Becoming a licensed practical nurse, or LPN, is a great way to embark on what is sure to be a satisfying and rewarding nursing career. First, though, you have to get through your LPN training program. For many, the prospect of going back to school is intimidating. No matter how long it has been since you've gone to school, there's no doubt that you can handle the training. Still, review the following 10 tips to give yourself the best odds of success.
10 Study Tips for Aspiring LPNs
Whether you've already started your training or will be doing so soon, these tips are sure to come in handy:
- Establish a study schedule - Don't just promise yourself that you will find time to study each day. Make sure that it happens by establishing a workable study schedule. Identify periods during the week that you can devote to studying, and establish them as regular study sessions. Once you get into the studying routine, you will have a much easier time keeping up with your training.
- Find a suitable place to study - When it comes to study environments, everyone is different. Some people study best in complete silence and without any outside distractions. Others actually prefer to be in public settings like libraries or coffee shops. Some enjoy listening to music. Wherever your tastes may lie, figure out a spot where you can go whenever you need to study. That way, you won't waste time trying to decide where to go when you need to.
- Buddy up - If possible, get to know some other students in your program and see about setting up a regular study group. Even if you can only find one other person to be a "study buddy," it's better than nothing. Studies have shown that helping others to learn things reinforces those concepts, so this is a mutually beneficial arrangement. It is nice to have others to work through problems with when you are stumped or overwhelmed. These sessions will especially come in handy when preparing for tests.
- Be a good note-taker - During lectures, it is easy to tune the professor out or to otherwise become distracted. The result is lackluster notes that do little or nothing to help you learn the subject at hand. From the start, be diligent about taking thorough, helpful notes during lectures. You will return to these notes again and again during your training and even after, so it pays to do a good job.
- Don't overdo it - As important as your LPN training is, it shouldn't negatively impact the rest of your life. Make sure that you have room in your schedule to devote to your training. If you try to put too much on your plate, the odds of getting through the training or even absorbing what you learn will be much slimmer. If possible, lighten the rest of your load while completing LPN training. Go easy on yourself, and take mental health days when needed.
- Recap every class that you attend - An excellent study tip for aspiring LPNs is to sit down and briefly recap each class that you attend during your training. You should only need a minute or two to do so. Jot down the most pertinent points from the class that day. Later, if you need to refer to something important, you'll be able to find it more easily. Recapping each class is also a great way to commit what you learned to memory.
- Take exercise breaks - While studying to become an LPN, it's often tempting to push everything else aside. The training is intense, and a lot of work is involved. However, your study sessions will be far more productive when you feel well physically and mentally, and exercise can help in both departments. In fact, a Harvard study revealed that exercising releases chemicals that actually enhance the memory, so taking brief breaks to get a little breathless can boost your studying ability considerably.
- Get to know your professors - All too often, LPNs fail to communicate with their instructors and don't bother turning to them when they need help. Instead of waiting until you need extra assistance, make a point of visiting your professors during office hours to get to know them a little. If and when you need extra help or other assistance, you will feel comfortable stopping by to see them or otherwise contacting them. This is also a great way to forge important connections.
- Invest in an NCLEX-PN review book - You won't sit for the NCLEX-PN licensing exam until your training is over. However, you should buy an NCLEX-PN review book or study guide at the beginning of your training program. You can then refer to it throughout your training to reinforce what you are learning. Along the way, you can complete practice tests and other extra work to increase the odds of passing the exam the first time.
- Stay focused - Although LPN training is briefer and less involved than the training that RNs must undergo, it is still very intense. These programs cram a ton of information into just a few short months, so it is easy to get overwhelmed or to feel like you are falling behind. Throughout your training, remind yourself to stay focus and to stay the course. Soon enough, you will be finished, and you will be able to sit for the exam and continue toward earning your LPN certification.
Training to become a licensed practical nurse requires a lot of dedication, hard work, and persistence. By keeping the above study tips in mind, you are sure to have a much easier time completing your program. Before you know it, you will be sitting for the NCLEX-PN and preparing to apply for LPN jobs.