How to Get A's in Nursing School

Nursing school can take up to five years to complete.
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There are 2.7 million nurses in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and thanks to an aging population and increased demand for health care, that number could rise by 20 percent by 2022. Nursing offers a stable, long-term career trajectory, but it requires lots of academic training. Succeeding in nursing school requires good study habits and techniques, as well as raw talent.

1 Rely on Mentors

Nursing school is preparation for a nursing career, so one of the best ways to learn the ropes and succeed is to build relationships with someone who's already doing the job. Newly minted nurses make the best mentors because they have professional experience but also remember being in school; however, older students can be helpful guides, too. Some nursing schools, like Stanford, have established formal mentorship programs. If your school doesn't, seek out older students or ask nurses working at your clinical hospital for advice.

2 Study the Basics First

In nursing school, you need to absorb a lot of a complex information on difficult topics very quickly. The resources assigned in class aren’t always good at introducing subjects on a basic level, so Texas Tech University’s Health Science Center recommends nursing students start studying a new topic by reading online articles for laypeople. Reading the WebMD page or even a Wikipedia article about the subject you’re about to cover in class gives you a basic understanding of the topic and helps you absorb the more rigorous analysis in your textbook.

3 Nail Your Clinicals

In nursing school, you divide your time between the classroom for lectures and the hospital for clinicals. Clinicals are the practical, hands-on portion of your education. You spend your time there learning how to actually perform procedures and carry out the daily duties of a nurse. There aren't any conventional exams or quizzes, but preparing for clinicals is just as important as acing tests. The Nursing Students' Association of New York State (NSANYS) advises students to review nursing care plans and hospital policies well in advance to get the most from their rotations. Additionally, students should be confident in their abilities and volunteer for demonstrations rather than hiding and hoping to avoid being questioned.

4 Start Prepping for the NCLEX

It's never too soon to start reviewing for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), both because it takes a lot of work to get ready for the test and because studying for the exam is a great review for your classes. NSANYS notes NCLEX review books contain tidy, condensed summaries of materials you study in class, so prepping for the license exam is also good prep for finals in your classes. Using NCLEX prep materials also familiarizes you with the exam's format and question types, so you're ready for the real thing when you finish school. Scrubs, a magazine for nurses, suggests spending summers reviewing NCLEX materials.

Nick Robinson is a writer, instructor and graduate student. Before deciding to pursue an advanced degree, he worked as a teacher and administrator at three different colleges and universities, and as an education coach for Inside Track. Most of Robinson's writing centers on education and travel.