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Herzing University

Christine Paul Cardenas

Strategies and Tips for Nurse Practitioner Students

Here are some healthy habits to help you get the most out of your chosen nurse practitioner (NP) program.

Earning your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree is a great way to advance your nursing career. Throughout your time at Herzing, you’ll develop the important skills that will make you a great nurse and someone that your patients and community can depend on.   While these skills are important, it’s equally important to carry the right mindset with you during the program.

While you have already overcome some of the common challenges of nursing school, earning your MSN can present new sets of challenges. Here are some healthy habits to help you get the most out of your chosen nurse practitioner (NP) program.

Utilize Your Resources

Read the Syllabus: Do you ever reread your syllabus? It’s that thing you get during your first day of classes that ends up crumpled in a folder or lost amongst a sea of papers by the end of the week. It’s a key resource that can unlock the expectations of your professors and the secrets behind successfully excelling in the course.

It’s always helpful to read through the course objectives to ensure that you have a strong understanding of the requirements and assignments before getting too far into the semester. The syllabus will give you an idea of what chapters you must read, what topics you need to learn, and what you’ll be tested on. 

Ask for help: You aren’t completing your coursework in a bubble. If you are struggling, get the help you need! Email your instructor, clinical coordinator, or student advisor with any questions or concerns you have. Your peers and the campus support team are also willing to help. In most cases, if you are struggling with the material or any aspect of campus life or work-life balance, someone else has gone through similar experiences and can offer advice or direction for ways to push through the tough days.

There are also many other resources at your disposal for help with your course workloads, such as online libraries and Purdue OWL. If you use ebooks, you can download the Bookshelf app, a great on-the-go tool to always have your reading material at your fingertips.

Avoid Distractions

Think of graduate school as a job. The more you focus, the more you’ll excel. While sometimes it’s easier said than done, your success may often depend on your ability to avoid distractions,  stay focused and tune out the noise.

There are plenty of things you can do to create a work environment conducive to your needs. Turn off the TV. Avoid clutter. Have a clean and neat study space ready in a designated area of your living area. If you have children or animals at home, you could use your noise-canceling headphones to isolate outside noises. You should also turn off your phone or put it in silent mode when you’re studying. Some people find it helpful to block social media applications on your desktop so that you avoid scrolling during your study time and are less distracted.

Dress for the Job You Want

Dress for success by wearing work-appropriate clothes. As you prepare for your clinical rotation, make sure that you look professional. This could mean that you wear your lab coat or, if it’s a clinic setting, you may wear business casual or business formal clothing. In class, you should also make an effort to appear ready to take on the role you are studying for.

If you will be in a hospital setting, wear your scrubs and your lab coat. There are many comfortable brands of scrubs out there that are also affordable and can be stylish. Comfortable, safe, and slip-resistant shoes are ideal. Do not wear stilettos or pumps to your clinical days as an NP student; those high heels can be risky to wear and dangerous.

You will be working all day seeing patients in clinicals. You’ll spend lots of time on your feet, learning new specialties and skills and working toward your advanced practice degree and license. Your clothing should be the least of your concerns.

Plan Ahead

NP students have a lot of things on their plates so don’t procrastinate. Study early and often so that you aren’t cramming right before an exam.  Planning also allows you to balance your work, school, social and family life to ensure you have time for every important part of your life. Create your study schedule ahead of time and use a calendar or a planner so you can jot down dates and times. You might also consider blocking off times or days for specific study time only.

You should also be thinking about what you need during the most important times of your schooling. Buy your certification review book early and practice questions for your certification test. Have a go bag in a place where you can easily carry all your necessary supplies and equipment — a stethoscope, oximeter, sphygmomanometer, pens, markers, notepads, laptop, clipboard and whatever else you need. Plus, snacks!

Care for You: One extra tip is that while you are so focused on building a career to help others, don’t neglect your mental health and physical wellness. You are no good to a patient if you are struggling. Be mindful of your overall schedule.  Don’t stretch yourself too thin. Take time to rest and recharge to be at your very best.

Start the Preceptor Search ASAP

Looking for a preceptor for your clinical rotation can be a challenging task. It can be frustrating at times if you have no idea where and how to search for a preceptor. Ask the people you know and trust to see if they’re qualified for the role of a clinical preceptor for your NP specialty. By searching for your preceptor early, even as soon as you get your acceptance letter to the NP program, you can save yourself a lot of headaches and uncertainty later.

If you are still struggling to locate a preceptor, try looking at

At Herzing there are resources to help you find a preceptor, so reach out to your student advisor or clinical coordinator for assistance.

Learn More About Our Nurse Practitioner Programs


* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics 2023 / Occupational Outlook Handbook 2022. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.

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