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4 time management tips for nursing students


I’m studying to become a nurse. I study well and I do my clinical stuff without any problems, but my nursing teacher is always on my case about time management and organizing myself. I admit, I’m not the most organized person, but my things do get done. How do I get her off my back and still stay in nursing school? Thanks, Glenn


Dear Glenn,

It may not seem obvious that time skills are important when someone decides to become a nurse. But being able to manage your time and organize yourself during your day is vital. It is, in fact, one of the most important skills that a good nurse has. Inability to manage your time affects not only you but also your patients and your co-workers, and it could make it difficult to find a good nursing job. Another issue to consider is burnout. If a nurse is working twice as hard because he or she is always playing catch-up, nursing burnout is a very real possibility.

So, keeping this in mind, the best way to get your nursing instructor off your back would be to take her comments seriously and try to develop good time management skills. This will only help you in nursing school and after you obtain your nursing license and start working.

Here are some tips to help you manage your time effectively:

1- Seriously analyze your day as it is now.
Take note of your day and see where you have problems. Where do you find time may be wasted or when do you find yourself scrambling because you feel you’ve fallen behind? Seriously analyze your time and see if there are any tasks or events that are stealing time. You have to be ruthless, because it may not be an outside source taking the time, it could be you wasting it.

2- Come in a few minutes earlier than you need to arrive.

Sure, your clinicals may start at 7:30 a.m., but when you arrive a few minutes before that, you can settle in, get your bearings, get your supplies and gather your information. If you arrive just on the dot of your assigned time, you’re already falling behind once you’ve begun.

3- Have a plan.

Some people enjoy working their day as it comes, keeping in mind what needs to be done. A nurse can’t do that. A nurse must have a plan, usually written down, of what needs to be done and when. If your nursing teacher has assigned you three patients, you need to know what has to be done for those patients and when it needs to be done. A 10 a.m. medication cannot be given at noon. But if you decide to do a complicated dressing on one of your other patients at 9:45 a.m., there’s a good chance that a 10 a.m. med is going to be late.

4- Ask for help.

If you really can’t see where you are going wrong and losing time, instead of fighting your instructor, ask for help. Ask your fellow students how they manage themselves. Maybe they can help you keep on track.

Good luck. Time management skills can be learned: You just have to want to learn them.

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