How to Study for Nursing Fundamentals in Nursing School (2024)


Congratulations! You’ve enrolled in nursing school and should be proud of yourself for embarking on this journey. As you follow the path to become a nurse and join the world of healthcare, it may feel surreal, challenging, and rewarding all at once, but don’t worry, you’ve got this. Learn how to study nursing fundamentals and how to pass with all the information below.

What are the Fundamentals of Nursing?

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You’ll take a nursing fundamentals course at the beginning of nursing school.
This comprehensive class will help you build a foundation of skills you’ll need for the rest of your nursing career.

Usually, this course has a lecture, lab, and clinical site portion so you can apply your new knowledge and skills to real-world situations.

The Importance of Mastering the Nursing Fundamentals

Learning nursing fundamentals will help you interact with future patients properly and effectively, minimizing the chances of medical negligence. The fundamentals consist of the primary day-to-day duties you’ll perform as a nurse and the basics to diagnose, assess, and treat your patients.

The skills you’re required to learn are medication administration, caring for patients, positioning patients, charting, nursing legalities such as HIPPA laws, charting, and the nursing process.

The Five Stages of the Nursing Process

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The nursing process is one of the most important things you’ll need to remember. It will be on the NCLEX, and you’ll need to use it on every patient throughout your nursing career.

The nursing process is at the core of nursing and consists of five steps to properly care for every patient. An easy way to remember the steps is an acronym, ADPIE.

Use the following steps in order:

  • Assessment: Observe and gather information
  • Diagnosis: Using your gathered information, make a diagnosis
  • Planning: Make a plan of action to treat the patient
  • Implementation: Go ahead and implement your treatment plan
  • Evaluation: Evaluate the outcome

Dive even deeper into ADPIE with this blog about the nursing process, giving memorable visual and written examples of the process.

How to Study for and Pass Your Nursing Fundamentals Course

We’re glad you want to be prepared to pass nursing fundamentals! This set of foundational skills can be tricky to pick up at first but don’t stress right off the bat. Every nurse must learn these skills, and if many before you have succeeded, so can you! Implement the tips we’ve listed below for smooth sailing in your nursing fundamentals class.

1. Create Your Study-Haven

Make your study space your own. If you enjoy studying at the coffee shop, library, outdoors, or at home, then make sure your space has everything you need. From post-its to highlights, you want to be comfortable and have everything you need at your disposal. You want to feel comfortable enough to study but not too comfortable enough to drift off to do something else!

2. Raise Your Hand

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes you need to double-check you have the right procedure down, so reach out to your teachers or fellow nursing students!

You can even post on nursing forums, read online resources, or ask your favorite search engine. There’s no shame in needing a helping hand. Read these students’ tips to learn more about succeeding in school.

3. Stay hydrated and fueled

Grab your favorite liquid and your favorite snack. If that’s coffee, energy drink, tea, or water, then so be it. Make sure you have a snack handy too. If you’re on the go, a granola bar can be a nice treat before you study! Just make sure you’re hydrated and fueled enough to concentrate. When you’re too hungry, you may have trouble studying, but when you’re too full, you’ll feel tired.

4. Comprehend the material

While you may feel drawn to rote memorization with flashcards, it’s not necessarily the best way to study. Some circ*mstances may permit a rush study session, and repetition is good for a knowledge refresher, but it won’t help you learn and recall knowledge long-term. To comprehend the material, you need to spend time with it and revisit it in a timely fashion.

For example, Picmonic’s daily spaced repetition quiz helps maximize retention and improve learning drastically. It uses increasing intervals of time between previously learned material to maximize recall. In short, it helps move information from short-term memory to long-term, so you’ll remember the nursing information beyond your nursing fundamentals class.

5. Learn to manage your stress

Nursing fundamentals can be a tad overwhelming, so you have to manage your stress. Within the first year of nursing school, you may still be figuring out a school-life balance. We recommend taking some time for yourself to do something that makes you happy. This can be a hobby, going to the park, getting some extra sleep, spending time with friends, or whatever you want it to be. It’s important to give yourself a break and don’t compare yourself to others. You’re doing the best you can, after all.

6. Practice NCLEX-style exam questions

Practicing NCLEX-style exam questions will be extremely helpful when studying nursing fundamentals. NCLEX questions cover essential skills, knowledge, and procedures covered in your course. You can use NCLEX-style questions to test your fundamentals of nursing knowledge and get familiar with the exam format. Overall, it will help you start honing clinical judgment skills and internalizing integral nursing concepts, helping you pass your class!

7. Utilize study guides

If you don’t know where to start, use a study guide. Try Picmonic’s Nursing Fundamentals Study Guide first. This study guide covers the basics of the fundamentals of nursing and recommends books to study alongside your picture mnemonics and other important information.

8. Master the material with mnemonics

Memory aids often appeal to the brain using visuals, audio, rhymes, repetition, or even linking concepts. Mnemonics are designed to enhance memory retention, and you may already be familiar with some nursing acronyms like ADPIE. The strongest mnemonics, however, use multiple aids. For example, Picmonic’s short videos with memorable characters (picture mnemonics) paired with nursing facts and concepts help improve learning recall and retention.

Additional study resources to use for your Nursing Fundamentals class

With all the right tips and tricks, you can use the following resources to study and keep your plan to pass nursing fundamentals on track.

1. NCSBN resources

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) has tons of useful videos, webinars, nursing term definitions, and important NCLEX resources for student nurses. Their information regarding NCLEX-style questions will be a great go-to when studying nursing fundamentals.

