In the US, advanced practice nursing is state and federally regulated. While autonomy may vary based on your location, some states allow advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to have full practice authority. Nurse practitioners (NPs) can assess patients, diagnose, and prescribe medications. The full extent to which an NP can practice varies by state. To become an NP, you must first be a registered nurse (RN) who has completed an undergraduate degree in nursing and then continue on to a grad school program – nurse practitioner school.

If you’re looking at nurse practitioner school, you’ve obviously come a long way to get here. Still, many people get a major shock when they get to grad school. Because grad school is more research-oriented, you’ll need to know and understand the material at a much deeper level. It’s no longer about passing that test or writing that essay, but consistently engaging in in-depth discussions and being able to pose thought-provoking questions. Therefore, it’s even more important to come to classes prepared.

It’s best to start the year on a good note. Taking the time to really get organized before the year starts can be what keeps you from starting off on the wrong foot. Here are some tips for making the switch from undergrad to grad school and general tips about preparing for nurse practitioner school.

  • Get as many errands as you can out of the way. In the video, you can see me getting my car washed. Go to the bank, get any medical check-ups you need to be done, and file your taxes if you need to. You’ll be happy you did it when you’re in the library surrounded by notes about medication side effects.
  • Organize all your school supplies beforehand. Go shopping for all your pens, notebooks, binders, and highlighters. Make sure you have everything you need, so you don’t have to go running to the shops in between classes. Think about how you’re going to organize your notebooks and binders before classes start so that you have one less thing to think about.
  • Get a planner. You’re going to need to get used to budgeting your time. Some people like having everything synchronized on their phone or Google calendar. Some people like having a day planner to write everything down by hand. Others prefer having a big wall calendar. Personally, I like to use all three. Bullet journals are another option that might help you. Experiment and find out what works for you before school starts to relieve some of the pressure.
  • Test out several apps. There are so many apps today that can help you in school, from calendar apps to apps that will block websites for a certain amount of time a day. Storage apps can help you access your notes everywhere, whether you have your laptop or phone with you or not. Try out some apps before the semester begins so you have a sense of what works for you.
  • Make some visual reminders. Some people like vision boards. For others, a phone reminder will do. When you’re mid panic attack and thinking of quitting, it can be helpful to be reminded of why you’re doing all of this in the first place. Write down your motivations for going into nurse practitioner school and keep them in an accessible place. Read through it when you’re struggling. It can help you through a hard day.
  • Get to know your classmates. Maybe you pulled through undergrad alone, but it can really help to network with other students. Even if – and maybe especially if – you’re doing an online program, your fellow students can really pull you through some dark spots. Your classmates might be a very diverse group, as some people continue to grad school straight after undergrad, while others go back after years of working in the field. There are lots you can learn from them, so take the time.
  • Rest and relax. Look, I’ll say it again: grad school is busy and it’s hard. You can get through it with a social life, but there will be times that you will be really stressed. Take the time before you begin to have some fun and do things that you might not get a chance, like catching up on a show you wanted to watch or having a weekend road trip. It’s not going to be the last time you have fun, but you’ll still be grateful that you set aside the time to do it.

Feel free to join me in this video that I shot while preparing for my fifth semester of grad school. I show you how I like to get organized and what kind of school supplies I like to use.

Good luck and have a great semester! Remember, you’ll get through it!