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20 Nursing School Life Hacks

We are not going to sugarcoat it: Nursing school is tough

From grueling topics to learn like medical ethics to just managing student life living on a budget, there is a lot on your plate. Nursing school is all about preparing students for a rigorous (and rewarding) career, but we want to ensure you have some practical life hacks to help you on your journey to graduation.

Below, check out 20 nursing school life hacks you need to know to help make nursing school happier, easier, and less stressful.

Ace Nursing School with These Life Hacks

Nursing school is hard enough but when you add clinical practice to the mix, you are at the bottom of the food chain. These nurse life hacks will make hard things easier, stressful things more manageable, and yucky stuff… well, at least a little less yucky. 

1. Make Friends with Smarter People

There is an old phrase that states, “if you are the smartest person in the room, go elsewhere,” and this is a fantastic strategy for nursing school. Connecting with people who are smarter than you not only breaks you out of your own comfort zone, but it makes you better too. 

Understand that “smarter” does not discredit your own value, but if you can be part of a collective group of people who are serious about learning, you will be in a better academic place surrounded by people who want to succeed and who will help you do the same. 

Choose wisely! 

2. Clip Pens on Your Collar

When in a bind, you don't want to be wondering where your pen is. Create a habit of clipping your pens on your scrubs’ collar as it provides easy access, allows you to move better without a pen in your pocket, and is more sanitary as many nurses shove dirty gloves in pockets throughout the day. 

3. Warm Up Stethoscopes 

No one likes the jolt that comes with a cold stethoscope. Although this is not necessarily a life hack for you, it can be used to improve your bedside manner and patient experience. 

Instead of just going for it and putting a cold stethoscope on your patient’s skin, take your glove hand and for a few seconds rub the stethoscope diaphragm to warm it up for a more pleasant impact. Your patients will thank you. 

4. Loop on Some Tape

Skip trips to the supply closet!

If you do not invest in tape roller holders to attach to your stethoscope, easily have access to tape anywhere you go by simply sliding a roll over your ear tub to rest on the binaural spring of your stethoscope.

5. Change Stress Mindset for Long-Term Growth

Nursing school is stressful. We get it. 

But, instead of dreading the next few years and seeing nursing school as a means to an end, change your mindset to make this time meaningful. Challenge yourself to appreciate that although nursing school might seem like an inferno, it will help you to refine your skills, attitude, and abilities towards greatness. Every stress or process is all about helping you create career-long habits that will greatly help you succeed.

Now is the time to change your mind so that you can better enjoy and appreciate this time to learn, grow, and connect. What doesn’t change you doesn’t help you.

6. Don’t Fear Code Brown 

As a nursing student, you get assigned the grunt work.

As you have to pay your dues with time and experience, oftentimes you get the less “pretty” tasks, one of which could be changing your patients’ briefs and bedpans.

To help with “code brown” experiences, simply wipe shaving cream, toothpaste, or Vicks VapoRub on your nose, and wear a double mask. By physically masking up and pairing that with scent “maskers”, you can more easily get the job done!  

7. Purchase Discounted Books

School books are extremely expensive no matter what you study in college, and nursing is no different. 

As each book is highly specialized, these nursing books can be anywhere from $85-300+! As a student trying to pinch pennies, the best hack for nursing school books is to buy the PDF versions or find discounted books on one of these websites:

  • eBay
  • DebtFreeCollegeGrad.com
  • Valorebooks.com
  • BarnesandNoble.com
  • Cheapesttextbooks.com
  • Thriftbooks.com
  • Affordabook.com

Every penny counts and since nursing school is four years long, that's a lot of books to buy! Be smart and save.

8. Listen to Nursing Podcasts and Youtube Channels 

Podcasts are a great form of entertainment, but they can also be avenues of learning! As more and more individuals and businesses are putting out podcasts, tune into ones that are specific to nursing! There are tons of podcasts full of helpful resources and tips for nursing school, such as the following:

  • Straight A Nursing
  • Nursing Uncensored
  • Real Talk School of Nursing
  • Nursing Standard Podcast 
  • Nursing Podcast by Nursing.com
  • Nurse Speak the Podcast
  • Public Health on Call

As this time calls for you to be an academic sponge, soak up all the information you can in school and out of school with podcasts! 

9. Make Health a Priority

Going hand in hand with self-care, your physical health needs to be a priority as a nursing student. As you are exposed to sickness at various health facilities, you need to be on top of your game to ensure you do not miss a minute of school. 

  • Make sure you get enough sleep. 
  • Drink tons of water. 
  • Take Vitamin C and other supplements to support your immune system. 