2. RegisteredNurseRN

Nurse Sarah’s videos on Youtube are great to reference when you’re studying or having a hard time understanding a nursing concept. View her Nursing Fundamentals playlist to learn how to study for nursing fundamentals.

3. Simple Nursing

Another great Youtube resource is Nurse Mike. He even has short videos on TikTok covering nursing topics. The Simple Nursing videos are helpful to reference throughout your time at nursing school too.

4. Fundamentals Success: A Q&A Review Applying Critical Thinking to Test Taking (Davis’s Q&A Success), 3 Ed., Nugent & Vitale

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This nursing fundamentals book tests your critical thinking and test-taking skills. It offers over 1,200 NCLEX-style questions to test from and provides strategies on how to improve your critical thinking skills.


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This edition is up-to-date to help you develop and refine your clinical judgment skills. It has illustrated, step-by-step guidelines to learn important procedures and offers a clear, coordinated framework for care plans. The best part? This book has 300+ Picmonics you can utilize to study, review, and quiz yourself on!

6. Picmonic

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Last, but certainly not least, is Picmonic. Picmonic uses picture mnemonic study aids, unlimited quizzes, spaced-repetition quizzing, and more features to help nursing students, like yourself, ace their courses, remember nursing information long-term, and pass the NCLEX.

Explore Picmonic to learn how you can use this tool to pass nursing fundamentals and throughout nursing school.


Download our mobile app and take Picmonic on the go!

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How to Study for Nursing Fundamentals in Nursing School (2024)


How to Study for Nursing Fundamentals in Nursing School? ›

Nursing Fundamentals is a difficult class. And, as you take Nursing Fundamentals, you want to show your ability to succeed as a nurse by excelling in this class!

Is fundamentals of nursing a hard class? ›

Nursing Fundamentals is a difficult class. And, as you take Nursing Fundamentals, you want to show your ability to succeed as a nurse by excelling in this class!

What you need to know in fundamentals of nursing? ›

Fundamentals of nursing introduces nursing students to the thorough assessment of patients, the nursing process, communication between nurse and patient, cultural differences, functional health patterns, and the overall framework of nursing practice.

How do I study for nursing school before nursing school? ›

If you want to be ready for nursing school, you should make sure you understand concepts in biology, chemistry, and anatomy and physiology. Reviewing the processes involved in the cardiovascular, pulmonary, renal and endocrine system and understanding feedback loops will also help prepare you.

What is the toughest class in nursing school? ›

Lynch notes that pharmacology is one of the most difficult classes for nursing students, but is essential to patient care. According to the FDA, there are over 20,000 prescription drug products approved for marketing.

Which semester is hardest in nursing school? ›

Health Assessment: the hardest semester of nursing school

Many nursing students find that the hardest semester of nursing school is the first because adjusting to the demanding schedule feels like a culture shock.

How many hours a day do you study for nursing school? ›

How Many Hours Should A Nursing Student Study? One way of figuring the time necessary for each class is to go by the this rule of thumb. Set aside 2 hours of study time for every 1 hour of class. If you are a full time student, you will set aside around 24 hours per week dedicated for studying.

What is the easiest course in nursing school? ›

The Easiest Classes in Nursing School
  • Social Sciences (Intro Psychology, Sociology, etc.)
  • Humanities.
  • Intro to Speech (or Communication)
  • English Composition.
  • History.
  • Using Information Technology.

Is nursing school as hard as everyone says? ›

Everyone's Definition of Hard is Different

For some people, nursing school is easy compared to some of the hardships they have previously handled in their life, while others feel it is quite difficult because they have never experienced a high-volume workload or any previous hardships.

What is the fastest way to complete nursing school? ›

LPN to RN Bridge programs – two years or less to completion

When talking about the fastest way to get a nursing degree, the Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) path comes to mind. Becoming an LPN only requires a diploma, taking just about one year to complete. However, an LPN is not the same as a registered nurse.

What should a first year nursing student know? ›

12 Tips for Surviving Your First Year Of Nursing School
  • Preparation is key. Read the material ahead of time before attending each class. ...
  • Make connections. ...
  • Ask questions. ...
  • Try your best. ...
  • Find a study group. ...
  • Study smart. ...
  • Stay inspired. ...
  • Manage your time.
Aug 14, 2023

What is the first thing you learn in nursing school? ›

First semester of nursing school

You will often complete a nursing foundations course along with a health assessment course. Some students may also be taking anatomy and pharmacology, but most programs require these to be completed before starting the nursing courses.

What's a nursing fundamentals class like? ›

The skills covered in this course typically include taking vital signs, administering medications, and administering IV treatments. You'll also learn about infection control, prevention, and what to do in an emergency.

What is the easiest class in nursing school? ›

The Easiest Classes in Nursing School
  • Social Sciences (Intro Psychology, Sociology, etc.)
  • Humanities.
  • Intro to Speech (or Communication)
  • English Composition.
  • History.
  • Using Information Technology.

Is it common to fail a nursing class? ›

Many nursing schools require a minimum grade of roughly 80% to actually pass, as well. By the time you realize you aren't doing well enough to be successful in the course, the choices can be pretty limited. Failure happens all the time. It happens every day...

What is the easiest level of nursing? ›

Many Associate of Science in Nursing degree or Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree programs do not require any prerequisites, making them the easiest types of nursing degree program to enroll in.

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