Undertaking a nursing degree is demanding and challenging. From assignments to clinical placements and everything in between, the amount of learning you need to absorb can seem overwhelming. It’s why it is important to hone revision tips and strategies to keep up to speed and on top of your nursing studies.
NSW registered nurse Taylor Yousiph always had a passion to be around and care for people, especially our society’s vulnerable. It’s why she chose nursing as a career.
“It’s a privilege to be around and care for people at their most vulnerable state, and being part of that journey is incredibly fulfilling,” she says.
After finishing high school, Taylor completed a Bachelor of Nursing Advanced at the University of Wollongong, minoring in Mental Health.
“I found a real passion there through clinical placements such as Recovery Camp and an overseas nursing placement in Cambodia. I recently spent three years nursing in Ireland and nursing COVID-19 patients, and always felt a pull back to broadening my knowledge through study.”
In 2021, Taylor completed her Honours in Nursing Research at the university. She hopes to continue her journey by starting a PhD research project next year while continuing to work clinically in the acute sector.
Taylor says a nursing degree is full on and students need to be prepared for the workload.
“It’s demanding, placement is exhausting as well as having assignments piled on top of it, and you’re learning so much information all the time,” she says.
“I think the most difficult part is trying to stop all that information from overwhelming you, and to try and be focused from the beginning and not leave everything till the last minute.”
Taylor says planning is critical to keeping on top of things.
“Know what you have to do, when you have to do it by, and where you can do it,” she suggests.
“Whilst doing a rural placement, my friend and I realised that on the day we had our assignment due, we didn’t have access to the internet to submit it! Thank goodness for the Maccas Wi-Fi. Every student probably has so many other things going on with their lives – work, family, friendships, and activities. Make time for all of these things but know and intentionally plan for time to study and prepare for your assignments. This will save you from feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and seeking free Wi-Fi.”
When it comes to revision tips for nursing students, Taylor says the best piece of advice she can offer is prepare as you go.
“I am surrounded by people who prepare for exams by cramming the night before with copious amounts of caffeine. Information sinks in slowly, over time, and this information is going to help you to care for your patients in the best possible way. Take time to chew on it and prepare by studying and revising as you go – whatever that looks like for you. Be prepared to start this process on the first day of semester.”
Taylor shared her top 7 revision tips for nursing students with the ANMJ.
- Revise as you go
There’s nothing worse than getting to exam time and looking at the titanic amount of information you’ve covered over the semester and feeling as if you’ll never get through it all. That sense of dread can be avoided. Revise as you go. Separate each subject and revise while the information is still fresh in your head after anything: a class, a practical, a lecture – just keep revising! Summarise all the main points and use a different notebook for each subject.
- Form a study group to ask for help
One thing a few classmates and I would do is share revision notes and study together. It’s so refreshing to bounce off others and also seek advice in areas you’re struggling with. Ask for help from these people and your tutors when you need to. Perhaps cover a new topic or subject every session and write each other practice tests. Hopefully, your study group are also generous enough to shout you a coffee here and there as well.
- See the end goal
While in the midst of studying and revising for your end of year exams, it can all seem quite daunting and the question of “why am I even doing this” may cross your mind. Remember why you chose to study nursing and focus on the end goal – that this information will help you to care for your patients and help you to become more confident in your practice. Perhaps write these goals down to make sure you don’t forget them.
- Be organised
It’s tempting to see the weeks heading into exams as an eternal length of time to study. It’s not. Prepare beforehand and write up a study timetable at least four weeks in advance to make sure you’re covering everything and revising the things you need to. Make extra time for topics or area of study you aren’t confident in and make sure you slot in lots of time to share this with your study group.
- Be aware of how you learn
Personally, I learn by reading and re-reading and re-re-reading, however, not all of us are like this. Understand what works for you and go with it. Some people learn by doing, listening, or teaching. Be aware of what helps the information sink in and come up with ways to utilise this. Make up songs, flash cards, listen to your notes while walking, or do what my friends and I did, and put information all over the bathroom!
- Create a study space
For myself, I knew that I could never study constructively at home. It was important I studied in the library and went home to relax. Have that space for you. A space where you know that when you’re in it, it means business, and then a separate place to relax, eat and watch whatever TV series helps you to zone out. Grey’s Anatomy does NOT count as study.
- Be as prepared as you can
Look at old exams, understand what the exam you’re sitting looks like and practice under these conditions. If your test is multiple choice, find old multiple-choice exams or create ones in your study groups to practice under the time you know you’ll have to sit the exam. Ask your tutor or lecturer if they can give you access to these. Remember that you can only prepare so much. Be easy on yourself, do what you can, arrive on the day and remind and reassure yourself by saying, “I’m as prepared as I can be”.