De-Stress this Season in 10 Steps or Less

‘Tis the season to unwind, reflect back on the year, and prepare for next year. However, it is also a time many people increase their level of stress. (Holidays can do that to a person.) Nursing school is stressful, but there are influences outside of school that can add to the stress that is already there. Learning to handle stress and alleviate it in a healthy manner is a skill that pays off in the long run and can be applied not only in nursing school. Take the time this season to focus on de-stressing.

Here are 10 tips to help de-stress your holiday season, so you can start the new year off with a positive attitude. Take a 10- to 15-minute break when the stress starts to build up, and experiment with these de-stressing tips:

      1. Listen to your favorite music. Take a break from studying, holiday shopping, or pesky relatives that talk politics to unwind. Lie down on your back, listen to your music, and breath. As a relaxation technique, music is shown to help people escape from stress. Another great musical tip, especially if you can’t focus in silence, is to listen to Hans Zimmer Pandora.  The music has no distracting lyrics and the scores are intended to motivate and relax you.
      2. Stretch and meditate. Focus on how it feels to help eliminate stress. Many of us tend to study in awkward positions, hurting our necks and back.  Rolling your neck and stretching your back will help you feel more comfortable and alleviate some of that stress in your body. The art of meditation is to calm the mind and focus on your body. Focus on breathing by taking deep breaths and escape the world for a few minutes.
      3. Stand up and get moving. If meditating is not for you or you have been sitting longer than 20 minutes, it is recommended to go for a short walk to refocus and get out of the slump. Plus, sitting for long periods of time is not advisable. Simply moving your body helps blood circulation as well as refreshes the mind. For example, when studying gets a bit tedious, taking a walk or getting up to stretch will do wonders. Do 20 jumping jacks, jump rope, or even just dance.
      4. Color away the stress. There are great adult coloring books out there as well as free printable coloring pages and apps designed to help adults relax. Placate the inner child and grab a coloring book. Coloring requires focus, design, and various colors. Set aside the tasks at hand or thoughts that are causing stress and try some color therapy. Coloring is said to develop focus and mindfulness. In a world filled with distractions and stress-inducing situations, learning to refocus is vital.
      5. Laugh it out. A popular technique is to just laugh. After all, laughter is the best medicine. Take a break and spend a few minutes watching or reading something funny. There is a lot of power in laughter. Ever heard of Norman Cousins? He laughed death in the face and defeated a painful disease that doctors said couldn’t be helped. Simply put, Cousins suffered from a connective tissue disorder, resulting in terrible bouts of pain. Doctors did what they could but in the end, Cousins continued to have pain. He checked in to a hotel and watched numerous hilarious videos. Cousins lived years longer than doctors suspected and experienced little pain after. Does it prove laughter has healing properties? No one knows, but what Cousins’ story shows us is the power of laughter.
      6. Act. Squeezing a stress ball or punching a pillow can help get some of that stress out that has been bottled up. People today find exercising a great stress reliever that motivates them to lift more weights than yesterday, run that extra mile, and do five more pull ups than before. Bottled up stress is dangerous to the person and those around them. To avoid snapping under pressure, find an outlet to channel the stress by getting active and using it as motivation to challenge yourself. It can be something as simple as punching a pillow or as intense as putting on a boot camp-style workout video and spending 15 to 30 minutes breaking a sweat.
      7. Write. For some, writing is a way of removing stress. Whether it is escaping into a fictional world or writing goals for the week, writing does amazing things to the mind when it comes to relaxation. Write down some of the things you or grateful for and reasons why your goal (of becoming a nurse!) is so important to you. This will help you focus on what is important in your life and be a visual reminder to you.
      8. Take a shower and wash off some of that stress. Sometimes to decrease the amount of stress is as simple as hopping in a shower. Showers and baths are therapeutic, which is why people recommend showers as a time to unwind. The hot water also helps improve blood circulation, relieves stiff muscles such as in the neck and shoulders (refer to point 2 above). Using some aromatherapy scents in the shower, like lavender, can be extremely helpful.
      9. Pet an animal. Animals are known to help alleviate stress. By petting or playing with an animal, oxytoin is released, which is known as the stress-reducing hormone. For example, therapy animals are widely used in a variety of settings. From treating Alzheimer patients to helping young children learn to care for an animal, animals have an incredible influence on humans. It must be those big eyes and loving heart that captures us all.
      10. Think positive. The power of the mind is incredible, as you all know. The glass-half-empty mentality should be replaced quickly with the glass-half-full idea. Understanding that stressful situations will arise and being able to reframe it to see the positive and the benefits of completing the challenge changes your whole perception. “You do not need to be a victim of worry. Reduced to its simplest form, what is worry? It is simply an unhealthy and destructive mental habit.” – Norman Vincent Peale

Next time you find yourself ready to pull your hair out or dealing with an early mid-life crisis, remember to take a break and find activities that will decrease stress. Stress has been shown to decrease the immune system, influence hair loss, initiate weight gain, bring on depression, and other unfortunate outcomes. When all else fails, unplug yourself by taking a vacation, spending time with loved ones and friends, and enjoy the time. For situations that cannot be avoided, reward yourself after with a treat or event that will allow you to let go and slow down.

