Thriving in Nursing School with ADHD: Essential Tips and Strategies

If you’re juggling nursing school with ADHD (or will be soon…), you might often find yourself wondering how to align your unique learning style with the demanding curriculum. In this blog post, I’ll share some tried-and-true strategies to help you balance your goals with your ADHD.

ADHD brains are some of the most creative brains out there, and we always need more of that in the nursing profession! So here are some tips…

Understanding and Using Learning Accommodations–don’t be afraid!!

First thing I always ask my tutoring clients who have ADHD (or other learning or anxiety issues): if you are eligible for learning accommodations, USE THEM!

Whether it’s extra time on tests or a quieter room for exams, these accommodations are there to support your success. It doesn’t make you less capable as a future nurse, so don’t worry about that. And ignore anybody (including ‘old-school’ faculty or administrators!!) if they try to tell you otherwise.

In fact, advocating for yourself is one of those essential “soft skills” of nursing that will make you a much better future nurse. Not only will it mean that you’ll be more likely to set healthy boundaries for yourself, professionally communicate those boundaries to others, and ensure that your future employer treats you with all the professional respect you deserve…but you’ll also be that much better at advocating for your future patients, too.

So if your school tries to tell you that you can’t have the learning/testing accommodations that you’re legally entitled to use, make sure to go through the proper channels to advocate for yourself. Not only will it make your nursing school experience better, but it will improve your advocacy skills, too.

One more note: if you don’t already have the paperwork to get your accommodations, start the process ASAP! Before you need it, if possible. The process can sometimes take quite a long time, especially if you don’t already have an official diagnosis of ADHD (or other qualifying diagnosis).

Active Study Techniques: Your New Best Friend

When it comes to studying, the approach for ADHD nursing students should be anything but passive. You need to find a way to engage your brain in a way that doesn’t feel totally overwhelming! That’s why incorporating active learning strategies will both improve how well you can focus AND how well you retain information.

Active learning strategies help you to move away from passive (and boring) learning strategies like flashcards, straight-up reading the textbook, and even listening to lecture. Instead, you’ll start engaging with the nursing content in more in-depth ways that let you challenge yourself to actually start thinking like a nurse.

The way I help my tutoring clients do that is by teaching you how to study using the Silver Bullet Study System. It forces you to practice active learning strategies, even if that wasn’t your default way to study before. Which leads me to my next ADHD tip for nursing students…

Simplify Study Sessions with Systematic Approaches (and Easily Get Back on Track After Distraction!)

Let’s be honest…when you have ADHD, distractions are going to happen! So we might as well plan for them, even during your study time. That’s why it’s helpful to have a structured way of studying that isn’t boring…but will help you get easily back on track even after a distraction.

That’s another thing my Silver Bullet Study System can help with. Since it’s structured into clear, easy-to-follow steps, then if you get distracted by literally anything while you’re studying, you’ll always know exactly where you left off when you restart to your study session.

That’s waaay better than being told you need to know ‘everything’ in the 17 chapters you were assigned, getting distracted…and then still having 17 textbook chapters staring you in the face when it’s time to get back to studying. Talk about overwhelming.

Systems and routine are your friend when it comes to living with ADHD, which is why it’s a no-brainer to incorporate that into your studying for best results. (Get a free 10-minute video about my Silver Bullet Study System here)

Celebrate Successes Like a Super Bowl Touchdown!

This tip is great for anyone, but it’s especially for the dopamine-chasing brain of a nursing student with ADHD: celebrate everything!

I truly, truly believe that there’s no such thing as a ‘small’ win in nursing school, because every single success is one step closer to your goal of becoming an amazing nurse. And not every ‘success’ is related to tests or grades, either!

So you might as well chase that dopamine in a way that aligns with your goals, and transform into your very own cheerleader every time you finally figure out (and actually understand) why the symptoms of Heart Failure occur, every time you have a chance to try new skills during your clinical rotation, every time you turn an assignment in on time, and yes…every time you pass a nursing quiz or exam, even if you don’t think you deserve to celebrate because you ‘barely’ passed.

A passing grade is a passing grade, y’all. And you deserve to celebrate it. Create those dopamine hits for yourself to motivate your brain into the nursing school mindset!

Embrace the Community Resources Around You

If you want to surround yourself with a positive, encouraging, and uplifting community of other nursing students and pre-nursing students (some who also have ADHD…), I’d love for you to join our Group Tutoring Membership! Not only do you get a chance to ask unlimited questions directly to a professional nursing tutor with over 15-years experience (that would be me, btw) both in our forum and at our weekly live group tutoring sessions, but you also have the opportunity to connect with the other wonderful nursing students in our community. We’d love to have you join us!

Any Other Tips?

Do you have any other ADHD tips for nursing students? Found something that’s worked well for you? I’d love to hear them! Share them in the comments section below.

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