The Doctor’s Scope vs The Nursing Scope: A Helpful Tip on How to Study in Nursing School

How do you study for the exam? How is all this making sense to you? Interestingly, I get this question all the time. There really is no big secret, I tell you. I study just like everyone else. I’m no genius. I put in the time and effort too. Hell, at times, I’ve been that guy who comes to class and falls asleep in the very back too. And sometimes, I hardly listen in class.


Sometimes all the information that we have to grasp is just too much. Surely, our instinct is to grab whatever help we can get. We scatter our minds in search for the grand master of all keys to help us through. We bombard the online market for extra books to buy, do group study, find tutors to help us, pile emails in our professor’s boxes (not advocating that you shouldn’t ask questions), etc. We go over the lecture slides, then we write notes that are verbatim on the slides, then re-write those notes, and then re-study those notes. It’s exhausting. However, I’m not saying repetition is a bad thing. I’m all for it.

Of course, if you have the money and the time to read through 10 books just to study for one class, then by all means, do you booboo. But, I don’t think that’s helpful at all. For example, I have classmates who bought 4 different books just to study for our critical care class. They’d attempt to read every single page and every single book. And some of them didn’t even open a few of those books. And then by the time the exam came around they would feel exhausted, complain that there wasn’t enough time to study for the exam, say there was just too much information, or pout that they didn’t understand the material. So, what’s the point?

There are millions of books out there, videos, etc. to help you through your courses. They all have their own style of presenting the information to you. But, nevertheless, all the information is the same. I just don’t see the point in having 10 different things to tell you the same thing. I believe it is better to stick to a couple resources (hell, your professors already told you what book to use), choose what fits to your liking, and then here’s the kicker…stick with just that. Don’t focus on too many resources, rather focus on the material and information being presented to you. Don’t waste your time and money.

I remember my old medical physiology professor (Dr. Scrooge), once giving us tips of the trade. He’d ask the class, “Why on earth would you take notes in my class? Why the hell do you all have your pens and notebooks out? Why on earth would you have your lab tops open, at a time like this?” He began to elaborate on the fact that we all sat in his class, recorded his lecture, while looking at him or what he writes on the board, while listening to him speak, while writing our notes. Then, after all that, we’d go home and re-listen to his lecture. His idea was that there are many ways to take in information, whether it be auditory, visual, etc. However, our brains become distracted and inefficient by all the different input mechanisms we are using to take in information. And as a result, our ability to retain information drops and our use of long-term memory goes down the drain. By the end of that semester, we all barely took notes and just sat our butts in the chairs and listened to him rant. My point is, don’t distract yourself doing too many things. Just pay attention. Be in the moment. Get it?

Lastly, there is nothing worse than focusing on the wrong/unimportant material, which brings me to the Doctor’s Scope vs the Nursing Scope.

The Doctor’s Scope

In medical school, it really comes down to allopathic care. The doctors hone in on building a knowledge background of using pharmacological or physical interventions to treat a underlying pathologic conditions. What is the cause and effect of a situation? What are the labs pertinent to a condition? What are the pathologic markers of a disease. More importantly, how do you treat it and how does it work, thus what is the mechanism of action of a drug? The doctors really bring in and answer the “Why?” to the table. Medical students focus a great deal of their time and energy on understanding the ins and outs of physiology, pathology and pharmacology.

The Nursing Scope

In nursing school it really comes down to patient-centered care. Have you ever wondered why on earth, in nursing school, you learn a lot about bedside manner, clinical practice, and therapeutic communication (just to name a few)? It’s because, in all essence, nurses are the front line warriors of patient care. Most of the time nurses are the first person a client will see and talk to. When the doctors go home for the night, they await on an important phone call coming in from one of their nurses. The nurses are the ones front and center, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Nurses are the bread winners and managers, when it comes to customer service. So, why the hell would you waste your time focusing in on the mechanism of action of a drug? Why would you care on exactly which adrenoreceptor dobutamine works on? I’m not saying that knowing the mechanism of action isn’t a good thing, in nursing school. It would certainly be beneficial. But really, it’s a whole different ball game, retaining all that jazz.

The point is, being that nurses are the front-line warriors, it is important to know your cause and effect, but in a different perspective. As the nurse, I want to know why the client is at the hospital today? I want to know what happened, your history. Since, I am the one standing next to you all the time, I want to know the signs and symptoms of a condition. Why are you here? What are you presenting with? Is there an underlying message that I need to convey? That’s the important information I need to tell the physician. In addition, what reactions or adverse effects am I suppose to expect if I give the client this drug that the provider prescribed? Assessment is crucial!!! I need to know that. So, know your role and scope! Don’t waste your time on information that is out of your scope!



Author: nursesarereal

My nursing professor once said that keeping a journal, over time, will allow me to see growth. In myself? I’m not sure yet. I’m hoping. I like to believe that nursing school saved my life. Maybe I’ll have some fun doing this. Cheers.

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