Studying for an advanced nursing degree is never easy, but the outcome, in the end, is worth it. With higher salaries, more job opportunities, and the chance to improve your nursing skills, an advanced degree has many advantages. If you are thinking about taking an advanced nursing degree, or are already studying for one, here are 10 tips to help you survive an advanced nursing degree.
1. Eat Well
What we consume is so important, especially when we are working and studying. For many nurses, choosing an advanced nursing degree means working alongside your degree, to ensure you can still put food on the table. This means plenty of late nights and early mornings. Due to this, it is all too easy to eat takeout food and not nourish your body with the nutrients it needs. Even though nurses tell their patients to eat well and care for themselves, they often don’t have the time to do the same for themselves.
If you aren’t eating right, you will be surprised how much harder it can be to concentrate on your studies and at work. If this is something you struggle with, start creating meal plans for each week. You can even use meal subscription services that send premade meals, or meals that have all the ingredients ready to cook. This can save time and ensures you are eating well. Try to be more mindful when eating too, rather than getting home and eating anything, take time to look at what you are eating, and how much. For more inspiration, check out these meal prep tips for nurses.
2. Talk About It
If you are struggling, do not suffer in silence. A lot of nurses tend to leave everything under the surface, which can lead to emotional burnout. Nurses can go through a lot of emotions in a day and having someone to vent to can do a lot for your mental health. If studying for an advanced nursing degree, being a mom, caring for yourself, and being a nurse is getting too much – talk about it!
Whether this is to a colleague, a trusted friend, or your partner, speaking about it will help. If you do not speak up, you will not be heard. Your boss may give you some well-needed time off to study, or your partner may offer to have the kids on the weekend, so you can have some time for yourself.
3. Get Enough Sleep!
Sleep is essential for studying and working as a nurse, so you must make enough time to sleep. There may seem like there are not enough hours in the day sometimes, but sleep is a must and should not be put on the backburner. Planning your schedule can help with making enough time for study (see below). You should be getting around eight hours of quality sleep each night. If you are struggling to sleep, try turning your phone off one hour before bed and creating a peaceful sleep routine.
When you do night shifts, create a dark room that is free from disturbances. Although it can be harder to sleep in the day, try to sleep as long as you usually would. Night shifts are often where a lot of nurses struggle to get enough sleep, which can lead to burnout. While you are also studying for an advanced nursing degree, burnout can make it a lot harder to learn.
4. Study with Friends
When you are studying for your advanced nursing degree, speak to other nurses on your course. Even if you study online, you can find study friends during online lectures or by joining Facebook groups. You may even know another nurse on your ward who is studying for a degree. Studying together will not only motivate you, but it can also be a lot more fun that way. Plus you can make friends and have someone to share what you are going through.
5. Ask For Help
If you need help at work, with your studies, or with other commitments in your life do not be afraid to ask for help. An advanced nursing degree is no easy subject and working alongside this will only add to the pressure. Making sure you have a good support network of friends and family around you can ease some of that pressure. Speak to your boss when completing your degree and see if they can give you any time back or schedule your shifts to work better around your degree.
6. Take Time for You
While working and studying will take up a lot of your time, you must still take some time for you. Being a nurse can be exhausting, as you are constantly giving your time and attention to others. If you also have children at home, there comes a time where you need some me-time. Schedule this each week, whether it’s a day out with your friends, a yoga class, or just a night in with a book.
When you are constantly busy, making time for yourself will help you stay more motivated and concentrated in your studies, and at work. Meditation is a great skill for any nurse to have, as it can increase mindfulness and help you deal better with stressful situations. Taking 10 minutes a day to meditate is not just about making time for yourself; it can do wonders for how you react to things in everyday life.
7. Don’t Rely on Caffeine
While coffee may be America’s favorite drink, this does not mean you should rely on it to get you through your advanced nursing degree. Caffeine can have detrimental effects on your health, especially if drank too often. Whether working or studying, sticking to water or herbal teas is a much healthier option. Caffeine can also impact your sleep, making it harder to sleep in the daytime while you are on night shifts. Avoiding caffeine on night shifts will make you sleep easier and feel better.
8. Plan Your Time
If you are trying to make time for everything, it can feel as though you have no time for anything. Studying and working involves plenty of planning, so you can get everything done. Taking time at the start of every month to create a study and work timetable can be a lifesaver. Not only can you then see where you can schedule in family time, me-time, and anything else you want to do, you will also be more likely to stick to a schedule.
Planning can save hours of wasted time in the future, especially when you come to study. Look at your goals and any deadlines you need to hit in the month and plan your study time effectively. If you can set yourself goals and deadlines, you will be more likely to achieve everything you want to.
9. Stay Hydrated
This is a very simple one but is extremely vital for all nurses. With so much on your mind, drinking enough water throughout the day becomes less of a priority and more a luxury. Getting enough water every day will help you feel more focused and energized, as well as gain better grades. You would not expect your patients to go all day without a drink, so neither should you.
Staying hydrated when working and studying doesn’t need to be difficult. Get yourself a large water bottle for work, so you don’t have to constantly fill it up. Set reminders on your phone if you need to and encourage your colleagues to drink. The same goes for when you are studying. Rather than cramming everything in and ignoring that thirst, take regular study breaks where you can do some stretching and get a drink.
10. Study Online
Many advanced nursing degrees can be taken online, which gives you more time and flexibility when studying. For many nurses, the benefits of online studying make it easier than ever to gain an advanced degree. This MSN program can be taken online, meaning you can choose what time to study around your job and family. Not having to travel to college can take added time and pressure from you while studying.
You do not need to be a technical genius to study online either. Most universities have their own online portal, where you can access all the resources you need to study. You will also be able to chat with your lecturer through video and meet classmates through virtual classrooms.
To survive an advanced nursing degree be sure to stay hydrated, eat well, ask for help, take time for yourself, and study with others. Choosing an online course can make it easier to manage your workload and other commitments. Plan your time effectively to be the most productive, so you can reach deadlines and work better. If things feel like too much, open up to someone you trust, as talking about it can help. Following these 10 tips can help you to survive an advanced nursing degree.
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