Nursing is one of the most honorable professions a person can enter, but it’s also one of the toughest. From the heavy reading loads to the long clinical rotations to the difficult exams, nursing school tests your skills and endurance in lots of different ways. There’s no use pretending nursing school will be easy. But thousands and thousands of people have trod the same path, and they’ve not only survived but have gone on to have rewarding, fulfilling careers. By following these tips, you, too, can get the most out of your education.

1.Learn to keep a schedule.

You’ve got a lot of work and a lot of things you need to juggle. If you don’t keep track of what you need to do and when, it’s only a matter of time before you forget something. Meticulous planning doesn’t come naturally to most of us. It’s a habit you have to cultivate. Do so from day one of nursing school. Use an app or an old-fashioned calendar book, whichever works best for you.

2.Work with your fellow students.

Memorize this statement: “Nursing school isn’t a competition.” Remember this quote in case you’re ever tempted to compare yourself to others or, even worse, get dragged into drama. Get to know your fellow students. Form a study group with those you trust to contribute productively, and help organize each other’s notes and fill in any gaps in their knowledge. They’ll do the same for you, and you’ll make each other stronger.

3.Make the most of your clinicals.

If clinicals make you nervous, congratulations: you’re just like everybody else! Foster a good relationship with your instructor, even if you don’t like them immediately. This is a period when keeping your head down and working hard is especially critical, as you’ll soon find out that all the information you learned in your classes, while valuable, isn’t enough to prepare you for hands-on work.

4.Use outside tools to prepare for your NCLEX-RN.

There are lots of third-party resources that will help you prepare for your exam. Check them out and decide which is best for you. Yes, in theory your whole nursing school experience should have prepared you adequately for the test, but in reality it’s really tough to remember everything you learned over the course of your entire education. These resources can both jog your memory and prepare you for the specific format of the test.

5.Never let school get in the way of your health.

When big deadlines are approaching, it’s easy to prioritize work over your personal health, but that would be a mistake. In the long term, sacrificing sleep, exercise or good eating habits will hurt you. Set a definitive time in the evening after which you’ll close your books and go to sleep. Schedule your workouts ahead of time rather than telling yourself you’ll catch up when you can. Accept that your education takes priority, but also understand that without taking some time to socialize and relax, you risk damaging your mental well-being. Don’t feel guilty for taking breaks every once and a while. You’ll come back to work feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the next task.

Keep these pointers in mind while you’re in nursing school, and you’ll have a better chance of thriving. Now more than ever, our society needs competent, dedicated nurses. So don’t let the difficulty of your training get you down: it’s designed to make you a stronger and more capable caregiver.