Goal Setting for Nursing Learners: Learning the Art of S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Learners at Nightingale have one common goal—to graduate from nursing school and become a licensed nurse, which is a big accomplishment. Before jumping to the final goal and possibly underestimating what it takes to complete such an ambitious endeavor, establishing milestones and a set time frame for each milestone have shown to help improve the likelihood of achieving your goal. Breaking your main goal into smaller steps will help you stay on track and more importantly, understand the elements that make up the end goal you have set for yourself.

Don’t forget to download and complete our S.M.A.R.T. Goals Worksheet or to use it as a basis for learning to set the right goal that can be accomplished.

What milestones can learners set that together work towards achieving the final goal?

Making a goal to finish your schoolwork on a specific day, sticking to a specific study schedule, getting a certain score on a test or in a course, practicing something at clinicals, and similar day-to-day activities are milestones that you can set to help progress in the right direction. These day-to-day activities are not only milestones of the grander goal of becoming a licensed nurse, but can be individual goals with milestones of their own.

What is the set time frame that is needed for each milestone?

Make a timeline that starts with today, then a goal for next week, next month, 6 months from now, 1 year, or however long you believe is needed to master a specific milestone. The time frame is unique to each person, so take the time to create one that is exclusive to you, your milestones and goals. One of the greatest ways to set a goal is to remember to be S.M.A.R.T. about it, which is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Each goal and milestone you set should fit the five categories of S.M.A.R.T. goal setting.

Here are some tips to help you think S.M.A.R.T. about setting your goals.

Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Be Specific. Goals that are too broad are hard to define and even harder to accomplish because the goal is not specific enough to be reached. Be as detailed as possible. What do you want to achieve? The more details you have, the easier it is to plan and the easier it is to know what you are working towards.

Keep it Measurable. How do you determine success that you have successfully met your goal? Without measurement of some kind, you may doubt whether you have achieved your goal or milestone. Make sure your goals are measurable. The vaguer you set the goals and milestones, the less you will be able to envision them.

Keep it Attainable. Working towards a goal that is not attainable is not a smart route. Take a moment to determine all the elements associated with the goal and whether you have the resources available to complete it. When resources are scarce, visualize another direction to get to the goal or reframe the way you’ve set the goal. A few quick tweaks here and there may do the trick to make your goal and milestones attainable. Remember to not overwhelm yourself, but do try and challenge yourself with your milestones and goals. Challenge brings growth. You want to be able to succeed, so make sure it is a challenge that is attainable.

Be Realistic. Set your goal on what you believe you can do. Much like keeping your goal and milestones attainable, if the goal you have set is not realistic then determine whether it is worth the time and effort that is needed to accomplish it. Several factors that make a goal less realistic are not difficult to determine. Such factors can be current situations in your personal or family life, finances, time, available resources, and so forth. Be realistic with your current situation and honest with yourself. Setting goals that are not realistic will have you looking for ways to jump off the train before even getting started and will deter your determination to achieve the milestones and goal. Focus on what has worked for you in the past and what you are willing to work on and for in the future.

Keep it Timely. A set goal and milestones are rarely accomplished when you do not hold yourself to a specific time schedule. Establishing and keeping the deadlines for your milestones and goals continuously help you stay committed to fulfilling the tasks and goal. It will also give you a sense of accomplishment when you complete a milestone or goal. Even the smallest milestones should be celebrated if you were able to complete it on time. Set a date for your goal and each milestone to be achieved. Make sure you give yourself enough time to complete your goal, but not too much time which can lead to procrastination.

The sweet taste of success and accomplishment accompanies hard work, diligence, and dedication. The strategy of goal setting can be helpful in all aspects of life, not just in nursing school. Discovering what you want to accomplish and creating S.M.A.R.T. milestones to reach the goal will help you continuously improve and grow. Nurses are constantly required to adapt to new changes, and learn new concepts and skills. Determine what goals (and milestones) you want to set for yourself while in nursing school, but don’t forget to look ahead and decide what goals you have for your nursing career. Whatever comes your way, start by setting S.M.A.R.T. goals and milestones—the stepping stones that will help guide you to achieving the goal with less stress and make it a rewarding journey.

Download our S.M.A.R.T. Goals Worksheet and get started on setting your goals (and maybe New Year’s resolutions) by clicking the button below.


Being a BSN-prepared Nurse

benefits-of-a-bsnNightingale College RN to BSN Program graduate with Nightingale College’s President and CEO, Mikhail Shneyder. (May 6, 2016)

Congratulations on being part of the esteemed profession of nursing. Not everyone can fulfill the duties and responsibilities nurses endure on a daily basis that test not only their competencies but their emotional stability. As the top trusted profession, nursing yields many rewards and embodies selflessness and compassion, two ideal characteristics each nurse is encouraged to possess. The constantly evolving health care landscape advances each year as the diverse needs of patients grow. Nurses in particular are preferred to continuously advance their education alongside the advancements of health care, helping nurses learn the latest skills and knowledge to truly deliver quality patient care. Additionally, the importance of BSN-prepared nurses in rural communities rise even more as nurses in these settings must possess a broad array of knowledge and skills to treat communities that have a low number of accessible and local health care professionals.

