What Should I Study Before Starting Nursing School and Do I Even Need To?

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If you were accepted into nursing school, first, congratulations! This is a huge accomplishment! One you should be so incredibly proud of. Now, being the studious person you are, it is only natural for you to ask, what should I study before starting nursing school?

You should not start studying nursing content before starting nursing school. However, it is never a bad idea to brush up on your anatomy and basic math. Truthfully though, I didn’t study a thing before nursing school and I have been a 4.0 GPA student throughout my program. I will talk about why, in my opinion, I just don’t believe it is necessary.

Studying before starting nursing school is like studying calculus before starting calculus…

You are going to be taking the courses, so wait for the courses to guide you. It is your professor’s job to teach you the material in a way that makes sense, and that smoothly builds on itself.

Nursing professors have master’s degrees in teaching for a reason

Nursing professors, at minimum, must hold their Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). Many institutions require their professors to hold a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).

Nursing professors are highly experienced in the field of nursing, and they are highly educated academically in the major of nursing. Not just anyone can teach nursing. It is highly complex, and it must be taught in such a way that will ensure success when students take the NCLEX examination at the end of their program.

But what if I want to study before starting nursing school?

If you are highly motivated, and you have trouble not doing anything school-related, the only things I would even consider looking at are things you have already been taught.

So, you could brush up on your fractions, decimals, and conversions for example. Also, you could take some anatomy and physiology practice tests to stay brushed up on that content. The one I linked for you, in the prior sentence, was my personal favorite.

Therefore, I will stand on this hill until the very end. Do not attempt to start learning nursing content before starting nursing school. It will confuse you, frustrate you, and could even result in disheartening you from starting the program.

So what should you do instead of studying before nursing school?

What Should I Study Before Starting Nursing School

1. Go on a trip and/or spend lots of time with family and friends.

Seriously. If it is the summer, go on a fun trip. When you are in nursing school you will have NO time for fun things during your semester. In my experience, even Thanksgiving and Spring Break are not a time to let loose and take off somewhere fun.

If a trip is not feasible, just hang out with family, and friends as much as possible.

2. Start a job in healthcare to gain experience (if possible).

It’s okay if you can’t do this, it is not going to make or break your nursing school experience.

However, nursing school is all about applying the information you learn, and then turning that information into real-world life scenario questions. So having some personal experience in the hospital setting is extremely valuable.

You will also “kill two birds with one stone here. You will get great hands-on experience, while also getting you familiar with medical terminology as well, which is extremely helpful in school.

If you have a summer break before starting the program, this is an excellent time to start the application and orientation process at your local hospital and/or long-term care facility.

3. Start gathering the materials you will need for the program.

This can get overwhelming for a lot of brand new student nurses. This can also get overwhelming because of all the marketing out there directed toward brand new student nurses.

In my experience these are the things you will actually need when first starting the program:

  • Your required textbooks
  • Required scrubs
  • One backpack (no need for a separate clinical backpack)
  • A stethoscope and case
  • Penlight
  • Watch with second-hand capabilities
  • Nursing scissors
  • Clipboard for clinical paperwork
  • A laptop or iPad
  • A couple of notebooks and pens
  • Calculator (basic type)
  • A planner (optional)

That is a rather long list, right? So gathering these takes some time to find the products you like and allow time for returns, etc.

Also, this is the list of supplies that works for me. When you enter the program, you may feel like you could benefit from some other things your fellow students have.

An additional perk, having a job in healthcare prior to the program can also come in handy in helping you pay for all this.

4. Rest while you can!

Watch TV and Netflix while you can! Lol, no, but seriously.

I’m not trying to scare anyone, but I am sure you have seen all the memes already. Nursing school takes over your whole life when you are in it. It moves insanely fast. You barely have time to blink.

Trying to study before starting nursing school is just not going to be a great return on your investment. Resting, however, will. Rest and relaxation will help you start the program with an already improved mental state.

To Conclude: What Should I Study Before Starting Nursing School?

Hopefully, if you have gotten this far, you realize that there is nothing that you can study that will make or break your nursing school experience. In fact, studying nursing content before the program is more than likely just going to be counterproductive.

Not once was I like, “wow I really should have learned pharmacology before starting this class”. What if I taught myself, or understood things all wrong?

So, spend time with friends and family, get a job if possible, gather your needed supplies, and just rest while you can.

Trust your program, and trust your teachers. They have been highly trained to guide you through school in a way to ensure your success when taking the NCLEX exam, since this is what nursing school is all about.

If you would like to read about what I have done to earn straight A’s through nursing school, you can read my methods right here and I also made a youtube video on it right here.

If you must do something to study before starting nursing school, I would research information on how to be a better student. This way you will start the program off with healthy study habits.

So congratulations on getting into your program, and welcome to this wonderful profession!

Jackie Jimenez BSN, RN
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