient received the care needed and that the team worked together efficiently, RNs must evaluate the delegation process upon task completion. If an unexpected outcome occurs, it is essential that RNs develop a plan to correct the deficiencies if possible.

As you hit the floor running, please remember that learning to delegate effectively takes time and practice. Reflecting on the process of delegation and identifying areas for improvement will help you develop this important skill. Good luck —we know you got this!

If you have any further tips or suggestions to promote safe and effective delegation, please share your thoughts in the comments section!