Ten Tips to Stay Sane in Nursing School

Article Sponsored by Georgetown University Family Nurse Practitioner Program

Posted by Shanna S. RN, BSN on January 2, 2014. Sponsored by Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies.

Striking a balance between Family Nurse Practitioner school, personal responsibilities and your current career may seem daunting. However, with proper planning and priority setting, you can be successful in a graduate program, and maintain your sanity.

As more nurses advance their education through graduate programs like the Family Nurse Practitioner track offered by Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies, many are finding it important to balance the new responsibilities that a nursing program presents with current obligations. While much has been written about strategies for successfully making it through Nurse Practitioner school, we at believe it bears repeating, and re-reading, in order to stick.

Here are our Ten Tips to Stay Sane in Nursing School

1. Prioritize. Make realistic judgments about what must be done each day. Don't try to pay the bills, cover a shift for a co-worker, celebrate your son's birthday and study pathophysiology all in one day. While that example may be extreme, it demonstrates the need to determine what is most important, and what can be put on the back burner.

2. Use your Support System. Utilizing your resources is one way to keep yourself from burning out. Ask family members for help with the kids. Study in a group, tapping into the knowledge of your peers. Tell your family and friends what is going on, what you need help with, and delegate what you can to the people that can help.

3. Develop a Study Schedule and Strategy. Determine when and where you study best, and set aside at least an hour daily to work on school. Block out time to review your lecture notes, work on your pharmacology notecards, or read assignments. If you learn best in groups, use discussion boards and video calls to study with others. Determine your own learning style and use it!

4. Stay Focused. Find a quiet place and remove distractions when you study. Avoid social media and web surfing while you study. Silence your phone while you read. Stop multitasking! Concentration and focused effort will likely improve the quality of your outcomes.

5. Be Flexible. Prioritize, yes. Make a schedule, yes. But remember, life happens. At some point, something unexpected may interfere with your study schedule, such as illness, accidents, power outages, and weather emergencies. When things arise that interfere with school, don't stress. That's life. You will also find that this may come in handy once you begin working as a Family Nurse Practitioner, as the unexpected is often to be expected in nursing.

6. Keep Yourself Healthy. As nurses, we are at the forefront of teaching our patients how to be healthy, but we sometimes forget about our own health! Drink plenty of water and eat a proper diet, which can help you stay on top of your game. Sleep is also a simple, yet commonly overlooked health protector that provides our bodies with much needed rest, recuperation and renewal.

7. Plan Ahead. Laying out a rough schedule for the semester is like giving yourself a roadmap to follow. Take the deadlines and project dates from your syllabi, and put them into your personal calendar. Look ahead and outline a plan that incorporates holidays, your work schedule, and your family obligations into your school schedule. Taking time to develop a clear vision of what lies ahead can make things more manageable, which is important to student success.

8. Take Breaks. Your dedication is commendable. Your focus and drive are well respected character traits. Your passion for becoming a Nurse Practitioner is a benefit to the profession of nursing. But if you are overworked, overcommitted and stretched too thinly, none of these things will matter. Take a few moments each day to enjoy your favorite activities. You deserve it!

9. Stay Positive. Nursing is a very noble career; be proud you are pursuing this path! As a Family Nurse Practitioner, you will have to tools to affect lives in ways that few others can. You will have firsthand contact with patients, families, and communities who need you, value you, and depend upon your nursing knowledge. Take time to recognize your gifts, and choose to be positive!

10. Visualize your Bright Future. The nursing profession is exciting, growing, and full of promise. Think of all the opportunities you'll have to realize your dreams once your education is completed.

Balancing all of your responsibilities while in school to become a Family Nurse Practitioner is a challenging, but achievable aim. At, we believe that the future of nursing is bright, and filled with the potential of all those in the nursing profession. As you move forward with your nursing education, we encourage you to revisit these tips as often as you need to, in order to find the balance you need to succeed and stay sane at the same time!