What I Wish I Knew as a First-Year Nursing Student

What I Wish I Knew as a First-Year Nursing Student

Flashback to September of 2018, my first year of nursing school. That was a September of so many worries and so much anxiety... would I find my "people," where I would sit in huge lecture halls, would I pass my exams, why was the passing grade 72%, was I as smart as my peers, how will I carry these 40lbs of textbooks around???

These questions made me wish I had a school survival guide, but in reality, the experience will be different for every student, and that is okay. 

Here are a few of my favorite tips that I know now that I wish I learned a few years ago. 

  1. If you weren't smart enough to be in your program, you wouldn't be in your program!
  • Don't doubt your worth. Nursing school is one of the most challenging undergraduate programs to be accepted into (at least in my province!); you wouldn't have received an acceptance letter if you weren't meant to be there.
  1. Making friends is scary; try to ask the students next to you to grab a coffee between lectures. That's how I hooked my best friend!
  • Making friends/acquaintances early can be super helpful! You can supplement each other's notes, work on group assignments together, and you have a built-in study buddy :)
  1. Learn APA formatting as soon as possible - because you will use it for every assignment of your degree.
  • Your professors can and will take many marks off assignments for incorrect formatting, and you don't want that to be the reason for a lower grade even if you know your content.
  1. Do the readings before the lecture; having an idea of the concepts will make it easier to understand when your teacher is talking at the speed of light.
  • This was super helpful for me in classes like pathophysiology, pharmacology, and anatomy! You will hear a large number of words you've never heard in your life leading up to this point, and pre-reading the textbook/slides will allow you to have a baseline!
  1. Make a schedule for studying. 
  • I found my studying was more efficient when I would be highly focused for 2 hours and then be done, compared to when I would sit in a library for 6 hours but would play on my phone for half the time.
  1. Rewrite your notes over and over.
  • For me, this was one of the best ways to memorize large amounts of content. I would type my notes from the lecture, handwrite my notes 1-2 times, and then make flashcards with the condensed information. 
  1. Quiz your friends!
  • Especially if you are an auditory learner, my friends and I always came up with crazy mnemonics to help us remember.


It's okay to be nervous about the unknown, but find the time to be proud of yourself too. Nursing school is hard, but throughout the years, it will become more and more manageable. You've got this. 


Written by: Holly Peacock

Instagram: babynurseholly


Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.