It’s that time of year- the time when you sense graduation nearing and begin to lose motivation. The time when you begin to think more about finding a job in the coming months than finishing out your NP program on a strong note. As you renew your commitment to your New Year’s resolutions as this month ends, don’t forget to recommit to your education. What do you hope to accomplish in your NP program this year?
While your nurse practitioner program will certainly direct your studies, it’s important you make the most of your classroom and clinical experience to get prepared for your career. Maximizing your time in school will make the student to professional transition much smoother. Rather than re-invent the wheel, I thought modifying self-help guru Stephen Covey’s famous 7 Habits of Highly Effective People would offer excellent advice for nurse practitioner students.
Develop these habits during your nurse practitioner program whether you are a first year student or nearing graduation. They will help you get the most out of your NP education.
Habit 1: Be Proactive
Proactivity is especially important in your clinical experience. If you aren’t involved and taking steps to actively learn, your clinical hours can quickly become more like job shadowing. Ask questions of your clinical preceptors. Learn how to do procedures. If you perform to the high standards your preceptor demands from his or her employees rather than simply acting as a visitor in the clinic, you are sure to make a lasting impression. Remember, proactivity in your clinical experiences can lead to valuable positive recommendations when looking for your first job.
Habit 2: Begin With the End in Mind
When you’re stuck with a mountain of papers to write and tests to study for in the middle of your NP program, it can be hard to remember that an actual NP career is the overall outcome of your program. Prioritize coursework and studying towards those that will be most practical in your career. Focus on understanding your cardiology lecture over the list of nursing theorists you are supposed to memorize. Yes, grades are important but practical knowledge that will help you treat patients safely and effectively should be your main goal.
Habit 3: Put First Things First
7 Habits creator Stephen Covey advocates planning tasks “based on importance rather than urgency”. Similarly to beginning with the end in mind, prioritize coursework that will help you become a better nurse practitioner in a practical sense rather than “fluff” courses. Complete the requirements for all classes, of course, but focus your mental energy more on sound medical knowledge.
Habit 4: Think Win-Win
As a student, it’s usually all about you. In your clinical experience however, it’s important to get out of this mindset. Your clinical preceptors are doing you a favor by allowing you to learn in their practice. It’s not easy to be a preceptor and preceptors aren’t compensated financially by NP programs. Make sure you are helpful to your host during your clinical hours. Work hard. Help with duties around the clinic. Volunteer to help complete patient’s charts, do call-backs and process medication refill requests. These are, after all, jobs you will also need to do when you become an NP yourself.
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
This habit involves listening skills and having an open mind. While it doesn’t translate specifically to life as a nurse practitioner student, it is important to have positive relationships with your classmates. They serve as excellent future professional connections and an important source of support during your nurse practitioner program. Develop deep, supportive and encouraging relationships with your NP program peers. This way, your NP program will go much more smoothly.
Habit 6: Synergise
Teamwork is key in your nurse practitioner program. As NP students, you and your peers are facing similar challenges. Whether they be dreaded group projects or the stress of finding a clinical preceptor, work together rather than having a competitive attitude toward your coursework.
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
By far my favorite habit, Covey recommends that everyone take time to renew resources, energy and health in order to develop a sustainable lifestyle. As a student especially, it’s important to take time to yourself. Go for a jog, read a book for fun on occasion, don’t neglect your hobbies completely while you are in school. Even though balancing school, work and family can be tough, you will get burned out if you don’t take a little time every once in a while to relax and recharge.
Have you already started your nurse practitioner program? If so, what habits do you find essential to getting through school? Share your advice with fellow NP students by commenting below!
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