Study Hacks for Nurse Practitioner Students

It’s that time of year again…yes, ‘Back to School’ is here. I love the fresh start feeling of fall, even  though my life as a student is long gone. The nostalgia of newly sharpened pencils and a fresh outfit and book bag never seems to fade. Back to school season is not only a time to make a few new wardrobe picks, it’s also an opportunity to set yourself up for academic success. What can you do differently this year to help you succeed? What clinical and classroom challenges await?

As an experienced nurse practitioner looking back, there are a few resources and study habits that would have made my life as an NP student run much more smoothly. Presenting…study hacks for nurse practitioner students!

1. Buy your certification review book early

Most nurse practitioner students don’t worry about their certification exam or ‘boards’ until the last semester of their NP program. But, when it comes to taking this all important test, a little foresight goes a long way. Purchase a few different certification review guides. As you review pathophysiology, pharmacology and theory in your nurse practitioner coursework, complete related practice questions in your review book. This way you are preparing for both your boards and next test at the same time. Who doesn’t love double tasking?

2. Splurge on noise canceling headphones

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I recently discovered noise canceling headphones and they’ve opened up a whole new world for me when it comes to work and study sessions. While working at home offers comfort and quiet, the allure of the television or an alarm bell prompting me to change the laundry gets me off task. Coffee shop study sessions trade these kinds of distractions for others. The clatter and clang of dishes and chatter of customers keeps me constantly looking up from my laptop. But, with my noise canceling ear buds on plus or minus a bit of background music, my home and coffee shop sessions have become infinitely more focused.

3. Download a quality drug app

During long clinical days and study sessions, as a nurse practitioner student you will constantly find yourself looking up drug dosages and classes. Having this information in your back pocket is a must. Epocrates and Micromedex are free and easy to use. Leave them open on your tablet or phone for easy reference as you study.

4. The Sanford Guide is a must-have

Along with a drug app, the Sanford Guide to Antimicrobial Therapy makes treating infections a breeze. Even as an experienced nurse practitioner, I reference this guide often for selecting the appropriate antibiotics for treating everything from pneumonia to Chlamydia. The guide is available in print or as a mobile app. Personally, I use the small, printed guide as it fits easily in the bag I carry to work every shift. 

5. Prioritize study sessions with this grid

As a nurse practitioner student you likely may not have time to complete all that is required to the best of your abilities. For type A’s this can be a hard pill to swallow. Drafting the perfect 10 page theory paper, completing a 40 hour week in clinicals and studying for two final exams just isn’t going to happen. So, prioritize your time.

Complete the ‘Urgent and Important’ box first, follow it with tasks falling under ‘Urgent and Not Important’, then make your way to ‘Not Urgent and Important’.  You may not have time to get to the unimportant, less pressing things on your to do list but that’s OK-these things can wait.

What study hacks help you as a nurse practitioner student?


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