To solidify a nurse’s career, higher education is needed and preferred by many employers who see the benefits of having BSN-prepared nurses on staff. Although many nurses stop after obtaining an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) and passing the national licensure exam (NCLEX-RN), the developments in health care push nurses to go back to school to acquire the skills and knowledge a BSN degree program delivers. According to the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations, 80% of nurses need to be BSN prepared to improve the benefits provided to communities. Research associated with BSN-prepared nurses and patient care illustrate the decrease in the mortality and morbidity rates in facilities that have nurses with a BSN degree on staff. It does not suggest associate degree nurses are not equipped to handle patients in a variety of settings, but nurses who have been further trained and hold a BSN degree have gained advanced knowledge and skills as well as critical thinking and leadership characteristics, preparing them to practice in a variety of care settings, treat chronic illnesses, and pursue specialized nursing professions.

Become a Better Nurse with a BSN Degree

The higher qualifications gained through the BSN curriculum train nurses to fulfill higher leadership positions and nursing specialties. Not all BSN-prepared nurses work in administrative roles; the need for bedside BSN nurses constantly rises. Nurses with a BSN degree can practice in more settings such as critical care, outpatient services, and community clinics, which are some of the opportunities available among a numerous list of other possibilities. Many nursing specialties that are very popular require a BSN degree as the minimum requirement along with years of experience. Some nursing specialties that require a BSN degree are


  • Clinical nurse leader
  • Critical care nurse
  • Flight nurse
  • Informatics nurse
  • Nurse advocate
  • Nurse manager
  • Occupational health nurse
  • Oncology nurse
  • Perioperative nurse

However, many nursing positions require advanced degrees that surpass the bachelor’s degree level for positions like nurse practitioner and nursing instructor. As a nurse, continuous education should always be a priority. Explore the full list of nursing specialties by clicking here. The nursing profession provides many avenues for nurses to take once graduated and licensed. Many current job openings for registered nurses require an ASN degree and, of course, a current, active nursing license in the specific state of employment. By 2024, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics asserts the projected employment for nurses will reach over 3.1 million nurses including both replacement hires needed to fill the gap of nurses retiring and new nurses needed to address the escalating community health needs. It can be expected that the future of employment for nurses will include a bachelor’s degree as the minimum level of education because employers and health care facilities are able to see the impact BSN-prepared nurses make in regards to the quality of patient care and safety provided. As the health care system changes over time and a BSN degree will be required for almost all entry-level RN positions, nurses will be encouraged to continue to advance their degree level.

Nurses who advance their career by seeking higher levels of education open up more job opportunities, including promotions and leadership positions, and enjoy salary increases that are associated with their enhanced skills and knowledge. The difference in salary between ASN- and BSN-prepared nurses do not differ much, however, BSN-prepared nurses are able to apply for higher-level positions that comes with a higher pay.

Having a BSN degree can have an influence on a nursing graduate’s career right after graduation. While the nursing shortage shows ample opportunities for new nursing graduates, BSN-prepared nurses who apply are preferred applicants because of their level of degree and the skills and knowledge they bring with them to nursing units.

“There are many reasons to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing and while an Associate’s Degree in nursing is a result of the most efficient pathway to becoming a registered nurse, a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing opens so many more opportunities. If you are currently a registered nurse with an ASN degree, you should be encouraged to pursue your BSN. Opportunities in nursing education, nursing management, federal agencies, and the military, for example, all require a minimum of a BSN degree. Some states are evaluating their entry-into-practice laws and are considering requiring a BSN to be the standard for practicing as a registered nurse. In 2013 the Roberts Woods Johnson Foundation published their findings supporting the outcomes of their lengthy study demonstrating the evidence linking better patient outcomes to baccalaureate and higher degree nurses. In 2010 the Institute of Medicine released its landmark report on The Future of Nursing, initiated by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which called for increasing the number of baccalaureate-prepared nurses in the workforce to 80% by 2020. The future of nursing lies in the age old discussion of the ‘entry into practice’ being at the baccalaureate level. That time is upon us now, and it’s only a matter of time before a BSN is the requirement to practice as a registered nurse.”

Sue Jero, MSN, RN

Ready to take the next step in your nursing career and be BSN prepared? Check out Nightingale College’s RN to BSN Bridge Program.

A Crumpled Mess: Why Clean Scrubs Matter

scrubsScrubs are the vital uniform for nurses, but no matter how important, scrubs are often overlooked when it comes to being presentable. After a long shift, your scrubs will be in worse shape and will need a definite deep wash to remove germs from the fabric, which is why nurses are asked to keep their scrubs clean—for the safety of patients, visitors, and fellow healthcare employees.

It may be strange to consider that the appearance of scrubs can have such a big impact when interacting with other nurses, doctors, and patients. But nurses need to pay close attention to the impression they make when they are sporting wrinkly, stained, dirty scrubs.

