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August 2012, Volume 42 Number 8 , p 16 - 17


  • Mykeko “Mike Bryant MS, BA


I RETURNED TO SCHOOL after working in the media industry for several years. Having graduated from an Ivy League university with a master's of science degree in journalism, I felt confident about pursuing an associate degree in nursing (ADN). What I discovered was that the nursing curriculum challenged me in ways I hadn't anticipated. In addition, my exam scores have often fallen short of my own expectations. I decided to interview nursing students to discover their studying secrets.Those nursing students hoping to snag a better grade on their next exam say they often start focused studying at least 2 weeks ahead of time. They memorize highlighted signs and symptoms of various disorders, such as myocardial infarction, in their textbooks. They constantly review homemade flash cards and sticky notes plastered on their bathroom mirrors. They also repeatedly review their class notes. Despite all of these steps, they often get a disappointing grade."You feel like a failure-like you let yourself down," said Anna Liza Sampayan, a part-time student at Phillips Beth Israel School of Nursing (PBISN) in New York City. "It makes you wonder, 'What did I do wrong?'"Nursing students say their curriculum requires them to know more than facts such as the normal BP parameters or signs and symptoms of dehydration. "Students need to have the knowledge and skills to apply what they've learned," said PBISN professor Tina Heinz. "Exams evaluate students' abilities to provide safe and evidence-based care to patients."Many students like Sampayan say less-than-stellar exam results have prompted them to ponder the same question: "How can I integrate information, learn to adopt an RN's perspective, and improve my exam grades?"Sampayan is one of about 300 students pursuing an ADN at PBISN. Some students complete science prerequisites, nursing courses, and clinical rotations over the course of 3 years. Others opt to complete coursework within 2 years. Though students may have different course loads,

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