All in all, you cannot provide high-quality care and succeed academically if you are running on fumes. Take care of yourself and know it’s okay to set limits and or breaks.

10. Prep Before Clinical Rotations

Professors are there to help educate you but also to keep you on your toes. It is almost an unspoken rule that your medical professors will test you on patient information before every clinical rotation. So, before you start, read up on selected readings as well as on your patients to ensure you are up to date on the day’s learning opportunities. 

By making this extra effort, you are not only actively learning, but you are also setting a high standard that your professor is sure to notice.

11. Shop Discounted Marketplaces

As nursing school is expensive, shop on websites like Offer Up and Facebook Marketplace to steal the deals. Get second-hand furniture for dorms and other home spaces as  now is not the time to invest in a West Elm end table. 

Save money and focus on the goal at hand: graduating with the least amount of debt possible.

12. Use Social to Your Advantage

Today’s world is an amazing place as you can digitally connect with nurses in your cohorts but also across the country — all thanks to social media. To build your nursing school tribe, here are a few things you can do:

  • Follow Instagram or Tik Tok channels made for nursing content.
  • Attend nursing and medical school social mixers.
  • Create a private Facebook Group or Slack Channel with students in your cohort to share due dates, studying tips, and other important information to help the group.
  • Read Reddit channels to answer common questions you might have.

As social media is meant to help share information and connect people, why not use it for your benefit while in school?

13. Tap Away Blood Drawing Fears

Okay, we will get to the point: One of the most stressful practical applications is to practice drawing blood. 

As you all have to practice on one another, remember two tricks that can help you find a vein quickly: tap the vein multiple times with your hand to inflate it or use a warm washcloth to help the veins appear. It also helps to have your patients dangle their arms down for a few seconds to help increase blood flow.

14. Sprinkle Baby Powder 

There is an element to nursing that is helping patients with daily activities, one of which is going to the bathroom. As that can lead to many complications and uncomfortable situations, a cool trick is to use baby powder! 

Simply sprinkle baby powder on a bedpan before a patient sits down, and it will greatly improve their experience — no more sticking! 

15. Say Goodbye to Hand Writing 

Don't have a dry-erase bracelet? Tired of writing on your hands? Instead of looking like you have terrible prison tattoos on your hands from old messages to self, use medical tape!

Simply place 2-inch medical tape on your forearm, and write on it with your pen! 

16. Bring a Change of Scrubs

Nursing gets messy… So, to best ensure you don't have to wear various bodily fluids for your whole eight-hour shift, get in the habit of packing a change of scrubs to have in your work locker.

17. Take Advantage of Nurse Discounts

With the rise of honoring frontline workers since the beginning of the pandemic, take advantage of discounts given to nurses! By simply showing your nursing credentials or student cards, you can easily tap into exclusive discounts for things like the following: 

  • Scrubs 
  • Cell phone carriers
  • Coffee
  • Clothing/accessories
  • Services/experiences
  • Food
  • Deliveries

To easily find nurse specific discounts, go to websites like Govx.com or Heathjob.com and scroll through hundreds of discount listings from brands like Nike, Yeti, Samsung, and Lululemon! 

18. Stash the Snacks

We all shamefully spend way too much money on vending machines and overpriced food courts for the sake of convenience. But with a little planning, you can avoid this money suck pitfall by shopping in bulk and storing your own snacks at work.

Shop at Costco to easily and cheaply stock your locker with snacks.

19. Wear Compressions Socks

Happy feet = Happy nurses.

For anyone new to nursing, you might not realize how much your feet will feel the new schedules, but that is where compression socks can greatly help reduce the pain! By pairing medium compression socks with comfortable shoes, you can avoid the early rude awakening to long hours on your feet.

20. Use Essential Oils For Studying Boosts

Studying is a staple in nursing school with big exams demanding many hours of reading and note taking.

If you need a little pick-me-up, diffuse or rub essential oils on your wrists or under your nose. Oil scents like lavender, rosemary, and peppermint have been shown to increase concentration and retention.

So, when in doubt, dab on some oils right before you start to study. 

Life Made Easy: Life Hacks For You

As there is a lot to consider with nursing school, we hope this article helps you find some life hacks to make money saving, clinical rotations, and studying that much easier! 

At Nursa, we not only give a “shift” by helping nurses after they graduate but also by helping you improve your life as well. If you want to look more into what PRN nursing can provide you after school, take a look at our website as well as our extensive library of resources for nursing students!


Blog published on:
July 7, 2022

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