Taking care of your appearance while in nursing school should be a main objective. During labs, learners are instructed to dress in the professional nursing attire for a reason. Scrubs are often the item that is considered last. Clinicals are an important time for learners to practice networking with potential employers and fellow nurses who can be a great resource when scouting for references to accompany a job application. And the way you keep your scrubs says quite a bit about you, your hygiene, and your character.

Insider Tip: When making a first impression, a person has less than seven seconds to impress another individual. Many first impressions are made based off of a person’s appearance. Even before the conversation or interview begins, the first impression has been made. Nursing learners have a great opportunity to network in a variety of healthcare settings during clinicals. It is a prime location and time to get a foot in the door if it is an organization that is desirable. Upon graduation and passing the NCLEX-RN, graduates can reconnect with influential people employed at the desired locations and investigate the facility’s hiring needs from an inside source. Make it your goal to leave the best impression you can by not only showcasing your competences but by showing you value your appearance and are interested in representing the employer well. Sneaky? Not really, just smart.

So why do clean scrubs matter?

Reason #1: It speaks to your work ethic.

Part of being a nurse is having comfortable clothes that can withstand long hours of wear and tear. It is understandable that nurses do not always have the time to get ready nor have the time during a shift to tidy up. However, the way you take care of yourself illustrates your work ethic. If you have the patience and make the time to care for yourself and your scrubs, it shows that you pay attention to the little things, which will spill over into your work environment. Having the right work attire also influences the response you will receive from others. Nurses with tidy, clean scrubs elicit a more positive and engaging response from those around them than nurses wearing scrubs that were not taken care of.

Reason #2: It makes a good impression.

Continuing on from Reason #1, clean scrubs make a good impression on fellow colleagues, administration, and patients and visitors. A nurse donning clean scrubs eludes to confidence and value in the job. Imagine a nurse coming in for a shift with dirty, wrinkly scrubs, then a fellow nurse coming in for the same shift with clean scrubs. As a patient, which nurse do you hope to take care of you? Unfortunately, appearance does make a big impression, especially in the healthcare field. People associate dirty and untidy with disease ridden.

Think of clean scrubs on the same level as washing your hands and wearing gloves. The scrub material catches germs and whatever else ends up on the material just as your hands can be exposed to the same elements (which is why healthcare professionals are required to wear gloves). Nurses do not reuse gloves. Think of your scrubs in the same sense and remember to care for them and wash them after every shift.

Reason #3: You will feel professional. It’s about dressing for the job you want.

When you take the time to get ready for work each day, what you wear can influence your outlook. Putting on clean scrubs right before a clinical or a shift helps you feel prepared for your day instead of looking in the mirror wishing you could iron out the wrinkles on the left side of your scrub top. Have pride in yourself and your job, and show that you do care. It is your professional appearance and your brand that you are endorsing so do it well. A famous saying is dress for the job you want. Surprisingly, this statement is very much true.

Reason #4: Scrubs are expensive, so give your scrubs the best treatment.

Nice scrubs can be expensive to purchase, especially the brands that provide extra comfort and allow you to easily move without rubbing against brittle fabric or the fabric that fits terribly. Just as it is advisable to get yourself a good pair of shoes that provides exceptional support, invest in a few good pairs of scrubs. Once purchased, take the utmost care in washing your scrubs twice to remove all germs and right out of the dryer, take a few minutes to fold them to reduce wrinkly lines so you don’t resemble a crumpled mess.

Keeping scrubs clean is not always at the top of the list while in nursing school. While you are being stretched so thin balancing work, school, and sometimes a family, it is hard to remember to throw the scrubs you used earlier today in the wash and iron out the wrinkles. But it will make a big difference in your future career as a nurse.

So why do clean scrubs matter? Once employed, you become a reflection of your employer and employers want their nurses to represent their organization well. You, as a nurse, should take pride and value in yourself and the nursing profession. Professional appearance matters a lot.

What does this mean for those still in nursing school?

Pay special attention to who you interact with while at your next clinical. Even though you may not interact directly with the DON or the recruiting manager, people will come to know you and they will be able to speak to your appearance. Take the time to care for the scrubs you wear and make sure your appearance is a positive reflection of you as a great nurse. While attending a lab or clinical, make sure that you adhere to the policies about your professional appearance and never, ever underestimate the state of your scrubs. It’s the impression you make about you, your work ethic, and your character.

Read 4 Scrubbing Essentials for Safe and Tidy Scrubs to learn how to properly clean scrubs by clicking here.

Check out Your Professional Presence: Advice on Dress and Appearance to review helpful tips and review the basics of professional appearance by clicking here.

Taking Nursing to the Sky: Meet Mark Larsen, Flight Nurse

mark-snapshotEver considered a career in flight nursing? Take nursing to the sky as a flight nurse. Flight nursing requires nurses to help monitor patients during transport to the hospital. Nurses who pursue a career in flight nursing need to be BSN prepared. Mark Larsen is a Nightingale favorite who works in the lab at the Ogden location. When he isn’t here helping learners during their lab simulations, Mark takes the time to save lives by continuing his part-time job as a flight nurse. The fast-paced career of a flight nurse is not for everyone, but for those interested in learning more, take some time to chat with Mark and get to know the specialty.

