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Making the most of your family nurse practitioner studies

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By now, you know that nursing is one of the most important and rewarding careers you could choose. As a registered nurse with at least one year’s experience, you are aware of the difference you make in people’s lives, the joy and comfort you bring when caring for your patients, and the knowledge and wisdom you are able to share with your colleagues.

Why become a Nurse Practitioner

It may be the right time to move on and achieve the next big step in your career. As a family nurse practitioner (FNP), you will have the autonomy to work in your own practice to advise, heal, and educate people of all ages. Family nurse practitioners take on community projects or work as the right-hand person in a busy primary care practice or hospital setting.

If this resonates with your plans for your future career, you may want to consider the Online Nurse Practitioner Programs offered by Wilkes University. Obtaining your Master of Science in Nursing—Family Nurse Practitioner qualification in an organized and supportive environment is a great way to enhance your career. Wilkes caters to your active learning educational needs by offering clinical placement services and facilitates your learning process with the expert help of a preceptor.

Planning your studies

Effective planning is the key to successful studies. The program you are about to undertake involves many hours of study as well as periods of practical placement in a clinical environment. Alongside your daily nursing responsibilities and potential family commitments, managing all this requires focus and dedication. It’s important to have a comprehensive study schedule with realistic goals, as this helps to maximize your learning and enjoyment. Here are a few ways you can properly draw up a plan to help you study:

  • Plan your weeks: Decide how much time you must devote to your studies per week. Be realistic and conservative. Any extra time you can manage in a week will be a bonus.
  • Draw up a schedule: Devote a set amount of time each week for each subject. If you have examination or project information in advance, add it to your schedule and give yourself time for these extras.
  • Record your progress: Leave space for notes and comments on your schedule and keep track of your progress. If you fall behind at any time, your notes will be a reminder to fit in some extra time when possible.
  • Be consistent: Your studies should become part of your daily routine. Give yourself a day off when possible, but don’t fall too far behind schedule. It helps to have some time set aside for unforeseen events.
  • Be flexible: If you find one subject taking more time and effort than the others, reorganize your schedule to accommodate this.

When your concentration starts to dwindle, get up and make a cup of tea, play with the dog, or go outside. A 10-minute break will make a difference.

Stay organized at all times

Being organized is the single most important factor if you wish to achieve your goals. Organization should become second nature, to the point where you don’t even have to think about it – it just happens.

Organization should apply not only to having a study schedule and sticking to it but to your personal life as well, managing your daily schedule, balancing work, family, study life, housekeeping, shopping, and wellness regimes all thrown into the mix.

We’re not suggesting that you live your life to a strict hourly schedule but rather work towards a lifestyle that is simple and unencumbered. Minimize clutter and have a place for everything so you don’t waste precious time searching for things. Likewise, organize your study space, keeping it neat and tidy and conducive to focused, peaceful study time. Develop good habits when it comes to saving your work and knowing where to find it again in your filing system.

Take five minutes each morning to plan your day. If you’re not a morning person, sit quietly at night and plan for the next day. It helps to have a clear idea of what the day should bring. Even if it doesn’t always work out that way, you will know what you have missed and make a concerted effort to catch up.

Make lists of things to do and cross them off when done. It gives you a sense of achievement and helps you keep track. It also gives you an idea of what is possible when you put your mind to it.

Maximize your learning resources

With the advances in technology today, there is no excuse. Online discussions and lectures have become the norm for students who study online. The internet is a mine of information, enabling research and learning and facilitating study groups and chat sessions with lecturers when there is something you don’t understand.

You can easily find some useful infographics to help you understand and remember the module you’re studying, or design your own infographics and share them with your fellow students. Find out about upcoming lectures and add them to your study plan.

Your lecturers should be setting up or have information regarding social media groups that you can join. You can make the acquaintance of your fellow online students and learn through the discussions and questions that come up. Through this, you may also be able to join a study group that will suit your study times and location. Alternatively, start your own study group, either online or at a venue in your area.

Your lecturer will also be an expert in their field, which is why they are qualified to teach you. Having such an expert within your grasp is a great opportunity. Be sure to grab the opportunity with both hands to seize a learning experience that will boost your knowledge and skills beyond what the literature has to offer.

