How Students in Accelerated Programs Can Succeed in Fundamentals of Nursing
The classes in an accelerated program are unique; it takes some adjustment and adaptation. We signed up for this style for a variety of reasons, but behind each one was the desire to reap the benefits. Below are some suggestions for effectively implementing accelerated learning when taking Fundamentals of Nursing, toward the goal of maximizing this learning experience.
Start with the basics; get a good night’s sleep every night; have a good breakfast each morning before class; arrive early and refreshed so you can start your day with a clear mind; attend all scheduled classes and clinicals; be prepared; read the text and know the schedule so you can study and do your assignments as early reasonably possible. Don’t take on any new unnecessary tasks; this is not the time to start a new diet and exercise program or look for new dating relationships. This is the time to streamline the other areas of your life and focus on your studies.
Don’t just attend class, but attend to class. Pay attention; write down as much as you can of what the professors say. Sometimes what seem at first like offhand comments or humor turn out to enhance understanding of important points. Those very remarks may even help you answer test questions.
Let your body language communicate attentiveness and respect. If your posture and demeanor look like you’re paying attention, there is a strong likelihood your mind will follow suit and you will retain more of what is presented.
Collectively study if possible; others may have their own ways to group ideas, or they may see how the concepts fit together in ways that you might not see at first. As you’re learning, glean from one another’s strengths. Take turns explaining the material you just heard to another student, and have them explain it to you. Compare your notes with other students’ notes. Sometimes others will pick up on points you missed or vice versa; collective notes will be more comprehensive than individual notes.
Record lectures, and listen to them repeatedly. Lay out your notes along with your textbook, and review them while reviewing your sound recording. Fill in any missing details. Pause the sound and read more thoroughly anything that seems unclear, then go back over it. Make note cards to carry with you. Write down any questions you have and ask your professor as soon as you identify areas of uncertainty; if one professor’s answer still leaves you unclear, ask another. Don’t save the questions for the morning before the test.
If provided a login for any online resources, go to the website as soon as possible, and utilize the materials there. Online resources may include audio and video instructional material, practice questions and practice tests. Watch, listen, practice as much as time allows. It will help you understand the material. Download any audio files to your mp3 player, and listen to them ad nauseum along with your own sound recordings of lectures. The more you expose your mind to the material, the more you will understand, apply, and remember.
The questions you can expect now and in upcoming classes will involve application and critical thinking; the days of cramming and regurgitation facts is over. You will still need the raw facts, but you will also need to know how to prioritize, how to select the best of several correct answers, and to identify information that may be only slightly incorrect or slightly misapplied.
Answer any questions the textbook offers, any the study guide offers, any the CD offers, any your online resources offer. Acquire another textbook from another publisher; online bookstores carry scores of used textbooks, many of which cost only a few dollars; buy some and answer any practice questions they contain. Go back over your collection of questions and answers until you consistently get them right. Create your own questions and go over those as well.
Utilize snatches of time throughout your daily activities to review material; for example, carry note cards to review while stuck in traffic, and have audio and video lectures playing in the background while folding laundry or preparing meals.
Learn from your mistakes; during test review, note any areas you need a better understanding. Go back over these areas after each test. Note any critique the professors provide, whether in clinicals or on assignments or any other areas, and implement the changes they suggest. Correct those areas and excel.
Stay ahead of your assignments; any papers that are assigned should be done as early as you are able. If you have your work done ahead of schedule, ask your professor if she would be willing to give you feedback so you can make any corrections or improvements well in advance. The earlier you ask, the more likely you are to be given suggestions so you can present your best work for a grade.
If certain facts are repeated throughout several assignments, for example the purpose of lab values, type the basic ones out early. The purpose and meaning behind values represented in routine urinalysis, complete blood count, and basic metabolic profile will come in handy time and time again. Save your work, and make backup copies so you will have it ready to copy and paste when you need it. Then the time you save instead of re-typing the same information, can be put toward selecting the wording for other parts of an assignment.
Plan to study and work on assignments as many hours as your schedule allows, but do set a limit; do not cut into your sleep to put in extra time studying. Sleep deprivation tends to create confusion. You need a clear mind to do your best on the tests and to provide the care for your patients when you start clinicals.
Establish a firm foundation so your performance will reflect the sum of your of time, strengths, and efforts throughout the next chapters, for your upcoming classes, for NCLEX, and for your career.