December 12, 2019

My Top Two Favorite Study Habits

#1 - Keep It Small 

So many times, I've studied intending to learn an entire concept in a short period of time. We all have life going on, and most of the time, we don't have weeks and weeks to learn something. In my undergraduate and graduate nursing programs, I had exams every other week. The problem is that you will not retain all the content you have read. Your brain doesn't work that way (well, mine doesn't anyway). You don't dump a large amount of information into it, and it all sticks. Usually, only a few concepts stick with the rest of the data being vaguely remembered.

Instead of trying to learn everything, I pick an element and focus on that for a specific time frame. Keep your study sessions small and study with intention. Instead of trying to learn about every type of shock, pick one type, and focus on that section. This will allow your brain time to soak up the information and catalog it in your mind. Take a break and then hit the next topic. I know you don't have a lot of time to study, but jamming it all into one session won't do you any good. Yes, you will go through the content, but I doubt you remember all you need to know.

Suggestion: 15 to 20 mins per topic, with a 2-minute break in between. Don't try to start a Netflix movie or check your Instagram, haha. Go to the bathroom, stretch, get a snack, and get back to it.

#2 - Test Your Knowledge 

Pretend you are giving discharge education to a patient about a particular disease process. If you can articulate and explain the essential aspects to the other person successfully, you have retained the information. It's a form of self-testing in verbal form. So many times, I've read something, and the next day I wasn't able to articulate what I read. This lack of connection was due to me not needing to recall the information. Once you have presented the content, it's get buried deep down, in my opinion. What you are doing here is reinforcing newly acquired information. This action will help you retain more of your study content.

When you are tested, you usually aren't tested on which receptors activate which cells. Most nursing exams focus more on nursing care and disease processes. You can test your understanding of these concepts by educating a roommate or significant other (you could even FaceTime a classmate). Once you are done, ask the 'patient' if he or she understood what you said and if they had any follow-up questions. This follow-up also helps you to catch any confusing or mismatched messages in your presentation.

When I practice with my husband, I give him my textbook afterward. I want him to assess what he found to be essential and let me know what I missed. Your counterpart doesn't need to have a medical background. If they can read, you're good. The point here is to allow for feedback while learning at the same time. If I can discuss cardiogenic shock with my husband over eating spaghetti, it stays with me. The entire experience is reinforced in a different aspect of my mind.

Suggestion:  Have a shy 'patient'? Here are some questions you can put on index cards - What does this disease disrupt? What are the side effects? What does this do exactly? Why does this happen? Why do I need this? Why is this important? 
*The what and whys will test your knowledge best

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