Take advantage of your university’s offer to find you a clinical placement, as this will save you time and ensure placement in a recognized institution. Here are some tips on how to prepare yourself so that you can optimize the experience.

Make use of libraries and online bookstores for that extra bit of reading when you have time. There is a wealth of information on sites like Google Scholar and PubMed, with the assurance that the material published is reliable and well-researched. Also, use technology to plan your studies, keep track of your progress, help you with your research, manage your projects, and more.

Collaboration and group study

Research shows that collaboration in the learning environment improves academic achievement by instilling confidence in students and enhancing their communication and teamwork skills. It can also increase motivation and minimize procrastination.

The establishment of a study group is the first step towards collaborative learning. Planning ahead is important so members know what subject matter will come under discussion and how to prepare for it. If it is practical, students can be paired off and given assignments in preparation for the study group meetings. When getting together, there should be no need to go through the notes, as this will have been done at home. Students get involved in active discussions and debates over the material they have discussed, perhaps collaborating on practical work or projects that need to be done. Teamwork gives students a sense of purpose and encourages them to take responsibility.

Study groups encourage innovation and creativity. As you bounce ideas off one another, discuss, and debate, you gain a deeper understanding of the subjects under discussion and are more likely to remember the material discussed. Student group members give each other advice and encouragement where it is needed. Even if it only happens once a month, group work is not only beneficial from a learning point of view, but it is conducive to healthy social interaction that tends to be neglected when people are too busy with their studies.

Establish some ground rules, such as how often to meet and where. Depending on the proximity of the group members, online discussions may be more suitable. You can keep it simple and casual or elect group members to handle communications and plan the subjects to be discussed.

If some people in the group are reluctant to take an active part for whatever reason, encourage participation so that everyone benefits. Give each person a chance to chair the group or set the activities for the session. Show respect for people’s questions and opinions, and be kind to those struggling to cope with their studies amidst the many disruptions their situations present.

Active learning and engagement

Active learning is an educational technique that involves participation in an activity while in the learning environment rather than just passive listening. This method of teaching encourages students to use the analytical and critical thinking skills necessary for problem-solving, particularly in emergency situations that nurses are likely to encounter in their jobs. In addition, students can identify their active learning processes through activities and incidents that occur in their daily lives.

If you are unable to take part in group sessions with some of your fellow students, you can still use active learning strategies to remember and reinforce what you have learned. Summarize your work, reduce the content, and recreate it. Make mind maps. The process of organizing the map into something meaningful will help you reinforce and remember what you have just learned.

At the end of each study period, take 5 to 10 minutes to reflect on what you have just learned and whether you still have questions. Make another brief summary and compare it with the original one to identify any missing points. Or read your summary again the following morning when your mind is still clear, jotting down questions or reminders for further research.

Tailor your approach

The amount of work you have to get through in a specified time can seem quite daunting.

Tailoring your approach to your learning involves some serious analysis before you begin. Analyze your strengths and weaknesses in a study context and determine your study goals—what you are ultimately trying to achieve.

Next, analyze the study material and decide what you already know and what is going to take some effort to master. By breaking down the modules and the headings within, you will have a better understanding of what you will be learning. Assess your knowledge and existing skills, and decide how you will tackle the content to be learned.

If there are basic skills that you are lacking, make sure that you catch up on those first so that they don’t hinder your further studies. Here’s a quick summary of all the points we’ve discussed so far:

  • Tailor your work: Be sure to discuss your goals and desired outcomes with a mentor or a university lecturer to ensure you are on the right track.
  • Assess your strengths: decide what method of study you prefer, such as making notes or mind maps. Build as much of that as possible into your study plan so that you remain focused and interested.
  • Constant evaluation: This will keep you on track, and if you find it is not working, adjust your plans and try some different methods.

Here’s to good health and your success! 

Be kind to yourself along the way. Sufficient exercise, healthy eating, and spending time with loved ones should keep you sane. Drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated, and eat healthy foods, particularly those that help with brain function. You can’t go wrong with fish, nuts, seeds, and fruits, and they are easy to prepare, so there’s no excuse.

If you find you are losing focus or becoming disheartened by the sheer magnitude of the task ahead of you, stop and take a break.

Above all, do it your way. You know yourself and what works for you. Hopefully, we’ve given you some fresh ideas and encouragement, but it’s up to you to make it work.

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