Today I’m sharing with you my insanely effective study system that I use for nursing school. This is a study system that is big on active learning, and NOT passive, time-wasting things. I’m NOT talking about re-reading or re-writing your notes. I’m NOT talking about getting cozy on the couch with your textbook and reading the chapter while highlighting. No. Those are passive learning techniques, and are not the best use of your time. In nursing school, you have precious little time, and you’ve got to make the most of it.
I use 4 resources to study for nursing school, and no, the textbook is NOT one of them. All four are mobile apps and can be used with a laptop or tablet as well.
The 1st is Picmonic.
This app uses pictures and stories to help you remember difficult-to-learn concepts and facts.
Click this link to check out Picmonic for free, or to get 20% off a subscription: https://www.picmonic.com/viphookup/nursingschoolweekbyweekLIK21
The 2nd is Nursing.com.
This one has videos that are about 10 minutes long on just about every subject you’ll cover in nursing school.
The 3rd is the Anki flashcard app.
This app spaces out your flashcards and shows them to you at the perfect time for your brain to remember the information.
The 4th app is any podcast app.
My INSANELY Effective Study System
Hey you guys! Welcome back to the Nursing School Week by Week Podcast. So glad you could join me. I’m Melanie, and today I’m sharing with you my Insanely effective study system that I use for nursing school. This is a study system that is big on active learning, and NOT passive, time-wasting things. I’m NOT talking about re-reading or re-writing your notes. I’m NOT talking about getting cozy on the couch with your textbook and reading the chapter while highlighting. No. Those are passive learning techniques, and are not the best use of your time. In nursing school, you have precious little time, and you’ve got to make the most of it.
One of my passions is studying what other people have done that’s helped them succeed and learning what has actually been proven to work to help people recall information on tests. Two of those top things are taking practice tests and using flashcards with a system called “Spaced Repetition”. If you follow me on Facebook, you’ll see I just posted my favorite video that describes why spaced repetition is so helpful for retaining information.
I use 4 resources to study for nursing school, and no, the textbook is NOT one of them. All four are mobile apps and can be used with a laptop or tablet as well. The first is Picmonic. This app uses pictures and stories to help you remember difficult-to-learn concepts and facts. The second is Nursing.com. This one has videos that are about 10 minutes long on just about every subject you’ll cover in nursing school. The third is the Anki flashcard app. This app spaces out your flashcards and shows them to you at the perfect time for your brain to remember the information. The 4th app is any podcast app.
OK. So, I’m gonna go through exactly how I study in nursing school. First I look at the test blueprint, or list of topics that will be on the next test, and I download podcasts on those topics. This way, I can take advantage of my commute, and listen to a podcast while I’m in the car, or while I’m walking my dog, or even just cleaning the house.
Then, let’s say I have a lecture tomorrow on blood transfusions. How to give a blood transfusion. The first thing I do is pull up my Picmonic app and search for “blood transfusion”, and I see “Blood transfusion administration” and “transfusion reactions”. I’m gonna put both of those videos in my Picmonic playlist that I’ve created for the upcoming test. Then I’m going to watch the first educational video, then watch the story that goes with it. Then take the 10 question quiz that Picmonic provides. And remember, I said quizzing yourself is one of the best things you can do for retention. Next, I’m going to go back to the main Picmonic picture and take a screenshot. I’ll quickly crop it and save it to my phone. By the way, I’ll put a referral link in the show notes, that’ll save you 20% off a Picmonic subscription.
Next, I open the Anki flashcard app and make a new flashcard of the information that was in that Picmonic on “Blood transfusion administration”. Anki also lets you use pictures in your flashcards, so I’ll paste that screenshot I took below the answer on the back of my flashcard. Also, bonus tip: Don’t forget to add a tag on every flashcard. I tag mine with something like, “Exam 1”, that way I can cram all the flashcards I need to know for exam 1 on the 2 days leading up to the test.
