A lot of nursing students have difficulty understanding what the read for 2 primary reasons: 1) reading is not suited to your primary learning style, and 2) reading by itself is a “passive” method of study.
Reading might not fit your primary learning style
A lot of nursing is very hands-on, and so it often attracts people who are Tactile/Kinesthetic learners. These types of learners learn best when they can “do” something. Since reading is more of a visual experience (or it can become auditory if you read aloud), it is not very effective for a Tactile learner to just try to read. The first step to improving here, is to identify what your primary learning style is: Tactile, Auditory, or Visual. Once you know your learning style, then you can start using study strategies that match the way you learn.
Reading by itself is a “passive” method of studying
The second reason that you might be having trouble is because reading alone tends to be a very “passive” process. It’s easy to start reading, only to discover that you just read a whole page but don’t remember anything you just read! That’s obviously going to be a waste of time. So you need to start using more Active study strategies while you’re reading. After each paragraph, ask yourself “Why” something happens. If disease A has these 3 symptoms, WHY do those symptoms occur? What is it about the Anatomy and Physiology of the disease process that cause those symptoms to occur?
Some nursing students complain that they don’t have time for the more Active study methods that I teach, but the truth is that you don’t have time NOT to do them! It does take a little bit longer to get through the reading, but you will learn and remember soooo much more. And the information will stick long-term, not disappear from your brain immediately after the exam.