Nursing Students Share Tips for Success

a woman nursing student explains heart model to man nursing student

Nursing school can be challenging and demanding, so what can you do to ensure you learn the information and skills needed to earn good grades and become a licensed nurse? Two undergraduate students share what’s helped them be successful.

Meet the Students

Julia Ciotti, Senior, BSN student

As a Pittsburgher, Duquesne feels like my second home. Because of family experiences in the hospital, I have seen firsthand the importance of diligent nursing care and advocacy. I felt called to become a nurse because of those pivotal life moments and my faith. I vow to always take care of my patients as if they were my family and treat them with kindness and respect. After graduation, I would like to pursue a career in maternal-child health, pediatrics or telemetry. Ultimately, I aspire to become a nursing educator at the collegiate level.

Ivy Mwakughu, Sophomore, BSN student

I am an international student from Kenya. I knew I wanted to become a nurse when I experienced a situation back home where there was a shortage of doctors. I saw how the nurses had to work extra hard—despite there being so few of them—to take care of patients in need and provide medical care. I was instantly inspired to join the medical field as a nurse. After I graduate, I would like to work in pediatrics. I love children, and I look forward to working with them in this field.

Tips for Success

What are your tips for success as a nursing student?

Julia: My biggest piece of advice is to invest in a planner. Because nursing school is incredibly busy and intensive, I suggest writing all your assignments, exams, homework, readings, etc., in your planner at the beginning of the year. This will help you stay organized and ensure you don’t miss anything important.

Ivy: The most important one for me: Do not stress no matter how hard things may become. Study the material early and not at the last minute. Group discussions with a friend is very important as you are able to exchange information and learn from one another. It is going to be hard, but remember why you want to become a nurse and use that as motivation to help you keep going. 

Think back to your freshman year at Duquesne. What do you wish you had known earlier?

Julia: To be successful, I suggest finding a study schedule and habits that work for you. Personally, I learn best by handwriting my notes into an outline and color coding it according to terms. I also retain information by watching videos. It’s important to figure out your learning style.

Ivy: Looking back, I wish I had realized earlier that things are going to be difficult so that I could have better mentally prepared myself for the challenges. I also wish I would have utilized group discussions more as they are really helpful.

How does the faculty support your success?

Julia: Our faculty always goes the extra mile to support students. They create additional practice resources, simulations and learning opportunities throughout the semester in order to ensure that students succeed. They are more than happy to meet with students personally as well.

Ivy: The faculty are very helpful. They provide students with study resources for exams and encourage us to ask questions when we do not understand something. They help in preparing us to become better nurses by teaching the content until we understand it and by creating an environment that makes it easy to approach and talk to them about anything they can help us with.

What resources does the School of Nursing offer to help you be successful as a student?

Julia: The School of Nursing offers many resources to students, such as the NAP tutoring program, testing workshops, online practice questions and books, and many more.

Ivy: The Evolve Elsevier platform has all the e-books that we use both in clinical and in lecture. It also has chapter review questions and case studies that help you apply the information learned in class, as well as videos you can watch that demonstrate real-life scenarios in the hospital setting. All these resources help you understand the content and, most importantly, apply critical thinking.

What resources does Duquesne University offer?

Julia: The University offers resources, such as Gumberg Library, resume workshops, career fairs, and many more.

Ivy: Duquesne has a very conducive environment for studying both indoors and outdoors. There are tutors who can help with any questions and concepts that you do not understand in any course, and the Writing Center can help with any writing projects that you may have.

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