What is your current position at the College?

Lab and Simulation Coordinator

How long have you been employed with the College?
15 Months

Why did you decide to pursue a career in nursing? If you weren’t a nurse, what career would you most likely have?
I started out wanting to be a physical therapist and took and EMT class to further evolve my resume for admission into physical therapy school. However after taking that class, I found physical therapy to be extremely boring, so just before I was to start physical therapy school I changed my major to nursing in order to someday become a flight nurse. If I wasn’t a nurse, I believe that I would be in business or management as I enjoy performing those roles as well.

Prior to becoming a collaborator here, what was one of your favorite jobs you have had?
My favorite job prior to becoming a collaborator for Nightingale, was the part-time job that I still hold as a flight nurse. It was the job I went to school for and the goal that I wanted to achieve. Although I am now trying to move on from it, I still enjoy the excitement of the job.

You specialize in flight nursing. Can you provide a brief description on the highlights from that career path?
Some highlights would include starting out as a new flight nurse and all of the exciting places that I got to travel to. I always thought that it was cool to fly in places that most people never get to go, or have to pay a lot of money to see that I get paid to go; such as: the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, Zion National park and all over the western United States. I also worked for 6 or 7 years as the Chief Flight Nurse, where I played an important part with company expansion, education, policy development, hiring and overall growth of the company.

View Mark’s full presentation on flight nursing and what it takes to be a flight nurse by clicking here.

What inspired you to pursue an teaching position where you work with learners?
I started out pursuing a masters as a nurse practitioner, but due to my job requirements as chief flight nurse, I didn’t have time to attend all of the required clinical, so I switched to education. And since my master’s degree would be in education, I thought I should put it to good use.

What has been a favorite moment while working here at the College?
My favorite moments are at graduation, when I see that I have helped the learners achieve their goals.

What has been a crazy memory you’ve had as a nurse? Share that experience.
I don’t know if there is really a “crazy” time in my career that stands out to me. I’ve done things like climb inside a wrecked car to treat a patient while the fire department cuts the care apart around me; I repelled off of a cliff to get to patients; I tackled people running from the police in the emergency department; and I have even helped catch a kidnapper in the ER as well.

Do you believe continuing education is important for nurses such as going on to obtain a BSN degree?
I believe that a BSN helps to increase the professional development of a nurse. I believe that an ADN is an excellent way to start in the profession, but obtaining the BSN is what makes the difference from changing nursing from just a job into a career. It also opens up many more opportunities in the future. As you continue to work in the profession your goals will change, and a BSN will open the doors for many more opportunities. Check out Nightingale College’s RN to BSN Bridge Program.

If you could pass on one piece of advice to our learners, what would it be?
Don’t ever stop working toward your goals. If you want it bad enough you will achieve it.

Are you originally from Utah? 
I am originally from a small town in central Utah called Salina. I have lived in Utah my entire life except for 6 years I spent in Page, AZ (which really is like an extension of Utah). My family and extended family is what keeps me here, because I absolutely hate the snow. But overall Utah is a great place to live.

Outside of hanging with all the cool people here at Nightingale, what are some of your favorite hobbies and passions?
My passions include first my family, then the Chicago White Sox, Harley-Davidson Motorcycles and watching movies. I pretty much spend all of my free time watching my kids sports activities or playing sports myself.

What are 3 items on your bucket list that you would like to complete?
I want to visit Scotland and New Zealand, retire, and win the lottery.

If your life had a theme song, what would it be?
Eye of the Tiger (Survivor)

Share anything else you would like people to know about you.
I graduated from Weber State nursing 16 or so years ago.
I am married (Cindy) and have four kids (Cole, Kyler, Mason and Reagan).
I have one Chihuahua (Skittles).
I hate to read (audio books or movies are the way to go).
Favorite movie is Braveheart.
Favorite song is The World I Know by Collective Soul.
Favorite band is The Smashing Pumpkins.

7 Tips to Overcoming Test Anxiety


This article is an update from the last published article on How to Overcome Test Anxiety in Nursing School, published May 12, 2014.

You’ve been diagnosed with test anxiety. The fear of failure and the dreadful nervousness that builds up as the test day looms are just some of the symptoms you have experienced among others such as the inability to recall important information and complete unconsciousness. Taking a test is stressful and the desire to do well is broken down by the fear and anxiety of not receiving a passing grade. Even before the test, the anxiety you feel conflicts with the retention of information, creating a more challenging task of learning the concepts. Many learners experience test anxiety, so you are not alone. To refuse treatment and allow test anxiety to consume you is detrimental in nursing school and in your career as a nurse.

To help alleviate the symptoms and reduce the effect of test anxiety, it is recommended to seek treatment and follow the steps outlined by the Learner Advising and Life Resources (LALR) department.

