How To Get Organized For Nursing School

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Some things to think about when going into nursing school is how to get yourself organized. Whether this is your first or your last semester in nursing school, you know how crazy our schedules can get so it is really important for you to get organized and stay on top of things. Hey, lets get started!

Let's talk about how get organized for LECTURE and CLINICAL! And then we can discuss how to get organized for both. Please be mindful that anything tips suggested are just advice. People learn in so many different ways and if one suggestion doesn't work for you, don't force yourself to do it. :)


1. Get a big binder! This binder will hold everything for lecture.

  • I use dividers to divide my binder into how many exams we have in the whole class. For e.g., if our lecture will have 4 exams for the whole lecture, I'll have 4 dividers in the binder.

  • Within each divider, I will have all the topics in it for each exam and use small sticky notes to divide the topics. For e.g., if the first exam is on fluid and electrolytes, cardiac, and GI issues, then I'll divide each topic with a sticky note.

  • I place a folder inside to hold papers such as case studies and articles only related to the exam that we're studying for. After we're done with that exam, I take out those papers and place those in another folder to use as a reference later. This allows me to store more papers that are relevant to the next exam.

  • I add my lecture schedule to the very first page in order for to constantly be up to date with what's going on with lecture. I usually protect the lecture schedule with a sheet protector.

  • Last but not least, I also add blank sheets of paper in the back of the binder just in case.

2. Get a small composition notebook! 

This can just be used to jot down quick notes. 

3. Get pens, highlighters, sticky notes, and page flags!

  • I use all different kinds pen! Make it colorful! You'll actually like to read over your notes when it's more colorful rather than having it all dull and boring.

  • Use highlighters to highlight the important stuff. Some professors will repeat themselves more than once, and if he or she does that.. then more than likely that that's something to remember soooo... highlight it!

  • Use sticky notes to write down side notes.

  • Use page flags to remember to look over that page or topic.

4. Get a bag that's only dedicated to your lecture class. 

This prevents you from clumping up lecture and clinical into one bag. Combining the two can cause major confusion. :/

5. (Optional) Bring a laptop or iPad. 

I say this is optional because now a days we can use our phone to access anything anyway. Unless you're the type of person that never forgets to print out your presentation slides or lecture notes, you may want to consider bringing in some type of gadget that will allow you to access your notes just in case you forget to bring it in for lecture. You'll be surprised at how many times you come in to lecture thinking you're all prepared, but then the professor asks you to take out the case study that you were supposed to have printed out before coming in to class and you never printed it. Usually sharing with another person is no problem but sometimes it's best to have your own copy.


1. Get a 0.5-1 inch binder for clinical. 

This binder will hold everything for clinical. Use a folder to hold blank patient assessment sheets and another folder to store the completed sheets to keep track of what you've done throughout your clinical semester. NOTE: PLEASE BLACK OUT PATIENT NAMES ON ANY ASSESSMENT SHEET! THIS IS A VIOLATION OF HIPAA! YOU CAN GET KICKED OUT OF THE PROGRAM IF YOU GET CAUGHT LEAVING THE FACILITY WITH ANY PATIENT'S NAME ON ANY OF YOUR PAPERS.

  • Depending on the how much you have to to get done for every clinical will determine how many folders you should have in your binder. For eg. If I need to get a patient assessment and a nursing care plan for every clinical day, I'll have two folders: one holding several blank copies of a patient assessment sheet and another blank nursing care plan sheets. You should always have several copies just in case you mess up, you'll always have one handy.

2. Get a clipboard. 

Usually I like to prepare my clipboard in the morning and clip a blank patient assessment sheet and everything else that is due for that clinical day. That way you're all ready to go on with clinical.

3. Get a small calculator. 

Very useful when calculating doses for meds.

4. Have a clinical drug book, nursing diagnosis book, and whatever pocket clinical companion book of whatever specialty you're in. 

If you're in med-surg, have a clinical book ready for that. If you're OB or Pediatrics, have a clinical book for that. Note: Don't bring your text book...they're too big. Clinical books are smaller with the same context. Some nursing book companies make books and a clinical book so that the context are consistent between the two.

5. Get a bag just for clinical. 

Put everything for clinical only in this bag.


Both LECTURE and Clinical:

1. Plan your Semester with your Erin Condren. 

It's good to have a planner that shows everything for both lecture and clinical. This tip really helps with time management. You should know when things are due and exam dates. Not only will this planner have your school plans, but you should also jot down your social life as well. I know with nursing school, you'll feel like you won't have any time for anything, but it'll be nice to still keep track of what's going in your life.

My Erin Condren Life Planner!

My Erin Condren Life Planner!

 2. Always have pens, pencils and a calculator handy! 

Welp! There you go! You're all ready set to go! Hopefully some of you guys found this article to be helpful. If you guys have questions or comments, please feel free to leave comments below. Go out there and be great nurses!