Next, I’ll open the Nursing.com app and search for videos on “blood transfusion”. A video pops up called “Blood transfusion administration”. I’m gonna watch this 16 minute video that gives me the highlights of what I need to know. Then I’m gonna look at the 2 cheat sheets they provide and decide if I want to print one off to reference during my class tomorrow. One of my favorite things about Nursing.com are the quizzes they have for each video. So after the video, I’ll take the 10 question quiz and read the rationale behind each of the answers.
Next, I pull up my course online in Canvas, and find the module for the blood transfusion lecture I’ll be having tomorrow. I open that up and watch any videos they’ve assigned to be watched before lecture, and print any papers that may be needed. I do NOT print the power point slides. When I first started nursing school, for my first couple semesters, I printed off all the Power Point slides, but it was just a waste of paper and ink cause I never really looked back at them.
Now, this is my main study tip: Any videos that are Power Point type videos with your actual teacher talking, you need to make flashcards of. And don’t be stingy with the flashcards. You want to make flashcards of anything they say that you think sounds important, or like testable information. If your teacher posts a transcript of the lecture video, it’s often easier and faster to use that to make your flashcards. And that’s another thing - don’t use other people’s flashcards. You need to make your own to get the maximum benefit. And it’s better to have many flashcards with just one or two things on each, than a flashcard with a whole paragraph of information on it, cause you’re likely to memorize part of the flashcard, but not all of it, and then just skip it because “well, you got most of it”.
Alright, so after you’ve made Anki flashcards of your teacher’s Power Point lecture, that’s all you have to do before class. And, I know, that sounds like a lot to do before you even sit in lecture, but believe me, it’s better to do the bulk of the work beforehand. You never want your first exposure to the material to be the lecture. If it is, you will feel lost and confused and there’s something about feeling like you know your stuff in class that makes you want to keep studying and preparing for the next class. It makes lecture fun when you know the answers to your teacher’s questions, and you’re not just trying to avoid eye contact, cause you don’t know what the heck is going on. Coming to class prepared also lowers your stress level, and we all know it’s so much harder to learn new material when you’re stressed out.
During the lecture, you are NOT trying to write down everything your teacher says. You may take a few notes of things that she/he emphasizes, but the main things should be in the power point, that you’ve already made flashcards of. So during lecture, you are actively listening, and participating and trying to make connections between this nursing concept and things you’ve already learned.
You will repeat this study process before each of your lectures and then to review, each day you’ll go through your Anki flashcards for the day. I set mine to show me 20 new cards a day. Then you’ll open up the Picmonic app and do the Daily Quiz, which consists of about 20 questions. I also listen to one Podcast a day on a topic that’s going to be on my next test. And that’s all you need to do for review. Each day, you do your flashcards, your picmonic daily quiz, and listen to a podcast. That’s it!
The 2 days before a test will look a little different though. On each of those 2 days, you’re gonna run through your Anki flashcards for the day, then you’ll get a notice that says, “Congratulations! You have finished this deck for now. If you wish to study outside of the regular schedule, you can use the custom study feature.” You’re gonna click on the “Custom Study” feature to make a deck of cards to cram for your test. Type in the tag word you used when you made your flashcards, and it will create a custom deck with all the flashcards you need to know for your upcoming test.
Go through this whole deck once each day on the two days leading up to your test. You’re also going to pull up Nursing.com and retake the quizzes that go with the topics on your test. This will probably be about 4 quizzes with 10 questions each, so about 40 questions that will give you detailed explanations along with the answers. And then finally, you’ll take your daily Picmonic quiz like normal. And that’s it! You’re ready to go Ace your next exam and go into that test feeling calm and confident that you know your stuff.
Alright you guys, I’m also gonna make a video of me going through this process that’ll be on the YouTube channel soon, cause I know sometimes it’s easier to understand this stuff when you see it in action. I hope this was helpful to hear how I study and do well in nursing school. Of course, you don’t have to do this exact some thing, but feel free to tweak it and do what works for you. Remember, there is no substitute for hard work, so happy studying, and I’ll talk to you next week!