  1. Be prepared! This may seem obvious, but the more prepared you are for an exam, the less anxious you will be.  Having good study habits and being organized when studying will help you feel more prepared and build your confidence.  Remember, don’t cram right before a test.  Plan out your study time so when it gets down to the last minute, you don’t have to cram!  For tips on how to effectively study, please contact the LALR department.
  2. Use relaxation techniques.
    1. Deep belly breathing: Close your eyes and breathe deeply into your belly; focus on your breath. Spend a few minutes practicing your deep belly breathing before you study and after. Do the same before and after an exam.
    2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation: This is when you tense your muscles then relax them. Start at your arms, hold for seven seconds, then release. Next do the same with your abdominal muscles, and so on.  This creates a deep relaxation sensation in the muscles.
    3. Visualization: Find your happy place. Close your eyes and think about a place you feel most relaxed.  Think about the details of this place, the smells, what it looks like, how you feel when you are there, etc.
  3. Eat a good meal before your exam. Fruits and vegetables are known to reduce stress.  Stay away from processed foods, red meats, preservatives, and spicy food. Tip: It is also helpful to snack on fruits and veggies while studying and eat those same foods right before your test.
  4. Get a good night sleep. Try to use the relaxation techniques above to clear your mind so you are able to fall asleep.  Try not to think about the exam.  Feeling well rested will help you stay focused on your exam.  If you do not get a good night sleep, don’t worry.  Try to do some relaxation techniques in the morning, go on a walk, or do yoga to help you feel refreshed.
  5. Reward yourself. Using positive reinforcement can be a great way to help with test anxiety so you have something to look forward to after the test.  Plan on treating yourself to a tasty treat or a gift after the exam, if you were able to complete it to the best of your ability without stressing too much.  Even if you do stress and find the test was way too difficult, reward yourself anyway for staying calm and pushing through.  You deserve it for working so hard.
  6. What to do during the test:
    1. Read the directions carefully.
    2. Budget your test-taking time.
    3. Change positions to help you relax and feel more comfortable.
    4. If you go blank, skip the question and move on. You can come back to it later.
    5. If you are taking an essay test and go blank on the whole test, just pick a question and start writing. It may trigger the answer in your mind.
    6. Don’t panic if other learners finish their test before you. There is no reward for finishing first.
  7. What to do after the test:
    1. List what worked for you and hold on to these strategies.
    2. List what did not work so you know what needs improvement.
    3. Celebrate that you are on the road to overcoming this obstacle.

It is possible to manage test anxiety. You don’t have to go about it alone.  Studying with other learners and sharing your tips could be extremely helpful and beneficial.  For more information and tips on test anxiety and overcoming test anxiety,  please contact Sam Hanlon with the LALR department at

The Learner Advocate: Meet Sam Hanlon


As a counselor in Learner Advising and Life Resources, many learners know Sam Hanlon. Part of her main focus at Nightingale College is to help learners in not only the academic environment but to provide support and guidance to positively influence their role as a learner and prospective nurse. Sam currently resides in California with her husband and three-month old daughter, Olive. Although she is a few states away from home base, she represents Nightingale College well on the West Coast  and brings her passion for helping learners to her daily activities.

How long have you been with Nightingale College and what is your position? 
I have been with Nightingale for a little over a year, since June 2015.

Where did you go to school and what is your highest degree? 
I received my bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of California, San Francisco and my master’s degree in School Counseling Psychology with a Pupil Personnel Services Credential (which allows me to work with learners on academic and socio-emotional issues) from the University of San Francisco.

What drove you to apply for the position with Nightingale College? 
My mom drove me to apply for this position. She is a nurse and currently teaches in the doctoral nursing program at the University of San Francisco. I have always looked up to her and have had a passion for nursing and education, but I could never be a nurse. I will pass out if I see a drop of blood! I have always wanted to work in education and Nightingale College allows me to make an impact in the lives of future nurses, without the blood!

How do you help learners at Nightingale College?
I help learners by offering them resources for academic needs and offering support and guidance for any issues they are having. I am here to be an advocate for the learners and help them with whatever they need.

What is your favorite part about your job?
Getting to know the learners and watching them succeed!

What is your favorite part about working in the LALR Department?
I love being able to be an advocate for learners and find and create new resources for them. The LALR department gives me the opportunity to support learners in a variety of different ways based on what the learner needs to be successful.

What departments, if any, do you work closely with?
I work closely with registrar, admissions, and instructors. However, I am here as an advocate for learners so any questions learners have that I cannot answer or that is not part of my department, I can get by reaching out to different faculty because our faculty is awesome that way.

What is your piece of advice to learners struggling to juggle nursing school?
The best piece of advice I can give to learners is have one day a week where they do something they love and not think about school or their problems. When school is getting challenging and you are frustrated, step away for a minute and have a snack, watch a TV show, go for run, do something that you love that will calm you. It is really hard juggling school, work, family, etc, but always remember, in the end, you are going to fulfill such an amazing goal of being a nurse!

Please provide anything else about your position that you would like the learners to know. 
If there are any resources learners need and I don’t have it, I can find it for them. If they are having any issues in school or their personal life that is affecting their school work, they can come talk to me.  If they just need someone to vent to, I’m here. I am here to be their advocate, their supporter, their cheerleader, and their counselor.

