Surviving 1st Semester of Nursing School

IMG_2019When I finally passed the first semester of nursing school, I remember a complete sigh of relief. Just going through the fact that you have to change the way you study, the way you think and even the way you take exams is stressful enough. Pair that with clinical hours, content exams and standardized testing exams. Ugh, get me out of here please! Lol. Anyway, I survived, despite it all. If I can do it, so can you.

I basically took two courses at a time. Here’s my review on each course that I IMG_2012took in the 1st semester, and how I studied for each one.

  • Pharmacology:
    Memorization, memorization, memorization!! What I vaguely remember about this course is that it was a lot of information to remember. Classification, drug name, side effects, adverse effects, nursing interventions, teaching and any contraindications. This course was particularly difficult because it was so much content to remember. I tried making flash cards once, but it was entirely too much info. Instead I made little charts with my notes, and that seemed to help a bit.
  • Pharmacology Math:
    In my school, we used the dimensional analysis method of learning to calculate drug dosages. Thankfully, our instructor provided us with lots of exercises to practice. I basically did all of the exercise worksheets provided, and I did fairly well in this course. Pharmacology Math is one of those pass or fail courses. Since medication administration is so important, they don’t really allow you to have room for error when calculating the right dose. I found that repeating the equation at least twice helped me catch errors and get the answers correct. Just as a note* In the real world, if you’re unsure about a dosage amount, always grab another nurse to verify you’re giving the right dose.
  • Medical Surgical Nursing:
    Content, content content….. *le sigh*… Med-Surg is one of those courses you’ll be GLAD to finish. Ask any nursing student and they will tell you this is one of the hardest courses you take. For me, it was the course that “broke me in.” It changedIMG_1493 my study habits, changed the way I thought as a nurse, and changed how I answered questions. It was one of the most draining courses for me because it included anatomy and physiology, labs, pharmacology, nursing interventions and teaching. It was the course where I had a few, “Ah ha” moments and realizing why microbiology, chemistry and anatomy were so important. If you can make it out of Med-Surg, you have a pretty good chance at finishing nursing school.
  • Transition into the Professional Role as a Nurse:
    Of all the courses I took, this one was the easiest for me. I have no tips on how to study for this course except to understand the laws with regards to nursing practice act and what covers you according to your state board.

My advice to all 1st semester RN students is to not give up. This is the semester that will define who you are. This is the semester that pushed me and tested me. There were times where I called my best friend balling in tears because I wanted to give up— but I didn’t. Now I’m just 3 months from graduating. I proved to myself, my family and friends that I could be courageous enough to push through a time that made me super uncomfortable. If I can. You can too.


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