As a nursing student, you’ve been set up for failure in nursing school.
You’ve been trained to expect, desire, and downright need somebody to teach you the facts, the”what’s”, and the “how-to’s” of being a nurse.
It’s not fair, really. Just consider this non-nursing article about the two different types of schooling by Seth Godin. He’s a phenomenal teacher and writer, and he often comments on the state of American education. Namely, about how it tends to train students to simply “learn technique, facts and procedures.”
That doesn’t sound so bad on the surface, but it’s not the type of education that will help you learn to think like a nurse.
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Why we like “technique, facts, and procedures”
The modern American educational system seems like it trains us to be passive consumers of information. Heck, almost everything nowadays trains us to do that! Whether it’s watching videos, listening to podcasts, or flipping through flashcards, it’s super easy to spend a lot of time using passive study techniques.
It feels like you are doing some important and hard work learning when being taught that way. But the truth is that it is still passive, and passive information doesn’t stick in our brains. Information that is learned passively will not help you learn to “think like a nurse”.
Instead of expecting Type I learning, ask this question…
Instead of expecting to be taught using passive techniques, you should strive to learn the “why’s” of nursing. If your teacher is only Type I teaching teaching from the power points, but not encouraging any deeper learning strategies, then unfortunately they probably doing …and that is not going to help you pass NCLEX.
Don’t get me wrong, though: I am not trying to slam nurse educators. In fact, most of the nurse educators I’ve met feel strongly about what they do. But just as Godin explains in his article, many times their hands are tied. Either by school policy, lack of time, lack of money, or even lack of training on how to design a higher level class.
Nurse educators care about what they do, but sometimes it’s not enough to make sure their students understand enough to pass exit exams or NCLEX.
Type 2 Teaching is harder…but better
When I’m tutoring, I strive to be a Type 2 teacher. It means more work, because I can’t use the pre-made presentations or questions that come with the textbook.
It’s the same for professors at a college or university, except they have to work with dozens of students at a time! Being a Type 2 teacher in that setting requires them to develop their own lesson plans, create active learning activities, learn new technologies, and take more risks.
Yep…it’s a little bit scary to get in front of a group of students and try something new. And sometimes those risks turn out to be failures. Like when I share a really cool new explanation, only to see a bunch of blank stares from my tutoring students.
Oops. Back to the drawing board. (AKA: more work for me as a teacher!)
But more often those risks pay off big time when I see that light bulb moment for a student.
What to do as a nursing student
When you’re a nursing student, you don’t have a lot of control over who your professor is or how they teach. So if you are stuck with a Type I professor, what can you do?
Hire a Tutor
You can’t always choose your professor, but you CAN choose a good tutor! Use Wyzant to find a Type 2 nursing tutor who can help you transition to using active learning techniques, instead of settling for passive learning techniques.
Bonus: since a tutor can work with you in a one-on-one or small group setting, you’re more likely to get the personalized attention you need to speed up your path to success.
Use the PASS Program
If a private tutor is out of the budget, then a DIY approach can be a great option! Only instead of using trial and error to figure out the best ways to learn in nursing school, you can learn from me!
The PASS Program is the best way to learn HOW to “think like a nurse”. It covers things like how to switch from passive to active learning techniques, and how to use your newfound skills to start thinking critically.
Learn how to study better in nursing school
Maybe you only need a few tweaks to help you adjust your study strategy and start using more active learning techniques. In that case, this free e-course on the best way to study in nursing school is the perfect solution!
Once you start using the most effective study strategies, then you’re empowered to take control of your own nursing education. And that means that the type of teacher you have for your class becomes less important.
Summary: What nursing students need to know
The educational system in America is, unfortunately, set-up to make you fail in nursing school. That’s because the same things that help you be successful in grade school (studying for the exams, brain dump, repeat…) won’t help you pass NCLEX. Instead, you need to transition to using more active learning strategies…and your professor may not always be able to help you with that!
Luckily, there are lots of other options available, such as: hiring a private tutor, learning new skills to succeed in nursing school, and learning a strategy for how to study better.
When a you finally understand the “why” behind the nursing information that you are learning, then you can start applying the “why” to other areas of nursing, too. Suddenly, nursing school will become a lot less frustrating, and maybe even a little bit more fun.