What is the strangest talent you have?
I would have to say the one real talent I have is speaking/teaching Hebrew. I teach Hebrew school at my temple and mentor kids for their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. A strange talent I have is that I can change a clock in any car, which comes in handy about twice a year, if that.

If you could travel anywhere, where would your destination be and why?
Definitely Bora Bora because I LOVE the ocean and Bora Bora has bungalows that are literally over the water with glass floors so you can see the fish! You can also jump right into the water from your room and it looks absolutely gorgeous!

What motivates you? 
My family motivates me. I want to show my daughter that women can make a difference and we can do anything we put our minds to. I want to do the best I can every day for her.

What is something you would like to accomplish by the end of the year?
By the end of the year, I hope to expand the LALR department to offer learners even more resources and support.

What are three things on your bucket list?

  1. Go to Bora Bora
  2. Have another child (preferably a boy!)
  3. Buy a house

What or who brings a smile to your face? 
There are 3 people (well, one is an animal) in my life that make me smile. First, is my dog Tchotchke (pronounced chaw-ch-kee, it’s Yiddish for knick-knack). She is a 3-year-old Yorkie Pomeranian, and she is the sweetest, smartest pup ever! Second, is my husband Brian.  He is the love of my life and since I have been with him (we have been together 8 years and married for 2), I haven’t gone a day without smiling.  Last but not least, is my 3-month-old baby girl Olive Marie. I have always wanted to be a mom and I could not be happier with my baby girl. She is my everything. If I am having a bad day, seeing her little toothless smile will always bring a smile to my face!

Share anything else you would like the learners to know about you personally. 
I was born and raised in California and I currently reside in the East Bay.  I am a big TV and movie buff.  Some of my favorite (current) shows are Game of Thrones, anything on Bravo (well, any reality TV really), and Pretty Little Liars. I also love cooking shows, but I hate cooking.  I am a vegetarian (I do eat fish, so technically, I’m a pescetarian) and I have been since I was 10 years old!  One more fun fact is that I collect hands and clowns. I know, weird right? I don’t understand it either.

Sam is Nightingale College’s Counselor, Learner Advising and Life Resources. To get in touch with Sam, email her at

Note Taking Strategies for Nursing Students

effective-note-takingNursing school curriculum requires a high-level of dedication to studying course material and reviewing it often. Learning to become a learner who is able to capture strong notes from lectures and reading materials helps prepare you for not only exams needed to pass the course, but for a lifelong career in nursing where continuous education is a must and excellent note taking skills is necessary. To become an effective note taker while attending an online nursing school is intimidating, especially when you are unsure what information is important enough to be deemed “noteworthy.” It requires more than simply putting course material on paper and regurgitating it for the exam. Learners must be able to takes good notes and learn to retain the information and pull from it when needed. Our Learner Advising and Life Resources Department endorses several note taking strategies to develop better skills that can be applied in nursing school.

  • Understand Organization.

    Organization and structure is the foundation for recording effective notes and without the two, there is no flow nor consistency in the notes. Learn how to use a multi-list approach that breaks main sections into smaller and smaller sections based on relevant content.
  • Be Active when Reading.
    Pace is important when focusing on crafting useful notes that is not filled with worthless content. When listening to a lecture and reading book material, practice connecting the ideas and concepts to create a continuous bridge of information that is supported. This strategy encourages you to always look for the right links between concepts, which is shown to improve memory, to help you formulate the connections.
  • Learn Note Taking Methods.
    Every learner uses specific strategies that benefit their personal learning structure. Just as one learner benefits from reading, another learner may understand better by hearing and seeing elements of the lecture. Practice several methods and try combining methods to see what benefits you.

    • Pen-and-Paper Method. There is a reason why the traditional method of using a notebook and pen to record course material is still a popular method. Because it works. It has only adapted to today’s technology of note taking on a computer, tablet, or phone. Taking notes in the margins of your book as you read and listing questions that you have immediately next to the corresponding concept helps you, as the learner, maintain consistency in your notes (not to mention it will be a helpful reminder to remember where your questions stemmed from).
    • Mind Map Method. Often times the traditional method is just too traditional for some learners who will adopt a more creative method of note taking—mind mapping. By connecting concepts through a spider diagram, visual learners are able to grasp the concepts better by simply drawing it out.
    • “Teach It” Method. When reading the lecture notes you captured or reviewing the book material is not enough, try the “teach it” method. Envision yourself as the teacher lecturing on the topic to a class that is unfamiliar with the topic. Record yourself explaining concepts then take some time to listen to it to find out how accurate you are.
    • Other Methods. Note taking depends on the type of learner you are. Auditory learners are able to learn better by recording lectures then listening to it later, not necessarily taking notes. Heard of a photographic memory? Learners who have the ability to easily remember by taking a mental snapshot of lecture notes and reading material are able to sort it mentally and recall it fairly quickly. They only need to study the page once or twice before they categorize it. Any learner can obtain a photographic memory through a mental exercise: 1) picture a place that will become a memory library such as a childhood home or a fictional library, 2) visualize yourself sorting and categorizing information into buckets, and 3) when studying, visualize yourself taking the material to your memory library and sorting it. Part of this exercise is to always return to your memory library and see yourself going through the buckets to retrieve the right information.
  • Learn when to Listen and what is Noteworthy.
    Especially with online education that has recorded lectures in the modules, learners have the ability to return to the recorded lectures if needed. However, it is beneficial to learn how to listen intently to lectures in hopes of not having to return to lectures more than once. As you listen, learn to decipher what is worth noting. Not everything the instructor says is noteworthy and spending time trying to capture everything the instructor focuses on will steal your attention away from what is actually being taught. You may return to your notes and be clueless as to what the lecture was about because of the lack of attention you had on what was being covered.
  • Reflect, Review, and Refer.
    The 3 “R” strategy should not be overlooked and time should be set aside to complete each step. Because of the greater degree of independent study time online students have, it is recommended learners do not go a day without reflecting and reviewing the information from the lecture or reading. Spend time reflecting on the information to create links between concepts to help solidify your understanding of the material then review it. This is the time to think out loud. Talk your way through your notes, focusing on what you remember from the lecture and reading. Finally, refer to the concepts you just learned, which will help you develop the skills needed to summarize course material without plagiarizing straight from the course.

Learning to become an effective note taker takes persistence and time, but it is a skill that will benefit you while in nursing school and throughout your career as a nurse. Take the time now to build up and improve your note taking skills so you can reap the benefits and transition into a lifelong learner. Our Learner Services Department can recommend further note taking strategies for you.

Class of September 2016 Graduation Recap

Life is not about warming yourself by the fire, life is about building the fire. And generosity is the match…If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap, but if you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody. (Larry Lucchino)

Congratulations! We are very excited to see what amazing things you all will accomplish as a nurse. Always remember to practice with confidence, competence, and compassion.

Faculty Address: Earlene Cooper

Valedictorian Speech: Peter Schultz

One of the Original Three: Meet Karen Sincerbeaux


Karen Sincerbeaux has been with Nightingale College since its opening and can officially take the title as one of the original three instructors to be hired. Her immense background in nursing shines as she works one on one with our learners. Her passion for nursing bloomed as her love of serving others grew.

How long have you worked at Nightingale College?
I started April 11, 2011. I am one of the first original three instructors to be hired.

What is your current position with the College and what is your favorite part about your role?
I am an Assistant Professor and work as a lab/clinical instructor. I work a lot with first and second semester learners. My favorite part of my role is meeting new learners from all walks of life, connecting from the heart, and helping them to fulfill their dream to make a difference in this world.

What is your highest degree and where did you attend school?
I have a Masters in Nursing Education from Western Governors University. I graduated in April, 2015.

Why did you decide to become a nursing instructor?
I am very passionate about people and the importance of relationships. I wanted to make the biggest impact on the next generation of nurses and being an educator allows me to accomplish this. How we model nursing as educators is so incredibly influential to the kind of nurses we create at Nightingale.

Reflecting back, what was one of the more challenging situations either while you were in nursing school or during your nursing career? How did you overcome it?
This is a very personal story but if it impacts your heart then it was worth sharing. My father died when I was in my third year of nursing school. Needless to say it was a struggle. Soon after I was given a dying patient to care for at clinical and I fell apart. I was then told by one of my nursing instructors that I did not have what it took to be an RN. I overcame this obstacle by becoming an RN with my BSN, became a nurse educator and got my MSN. I love living our core values and demonstrating love and compassion!

Why did you want to become a nurse? And what is your favorite part about being a nurse?
I became a nurse because I love people, helping them to feel better and pay it forward. I believe we need to be prevention oriented in this country with regard to healthcare and we need to teach accountability for our health. My favorite part of nursing is the relationships, supporting people to cope and understand what is going on with their health.

Could you share what your opinion is about continuing education on past an ASN degree and what you believe the benefits are?
Education helps you to grow in ways you cannot even imagine. You look at things from a broader perspective, you grow confidence in all areas of your life, you are in awe at something that you accomplished that maybe you never felt you could accomplish! One of the best benefits is that you are an inspiration to others!

Who is your hero?
Jesus- he has and continues to do an incredible work in me.

What is your proudest accomplishment?
There are so many- getting my Master’s degree was a huge one!

What did you want to be when you were a child?
A veterinarian!

Share a hobby that you love to do.
Singing and songwriting.

If you had a warning label, what would it say?
Beware of your personal space! This woman knows how to HUG and she’ll do it!!!

Where is your ideal vacation?
Someplace warm and on the beach!

Share anything else you would like people to know.
I adore my family ( husband Rob and three children- Jesse, Genevieve and Joshua) and friends . I am honored to work with many amazing people at Nightingale. I adore my Baptist church, True Vine, where I am a Deaconess. I lost my beloved cats Rama and Gabriel this summer so if I speak about them you will understand my sadness. I am blessed to teach at Nightingale and I am honored to know each and every one of you!